Ledger Inquirer

Investor steps forward to get the ball rolling in blighted Midtown area

The intersection of Linwood Boulevard and 13th Avenue is a five-point meeting of 13th, Linwood and 17th Street, and it appears to have once been a fairly bustling place.

It has been anything but bustling for quite some time, but last week an Alert Reader noticed some encouraging activity. On the southwest corner of the intersection, where a Lewis Jones grocery store and a few other businesses used to reside, heavy equipment was starting to knock down one of the buildings.

What’s up, our Alert and Curious Reader wanted to know.

So I called Anne King, executive director of Midtown Inc., which advocates for the area. King said what’s going on is in large part due to several recent programs and policies coming together, and the community-minded spirit of a local citizen.

Over the past few years, Columbus has been on the receiving end of a couple of grants from the Knight Foundation, which hope to specifically address midtown and its physical connections to downtown.

One is called “Minimum Grid,” which hopes to help develop alternative transportation connections between the two areas. The other, called “Incremental Development,” hopes to stimulate development of blighted properties on a small scale, where individuals or small groups can make an impact on small areas.

Then there was the recently approved Tax Allocation District, which Columbus Council approved not long ago. It will offer tax breaks and infrastructure assistance to investors willing to come into an area they otherwise might not consider.

Those things seem to finally be bearing some fruit, King said.

“It is very exciting to see a complementary series of initiatives — Minimum Grid, Incremental Development and TADs — beginning to take form and inspire reinvestment and real change,” King said. “Five Points is an important crossroads, connector and nexus of neighborhoods and business.”

The catalyst that is making these first steps possible is D.L. Jordan, a real estate investor who says he just got tired of driving past the blighted corner and thought it was time someone stepped forward to do something about it.

“I just felt that somebody ought to be the stimulus for the revitalization of that area,” Jordan said. “Frankly I just decided that somebody needed to buy that corner and do a very nice job of building a development with special attention to landscaping and beautification.

“It didn’t look like anybody was going to do it, so I decided to do that.”

Jordan said that, as a real estate investor, it’s his job to invest and to turn a profit, but this project might not be the usual kind of deal he is used to.

“Frankly, my objective here is civic,” Jordan said. “I just think that we really need to do something about cleaning up that main artery.”

Jordan said there are no plans beyond demolishing all the buildings on the half-block parcel, grading them and making them as attractive as possible for developers.

Demolition will probably take about a month, Jordan said.

Meanwhile, King said she appreciates Jordan’s willingness to take the first step.

“Mr. Jordan is a great example of an investor rooted in the community who can see the potential for a single languishing property to create a ripple effect of regeneration,” King said.

Hopefully, this will lead to more progress for us to preserve.

Seen something that needs attention? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.com.