The Little Bar didn’t seem so little when I was a college student at OSU; I remember the giant crowds packed in the parking lot, screaming and rooting for the Buckeyes while huddled around the iconic, enormous, outdoor TV. While “little,” this bar left a big impact on us.
Now, there’s a possibility that it could all just be part of our memories.
Nearly a year ago, American Campus Communities (ACC), introduced a plan to replace Little Bar and the University Baptist Church at 2195 N. High St. with a new housing development. This proposal would feature a mixed development building, including 599 beds, parking lots, and a 10, 588 square foot facility that would house a new location for the University Baptist Church. Since the initial proposal, the ACC has additionally committed to 20% of the housing being deemed as “affordable,” with prices as low as $450 a person (in a 4-bedroom unit).
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At the July 24th City Council meeting, this plan was approved (with six in favor and one against), but not without some feedback and serious concerns for the community, expressed by both City Council members and citizens.
Sam Newman, Vice President of ACC, was at the meeting to represent Blackstone, the private equity firm that owns ACC. He assured the community and City Council that, “Our proposed project is a sustainable community close to campus, professionally managed, academically focused, provides affordable housing options, adds new housing without displacement, and keeps University Baptist Church in the community.”
Columbus residents were invited to speak on their opinions of this ordinance before the City Council voted. One community member in particular expressed their belief that Blackstone only offered affordable housing after “the abatement is part of the picture,” they said. “The idea that we’re letting Blackstone use that to get into our community is astonishing to me.”
Rob Doran, chair of the Zoning Community, emphasized that there are Fair Housing Laws here in Columbus, and that this vote is less about problematic landlords, and more about “additional housing to an area of the city that is rapidly growing,” he said at Monday night’s meeting.
City Council Member Lourdes Barroso de Padilla was the only member to vote “no” on this proposed development. She expressed, “This is a challenging one for me because we set a precedent, and so I just think it’s important to elevate that because I think the concerns…are valid…we have to continue to look at this and hold ourselves accountable…”
Shayla Favor seemed to agree with Padilla, but voted in favor. “This is a challenging vote for myself as well, especially as being the housing chair…and being about housing as a human right, which I whole-heartedly believe in.”
Ultimately, this development is consistent with other urban mixed use developments that have been popping up along N. High St. and Lane Ave. corridors in the past couple of years, however, these particular students in this new development might not be able to celebrate a Buckeye win at OSU hotspot, Little Bar.
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