Short North

Technicolor arches

The arches over Hight Street just got their lights working a little bit ago- don’t mention the issues. But soon they’ll be alight with glorious color:

On Saturday, September 1, at 9:00PM, the Short North will throw the switch on the final phase of the High Street Arches renovation. The iconic arches will transform into an array of brilliant colors and effects that will become the signature feature of the nationally acclaimed Arts District.

(Via Columbus Underground.)

Is there a COTA veto on extending the proposed Columbus streetcar to OSU?

City hires engineering firm for streetcars

RetroMetro has a press release from Mayor Coleman’s office:

Based on the Steering Committee’s recommendation, the City is investing $150,000 to hire national streetcar expert HDR Inc. and Capitol South, who will produce a specific financing plan on how Streetcars can be built and operated using a mix of private sector funding with federal, state, and local investment. The plan expected to be completed in approximately six month. For more information on Downtown Streetcars, visit, www.downtowncolumbus.com and click on Streetcars.

Investment is a nice progressive word for taxes of course. Here’s HDR’s website.

Underducky at columbusING has a big post on streetcars today:

There is a great deal of debate about who should pay for a huge project like a streetcar system (not to mention a huger project like light rail). Shitloads of people who pay their Columbus taxes won’t get a whole hell of a lot from a dinky little streetcar like the one proposed for Columbus – at least according to the numbers. Rob from the ‘suburbs’, another responder to my previous rant about Bill Todd’s dickish behavior and flower hating, is profoundly concerned that the Short North is getting all the good shit from the City, and that the outlying areas are getting the shaft while being expected to foot the bill. Yeah, he’s right, but if no one pays for it, we’re all fucked.

Language. But it’s an interesting topic. Should taxpayers in outlying areas of Columbus shoulder part of the cost of this YP paradise the city wants to put in place, of which streetcars are a part? Property values within 2 blocks of the streetcar are supposed to go up. Should the working class pay taxes for this item and help the rich get richer? Or will the benefits that accrue to those who already own property downtown or in German Village and the Short North trickle down to those who don’t?

Columbus buzz post

From Walkable Neighborhoods, a site that “promotes livable, walkable communities that are vibrant, unique, and economically viable places to live, work, and play” (and also sells homes):

Columbus is my second favorite city in the Midwest, behind the obvious pick of Chicago. Columbus has an incredible energy, and my prediction is that within 10 years, people will be talking about Columbus all over the country. The Short North has a lot to do with the success of Columbus, and that’s where I shot this photo.

The Short North is my favorite arts district in the country. It is right on the edge of Downtown Columbus and the Arena District. Sure, it does not have the big name museums like other large cities, but the indie scene here is quite fun.

Take that, Indianapolis!

Taco+Beer at Bodega in the Short North tonight at 5pm. Announcement here.

Ohio wines

From the Short North Insider:

This evening at 7 pm starts of the North Market Food & Ohio Wine Festival with a preview party and continues Saturday and Sunday. It has become quite popular and good way to sample some of the wines Ohio has to offer. Also, since some of them don’t distribute their wines, a way to sample and buy some without having to travel to their winery. The Friday preview is $20 and the the two other days are $5 admission.

Are Ohio wines supposed to be any good? This is from the event’s page, linked above:

Ohio is a state of wine. With its fertile soil and drainage and latitude similar to that of the great wine-producing countries of Europe, Ohio is ideally suited for growing a variety of grapes. From the Lake Erie coast to the Ohio River shoreline, Ohio has 96 wineries scattered throughout it borders. Come savor tastes of select vintages from 15 Ohio wineries at the 6th Annual North Market Food and Ohio Wine Festival presented by National City. The North Market will host a weekend celebration of Ohio’s finest wines and great foods to pair with them during the weekend of July 13th-15th. Sponsoring organizations include National City, Ohio Grape Industries, smartUSA, Master Clean and Columbus Alive.

Hmm.

Luxury condos r us

Underducky at columbusING has some doubts about another luxury condo going up in the Short North:

Now, I have nothing against concierge services or rooftop pools, but I do wonder what will become of the Short North when these things become indigenous. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a polemic against gentrification and urban re-development. It’s not even close, but massive urban renewal cannot help but have sweeping and profound effects on communities adjacent and surrounding. I didn’t see anything about any of that in any of the promotional literature I skimmed, just a bunch of stuff about stainless steel appliances.

That’s kind of what I was getting at in this recent post.

But note, the newest condo on the drawing board, Ibiza, is going to go up with no streetcar line at all.

Some thoughts on downtown and mass transit

Two posts today on two separate blogs on how mass transit fits into a renewed downtown Columbus. First up is John Kazalia from About.com, comparing Columbus to Portland:

Portland has lots of transit. LOTS OF IT. Light rail from east suburbs through downtown to west suburbs. A north-south streetcar line. Busways and busses everywhere. And most of it goes 24/7. And their ridership numbers show it–Portland transit gets as many riders in two months as COTA gets in a year….

What is there in downtown Columbus to ride a streetcar past at this point? Pretty much a dead mall and state office towers.

Of course, would the streetcars be the catalyst to bring things back to downtown Columbus? I don’t have a definite answer, but having seen downtown Portland I can say that Columbus has miles to go before our downtown is like theirs. Much, much, much more than just building streetcar lines.

Jamie Fellrath of Bike Commuting in Columbus (and into the blogroll with ye) left an interesting comment:

If Columbus could emulate them we would be in so much better shape. But it’s going to take more than just a trolley or some bike lanes - it’s going to take MUCH stricter zoning laws and greater cooperation between Columbus and the suburbs than we have now.

As long as Dublin, Gahanna, Hilliard, Delaware, etc. are pulling businesses outside of city limits, all the trolleys in the world won’t make a lick of difference.

It seems as if Jamie is asking for those satellite cities to cooperate in the destruction of their own business base, which of course is never going to happen. I believe Jamie’s view is based on the old paradigm of the downtown area having all the businesses, be it jobs or destinations like stores and restaurants, and the surrounding areas having all the homes- bedroom communities, as it were. This supports the classic urban mass transit model- all tracks lead downtown. It works best in New York due to that city’s unique geography. But even there, it works best if you work in Manhattan. It’s a real bitch to travel from Brooklyn to Queens, for example. So you can see how mass transit would be easier if businesses were coerced into operating downtown. But it’s a non-starter.

The other post is from Columbusite, whose point #5 on improving downtown is:

COTA, if it is to be useful at all, needs to stop serving sprawling suburbs which were built with total disregard for mass-transit. They aren’t wanted there and they cannot serve these areas well anyway. COTA needs to focus on proving good serve in urban areas, where they improve service like shortening waiting intervals. Streetcars would still be preferred since they don’t have the stigma that buses do, it’s hard to get lost on them, and they attract economic development which buses don’t since those routes could just disappear, negating any investment related to there being mass-transit.

This is the minimalist plan: the streetcars go downtown and to surrounding urban neighborhoods, but don’t really serve the larger metro area- not directly anyway. This is actually Columbus’s current streetcar plan, whose three lines would connect downtown to the Short North, Arena District, and German Village.

Like John, I’m agnostic on whether this would help. It really is a chicken and egg problem for downtown. Can new downtown destinations survive without an extant transit system to deliver customers? Will building a light rail or streetcar system spur downtown development? Columbusite says:

A very general observation but for a city our size to start becoming a 24/7 city we need around 10% of the total urban population downtown, which would be 30,000 people. Streetcars have proven themselves in spurring such development.

If such a plan works, and downtown becomes a much bigger destination, there then might be a call for a metro-area transit plan involving heavier rail. But even so, it’s going against the urban decentralization trend of the last 50 years.

Lucky 7-7-7

Tomorrow is 7-7-7, or July 7, 2007.

Time for another Gallery Hop in the Short North.

Nightline had a thing last night where they said that tomorrow is the most popular wedding day ever.

It’ll also be science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein’s 100th birthday. (Although he’s dead.)

For other 7-7-7 activities, and 7-6 and 7-8 too, here’s a weekend roundup from Discover Columbus. Where’s Restaurant Widow’s?

Doo Dah Parade Pics

Here are some photos of today’s Dooh Dah Parade in the Short North. This one was the 24th annual.

Doo Dah Parade: The Split

That’s the split. Not too far from the truth, I fear.

Doo Dah Parade: R.I.P. Little Brothers

Requiem for a club.

Doo Dah Parade: Bong Hits 4 Jesus

A perennial favorite.

Doo Dah Parade: Doo Dah Banner

The title at the end. I want one of those cooler scooters.

Here’s a link to all my Doo Dah pics, and to all Flickr photos tagged Doo Dah Parade. I recommend viewing the slideshow.

Doo Dah Day

The Marching Fidels

After Red White & Boom there’s the satirical Doo Dah Parade in the Short North:

Doo Dah Parade
Wednesday, July 4th, 2007 (and every year)
1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Line-up at Noon on Park Street & Buttles (Come in through Goodale to Park)

Here’s what it’s about:

Joe Theibert, a disorganizer and the unofficial starter of the parade, described Doo Dah as the greatest event in Western Civilization. “It’s sarcasm at its finest.”

Theibert said there are few rules for parade participants, though he asks that entrants not embarrass their families by, say, appearing naked. And he once had to kick out a glad-handling politician who was taking himself a little too seriously (politicians must wear funny hats). Commercial pitches are a no-no at the non-profit, volunteer-driven event. Racism and cruelty are also forbidden. A recent float featuring “honest attorneys”–the float was empty–should clue you into Doo Dah’s tongue-in-cheek humor.

Anyone is invited to get dressed up and join the community parade, poking fun at themselves or current events as elaborately as they want. There are no entry fees.

(Photo: The Marching Fidels by skippy13 @ Flickr.)

UPDATE: Here’s a post of 2007 Doo Dah Parade photos.

Police break protest at ComFest [Updated with video]

The Dispatch has an article on the ComFest incident, which occurred Saturday night:

According to an incident report by Sgt. Steve Livingston, a large group of people protesting the war in Iraq formed just after 11 p.m. at Comfest and was moving toward N. High Street from Goodale Park.

Special-duty officers were unable to stop the crowd as it moved south on High Street, blocking traffic.

Backup officers were called to Park and Vine streets, where the crowd repeatedly refused to leave, despite more than 10 warnings from police via a loudspeaker, Livingston’s report states.

At one point several masked protesters assaulted an officer. Officers used canister chemical spray to finally disperse the crowd.

I went to ComFest on Saturday, but didn’t stay that late, so I didn’t see what happened. Progress Ohio is soliciting info from witnesses.

UPDATE: Here’s video, taken by Peace General Bruce, who tells us several times that 9/11 was an inside job. It’s just shy of 25 minutes.

UPDATE: I watched the whole video. The warning from the police comes at 17:27. The protesters don’t react and continue marching. A single short burst of tear gas is released within 30 seconds- or at least, a single short burst is all that the video captured.

Here’s an account from the Columbus Independent Media Center (thanks to Walker in the comments):

The march continued up and down the Short North area of High St for about forty-five minutes without police interference. When the crowd marched down Nationwide Blvd towards Nationwide Arena three police cars were waiting at the intersection of Nationwide Blvd and Front St. Police announced that demonstrators were committing disorderly conduct and without giving anyone anytime to vacate the street, police produced fire extinguisher-sized bottles of tear gas and proceeded to gas the entire city block….

A diverse crowd took High Street on Saturday night. People from Columbus Studens for a Democratic Society, Arawak City, Central Ohioans for Peace and Not in Our Name were in attendance, as well as many people attending Comfest, who had never been involed in a political action. The tactic of taking over busy intersections is effective because it brings the anti-war message to an audience that cannot help but listen. Slowing down traffic reminds people that there are connections between oil consumption and all wars in the Middle East. Breaking the law expands the realm of political expression beyond its established limits. Participation and action are more inspiring and more educational and more intelligent than boredom and passivity.

ComFest pics

ComFest 2007 006

I went to ComFest yesterday for a little bit. It’s still going on ’til 11ish tonight. So here are a few photos.

ComFest 2007 016

That’s the main stage. Black Coin, I think.

ComFest 2007 049

Awww.

ComFest 2007 091

These guys were pretty good, despite the gold lamé pants.

Here’s a link to all my ComFest pics. And a link to all photos tagged ComFest. Try the Flickr slideshow, linked on those pages. It’s pretty cool.

More pics, and a ComFest review. Also check out Eddy Monday’s review.

ComFest info

Comfest-2006 - 43

ComFest is going on right now through Sunday. Here’s the official site.

To narrow down your choices somewhat, Columbus Alive has posted their staff picks for the best of ComFest.

Cringe.com has the full schedule in a more readable format than the ComFest site itself, with links to band websites. Also in iCal and mobile phone versions.

(Photo: Comfest2006 - 43 by dorn at Flickr.)

Busy weekend in Columbus

Action-packed weekend in Columbus coming up. In addition to Comfest all weekend in the Short North, the annual gay pride parade will be held on Saturday, which goes from the Short North to downtown.

You might want to kick things off with the free Taco+Beer night, which will be held tomorrow evening at the Ringside Cafe downtown, from 5-7.

Much more in the latest edition of the Restaurant Widow’s excellent weekender feature.

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