Downtown living has perks, say residents

September 30th, 2007

Ruth Lantz and her husband, Bill, traded their 3,700-square-foot house on E. Town Street for a Downtown loft.

One Downtown resident said she likes that the sidewalks clear after 6 p.m. and a dead quiet falls.

“That’s sort of nice,” Ruth Lantz said. “We have the place to ourselves.”

Another sees the upside of developers at Carlyles Watch auctioning up to 24 condos at the 100 E. Gay St. development.

“The first I heard, I thought, ‘Oh my God, this doesn’t look good,’” said Kevin Wood, president of the Downtown Residents Association and a 3rd Street homeowner. “Now, I’m thinking on the positive side. At least I’ll have more neighbors.”

A third sees the first uptick in Downtown population in 50 years as only the beginning.

“We found out there are a lot of people fed up with the suburbs,” said Miranova resident and Downtown Commission Chairman Harrison Smith. “We had, though we didn’t know it, a pent-up demand for housing that was way beyond what anybody imagined.”

Nearly halfway through Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s 10-year plan to add 10,000 Downtown housing units, the city announced plans last week to buy downtrodden Columbus City Center. A day earlier, developers of just-built Carlyles Watch said they’ll auction up to 24 unsold condos to cash out of Downtown.

For a while now, people have been complaining that Downtown housing is priced too high for most, and that there’s not enough to do for those who can pay the price.

Yet, the Downtown housing push is working.

From 2000 through 2006, an estimated 1,000 people moved Downtown. The 29 percent jump was the first population increase there in 50 years.

Despite a national housing slump, 88 homes in Downtown proper have sold this year. That’s more than twice as many than sold this year in an area south of Downtown that includes German Village, the Brewery District, Schumacher Place and Merion Village.

People who’ve lived Downtown a year or more say the good vastly outweighs the bad.

“I’m definitely staying Downtown and definitely staying in the Arena District,” said Ryan Arbogast, 27, who paid $350,000 for a Burnham Square two-bedroom condo last year.

His mortgage is “more doable than you think,” helped by the rent he charges on the German Village house he previously lived in.


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