The city plans to study a portion of central Columbus that will help guide future development in the area.

Officials are working to create the Central Columbus Neighborhood Plan. The area has a southern boundary at Sixth Street just above Cummins’ Columbus Engine Plant and a northern boundary of 19th Street between Chestnut Street and Lincoln Park.

The area encompasses the former Golden Castings Foundry, which had operated for decades on 12.8 acres at 1616 10th St. It closed in 2003 after filing for bankruptcy. The property was bought two years later by KLM National LLC.

This part of the city also is home to the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. administrative offices and the United Way of Bartholomew County Service Center.

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The neighborhood, particularly near the former foundry site, has seen an influx of multi-family housing in the past five to six years, said Emilie Pinkston, senior planner with the city.

Gateway Apartments, just off Cottage Avenue and Central Park Place, and a complex for individuals 55 and older at the corner of 13th Street and Michigan Avenue, have located in the neighborhood.

Gateway Apartments was developed first on the east side of the former foundry property. Ashford Park Apartments is under construction on the west side of the property, being developed by Herman & Kittle Properties Inc. of Indianapolis.

Pinkston said the plan will give the city a chance to review how the neighborhood has changed, whether the current infrastructure is appropriate for the higher population density and how multi-family developments fit in the area, she said.

Road and sidewalk conditions in the area, in addition to passenger, commercial and industrial traffic, will be reviewed. Bus routes and stops also will be evaluated.

Consultant sought

A proposal detailing the project was sent out in January to planning consultants by the city in a request for qualifications. The city hopes to develop a land-use and transportation plan for the neighborhood with an emphasis on land-use transitions and minimizing conflicts among residents and businesses in the area. Revitalization strategies for the neighborhood will also be a secondary part of the plan, according to the proposal.Fourteen planning consultant firms submitted qualifications for the project, which are being reviewed by the city’s planning department, said Jeff Bergman, city-county planning director.

Negotiations regarding the scope and cost of the project will be discussed once a firm has been selected, he said.

The name of the consulting firm that is eventually selected will be made public when a contract is brought to the Columbus Board of Works for approval, Bergman said.

Seeking public input

Open houses will be scheduled to allow the public to have input on what they envision for the area, Pinkston said.That feedback will help shape the plan, Bergman said.

“Their preferences and concerns are going to play a big role in what the outcome of the project is,” Bergman said.

Bergman said the analysis of the current infrastructure will be important since businesses are expected to continue operating in the area. The city wants to ensure any changes don’t hinder their ability to do business, and that the area continues to redevelop, Bergman said.

Wilma Leonard, who has lived with her husband David in their 17th Street home for 18 years, said she welcomes development in the neighborhood.

She said she would like to see sidewalks on the other side of the street, which would improve the walk-ability of the neighborhood, Leonard said.

Leonard, whose husband worked at the foundry for more than 40 years, also said new curbs along Gilmore Street would be nice, as some of them have pieces missing in some places.

Margo Smith, who lives on Grand Avenue, said infrastructure improvements such as sidewalks along 13th Street would be beneficial. That would allow her to walk with her dog and grandson more easily, she said.

But one local business operator is skeptical of the plan.

Tim McIver, president and chief operating officer of Loesch Heating and Air Conditioning Inc., located at 1332 11th St. since 1957, questioned the need to spend money on a neighborhood study.

“Where’s the developmental land?” McIver said. “I don’t see the rationale in spending money when there’s nothing to develop.”

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com