Linden Development Gains Momentum

Kenlawn Place rendering.

Kenlawn Place rendering.

While still subject to financing, Homeport has completed an important phase in its goal of building 45 apartment units and five single family homes on or near Cleveland Avenue -- the first major economic infusion envisioned for a revitalized Linden.

The Columbus City Council on Jan. 28 unanimously approved variances requested by Homeport for development of “Kenlawn Place,” an affordable housing community on the west side of the 2900 block of North Cleveland Avenue across the street from New Salem Baptist Church.

The three-story garden apartments would bring 16 one and 29 two-bedroom, 1.5 bath apartments for individuals earning up to 60 percent of the area median income, from $32,100 to $45,840. Plans for Kenlawn Place also call for building five scattered single-family homes, 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, for larger families, with similar income parameters, to rent close by to the apartments.

“The $10.3 million project is not only a great fit for the barren land and boarded housing currently there, it could prove catalytic for the One Linden Community plan envisioned by Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther,” wrote Homeport President & CEO Bruce Luecke in a letter to the city.

City Development Director Steve Schoeny told the City Council the development plans could spur more investment, and that Homeport is committed to working with area residents on matters of parking, landscaping and design.

John Boxill, Chief Operating Officer of New Salem Baptist Church, joined more than 60 other members of the church in support of Homeport’s plans and spoke to the potential impact redevelopment of Linden could have in addressing area challenges, from food shortages to children’s needs to reducing crime and growing jobs.

The church also presented a petition of support with 104 signatures.

Joining supporters of redevelopment of the land by Homeport was Carol Perkins, a North Linden resident of 37 years, New Salem member and former Columbus School Board president. Perkins noted Columbus made a 2019 “52 Places to Go” list compiled by the New York Times.

But housing is critical too, she noted. “Columbus must not only be a great place to visit but a great place to live.”

Development of Kenlawn Place is dependent on financing. Homeport has applied for development funds through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program awarded by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. If OHFA grants the credits this spring, Homeport would have to return to City Council for final development approval.

North Linden Area Commission Chairman John S. Lathram lll, since the meeting at City Hall, said reaching consensus can be challenging when it comes to bringing redevelopment into a neighborhood.

“Cleveland Avenue is ripe for urban renewal with new residents having easy access to public transportation and retail services that are much needed in Linden,” Lathram said. “The Homeport project is just one part of the redevelopment plan that will potentially set the groundwork for the future of Linden.”