Olde Towne East- Columbus’ best Victorian Architecture

Olde Towne East is one of Columbus’ oldest neighborhoods. Development started in the early 1800s with the neighborhood filling in mostly during its post Civil War boom. From this period comes the unique architectural style of Olde Towne East and a good deal of social mixing where rich and poor residents lived in close proximity to each other. Following World War II Olde Towne East went into decline and many of its grand homes of the late 1800s began to deteriorate or were subdivided into apartments and rooming houses.

Revitalization efforts started in the early 1970s as many parts of the neighborhood, particularly surrounding Bryant Street, were historically designated. This encouraged a slow but persistent restoration of these grand homes. By the early 2000s revitalization became more wide spread focusing on rebuilding the Parsons-Oak commercial node. And finally by the mid 2010s the whole district was revitalizing leading to new construction and sales prices extending into the 400Ks. Right now, the Olde Towne East has a nice range of for sale prices between 100K-500K but I fear this will not last, and the neighborhood will be out of reach for many low-moderate income households.

From an urban perspective Olde Towne East is well served by public transit and only 1-2 miles from Dwtn Columbus. It’s retail amenities are still fairly modest but improving (especially at the Oak and Parsons node). My hope is that its main Thorofare along Broad starts to see more development and large mixed-use infill. There are still many vacant lots and buildings to revitalize giving Olde Towne East a bright urban future. I also hope the city permits more mixed-use zoning along more diverse and creative uses to integrate with parts of the neighborhood removed from the Parsons-Oak Commercial node.
Click here to view my Olde Towne East Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Fantastic access to Dwtn Cbus being only 1 mile away. Solid public transit as well.
* Great racial and economic diversity. Decent generational diversity with 1/3 of households as family households.
* Good amount of rental housings moderately priced (i.e. 1 & 2 bedrooms around $1,000 and 3 & 4 bedrooms in the $1,000s).
* Good variety of for sale prices, although I do fear that the neighborhood’s rapid appreciating value will start to become cost prohibitive to many long term residents. Homes generally stay within 100K-600K. Modest or unrenovated homes sell between 100-250K. Renovated by smaller homes between 250-400K. Larger renovated homes sell in the 400Ks & 500Ks.
* While many still write up the neighborhood as dangerous there is most certainly a buzz here.
* Wonderful set of historic Victorian homes.
* Cultural amenities include a good set of restaurants, cafes, bars, and some live music venues & art galleries. Some nice museums in surrounding districts like the Kelton House Museum & Garden, and the Franklin Park Conservatory , the Columbus Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.
* A handful of schools located with Olde Town East and several in nearby Franklin Park.
* Not a ton of urban in-fill but some nice Residential and mixed-use projects starting to arise. 

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Decent but not great density. Hopefully as the neighborhood fills in, this will improve.
* Bike infrastructure is decent with one dedicated north to south route and a couple bike station. The district needs an west to east route that connects to Dwtn.
* Still a fair amount of blight even if the neighborhood isn’t dangerous anymore.
* Parks and amenities are a bit limited but not bad. Parks include Blackburn Park, a Recreational Community Center, and a nice playground.
* Retail amenities are a bit limited as there are not supermarkets, drug stores, post office, banks nor library. But the neighborhood includes some nice boutiques, a wine store, a florist. Children’s hospital however is just south of the district and adjacent Dwtn also has some nice amenities.
* The urban commercial node at Parsons and Oak is attractive (with good urban form and streetscaping) but only extends a couple of blocks. Because of its location on the western edge of the neighborhood, commercial is limited in the middle and eastern section of Olde Towne East.

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