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“Unexpected,” Columbus emerges as nation’s hottest housing market

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Central Ohio’s housing market is feeling hot, hot, hot! In fact, Realtor.com has identified Columbus as the nation’s strongest real-estate market.

Columbus’ leap to the top of the leader board took realtor.com writer Chelsia Rose Marcius by surprise, calling us an “unexpected hot spot.” (Is this yet another example of major publications underestimating Columbus, or is that an accurate statement? Hard to say.) But, the numbers don’t lie.

The Dispatch reports strong job growth, low interest rates are powering demand, while the dwindling supply drives prices up, thus creating the perfect frenzy of aspiring homeowners.

“Historically there wasn’t much demand in those areas,” said ealtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “Now that home prices are higher across the board, people are looking to those [more wallet-friendly] areas to buy. Columbus is super affordable, with a median $249,900 compared to the national listing price of $300,000, which attracts a lot of younger buyers.”

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Columbus Re/Max agent Lee Ritchie, whose clientele is 80% millennials looking to be first-time buyers, advises people to buy now.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but I don’t see [the housing market] slowing down,” Ritchie said.

Two other Ohio cities made their way into the top 20: Akron (16) and Canton (19).

According to information from realtor.com, Central Ohio homes sell after a median of 40 days on the market.. According to Columbus Realtors, the Columbus area had 1.4 months of supply of homes for sale in February, well below the norm of six months.

Click here to read the full report.

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Orange Barrel Hell: 5 road projects to avoid at all costs

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The ubiquitous orange construction barrel: a sign of central Ohio’s continual growth, and the stuff of traffic nightmares.

Road construction in central Ohio is a headache that may be impossible to avoid, but at least you can try. Here are five ongoing road projects to watch out for.

Watkins road at 33 – Closed indefinitely
A truck hit the 33 overpass at Watkins Rd on Thursday, leading to a closure of Watkins that could last for months, according to ODOT officials.

I-70 between I-270 and Wilson Rd – southbound Wilson closed for the weekend
I-270 to I-70 eastbound on the west side, as well as Southbound Wilson Road over I-70, will be closed beginning at 10 p.m. on Friday. The closure will last through the weekend. All lanes will reopen at 5:00 AM Monday.

I-71 South Side ‘Mega Fix’ Between Grove City and Columbus
The South Side construction project on Interstate 71 between Columbus and Grove City will add extra lanes, new bridges, and exit ramps throughout five miles of highway. The project will be under construction for at least three years, with completion targeted for the Fall of 2020.

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I-670 / I-270 Smart Lane
Construction on the Ohio’s first SmartLane has begun. The project spans seven miles miles of I-670 between downtown and John Glenn International Airport.

The new lane, called a SmartLane, will utilize state-of-the-art digital overhead signs installed every three-quarters of a mile to let motorists know if the lane is open to traffic. SmartLanes are intended to ease traffic congestion during peak rush hours.

3rd Avenue Widening near Railroad between Edgehill Road and Columbus Fire Station #25
Eastbound 3rd Avenue is detoured at Northwest Boulevard, except for local business traffic. This detour is expected to be in place for the rest of the year for a widening, reconstruction, and pedestrian path project.

What ongoing road project grinds your gears in your daily commute? Let us know in the comments.

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Video: Local church apologizes after kids spit on pastor

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Please consider this story your weekly reminder not to spit on people—even if they’re literally asking for it.

The Impact City Church in Pataskala has issued an apology over an Easter lesson gone wrong, in which youth minister Jaddeus Dempsey encouraged kids to slap him and spit on him. One student, at Dempsey’s direction, even cut the pastor’s bare back with a knife. The exercise was intended to teach students about Christ’s crucifixion.

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In a statement posted to Facebook, the church assured the public that there is a formal review and investigation of the incident under way from their Board of Directors:

While Dempsey’s future at the church is uncertain, perhaps this bizarre incident did manage to convey a simple lesson—don’t spit on people!

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There’s still hope for bigger, better Whitehall Kroger

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Two years has gone by since Kroger purchased a former Big Bear grocery store at the Town and Country Shopping Center in Whitehall, but the massive marketplace is still promising a bigger, better store for the community.

The place may just be a vacant lot right now, but according to This Week News, the 8.2-acre site at 3680 E. Broad St could become a shopping center with a drive-through pharmacy, fuel center, expanded kosher offerings, ClickLists, and other amenities.

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But ultimately, the project timeline is still being worked out.

Via a 15-year, 53% tax-increment-financing agreement Whitehall City Council approved in 2016, Kroger’s deadline to begin construction was pushed back from the end of 2018 to the end of 2021.

Kroger purchased the property for $4.2 million and is expected to shell out another $24 million to build the new store.


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