“The Arbor” Begins To Take Shape At Parsons and Livingston
IMG_20170718_100102.jpg

The Arbors, a new multi-family housing development at the southwest corner of Parsons and Livingston Avenue, is well underway and it beginning to get vertical!  This exciting project is being developed by Jeff May, who owned the former Bobb Chevrolet that this project, and the rest of the development at this corner, once occupied.  This development will add over 150-units to the area and has amenities like a swimming pool, green roof, and individual garden plots.  Units will be available in 2018.

Brian Higgins
PARC Acquires Real Estate At Critical Intersection
purple.png

The Parsons Avenue Redevelopment Corporation (PARC) has acquired 921, 923, and 945 Parsons Avenue in a move that gives them control of nearly the entire city block at the northwest corner of Parsons Avenue and East Whittier Street.

921 and 923 Parsons are single-family homes that have been renovated and are available as affordable housing.  945 Parsons is  a former drive-through carry-out that will become home to the Fresh Market, which is relocating from across the street.  This new location will allow the Fresh Market to offer more fresh fruits and vegetables to its shoppers as well as an enhanced classroom space.  The exterior space will be able to host raised planters, a farmer’s market, and even the occasional food truck.

Please feel free to read the press that the project has received in Business FirstColumbus Underground, and This Week Community News.

Brian Higgins
PARC 2nd Annual Event featuring Donatos Founder Jim Grote!
donatos-logo1.png

The Parsons Avenue Redevelopment Corporation (PARC) would like to invite you to our 2nd Annual Event!  The event will be held on Thursday, October 20th from 5:30-7:30 pm at The Fitness Loft, 625 Parsons AvenueJim Grote, founder of Donatos Pizza, will be our Keynote speaker. Food and refreshments will be served.  Please join us to celebrate PARC’s recent accomplishments and learn about the organization’s plans for the rest of 2016 and beyond!

To purchase individual tickets or a corporate sponsorship, please visit our event page.

20151112_173112-685x385.jpg
Brian Higgins
The New Parsons Avenue Library Is Open!
ribbon.png

The new Parsons Avenue Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library is officially open!  The new library, located at 1113 Parsons Avenue, is nearly three times large the previous facility at 19,000 square feet.  Built at a cost of $9.84 million, the building has a drive-through to pick up items without getting out of your car, rain gardens, private computer areas for online test taking and a homework help center.

The new library is an incredible new amenity on The Avenue that will benefit the entire community for years to come!

Brian Higgins
Interview with Brianne DeRolph of Sidestreet Development
Conducted by Michael Golden and Marisa Searle

Conducted by Michael Golden and Marisa Searle

Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your organization?

BR: My name is Brianne DeRolph and I’m a partner in a company called Sidestreet Development who has just purchased several parcels over on Parsons Avenue, just about a block and a half south of where The Crest is currently located. I’m working with two other partners, Killian McIlroy and Blake Compton, and we’re spearheading the initiative to redevelop these buildings.

Can you tell me how your organization came together?

Killian McIlroy and I have had a design company together for several years now, specializing in commercial design, branding, things like that.  We worked together for years prior to that at agencies so we’ve had a company for quite some time.  I knew Blake because he actually did the construction on my house over in the Brewery District.  We stayed in touch and worked together on projects together. The three of us came together for this one not only because we though it made sense to develop a team that had both design sensibilities and building capabilities, but because all three of us are really passionate about breathing life back into existing things. So what we’re doing is not new construction; it’s taking old buildings and rehabbing them and revitalizing an area.  That is something all three of us are really interested in, so it seemed like the right fit for this sort of project.  Hopefully we’ll go on to do more of this in the city.

What draws you to or what brought you to Parsons Avenue?

I have been a South Side resident ever since I moved to Columbus for college, so I spent a lot of years living in German Village, renting there and I have a place in the Brewery District now, so I have always really liked the South Side of Columbus.  That’s kind of where I feel the most at home and that’s where I spend most of my time. I actually used to live right on Thurman and Parsons, so I think I was drawn to the area because it’s familiar to me. Also because Parsons used to be a real main artery of Columbus, it was a really thriving area with interesting history that over time has been forgotten or gone by the wayside.  Now to see that Parsons is being revitalized is really exciting, so we thought that was a perfect opportunity for us to get involved in rebuilding something that has a really interesting past. So that’s why we’re there.   We really fell in love with the buildings that we ended up purchasing once we saw them.  It was a larger project than we were intending to do, but we all sort of fell in love with the layout.  All of the buildings are tied together by this outdoor space shaped like a “L”, which is a great opportunity to create like this lively common area between different businesses.  I think that’s what really sold us on the property, the unique layout of this specific plot.

You talked a little earlier about the old Parsons, what are your favorite memories of Parsons?

I don’t personally remember things from back then, but I have been reading a lot and I have my favorites that have been on Parsons for a long time like Plank’s Pizza.  It has been one of my favorite spots to go. We looked up some of the history in terms of what a melting pot Parsons Avenue was. There actually used to be a general store where it was a requirement to have to speak six different languages. They had a huge bluegrass movement in the area, as a lot of people from West Virginia were coming up for work and they were bringing music, so I think all of that was what drew us to the area.  It’s got a pretty cool character.

What do you like most about the Parsons Avenue community?

I think it’s really diverse, so it’s a different culture because you have different people from different walks of life; financially, individually, stylistically, so everything.  There’s a lot of different people on Parsons, I like that. I don’t think we’ve ever been interested in being in part of the city that’s already been developed and has become successful. We want to be part of something that’s accessible to everyone that lives there, so I think that sense of community gets stronger in places that needs to band together to improve their area.  Not unlike Olde Towne East – that is another great example where I think there’s a certain kind of pride that comes with being in those areas that we really respect. I think that’s one thing we really like about being here.

Can you talk a little bit more about your mission, or the values of your organization, can you describe its primary impact to the Parsons community?

Our overall mission is to revitalize older things, so I think it’s something that all of us have always had a passion for.  Whether it be vintage found pieces, refinishing furniture, or rehabbing old buildings; I think all of us are really drawn to doing that.  We’re a young company, but I’m hoping our mission over time will be to find other areas and other properties that are poised with this same sort of scenario; this slightly dilapidated, but really cool character and in need of some love. We’ll turn them around and make them into something cool without eliminating the character that already exists.  We want to build on what’s already there, so I’m hoping that our company continues on that road and keeps finding really interesting places to turn into something new.

So what would you say your organization’s vision is for Parsons.

You know, for Parsons I think it’s a really exciting time.  There’s a ton of stuff going on it’s not just us by any means. The hospital is really involved over here and we’ve got the road changes that are coming soon, so I think it’s going to be really interesting over the next five years to see what happens with Parsons.  I’m really hoping that it becomes an area that is a lot more active, lively, that has a lot of people that want be there and want to experience things on Parsons, but that also doesn’t lose its neighborhood charm.  If you look at the Short North, you see that the people that really built that end up migrating out of there once it gets too expensive and becomes more difficult to afford. I really hope that Parsons stays something that’s an affordable area of town but also a really cool one to hang out in.  There’s a lot of really great stuff going in.  I just went to the new branch of the library the other day for the first time and it’s awesome.  Common Grounds will be across the street from them, so there’s a lot of cool things going in there and hopefully that will just grow and people will actually come from up north to go south, rather than the other way around.

There’s a lot of positive change is happening in Parsons Avenue, so if you had one word to describe what you hope to see from the future or your feelings about the community, what word would that be?

One word?  That’s a really hard one.  I might have to think about that.  I mean there are certain word that come to mind like revival or resurrection, because I don’t think it’s developing something new it’s something that has already existed and we’re trying to bring back.  I think that that applies to both the neighborhood and then also specifically to what we do, which is revitalizing old properties, so I guess that’s what would come to mind right now.

Are there any businesses on Parsons or on the South Side that you think people should know about?

I think the common ones that people probably already know about, The Crest and Plank’s, are staples over here. Tatoheads Public House is there and it has some pretty awesome vegan food if you’re into that. I am a huge fan of Grandma’s Pizza which is at Parsons and Thurman.  They have some of the most enthusiastic pizza makers I’ve ever met and they’re pizza’s delicious, so if you haven’t tried Grandma’s, I think that’s a good place to go. Also, right across from us is a place called Aetna Integrated Services and they management support for businesses; everything from janitorial to parking lots.  We’re working on renting some parking spaces from them and not only have they been incredible to work with and very supportive of what’s happening on Parsons, but they also have a giant bank of solar panels on the rooftop of their building and they have an amazing community garden right behind them, which I would have had no idea about had I not been running around the neighborhood trying to find solutions for parking.  That’s pretty cool and people should know that.

So my last question is if you have anything else you’d like to say, or anything about Parsons that we haven’t talked about.

You know, I think right now we’re just really excited to be involved.  We’ve gone to a lot of the civic association meetings, we’ve been starting to talk to the city about our project, and it’s all been really inspiring because I think people want to see the change and are supportive of that.  We’re just excited to be a part of it.

Brian Higgins
Parsons Avenue Branch of Columbus Metropolitan Library Nearing Completion
20160422_121831.jpg

After months of construction, the new Parsons Avenue branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library is nearing completion.  The new facility, more than three times the size of existing location, is planning its opening on June 4, 2016.  This state-of-the art facility will be one of the crown jewels of one of the best library systems in the country.  With over 16 million volumes, our library is an integral part of the community.

Brian Higgins
Panera coming to Nationwide Children’s building at Parsons and Livingston
nch.jpg

A Panera Bread cafe will open this fall in Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s new faculty office building at Parsons and Livingston avenues – a foray into street-level retail for the hospital and a second site for the Central Ohio franchisee to reach an enthusiastic health-care clientele.

Physicians and clinical support staff start moving in late May to the $45 million, 150,000-square-foot building at the site of a former KFC outlet, alleviating crowding in an office building on the north side of Livingston Avenue.

Residents and business groups in the Parsons Avenue and south Columbus areas had requested that retail return to the site, said Patty McClimon, senior vice president of strategic and facilities development. Plus, a lease defrays operating costs for the pediatric hospital.

“We wanted to honor our promise to the neighborhood,” she said. “(Meanwhile) our staff were asking for quick, healthy, fast-casual type of dining.”

Covelli Enterprises, Panera Bread Co.’s largest franchise owner, was attracted by Children’s expansion and surrounding redevelopment it spurred, spokeswoman Liz Fiorino said. Warren-based Covelli has been a donor to the hospital since acquiring the Central Ohio franchises in 2010.

Covelli opened its first hospital-campus Panera in February, tucked under a parking garage adjoining Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. There are two other Ohio State Paneras, she said, but business has been brisk with hospital employees.

“We were actually blown away,” she said. “We’re hoping for a similar success at Nationwide Children’s.”

Covelli surveyed customers at its Panera at 684 S. High St. in German Village, she said, and found very little overlap. Most customers to that location are coming from the Franklin County governmental and courts complex or other spots downtown.

Brian Higgins
Sharing Local Talent Over Locally Sourced Coffee, Tea & Food on Parsons Avenue

When opening a coffee shop, in order to compete against the big boys like Starbucks and Cup o’ Joe, one has to come up with a unique concept and pull together a distinctive clientele. Four Ohio residents hope that their unique concept of bringing local talent together in a meeting house format over locally sourced coffee, tea and food will prove to be a winner for the community. They have launched an Indiegogo campaign which has already pulled in positive results from local press and politicians.

10268725_588450701330940_6325370153735391243_n.jpg

Their dream is to open a community gathering place where people can meet, share ideas and work together to make the South Side of Columbus the best it can be. COMMUNITY GROUNDS wouldn’t be selling alcohol, which most venues rely on for profit. For people who can’t or don’t drink these become inherently unwelcoming spaces. And people under 21 have no place to perform outside of church and home, so this would be a space welcoming their music and artistic ventures. The idea is to create a space that enables people to host the things they want and need.

Supporters helping fund the COMMUNITY GROUNDS: Coffee & Meeting House campaign to the next level will be eligible for rewards such as ceramic coffee mugs, T-shirts, Joel as your dancing monkey, first year opening priority event booking, a 3 minute Danny Lemmon original song on a topic of choice, 180 cups of Community Grounds coffee, backers immortalized in graphic design by a local artist, hand-made mini free library (great for community parks/gardens) and much, much more.

The Community Grounds team also understand not everyone may be able to give money to help this project, so they ask that those who cannot give monetarily help by spreading the word about COMMUNITY GROUNDS online through social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr or record a video challenge for Vine, Facebook or Instagram to invite friends to give to or share this Indiegogo fundraiser. Include #MyCommunityGrounds in all posts.

Brian Higgins
Village Pointe set to change The Avenue
VP.png

No one can say that Jeff May doesn’t have vision.  The one-time owner of Bobb Chevrolet and the southwest corner of Parsons and Livingston Avenues carefully watched the expansion plans of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.  He observed how the rebuilding of I-70 and I-71 would bring increased traffic to Parsons.  He noted the increased demand for amenities in underserved central city communities.  He saw all this – and he responded.  First with the CVS and Scrambler Marie’s detailed in a feature article on this website.  Now, with Village Pointe.

As one sits at the traffic light at Parsons and Livingston Avenues, Village Pointe rises unexpectedly.  Isn’t this Parsons Avenue?  These types of attractive buildings aren’t built on Parsons Avenue.  They are reserves for neighborhoods that have up and come, not that are up and coming.  That’s part of what makes May’s vision so truly visionary.  He understands that there is a pent up demand for new retail space on The Avenue.  That is why he is been able to pre-lease 4,500 square feet to the owners of Clintonville’s Crest Gastropub (complete with a rooftop garden) and Strut Salon, a salon run by two veterans of Salon Lots. The second and third floors of the building are really the pièce de résistance– a 25,000 fitness center run by May’s son and featuring a variety of state-of-the-art equipment.  Not to mention, the building has 190 parking space for guests.

Stay tuned for more information as the project progresses.

Brian Higgins
Design for New Parsons Avenue Library Unveiled
new_library.png

The Columbus Metropolitan Library has released the initial design for the new Parsons Avenue library.  The new facility, located on the west side of The Avenue between Stewart and Deshler, is designed by Columbus-based architecture firm Moody-Nolan.  It clearly is inspired by similar looking library branches on Livingston Avenue in Driving Park and on Cleveland Avenue in Linden.  The new facility will be nearly three times larger than existing building at Parsons and Columbus.

Brian Higgins
Making it family style
IMG_4897_300x300.jpg

A group of judges gathers daily at 6 am in a cheerful, light-filled room on the corner of Parsons and Livingston Avenues. They order strong coffee and doctor their breakfast plates from the lazy Susan they bought personally to park at their morning post.

This is the kind of gathering place Jeff and Marie May imagined when they opened Scrambler Marie’s across from the expanded Nationwide Children’s Hospital in 2012. They were attracted to the Scrambler franchise concept because it felt family-friendly—with comfy booth seats, sunny décor, and dishes named after the founder’s relatives.

“The entire neighborhood has embraced the restaurant,” says Jeff. “We’re serving professionals from downtown, patient families who want a break from the hospital, and residents of German Village and the immediate area. There was clearly a need for this restaurant.”

Continuing a community tradition:

Jeff isn’t surprised by the community’s warm reception. Before there was Scrambler Marie’s and its neighboring tenant CVS, there was the Bobb Automotive dealership, which Jeff owned for nearly two decades. Bobb was an 80-year-old family business that consistently led the market in sales.

“People would come to the dealership from all over,” says Marie, who met her husband while working at Bobb. “It’s similar at the restaurant. We draw a diverse crowd, largely because we’re centrally located and convenient to get to from the highway.”

Besides carrying forward a family tradition of business success, the Mays are also committed to keeping up the positive momentum Nationwide Children’s Hospital has started.

“The investment the hospital has made in this area is incredible, and it doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon,” Jeff says. “They have a real passion for ensuring this neighborhood thrives. We want to be part of that.”

Pursuing big potential

So what do the Mays think is in store for the neighborhood next? Jeff talks about the area’s potential to become a “business and life center”—where professionals, patient families, and residents have all the important resources at hand, from hair salons and coffee shops to a grocery store and gas station.

But something simple has to happen first.

“Developers and investors just need to come here,” says Jeff. “They need to walk the sidewalks to experience how this area is evolving—the energy that’s building here and the promise this neighborhood holds.”

With Scrambler Marie’s open for breakfast and lunch daily and additional nearby land under their ownership, the Mays are ready for the interest.

“We’re excited to bring more business to this community that complements the high-quality development that’s already taken hold,” Jeff says. “It’s not a matter of if it will happen. It’s a matter of how fast.”

Brian Higgins
A century old anchor puts a new stake in the ground
ChildrensBuilding6704_mr_1416x945.jpg
IMG_5557.jpg

Angela Mingo remembers when there was no “Nationwide” before the name “Children’s Hospital”—before the Columbus-based financial company provided the largest gift in the hospital’s history. She remembers when its campus was nearly a million square feet smaller. And when the surrounding area of Parsons and Livingston Avenues looked and felt drastically different.

Director of Community Relations since 2007, Mingo has witnessed firsthand the $783 million expansion of the hospital’s campus and the transformation of the neighborhood it’s called home for more than a century.

“We’re growing here because we plan to be here for another 120 years,” says Mingo. “We believe our patients, families, and neighborhood are worth the investment of time, energy, and passion.”

In June 2012, Nationwide Children’s Hospital opened a new 12-story main hospital, a third 225,000-square-foot research building, and underground parking that freed up six acres of green space for use by patients, employees, and neighbors. Combined, these spaces will help the organization reach a record-breaking 1 million patient visits in 2012.

Growing with purpose:

Complementing the hospital’s expansion is a $15 million investment by the City of Columbus in roadway infrastructure improvements to Parsons and Livingston Avenues—improving safety through street lighting and road and walkway widening.

But that’s not all that’s changing the community’s landscape. Under Mingo’s direction, the hospital’s Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Families initiative is growing partnerships with the city and local organizations to revitalize the neighborhood. A large focus of the initiative is increasing access to affordable housing in a 38-block area through the renovation and marketing of blighted and vacant homes. Of the 417 homes the initiative has targeted, 40 have been renovated and 22 sold.

“We’ve sold homes to hospital employees, area families, and young professionals moving into the city,” says Mingo. “So it’s clear that this area will continue to serve a very diverse demographic.”

Watching the trend catch on:

Clearly encouraged by her organization’s expansion and revitalization successes, Mingo seems equally excited about the progress Nationwide Children’s Hospital isn’t directly involved in.

“From the start, we wanted to be a catalyst for more investment here,” Mingo shares. “And now we see it happening. Private companies are realizing the value and marketability of area properties. Residents and community groups are giving their effort to beautification projects. It’s become highly collective and collaborative.”

And that’s exactly what Nationwide Children’s Hospital has been hoping for.

“Our goal is to understand the needs of the community, and be one participant in the collective working to meet those needs,” says Mingo. “It’s because we’re working together, and listening to each other, that we’ll see our shared investments pay off—and our community thrive.”

Nationwide Children’s Hospital

BY THE NUMBERS

  •  $783 million campus expansion complete in June 2012
  • 1 million patient visits expected in 2012
  • 2,000 new employees as result of expansion
  • 417 nearby homes targeted for renovation
  • Top 10 in all pediatric specialties*

*U.S. News & World Report 2012-2013

Brian Higgins
Area residents rally for revitalization
IMG_0444_664x376.jpg

The most effective revitalization efforts are the ones local residents have a stake — and a role in. That’s exactly what Sherri Palmer, manager of the city’s Keep Columbus Beautiful program.

The most effective revitalization efforts are the ones local residents have a stake — and a role in. That’s exactly what Sherri Palmer, manager of the city’s Keep Columbus Beautiful program.

Brian Higgins
Parsons is still ripe with opportunity
IMG_8303_1416x945.jpg

Walter Plank founded Plank’s Café on Parsons Avenue in 1939 in answer to Prohibition’s end and the Great Depression’s enduring woes. It fast became a bustling community watering hole, selling hundreds of tobacco pouches and beer pints each day. Today the cozy saloon-turned-family-style-pizzeria is run by Walter’s grandsons Tom and John Plank—at least one of whom is at the restaurant at all hours. Here Tom discusses how the family business and neighborhood have changed over 70 years, and why Plank’s is still happy to call Parsons Avenue home.

Q: Why did your grandfather open Plank’s Cafe?

A: Walter saw an opportunity to bring people what they needed after Prohibition, and he jumped on it. We’ve done the same thing with the business since he passed in 1960 and our father [NAME?] died in 1993—evolving it from a bar to a family-oriented restaurant serving home-cooked pizza and specials like roast beef and navy bean soup. Being here is about more than eating and drinking. People come to savor the experience, from the old swivel bar stools to the diverse mix of people.

Q: What role does Plank’s play in the Parsons community?

A: This is “everyone’s restaurant.” Nationwide Insurance’s former CEO Jerry Jurgenson comes in, sits at the bar, and talks to anyone who sits next to him—characters of all kinds. Young people come to hang out, families come from the suburbs to watch OSU football games, night-shift Nationwide Children’s Hospital employees show up for a beer and pizza at 7 am. Sometimes we get a call that OSU President Gordon Gee or Coach Jim Tressel is on the way in. We gulp and say, “We’ll be here.” Our door’s open to anyone, any time.

Q: How does Plank’s give back to the area? 

A: Our father taught us that giving often leads to even more receiving. We like to show support to the local community by doing simple things—like offering Nationwide Children’s Hospital employees a 10 percent discount every day, or giving back 15 percent of proceeds to the hospital for any party they book here.

Q: Why has Plank’s remained here for so long?

A: This is where we’ve belonged for more than 70 years. And the area’s just getting better. We want people to know about the positive momentum on Parsons. So much is improving with the investments that have already been made—especially by Nationwide Children’s Hospital—and the interest in the area that’s growing by the day.

Q: So, what’s the secret to your award-winning pizza?

A: It’s got a sweet flavor to it. A few people don’t like that about it—but most people love it. It has won awards, but we’re not really concerned with that. We’re plenty busy here serving cold beer and cooking good food.

Brian Higgins