I live in NoBo and my home was the first or second home to be built for the development, in 2005. As such, I have seen a lot of change in the neighborhood that other residents did not experience. Overall, I have really enjoyed living in NOBO, and I think one of the key factors in the success of the development has been the fact that we have a very strong and active neighborhood association. You will come to get to know your neighbors here very quickly, and that fosters a real sense of community that I think is missing in many other places. A great example of this is the porch lighting– we make an effort for every resident to keep their porches lit at light, and we provided lights to new residents to do so. It’s small things like this that I think make a big difference in the quality of life I have experienced here.
The advantages are many- over and above the inherent advantages of having a new, energy efficient home that has traditional charm and modern amenities. First, the proximity to downtown and the interstate (both 270 and 71) is great. I am a professor at OSU, and getting to the office is a very short drive. Second, there are more and more cultural events taking place nearby. The jazz in the park hosted by the King Arts Complex is a great example. Another advantage is that we are getting more businesses in the area– we now have places where you can walk to grab a coffee or a bite to eat, and those places did not exist when I first moved here.. A huge plus is that fact that residents who have been here before NOBO are very invested in its success, we do not have the sorts of conflicts that friends of mine have experienced in other Old Town East Neighborhoods. A big part of that is the very idea of the development, to build new houses on vacant lots rather than displacing existing residents.
Personally, I feel very safe in the neighborhood. I walk my dog twice a day down to the Lincoln Theater when I am in town and I have done this at several times of the day and year, walking often at night. I have always felt secure. Although I usually park my car in my garage I have never had a problem when I have parked it on the street. I travel a great deal for work, and there have been times I have been gone for weeks at a time– I have never once had my alarm go off or any threat of a break-in. I thought that property damage/vandalism (say, graffiti on a garage door) would be much more of an issue than it has turned out to be. This is not to say that things are perfect, but I don’t feel any less safe here than I do when walking through German Village or Italian Village at similar times of day. Part of this could be due to being a resident for so long– some things that might concern a new resident may not catch my eye as I have learned that they are not the threats I thought they were in 2005 or 2006. That, I believe, is a good thing– I have become comfortable enough in the neighborhood to be able to distinguish between appearance and reality. While the bottom line is that you should always be aware of your surroundings and take precautions (a good thing is that we discuss these issues in the block watch meetings), you will not find yourself living “on edge” or anything like that.
In terms of challenges, there are some, but not as many as I had expected. As you can certainly see, there is still some blight in nearby streets, there are some people who litter. We used to get more loitering in, say 2006 or 2007 than we do today, and I think that the neighborhood association has been key in that, and our block watch has certainly resulted in less foot traffic in the neighborhood, but there is still some. One benefit is that we have relatively few rentals in the immediate surroundings, and we therefore have more community stability. CHP has some rentals on 20th, and my long term hope is that those will be converted to owner-occupied housing. I hope that the condos being planned will be successful, but there are more developments in the neighborhood now than there were in 2005, when NOBO was the only game in town, so to speak. I think a long-term concern is that there could be over-supply of new housing and that may lead to conversion of units into rentals. I don’t think it’s likely to happen, but it is something to think about when looking five or ten years down the road. As a resident of 21st I think I face fewer issues than those living on 20th or 22nd, and that is simply because 21st is the heart of the development and we’re less surrounded by blight and other negatives on 21st. I think that the best way to get a feel for the neighborhood is to drive through at different times of the day. You’ll be unlikely to randomly encounter a resident or two (especially during the day or late at night– we’re working/sleeping then), but on a Saturday afternoon you are likely to find someone mowing the lawn, walking the dog or something similar.