Resilient 'American Addition' Making A Comeback

Homeport, City, Combine To Revitalize Historic North Side Community

Marie Moreland has called American Addition “home” for 60 years

Mamady Camara has called American Addition “home” for one year.

Both were on hand outside the Tray Lee Community Center on Nov. 5 to celebrate the city’s completion of $5.8 million in infrastructure improvements to the historically rich but largely forgotten community on the Northeast Side of Columbus. The changes open the door for development.

“That’s what we have been waiting on. It’s been a blessing,” said Moreland, who doubles as a volunteer director of the community center that offers afterschool and summertime programs for children and activities for seniors.

Homeport has purchased over 100 lots in the community and built on 10. The Phase I road, sewer, drainage, lighting and other improvements by the city opens the door for development of 28 additional Homeport lots. Eight are expected to be built in 2015.

Camara said he loves American Addition, is eager to see it grow, and tells friends about it. The community has made possible what he desired – a stable, spacious home to raise his children.

“I was living (rental) complex to complex. All the kids living in the same bedroom,” he said.

Homeport selected traditional architectural designs from among those that have been used in other neighborhood revitalization projects. These designs feature 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a detached 2-car garage, and are built to high quality, energy efficient standards.

The City of Columbus installed all new infrastructures including green components such as bio swales and pervious concrete curbs, in addition to basic amenities such as sidewalks, street lights, and curb and gutter storm drainage system.

The merger of long-time residents like Moreland with newer residents like Camara is helping to create a model community for Central Ohio, Homeport President/CEO Amy Klaben told those attending the celebration organized by the city.

“We know it takes a village to raise our children and ensure our seniors age with dignity, and it is happening here in American Addition. Thank you for allowing us to be part of this transformation,” Klaben said.

American Addition was platted in 1898. In the early 20th Century it attracted poor black families from the south, including Tennessee and Georgia, looking for better jobs and lives, according to a 2011 article in the Columbus Dispatch. Moreland’s grandfather owned an acre, raising hogs and cows and growing vegetables, the article said.

The neighborhood was not annexed into the City of Columbus until 1959, having existed for decades without or with limited sewer and water infrastructure, gas and electricity.

The 60-acre community once had homes on every lot, but through neglect and attrition shrunk down to 52 homes. By and large, until the city’s current investment, promises for better streets, drainage and lighting were unfulfilled, said Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

Coleman credited the resilience of the residents who stayed. “Folks in the neighborhood never gave up.” And today, “were fulfilling the commitments made 55 years ago … This place is changing.”

The city will continue to invest, said City Council member Shannon G. Hardin.

“We intend to keep the momentum going,” Hardin said.

The city has two additional phases of infrastructure improvement at American Addition that will cost an estimated $5.7 million for sidewalks, curbs and gutters, street lights and street trees.

Homeport’s long term development plan for the neighborhood is to build approximately 10 houses per year and sell them to an economically diverse population of homebuyers.