Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Here is a great opportunity for people to suggest what should happen on the Far East Side. This appeal comes from the City of Columbus planners. Read on.

We are in contract to buy the old streetcar facility at Oak &
Kelton. The facility was built in the 1880s, and covers about 3.2
acres in about 5 buildings in various stages of falling down. Our
goal would be to rehab and preserve the existing buildings -- I
repeat -- we have no plans for demolition!! !

We are exploring a couple different concepts for the site. The one
that has resonated the most with the people I have talked with is a
concept for a community market -- a gathering place where you can
come and spend a few hours on a weekend, browsing, looking, and
ultimately BUYING unique, one-of-a-kind items made by local
craftspersons or antiques.

This concept would involve leasing small spaces to craftspersons
(jewelery, pottery, woodwork, stained glass, artists, etc.) for
around $100-$150 per month, but running the market like a department
store with centralized management/cashier. Ideally, there would be
+/- 50-75 different small vendors, selling any number of mix of
items (ideally self-made), which could include:

- The aforementioned craftspersons
- Antique dealers (probably focusing more on furniture and home
goods more than knicknacks)
- Speciality food items (a hot sauce store, like in New Orleans!!??)
- Local/speciality beers and wines
- Health/wellness items, vitamins, nutritional supplements
- Candles, incense, aromatherapy, soaps/bath products
- Bakery
- Flowers/Greeting cards/Books
- Coffee shop/small restaurant or grill/gathering place

There is also room on the site for a small amphitheater that could
host things like clowns, jugglers, acoustic music, etc. In my mind,
if we went down this path, the goal would be to create a funky,
eclectic kind of place unlike any other in the city -- a place kind
of like my favorite book store, the Book Loft, that you want to show
other people because it is so unique.

Obviously, there would be zoning questions that would have to be
satisfied to do this type of thing, so what we could consider is
something that would ideally have the buy-in and rabid support of
surrounding residents. (And before that, there are project funding
questions -- can you create a solid enough plan to convince lenders
to finance something like this?)

The questions I have for the group are:

1) the site is off the beaten path -- do you think a concept like
that could survive (and then thrive) in this "tucked away"
2) what types of things could be offered there that the neighborhood
needs and that would draw steady business from within the
3) what would need to happen to make this a funky, cool, quirky kind
of place where you would want to hang out with your friends for a
couple hours on a sunny Saturday (or is that even the right goal)?
4) what other concepts or ideas should we consider for the site?

Thanks much for your ideas and insights. Please respond robustly
(whatever that means) ...

-- Jon Beard
Columbus Compact Corp.
251-0926 ext. 101

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great idea--I think the antique dealers would be a big draw, as there are not many antique stores in the area. I am a resident of the area (I live in the Franklin Park area).