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Landmark Trolley Barn rolls forward, fresh food market planned

Landmark Trolley Barn rolls forward, fresh food market planned

Regina Fox

After six decades of being a piece of Columbus’ history, a blighted landmark will get a second chance.

On Monday, Columbus City Council approved a $30 million rejuvenation to the Kelton Avenue Streetcar Barn and Machine Shop at 1600 Oak St on the Near East Side.

When complete, the Trolley Barn mixed-use complex will house a fresh food market, small business co-working and flex office space, restaurants, and community and education space, all while retaining the original character of the historic building, according to a release.

Of the 19 food stalls in the fresh food market, one will be provided to Columbus City Schools Culinary School students.  

Earlier this year, the state introduced a new financing tool called Downtown Redevelopment Districts (DRD) with the goal of helping local municipalities attract investments that preserve historic buildings and encourage economic development in commercial, mixed-use and residential areas.

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On the Trolley Barn site, a DRD will be created where the developer will pay 100 percent of the property tax revenue due on the site. The funds generated will support the Columbus City School District, levy agencies, as well as subsidize the operation of the onsite food market, according to a release.

“Using the Downtown Redevelopment District as a strategic investment tool to redevelop the Trolley Barn will increase food access for the neighborhood, improve the neighborhood health indicators and support small and minority business growth,” said Interim Development Director Michael Stevens.

In the early 1900s, the Kelton Avenue Street Car Barn and Machine Shops served as an electric trolley station. Train service extended to the Zanesville region, connecting residents to jobs, housing and shopping.

“We are excited about the restoration of a historic property that will serve as an asset to the Near East community,” said Council member Emmanuel V. Remy. “The rich history of the property will be retained and reimagined, and I couldn’t be more pleased to be part of this story.”

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