Update January 6th:
Bollinger Tower Residents Displaced for Short North Hotel
This article was originally published on November 18th, but with the recent news that the nearly 100 low-income Residents of Bollinger Tower will be forced out of their homes by April, we thought it appropriate to repost.
The CMHA is using $300,000 from the $14 million purchase to move the elderly residents, and will include $500 for each resident who leaves the property by April 15th.
Short North’s Bollinger Tower: Do We Really Need Another Hotel?
by Jennifer Bryant
In real estate, as in life, change is constant.
The Short North’s history exemplifies this — once a rundown, crime-filled neighborhood that people avoided if at all possible is now a popular arts district experiencing a resurgence over the past few decades. Boutique stores, art galleries, and bars slinging pricey cocktails now occupy formerly run-down, boarded-up buildings. The revitalization of the Short North continues to draw residents and tourists alike, bringing tax dollars to the city and raising the value of real estate in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, rising rents can displace existing residents who called the neighborhood home long before it was fashionable.
If you’ve spent much time on High Street, you’ve probably noticed Bollinger Tower. Originally built in 1984, it has served as a home for low-income senior citizens for many years, some of whom are disabled. The 11-story building is set back from the street, but residents can often be found sitting out front, chatting with each other and waving to passerby. In the spring and summer, potted plants displayed on the grounds add a pop of color; during Gallery Hop, musicians and street performers set up shop out front, providing entertainment. Bollinger Tower is located right on the bus line and close to grocery stores, restaurants, and Goodale Park, so residents can retain independence while enjoying life in the heart of the city.
But not for much longer.
Bollinger Tower was purchased by Schiff Capital Group, a developer that plans to redevelop the space into a Cambria Suites hotel, an upscale, all-suite brand of Choice Hotels. The Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority will receive an estimated $14 million from the sale, with plans to use part of that money to relocate current tenants.
Unfortunately for the current tenants of Bollinger Tower, this means displacement. According to the Columbus Dispatch, residents will receive help finding new places to live from the CMHA, along with vouchers for rent. This assistance will no doubt ease their transition, but residents will still face hard times as they leave their neighborhood – and neighbors – behind.
Community is a hard thing to replace. Friendships, connections, and trust have been built up over the years at Bollinger Tower; many of the people who live in the building are regulars at local businesses as well. Visitors to the new hotel may bring spending power, but the Short North will lose long-time residents who add age and income diversity to the neighborhood. Meanwhile, the new hotel will join dozens of others within a 5-mile radius, including Le Méridien Columbus, Hilton Columbus, Renaissance Hotel, and The Drury Inn and the recently announced Moxy which is replacing Haiku only a few blocks away. (Seriously, how many hotels do we need?)
At Bollinger Tower, elderly residents are being forced out to make the neighborhood more enticing for visitors. It’s a narrative being repeated in cities nationwide. Losing one’s home is stressful at any age, but more so for senior citizens who lack financial means and who are losing the home they’ve known for decades. While revitalization is a worthy goal, we must remain aware of what is being lost in the process.