“The Trolley Commons of Franklin Park” by the Urban Avengers

The historic “Old Trolley Barn” complex on the northeast corner of Oak Street and Kelton Avenue, near the renowned Franklin Park and Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens (a landmark structure on the National Register of Historic Places), has significant historical heritage and value.  The buildings on the Old Trolley Barn’s 3-acre site were built between 1880 and 1920 serving the city’s trolley system for decades.  The local community takes great pride in their Franklin Park neighborhood, including having hosted the commemorative, international, quincentenary event “AmeriFlora 92” in 1992, from which many of the extensive landscaping and expansion renovations remain in place today at Franklin Park and the Conservatory.arial-shot franklin park

Current structures

The Old Trolley Barn site contains several historic and extraordinary brick buildings, two of which developers plan to save and restore with any new usage of the site.  Following are descriptions of each building and/or section of the Trolley Barn site and surrounding areas:

  • The building on the corner of Kelton and Oak – the Trolley Barn, which appears to be in somewhat better condition than the other buildings on the property, could likely be restored for commercial use, with minimal demolition and hopefully minimal costs for restoration.

 Western Bldg from Kelton

  • There appear to be four buildings in the center of the property, with one that is in fairly decent condition (located directly on Oak Street).

Middle bldgsmore demo

  • Remaining is a large building on the east end of the site in fair condition aside from the large hole in the ceiling in the center of the building.

Evan's Eastside shot

  • The property is in a (largely) single-family residential area and as previously mentioned is bordered by the 88-acre Franklin Park and Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens one block north.
  • Bordered on the south side by Oak Street, where there is also a parallel green space (approximately one acre in size – which, side bar –  would be an excellent location for a community garden or dog park!)

Green Space across Oak

  • Kelton Avenue borders the Trolley Barn site to the west and is a one-way street flowing northbound (with a dedicated bike lane). It is worth noting that Kelton Avenue does have its own exit off of Interstate 70 (several blocks south) which would allow versatile access; however, the one-way restriction of Kelton Avenue will likely cause some minor traffic concerns with the expected traffic increase in this area after the refurbishment is completed.
Kelton bike lane

One-way street Kelton Avenue, with dedicated bike lane dead-ends into Franklin Park South


Community Needs

After evaluating the neighborhood by car and on foot, and speaking with two locals who without hesitation (and/or coaching from any members of our group) expressed their heartfelt desires for this site to be transformed into a community-oriented facility (with a swimming pool), serving local residents of all ages with free (or very affordable) fitness and recreational activities.

  • “Bernice”, a mature African American female, who works at a local, minority-focused business was very passionate about the need for a swimming pool in this area, having lived in the area her entire life. She pointed out that the only other pool in the area is at Maryland Park and that the pool there is too small and unfit for community enjoyment.  Bernice also conveyed a plea for a recreational facility serving both children and adults, with a special need to address the lack of activities for senior citizens in this area.
  • Local resident, “Danette” – a 50-something year old Caucasian female, was quick to point out that the site has been an eye-sore for much too long and that this neighborhood would embrace a community center. She envisions an initiative that would appeal to people of all ages and cultures, bonding them together, to learn from each other and develop life-long bonds – as friends and as a prideful community.  Danette spoke of the important role this center could play in the lives of the teens attending East High School.

Both of the interviewed residents had passionate ideas completely in alignment with the proposal being recommended by the Urban Avengers.

Footprints and Site Plans


Original rough draft of plans



Final usage footprint

Building Footprints

Final Footprint

Breakdown of Non-Profit and Commercial Categorization


Our idea for the new development would be branded as “The Trolley Commons.”  Our initial plans were simple, and after several consultations Urban Avengers created site footprints which led to the following restorations, additions and demolitions:

  • The western most building at the corner of Kelton and Oak (believed to be the original Trolley Barn) would house small business office space and a small historical museum-type welcome center.
  • Directly north of this building would stand a newly built, state-of-the art community recreational center, targeting all age groups. The community center building would be L-shaped housing indoor half-court basketball courts, fitness and weightlifting areas, community rooms (similar to classrooms with at least one kitchen for healthy nutrition and cooking classes), an indoor walking area, and a swimming pool which would be both indoor and outdoor as weather dictates.  A similar type facility is pictured below:

Recreation center image

  • The community rooms will offer both educational and inspirational classes surrounding hobbies, self-improvement to support heathy ideals, self-defense, life skills, and crafts.
  • This building will also house a small display of the history of the property and its significance. The main purpose of this community center is to promote healthy living for local residents of all ages and cultural backgrounds.
  • It is our recommendation that the community center be operated by the City of Columbus in order to make it financially accessible to all people. One member of our group suggested the community center could honor and be named after current (and out-going) Mayor Michael B. Coleman who has had a significant positive impact on the City of Columbus during his 15 years as mayor.
  • The eastern-most building is recommended to be kept and repurposed. The southern end of this building would be home to a farmer’s market, hosting Ohio grown produce, fruit and other healthy food options to build on encouraging a healthy lifestyle for the entire community. While it would be of a small scale, it would be the only healthy alternative located in this neighborhood.Evan's Eastside shot













  • Urban Avengers also envisions another community-driven initiative that would utilize the eastern building and fill a huge void for this area, by bringing a senior citizens’ recreation center to serve the surrounding neighborhoods. Some ideas for the senior center could include:
    • Healthy cooking and baking sessions;
    • Crafts such as quilting and art;
    • Mentoring youth (perhaps partnering with local East High School and Columbus Preparatory School for Girls);
    • Tap Dancing;
    • Sharing and recording memoirs (especially important for memorializing local history from those seniors who are native to the area);
    • Music lessons (both given and taken by seniors); and
    • Financial and retirement advocacy.
  • With extremely limited restaurant options in this area, the southern-most central building will be kept and repurposed as a café. The café will be a small, locally owned company featuring healthy food options, beverages, and a small outdoor seating area to enjoy the beauty of the area during pleasant and clement weather seasons.Middle bldgs
  • Lastly, the remaining centrally located buildings, deemed unsalvageable, will be leveled to pave way for the community swimming pool, and to provide ample parking to support the community center, offices, senior center, and market. The parking areas will be largely concealed from street view, behind buildings and a greenery of trees and shrubs on the Oak Street side of the property.

more demo







Urban Avengers’ objective for “The Trolley Commons” is to build and support a healthy, informed, and involved community in the area of Franklin Park, maintaining historic elements that attribute to the integrity and pride of the citizens who live and work there.

Assignment 4- Analyzing Local Neighborhood Food Environments – Urban Avengers

Accessing Organic, Healthy Food in Weinland Park

The food environment of Weinland Park is in desperate need of improvement.  This area is a borderline food desert with local access to healthy food being extremely limited.  The saving grace of this unfortunate situation is the neighborhood Kroger on North High Street.  This Kroger is a fabulous and financially successful store, with an abundance of healthy food for purchase.  However, the greatest problem for the Weinland Park community is ease of access.  If every resident in Weinland Park owned a car, then getting to the Kroger would be simple and convenient.  However, many residents do not own vehicles and need to walk.  This can be especially burdensome if the resident is disabled, in poor health, or of significant age.  This also would be problematic in the winter due to the obvious – slippery sidewalks.  There is also the dilemma of transporting the purchased groceries home when on foot.  Even for those residents who can utilize public transportation (such as the COTA bus), there is still an issue of travel distance as the Kroger lies on the most western border of the Weinland Park district boundary.


kroger   bus station

The Community Speaks:

The Urban Avengers conducted interviews in the Weinland Park district regarding local food access.

  • Ervin, a 54-year old male who lives in Weinland Park (but did not disclose his address) was observed walking to the Kroger with the aid of a walker. Ervin visits Kroger at least 3 times per week (always by walking).  He makes numerous trips because he purchases small amounts of groceries per visit due to the issue of carrying them home while using his walker.  He does feel the effects of limited access.
  • Eighty-year old “Bliss”, a male residing alone on 9th Avenue, near Grant Ave. does all of his own food shopping at the Kroger on High Street.  He drives himself to the Kroger and feels satisfied with the access at this time.  He noted to us that of course, should he become unable to drive himself, access will become a problem.

Local Markets In Place in Weinland Park:

The Urban Avengers conducted a location research survey in the Weinland Park area and located six local convenience type stores.

  • Natalia’s on Summit Street at E. 6th – this corner store is not an option for healthy food access.  Natalia’s has a very large selection of beer, cigarettes, candy and snack foods (chips, cookies, etc.)  There was one small freezer near the cash register containing a hodgepodge of frozen foods which were a variety known to be sold at Aldi grocery stores.  It seemed obvious that the owner had purchased these frozen foods at Aldi and was reselling them at a mark-up.
  • East Village on Chittenden near 4th Street – this store is fairly new and seems to cater largely to the OSU campus crowd.  The focus of this store is beer and snack type foods.
  • North 4th Fish n Chips and Carry Out (at 4th and 11th).  This store was not entered by anyone in the group but an assumption is made that they do in fact, make and sell fried fish and French fries.  The additional assumption is that there would also be the sale of beer, cigarettes and junk food.
  • Star Carry Out at 1565 North  4th Street near Chittenden.  This store did not appear to be open on Sunday, the day of our neighborhood survey.

IMG_8322IMG_8313  IMG_8312

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Additionally, there are two Marathon gas station/convenience stores located within one block of each other on Summit Street (one at the corner of Summit and Chittenden and the other at the corner of Summit and 11th Avenue).  Both are owned by the same Sudanese family.  One of the owners spoke to us stating that the logic of owning two locations so close in proximity is that you “hit traffic going in both directions, due to the one way streets.”  When asked if they carried, in either location, any healthy food, the owner laughed and asked “Where in America do you see healthy food??  You must grow healthy food from the ground up.”  Indeed, kind Sir, indeed.


Marathon 1IMG_8319Marathon corner

In addition to the lack of healthy food alternatives, the basic fundamentals of the environment also contribute to the access problems.  This area is known to be high crime and the carry out/markets throughout the district are protected with massive steel bars which demonstrates the lack of safety and trust felt by the storeowners.  This invokes fear in the residents (and visitors) to even step inside – not exactly the place for women or children to feel secure stopping in for a gallon of milk.  The traffic is extremely busy on the main thoroughfares – Summit Street, 4th Street,  11th Avenue and 5th Avenue.  The traffic issue also plays a role in access to the 4th Street Farm due to the volume and high speed of vehicles on 4th Street – the danger in crossing the street is not conducive to the children and families living on the opposite side of 4th Street.  Pedestrian safety is of great concern in these high volume traffic areas.


How Does Your Garden Grow?. . .

The beginning of our journey began at the 4th Street Farm, which according to its founder, Woody, was started approximately 4 years ago.  The concept is a great one, and Woody’s passion is evident.  It is uncertain as to the actual involvement of the community as the organic food growing areas did seem a bit neglected.  And if the people aren’t coming in, then the produce is likely not going out, therefore unfortunately, the fresh produce is being wasted.

That same concern is felt for the other two community gardens we located –  Indianola Community Garden on Indianola at Euclid Avenue and also the Arawak Community Garden located just a block or two from the 4th Street Farm, also on 4th Street.  Both of these gardens also appeared neglected and therefore, not truly benefiting community members with FREE healthy eating options.

Neither of the two gentleman interviewed (remember Bliss and Ervin?) even knew about the community gardens, or that they are welcome to enjoy the fruit and produce as a community member!

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to farm

Where Do We Go From Here?

The Urban Avengers feel that the Weinland Park Community Civic Association is definitely on the right track with not only the implementation of the local community gardens, but also the structure already in place with several civic committees to assist in addressing these issues.  Resident-led committees such as the Food and Wellness Committee, the Land Use and Business Development Committee, as well as the Safety and Mobility Committee.  Kudos to the WPCCA for caring about its residents and taking strides to improve their quality of life!

The Urban Avengers, in that same framework of community importance, would like to make the following recommendations to the WPCCA for a healthier community:

Grab the attention of your district’s youth and make it fun for them to be involved in the community gardens!  Statistics show that if a child actually grows a food themselves, they are more likely to enjoy eating it.


One way to gain involvement would be to invite the “Sol Food Mobile Farm” to Weinland Park.  On the PBS television show, “Growing a Greener Garden”, Episode 325 featured the “Sol Food Mobile Farm.”  Four young professionals  who grew up together in Durham, North Carolina began the Sol Food Mobile Farm in 2012 and are traveling across the United States (in an old school bus transformed into a mobile, self-sufficient farm where they also sleep and eat) to visit community farms, educate and inform the community (focusing on children) on the benefits of having a community garden.  Please visit the provided link to learn more about Sol Food and how to request a visit:  http://www.growingagreenerworld.com/episode325/

Another recommendation is to place an alternate grocery store on the “other side” of Weinland Park.  Our idea specifically calls for placement of an Aldi Grocery Store on either the northwest corner of 5th Avenue and Summit Street or 5th Avenue and 4th Street.  There are currently abandoned buildings and/or vacant lots at both locations that could become part of a gentrification project to further revitalize the Weinland Park area.  Either site could be demolished and turned into a successful, easily accessible, affordable grocery alternative.  Aldi Stores are extremely affordable and are known for their affordable and desirable produce sections.  While there is currently an Aldi Grocery approximately three miles away at Silver Driver and I-71 – that location largely serves the Linden area, and is still not easily accessible to the Weinland Park residents.


Corner of 5th and 4th (Beer Barn)

Corner of 5th Avenue and 4th Street

Aldi-StoresPicture 240


Corner of 5th and Summit

Corner of 5th and Summit St

The Weinland Park community is full of life-long residents as well as new families and young professionals.  The area has seen tremendous growth in the past few years and the outlook for continued growth is most certain.  In the essence of continuing to serve your community with healthier alternatives, please consider the recommendations given by the Urban Avengers.  We thank you for allowing us to explore your neighborhood!

Designing/Planning a Local Concept by Urban Avengers

While Columbus, Ohio has long been admired for its sense of community, distinct outer suburbs and downtown districts, we are particularly proud to unveil “On the Bricks” which is literally in the heart of downtown at High and Gay Streets.  High Street is currently and largely known for the Short North District which showcases block after block of fine eateries, popular pub houses and renowned art galleries and retail shops.  On the Bricks is just a few blocks away from the Short North and will focus largely on unique retail shops like those found in Chicago, New York City and other popular USA cities.



On the Bricks is inspired by the cobblestone streets of downtown Columbus and aspires to preserve the original, short brick cobblestone path that currently exists dividing the lots on High Street between Gay and Long Streets, the site of this new multi-living structure.



Columbus is well known for their historic cobblestone streets still in place today, and the design concept presented by Urban Avengers captures and honors that important part of local history and design.

Sketch 1

Bricks 1

Our design of a beautiful and unique, primarily brick 6-story structure housing some of the most hip and successful Urbanites in the country will maintain or, at the very least, incorporate the original bricks already in place on the Gay and High property.  Urban Avengers’ vision includes the current “bricks” being the central focus of a covered ground-level courtyard.

sketch 2

The concept of local design in Columbus, Ohio is as versatile as the city itself.  Columbus is the nucleus of several suburban neighborhoods that, while independent, still associate themselves with being from Columbus.  The city of Columbus has a reputation for diversity, friendliness, safety, cleanliness, and creating entrepreneurs.  Columbus is a hot spot where highly successful businesses have been born such as:

The Limited Brands (think Victoria’s Secret)         Wendy’s Restaurants

Jeni’s Ice Cream                                                            Cameron Mitchell Restaurants

Worthingon Industries                                                 Donato’s Pizza

White Castle Hamburgers                                            Max & Erma’s Restaurants

The citizens of Columbus have a great love for nature as is evident in the numerous metro parks throughout the city, and a rapidly growing trend of neighborhood community gardens to implement healthier food access to all generations and income levels.  Columbus has very distinct and diverse neighborhoods (such as Italian Village, the Short North District, German Village, Olde Towne East, Victorian Village, Franklinton, Bexley, Minerva Park, etc.) and is continually moving towards revitalization and improvements of these areas and more.

On the Bricks is a creation that combines all of these qualities of Columbus city-living, greenspace, urban shops and eateries and incorporates them into one legendary, mini-city location in the heart of downtown for a perfect balance of life, health, work and play.


The courtyard will feature beautiful hanging garden plants to capture our local agricultural essence and staying in spirit with the rooftop residential community garden and green space, giving the residents a communal feel of ownership and personalization.  We envision the first floor courtyard also featuring a breathtaking fountain and local artistic talents with sprawling seating for visitors and residents to leisurely enjoy this covered outdoor setting.  Each residence will include a private balcony for residents to enjoy the outdoors and scenic view of downtown Columbus.

sketch 3On the BricksOn the BricksOn the BricksOn the Bricks

Due to its soaring employment opportunities and successful creation of numerous entrepreneurs, Columbus is drawing national and international professionals to work, live and play here.  Columbus is a magnet for new talent as showcased by just being voted the “2015 Intelligent Community of the Year” by the Intelligent Community Forum, based on our relentless embrace and pursuit of new ideas.  As professionals from all over the world land in Columbus, they will want to live, eat and play in the heart of the excitement that Columbus brings to life and that means living in the heart of downtown!  Living in downtown Columbus has also become a bucket list item for many Columbus natives.  The central location and convenient access to all freeways makes it a hot home spot no matter where your office environment may be located.  Use of bicycling and public transportation in Columbus is on the rise and with the recent addition of the FREE “C-bus” throughout the downtown, Columbus is highly comparative to other large USA cities in this regard.

On the Bricks

On the Bricks brings to life the desire of many Columbus natives who crave the excitement and energy that accompanies shopping in the downtown atmosphere.  The mix of retail storefronts at On the Bricks will showcase both vintage favorites as well as new blends of shopping flavors.  As Columbus continues to soar as an urban stand-out known for our ever-growing variety of exquisite eateries and popular taverns and nightclubs, On the Bricks will feature an iconic rooftop bar which will be the new favorite spot to hit any night of the week.  On our proposed rendering “On the Bricks” is let out from the building overlapping the upper third floor and the rooftop green space so the name greets everyone and people know exactly what you mean when you say I live “On the Bricks!