West Side Story: Coleman Shows Plans For Franklinton - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

West Side Story: Coleman Shows Plans For Franklinton

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Developers who have been working on Franklinton for years said they are ready to start announcing projects within the year, including condominiums, apartments, and new homes. Developers who have been working on Franklinton for years said they are ready to start announcing projects within the year, including condominiums, apartments, and new homes.
During the ride in Chopper 4, Coleman repeatedly pointed to areas where a "major announcement" is coming soon – many within the year. During the ride in Chopper 4, Coleman repeatedly pointed to areas where a "major announcement" is coming soon – many within the year.
While it all sounds promising, there is still a long way to go before the area has a chance of being a success story like the Short North. While it all sounds promising, there is still a long way to go before the area has a chance of being a success story like the Short North.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - It's supposed to be the new hot spot in Columbus.

Developers who have been working on Franklinton for years said they are ready to start announcing projects within the year, including condominiums, apartments, and new homes.

NBC4's Mike Bowersock recently took a bird's eye view of the area with Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman to see what is going where, and when it will happen.

Much of the area is currently rundown and ragged, but all indications are that's about to change.

"It's the place where the City of Columbus was founded," Coleman said. "Our city was founded right here in Franklinton. It's the oldest neighborhood in the city of Columbus."

The mayor and others have been involved in redeveloping the area for years. What was once one of the poorest neighborhoods in Columbus has been quietly changing.

"The bottoms is not an appropriate name of Franklinton, because that represents the bottom of something. The truth is this is a neighborhood that is about to be on top," Coleman said.

During the ride in Chopper 4, Coleman repeatedly pointed to areas where a "major announcement" is coming soon – many within the year.

"West of Bell Street, there's … four major lots, and our anticipation is that we will build new condos and apartments," Coleman said.

He said thousands of units are on the way just west of COSI.

"Closest to COSI will be a world class park that we're going to be designing sometime this year or next year. Behind it, between the train tracks and Bell Street, will be the plan, right now, something like 2,500 new residential units. That's our plan now. We will be identifying developers for it within the next year," Coleman said.

In another area, Coleman said, "That big patch of grass between the railroad bridge all the way to the pool and that tower will be developed into residential."

The list goes on.

"Over there is going to be filled with new residential, and we're going to be filled with new residential, and we're going to … identify where we're going to have a nice park," Coleman said. "We expect 4,000 to 5,000 new residents there in the next five to seven years."

Coleman claims the area will be a place for artists and young people who have not made their mark in the world yet.

Coleman and other leaders said the area will not be like the Short North, which is full of high-end bistros, bars, and restaurants, but more of a bohemian, SoHo feel of creativity.

"The vision is that Franklinton will be the place of the creative class where good ideas emanate from, where people who have creative ideas, creative activities, the technologists, the artists, folks who create things, will be done right here in Franklinton," Coleman said.

He points to the Columbus Idea Foundry, which opened last month, as an example of what Franklinton will become.

The Foundry has at least 12 stations where small businesses can come for help when they need to use a tool, or be shown how to create something.

Businesses join for a fee, and then it's a cooperative way to contain costs.

"It's a place where you can change the world," Coleman said. "I really think that one day, the new Google will come out of Franklinton potentially."

Bowersock (to Coleman): "Twenty-five years from now, what do you think this area is going to be like?"

Coleman: "The Franklinton area, it's going to be the hottest area, maybe in the state, very soon here. I always say, Mike, that if you want to know where the future is or get a peek into tomorrow, follow those who have a great imagination. Follow those who are creative. Follow those who are willing to take the risk to do big things, and I believe that Franklinton is the place where there will be big things happening."

Coleman said he sees Columbus as being at the beginning of a renaissance.

"We're now 822,000 people in our city. We're growing by leaps and bounds, people moving into our city because of the opportunities that we have. We have the lowest unemployment rate in the state. We have more economic vitality than anywhere else in the state. We have lots of investment taking place," Coleman said.

While it all sounds promising, there is still a long way to go before the area has a chance of being a success story like the Short North.

"What we're looking to find is just the neighborhood amenities, a bakery, a grocery shop, primarily a grocery store is what this neighborhood needs," said Trent Smith, director of the Franklinton Board of Trade.

Franklinton has been touted as the next big thing for years, but then there was a recession. Then, investors bought up cheap acreage, and now ask high dollars for the property. Then, there is the question: What if this doesn't happen? What if Franklinton doesn't become the next big thing?

It's always a possibility, but the wheels are rolling.

"We've got some people real interested," said Jim Sweeney, of the Franklinton Development Association.

Sweeney said this summer will bring the official announcement of nearly 20 new homes being built in the area. He said they will be the first new homes in Franklinton in three generations.

"The west side story is about a rebirth of a historic part of our city -- a rebirth that hopefully everybody will be able to participate in," Sweeney said.

"I'm sold on it. I'm absolutely sold on it. I'm all in with Franklinton. I'm a resident. I'm on the area commission. I run the board of trade. This place is going to be the next big thing. It's just going to take a little bit more time," Smith said.

"The way you create a big city feel is not by how many tall buildings you have. It's how many people you have on the sidewalks and on the ground. And I think the era of skyscrapers in the Midwest is an era gone by," Coleman said.

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