Columbus’ University District- home to the City’s largest off-campus student haven

For the purposes of this evaluation I define the University District/Indianola Terrace as the area between Lane/Northwood and 11th street and between High Street and the railroad tracks. University District is actually a much broader area by most standards encompassing North Old Columbus and South Campus. Indianola Terrace is east of Summit Street.

Like much of north Columbus, the University District grew on a similar track with Ohio State, which opened in 1870 but didn’t really start to expand until the early 20th century. To people’s surprise the neighborhood was a fashionable “suburb” in the first half of the 20th century with a mix of brick rowhouses and large SF homes. Several curved roads and ravines lie between 16th and Lane Ave. The influx of servicemen into the neighborhood after WWII seeking housing lead to a population boom and the construction of new apartments and conversion of many SF homes to MF.  Perceived problems of vehicular congestion, crime, and litter resulted from this quick rise in density and the University Area Commission was created in 1972 to address them.

Its difficult for me to say whether I view the change of University District post WWII as necessarily an urban “negative”. On the one hand it most certainly rapidly altered the neighborhood creating a more transient less cared after place. On the other hand, it created a density level helpful in fostering vibrancy, mixed-use, and significant retail on Hight Street. In hindsight it probably would have been wise to rezone parts of the neighborhood closest to campus for high density apartments, and try to preserve homeownership heavy pockets east of Summit Street. Fortunately the University District feels more invested in than before, less gritty, attracting more homeownership, and hosts a dense mixed-use corridor along High Street. Hopefully the neighborhood can continue to attract a more diverse demographic (non-students) and become the vibrant and diverse place it could always become. I see many parallels to the University District with Pittsburgh’s Oakland or Cincinnati’s CUF and Corryville.
Click here to view my University District album on Flickr


* Good but not great transit access. Overall convenient access to lots of jobs with OSU and Dwtn.
* Great bike infrastructure with several dedicated bike lanes and good bike station coverage. 
* Quality historic architecture, but would be even better if the bldgs didn’t take a beating as student housing.
* Great ADA and sidewalks infrastructure.
* Not much modern in-fill within the neighborhood but lots of quality urban mixed-use infill along High Street.
* Decent racial diversity thanks to OSU diverse student body.
* A high level of density thanks to students being packed into rental housing.
* Not surprisingly tons of rents here and generally at pretty modest prices.
* High Street has very good urban massing and streetscape especially with its recent extensive urban in fill.  
* Cultural amenities include a great array of ethnic restaurants, lots of college bars & cafes, several live music venues, and the OSU cultural activities.
* The University District hosts a full service target,  2 CVS, several chain retailers, lots of banks, a handful of boutiques, and a cineplex and Barnes & Nobles on its southern border. 


* Lots of students living here which greatly reduces the University district’s economic and generational diversity.
* For sale housing is mostly limited to student rental. But some SF and duplexes in good shape selling in the 200Ks & 300Ks. You certainly get a lot of house for your money here.
* Park space is limited here to the nice but modest Luka Ravine park and the ballfields behind the Indianola Middle School. But park asset is probably OSU quads and green space.
* The neighborhood is a bit rough in spots (especially in Indianola Terrace and has a fair amount of grid but by no means a dangerous place.
* The neighborhood only hosts a small privet grade-middle schools. A couple others in adjacent districts. 

Palmer Park and the University District- Detroit’s wealthiest African American enclave

I included several linked and related districts surrounding Palmer Park including the Palmer Park Apartment  District, Palmer Woods, Sherwood Forest, and the University District. Sherwood Forest and Palmer Woods are large mansions districts built in the 1920s-1930s with sinuous streets. Palmer Woods hosts smaller but large homes on gridded streets from the same area. The Palmer Apt District hosts incredible 1910s-1930s historic apartments bldgs. Unfortunately many of them are abandonded.

This district is by far the wealthiest African American pocket within Detroit’s city limits. Because of this homes, are well maintained and generally sell between 300K-500K with a strong commercial district running along Livernois. Blight, however, is not far away creeping into the districts southern and eastern edges. Hopefully with a major urban infrastructure investment on Livernois and the neighborhood’s existing assets, this area can continue to stabilize and spill over into surrounding districts.

Major urban improvements to the neighborhood include the need for more density and urbanization of Woodward Avenue. Given Detroit’s current population trajectory, I don’t see this happening anytime soon but hope there will soon be urban in-fill going up along Livernois building off the street’s successes.
Click to view my Palmer Woods and Palmer Park Historic District Albums on Flickr


* Good transit access and downtown access but still 8 miles away.
* Most intersection have up to date ADA Access.
* Some dedicated bike lanes running through Palmer Park and good coverage by Detroit’s bike sharing system.
* The Single Family portion of this district includes some of the high Medium Households in Detroit. The apartments surrounding Palmer Park are just above the poverty level.
* Lots of Family households here at around 75%.
* Palmer Park certainly provides excellent park amenities to this neighborhood. Also a large cemetery and two golf course, but guessing these are not as popular.
* Lots of restaurants, bars, cafes, boutiques, and neighborhood retail lining Livernois St on a decent urban setting (at least for Detroit standards). Major streetscape improvements in the works for Livernois as well.
* Livernois also hosts a supermarket, post office, library, and a nice mix of boutiques and neighborhood serving retail. On the other hand commercial amenities on Woodward on limited due to blight and auto centric design.
* There is both a great Catholic Elementary and High School in the neighborhood. Several public schools of mixed rating.


* Still some blight in the Palmer Apt District and along the Wood Ave Commercial District.
* Even with good transit and bike coverage the neighborhood is still pretty spreadout requiring long walking distances between destinations.
* About 85% African American households.
* Most homes are 4 bedrooms costing around 300K. Larger properties go for 500-600K. Keep in mind all of these are large homes with decent back yards.
* Rentals are limited outside of the Palmer Apt District. Very affordable rents here where at 20bedrooms goes for $900-1$,000.
* Other than bars and restaurants and some events at Detroit Mercy University, limited cultural amenities here.