'New Beginning'

Clark, Dennison Residents Return To Renovated Historic Homes 

Living a block west of High Street just above the Short North, Marquisa Mitchell feared gentrification would one day force her from the subsidized rental housing that had provided a decade of stability for her son Donovan. 

But Marquisa and Donovan and residents in seven other apartments in neighboring historic buildings at Clark Place and Dennison Avenue are staying put – and in much improved conditions.

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The families of the two-story, 115-year-old brick buildings are experiencing new roofs, freshly painted walls, new kitchens appliances, cabinetry, flooring, carpets, showers and baths, as well as modern, energy-efficient cooling and heating systems and windows. 

The improvements are the first of a three-site, $9 million initiative by Homeport to renovate 59 apartment homes populated by moderate-income residents living in “emerging neighborhoods” south of Ohio State University.

Next up for renovation are 17, two-bedroom townhouses at East 5th Avenue and Hamlet Street at the southern edge of Weinland Park. 

The final phase for completion involves 34 one bedroom apartments for seniors at 1379 N. High Street, part of a gateway block to the University District.

All three locations have been named Victorian Heritage by Homeport for their proximity to Victorian Village. The Clark and Dennison buildings are part of the Victorian Village National Register of Historic Places.

The Mitchells re-entered their home on Clark Place on Dec 23 after living most of the fall at the East Fifth Avenue property near Summit Boulevard. 

Mom gave son the opportunity to turn the key and enter first.

“I walked in and I said, ‘Mom. Look!” an elated Donovan, 16, recalled.

“I love it. It’s comfy,” Marquisa said. 

Short-term inconveniences – moving out, moving back and doing without some old first floor furniture – are vastly exceeded by all the renovations made by Homeport, Marquisa said. 

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The improvements begin with a doorbell that rings and continues to the second story bath with new shower equipment. In between are a water and heater system and improved insulation that keep the home warm at 72 degrees even in cold weather. 

The new kitchen stove gives Marquisa the confidence to have Donovan cook scrambled eggs for breakfast next to their new dishwasher. 

But the bigger picture for Marquisa is her ability to provide a continued, uninterrupted lifestyle for her Donovan, different from her own frequent childhood relocations growing up in Gary, Indiana. 

A single mom, she came to Columbus over a decade ago, hoping to have a solid base for Donovan to thrive – from neighborhood to school. Her Donovan is now a sophomore with a special interest in music at the Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School. 

Looking for work, and challenged by vision issues, Marquisa only sees a bright future with her old, new home. “We have been here 11 years and I feel like I am starting over,” Marquisa said. “It feels like a new beginning.”