Seniors’ apartments in North Linden set to lead to more development

The new Mulby Place seniors’ apartments are set to be the cornerstone of what Columbus city officials and community leaders hope will be the transformation of a section of Cleveland Avenue into a new “downtown” for a One Neighborhood. Linden.

It won’t be easy. Decades of disinvestment and the problems of crime and poverty continue to worsen.

Driving along Cleveland Avenue north of East Hudson Street – the dividing line between what is now North and South Linden – one sees a few blocks of condemned buildings, including a vacant pawnshop. The once-popular New Harvest Cafe, located at the corner of Cleveland and Arlington avenues, has been closed for years.

But the cafe building was purchased in 2019 by the nonprofit Columbus Next Generation Corporation. The city-funded group purchased buildings and lots along a two-block stretch of Cleveland Avenue between Briarwood and Arlington avenues to redefine and redevelop that stretch into a “downtown” center intended to unite Linden’s neighborhoods, as reported by the city’s One Linden. plan adopted in 2018.

On Wednesday, a virtual grand opening was held for the new 100-unit Mulby Place apartments, located on a three-acre site on the southeast corner of Cleveland Avenue at Myrtle Avenue.

The $26 million project is expected to be completed by the end of 2023, said Leah Evans, president and CEO of Homeport, the nonprofit developer.

The funding includes $6 million from the city, said Shannon Hardin, president of the Columbus City Council.

The development will feature 100 one and two bedroom apartments for low to middle income seniors, with 3,000 square feet of retail space.

The two three-story buildings are to anchor this part of North Linden. Officials and community leaders hope the new homes will spur other projects nearby.

“There are high expectations for this development,” Evans said.

“We know it takes time.”

Boyce Safford, executive director of Columbus Next Generation Corp., said he was in early discussions with developers about other potential projects nearby.

Safford said he would like to see more workforce housing built on the property his group has acquired. More residents would lead to more disposable income in the neighborhood, attracting more businesses, he said.

“We are generating interest, we are working harder to make (the region) more attractive,” he said. “I think we’ll get more interest once Mulby Place comes out of the ground.”

“The success of Mulby Place is important for development,” he said.

The apartments will be marketed to people earning 30-60% of the region’s median income. That would be $17,650 for a 30% person to $35,220 for a 60% person.

The commercial space could become offices or a service business, and could be senior-oriented, Evans said.

Carol Perkins, who heads the North Linden Area Commission, said the space could also be stores serving both North and South Linden. Decades ago, the Cleveland Avenue corridor was thriving with bakeries, drugstores, car dealerships and other retailers.

And while Linden had lost population for years, the 2020 census showed that much of Linden was growing again, as many took advantage of the area’s lower house prices compared to other parts of Greater columbus.

“I think this is the start of new opportunities for Linden,” said Perkins, who has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years.

“I’m looking for sustainability as well as other opportunities to show businesses that Linden is the place they need to support,” she said.

Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said city officials continue to tell people about other developments in the corridor, though he has nothing specific at this time.

“We know the people of Linden want more businesses to locate here,” he said.

Columbus Next Generation demolished a 92-year-old two-story building at the corner of Cleveland and Myrtle Avenues to make way for Mulby Place.

Safford said Columbus Next Generation plans to acquire more properties along Cleveland Avenue north of Genessee Avenue.

His group helped fund the Linden Fresh Food Market at 1464 Cleveland Ave in South Linden. which opened in September 2021.

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