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Community Renewal Good Stories - Columbus

Land Development Fund Provides Much-Needed Lift to Commercial Corridor

Columbus, Ohio, EZ

East Main Street is getting a facelift with funds from the Columbus, Ohio, EZ Land Development Fund. Projects comprising more than 47,000 square feet and costing well over $5 million are designed to spruce up this decaying, major corridor.

The EZ Land Development Fund is a targeted financing pool created to encourage commercial and housing investment and redevelopment projects in the 14-square-mile Columbus EZ. The Columbus Compact Corporation, which administers the Columbus EZ program, established the fund. This financing pool provides gap financing- dollars that reduce project risk and attract other hard dollars-in order to increase a project's viability. The fund is flexible enough to accommodate grants to nonprofit organizations and loans and/or equity investments to nonprofit and for-profit entities. It seeks to fund those projects with positive community impacts such as redevelopment of idle land; creation of jobs; creation of new business activity and services; improvements in the urban streetscape that encourage business redevelopment, pedestrian traffic, and neighborhood vitality; and improvement in the quantity and/or quality of housing stock.

With $400,000 from the EZ Land Fund Development Fund, the Central Community House was able to break ground in March 2004. When complete, this 15,000-squarefoot, $2.6 million facility will house a daycare center, community meeting space, and Central Community House offices. The organization will be able to consolidate several area facilities into this one building at 1162 East Main Street, adjacent to the new East Central Family Health Center. There will be enough space for Central Community House to expand its after-school programming and provide increased support, resources, and services to parents. The facility will assist the organization with its mission-helping people reach their full potential, become self-supporting, and live cooperatively with others.

The EZ Land Development Fund provided site assembly and land banking for the new Salvation Army facility at 966 East Main Street. Situated on 1.2 acres of vacant land, this 20,000-square-foot building will serve as the organization's headquarters. It will include a worship center, space for the delivery of social services, and features such as a kitchen pantry. Groundbreaking was held in late spring 2004.

Before the June 2004 groundbreaking of this new transit center, the EZ Land Development Fund handled site assembly and predevelopment activities, such as site demolition. The Near East Transit Center will feature 12,000 square feet of retail and office space. With 40 to 50 employees, the center will house a Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) customer service department, a medical facility, and a financial institution. Bus stops will be located in front of the center on both Champion Avenue and East Main Street. A financial partnership between the Columbus EZ, the city of Columbus, COTA, the Ohio Department of Transportation, and others generated $2.7 million for this project.

For more information on the programs of the Columbus EZ, contact CEO and President Jonathan Beard, Columbus Compact Corporation, at (614) 251-0926.