Five years in planning, Homeport operations have finally come together at one location.
All Homeport staff members supporting affordable rental apartments, homes for sale and financial counseling have united in one building at 3443 Agler Road in Citygate Office Park between Port Columbus International Airport and the Easton shopping complex.
“As we continue to meet the needs of Central Ohio, it was time to consolidate from three offices to one,” said Maude Hill, Homeport Vice President of Community and Government Relations.
At the end of 2014, Homeport’s accounting, asset management, grants, donor relations and marketing teams from 515 E. Main Street, and the homeownership group at 734 E. Long Street, relocated to the Agler Road property. Effective April 27, Homeport’s administrative officers, along with its housing and financial education programming teams, joined the move to Agler Road – leaving behind the organization’s previous headquarters at 562 East Main Street.
“We’re all together,” said Craig Murphy, Homeport’s Senior Vice President of Operations and Programs.
Consolidation to one location will allow better interaction and communication -- a bonus to staff and to those it serves, Homeport Board of Directors Chair Thomas O’Hara said at the first staff meeting in the new headquarters. “I don’t see a building as much as a group of people who collectively will change lives of people,” said O’Hara, an executive vice president at Huntington National Bank.
“We’re better together and have true grit to overcome any obstacles,” added civic activist and Board member Hank Evans.
An open to the public "house warming" event took place on May 20, 2015 at the Agler property located between Stelzer Road and North Cassady Avenue.
The move will enable Homeport to generate income by selling, renting or redeveloping its property at 562 E. Main Street, Murphy said. Income will also be generated by Homeport leasing space it is not using at the new site on Agler.
Homeport, previously known as Columbus Housing Partnership, began operations in 1987 inside an 1100 square foot home at 1465 East Broad Street, according to Ms. Hill, an employee of Homeport since 1990.
The intent of organization’s founders, including the Columbus Board of Realtors, was to support safe and affordable workforce housing, creating stability in individuals’ lives to allow them to succeed at work and in the classroom and to have better health.
Today, Homeport owns more than 30 moderate to low income apartment communities throughout Central Ohio with 5500 residents, half of whom are 18 or younger. Five of Homeport’s low income communities are for seniors, including the newly completed 32-unit Eastway Court complex on East Broad Street in Whitehall. Homeport also sells affordable homes and has rent-to-purchase properties made possible in many cases through governmental financing and grants.
Homeport has a history of revitalizing neighborhoods by upgrading the quality of housing. Success stories include the North Of Broad (NOBO) community off Long Street. It has also invested in the re-development of older and historic communities, such as American Addition in Northeast Columbus. This summer it will begin construction on the first of 39 single family, three-bedroom homes inside the West Side’s “Hilltop” area.
Homeport provides a broad variety of services at its rental facilities including after school and summer camp programs, books and school supplies, and free food at produce fairs. Through community partnerships, the residents of Homeport also have access to goods and services, from furniture to health.
Through its Young Professionals affinity organization, Homeport provides a pathway for individuals to volunteer their time and interact and support residents in Homeport communities.
Homeport also operates popular monthly financial fitness, home buying and foreclosure prevention courses. A record 102 individuals completed homebuyer education courses in April. The two-story Agler Road property, a vacant building purchased out of foreclosure for $1.55 million, has 42,000 square feet, Murphy said. The building sits on 4.3 acres including a sizeable parking lot for individuals attending the financial fitness courses. Homeport operations will be on the second floor at Agler. It intends to lease 20,000 square feet on the first floor.
Many area companies, Homeport partners and individual professionals have aided the move to Agler Road. Commercial relocation specialist Commercial Works and its Workspace Advisor, Gary Dunifon, were instrumental in moving crates of files and records as well as computers and phones to and within the Citygate office park. Commercial Works was also able to secure donations of work stations, chairs, files, tables and miscellaneous accessories from Nationwide Realty Investments, the law firm Ice Miller and commercial Realtor DRK & Company.
The idea of coming together on a single site, finding it, and moving in, was five years in the making, said Homeport VP Murphy. A committee of 10 Homeport employees was hands-on in executing the move.
“It’s inspiring to work for an organization like Homeport because it’s filled with people willing and wanting to help their teammate,” Murphy said. “Moving our operation to one location has been a big task, but the work was much lighter because of such wonderful colleagues.”
In concert with Homeport’s move, the organization has created a new logo. The image, to be seen on the new building, collateral material and in social media, was created by Ethan Nielsen, Homeport’s Manager of Marketing and Creative Design. The design reflects free input from three other professional designers as well as Homeport Board members and staff. Light and dark green ribbon shapes are woven together to form the shape of a home in the center of the logo, with the name “Homeport” underneath.