Liberty District master plan causing citizen concerns - WRBL

Liberty District master plan causing citizen concerns

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Some citizens are concerned that the city's design for the area doesn't live up to a 2003 master plan. But Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said the layout is guided by the plan.

Part of it includes tearing down BTW apartments and rebuilding it as a mixed-use area that would include apartments and businesses.

But it's the part of the layout that calls for around 100 apartments next to and around the Liberty Theater that creating controversy.

Concerned citizen Nadine Moore believes building the apartments would be a disadvantage to residents and the liberty district as a whole. "You want to suffocate the Liberty and all of this parking space. They want to put these people near a railroad track, near the jail. You don't build houses here. You build the cultural development here as it once was."

Moore believes an economic anchor should be constructed around the theater and it should include shops, restaurants and a cultural center. She said the houses should be built within walking distance.

Mayor Tomlinson said the current layout follows the 2003 master plan, which calls for most of the residential area to be at or near the liberty center and the commercial core slated to be at 6th Avenue and 8th Street.

The liberty center would include a mix of housing, entertainment and businesses. There would also be an area or areas that focus on the culture of the district.

Tomlinson said it would be too far inland to situate the businesses directly next to the theater. "You need high-traffic volumes for commercials development to thrive. You cannot put commercial development on residential streets. They'll go bankrupt."

Mayor Tomlinson also said because of the theater's location, finding private business investment would be nearly impossible without more residents. She believes the way the project is laid out right now would benefit the theater greatly.

But Moore does not agree. "A business could market itself better down here than apartments could market themselves."

There is limited time to get the plan approved. Public funding would come from the Columbus Housing Authority, but they need to have control of the land by the end of April so they can apply for tax credits.

Council is set to vote on entering into an agreement with the housing authority on April 23rd.

The next two public meetings are scheduled for Monday April 15th and Friday the 19th from 4-6 PM at the Mildred Terry Library on Veterans Parkway.

Sydney Cameron

Sydney joined the WRBL news team in December 2011 after working as a freelance reporter in Washington, D.C. More>>

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