The North of Broad (“NoBo”) neighborhood revitalization initiative successfully combines housing development with economic development, public safety, community-building, and infrastructure strategies in a public-private collaborative.
The NoBo initiative to restore the historic King- Lincoln District near downtown Columbus, Ohio, began approximately eight years ago. Its goals are to provide stable and affordable home ownership opportunities, promote economic development, build community, and rebuild a functional private market in the neighborhood.
Homeport, together with the City of Columbus, understood that building a social infrastructure and working with existing local residents was critical to restoring a feeling of community in an area that had experienced social as well as physical and financial disinvestment.
After completion of over 30 single-family homes on N. 20th, N. 21st, and N. 22nd Streets, Homeport is responding to interest in its NoBo homes from buyers at a variety of income levels, including market-rate buy- ers who do not qualify for publicly subsidized housing. It sees this interest as an indicator of success for the local neighborhood market, but is also taking care to minimize forces of gentrification that might make the neighborhood unaffordable to existing residents.
Homeport and the City of Columbus adopted a multi-sector approach to revitalizing the North of Broad neighborhood:
City services and infrastructure. Successful strategies included changing trash collection practices in order to improve the state of the neighborhood’s alleys; repairing and replacing sidewalks, curbs, and paving; and installing pedestrian-level lighting and neighborhood-designed street banners.
Public safety. A block watch meets weekly, and grew into the North of Broad Resident Association that now engages in broader aspects of neighborhood life.
Environment. Homeport rehabs and builds its homes with high green standards and energy- efficiency measures.
Green space. Homeport has coordinated a community garden initiative on a previously vacant lot. Another vacant lot was converted to green space that displays public art designed by Champion Mid- dle school.
Economic development. Several new businesses and cafes have opened in the neighborhood, and Homeport has developed several joint marketing initiatives to promote both the retail businesses and home ownership opportunities.
In October of 2011, Homeport completed a 9-unit condominium project, NOBO on Long Condominiums, to expand the available housing choices at NoBo. Buyers now have a choice of a 1 or 2-bedroom, new construction, townhouse-style condo; or one of two historic, renovated attached units each offering over 1,800 sq. ft. of living space and the authentic architectural detail of an original King-Lincoln District home. Prices range from $110k to $160k, and Homeport staff are final- izing the first two contracts, with several prospects in the pipeline.
Homeport is currently researching an additional strategy to protect the affordability of our housing units while simultaneously creating more affordable options for buyers. The goal is a new purchase model that will sustain a project such as NoBo without a reliance on grant funds or City subsidy. We hope to create a program that will allow a homebuyer the option to purchase a single-family home through a Community Land Trust. As property values increase in NoBo, participating homebuyers would have the option to share their equity through the Land Trust, thus lowering the acquisition cost while keeping the home affordable for the next buyer of that home. Details of this innovative strategy are being researched and finalized, but Homeport hopes to launch the program in 2013.