City council to explore urban renewal

January 13, 2014 9:35:19 AM

Nathan Gregory - [email protected]


Most of the blighted and vacant property inside the Columbus city limits is in the core of the city, surrounding downtown. 


City planner Christina Berry has worked with a consultant through the past year to identify as many of those parcels as possible to develop an urban renewal district. Now, Berry wants the city council to approve it. 


Councilmen will deliberate that during a special call meeting 3 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. The only item on the agenda is discussion of the urban renewal plan and market study. 


Data collection has included land values and uses alongside identifying 839 parcels that are vacant or blighted, Berry said.  


"We did a windshield survey of the city," Berry said. "You basically get in your car with a big map and you ride through the city. You ride through every block and identify block by block if there's a vacant space or if there's a house that's dilapidated. That's the start of it." 


Also in that plan is a review of areas with faulty infrastructure, Berry said. The consultant she's been working with is Arnett Muldrow & Associates, a planning firm based in South Carolina. 


The proposed urban renewal district also includes the entertainment district councilmen approved in 2011, which includes downtown, The Island and Seventh Avenue North. People who opt to locate a business in that district are extended tax credits. Berry said similar benefits would likely be afforded to people who located in the urban renewal district, if the council approves it. The proposed district would also provide more opportunities for brownfield grant opportunities. Those grants give funding to revitalize contaminated land. 


"We're trying to decide what would be the best areas that are blighted but also would be great opportunities to be developed," Berry said.

Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.