JANICE P. BIGGERS REVOLVING-REDEVELOPMENT FUND HIGH UPTOWN VISION
Historic Columbus' Revolving-Redevelopment Fund was started in 1968 with a $25,000 donation from the Junior League of Columbus. The first property acquired and revolved in the fund was The Folly, a National Historic Landmark. Since that time, Historic Columbus has revolved 83 properties and returned over $14 million back to the Muscogee County tax roles.
Currently, Historic Columbus has four historic structures and two vacant lots within its Revolving-Redevelopment Fund. Three houses are located in the High Uptown Historic District; one house is located in the Waverly Terrace Historic District; one lot is located within the Columbus Historic District; and one lot is located in Phenix City, Alabama.
Five years ago, Historic Columbus was approached by then Mayor Teresa Tomlinson to serve as the project administrator for a new master planning effort for City Village, a small neighborhood along the Second Avenue corridor that connects north Columbus with downtown Columbus (Uptown). With the acquisition and stabilization of City Mills and the City Village master plan, Historic Columbus began to focus the majority of it efforts (staff and Revolving Fund) on the Second Avenue corridor revitalization.
The plan for the City Village neighborhood also spurred discussions with Atlanta based non-profit Purpose Built Communities. They have been engaged to take a thoughtful look at the existing housing, education, wellness resources in the larger area along Second Avenue we are now calling The Mill District, which is comprised of City Village, North Highland, Anderson Village, and Bibb Village neighborhoods.
As this project develops, Historic Columbus is excited to have the opportunity to deploy more of its resources to help preserve the history and character of these historic neighborhoods. Helping existing residents maintain their historic properties is as critical as encouraging new investment.
Historic Columbus is currently working in the south end of The Mill District – High Uptown – with the recent purchase of three endangered historic houses. 1523 Third Avenue, a Georgian Revival Cottage, suffered a fire many years ago and has remained a boarded up shell. The other two Classical Revival structures (1531 and 1535 Third Avenue) were both divided up into multiple studio apartments, but have been vacant and not maintained for many years. These three historic properties are listed on the National Register and are significant remaining examples of the historic fabric of High Uptown. Our immediate plan is to clean out and properly secure the three buildings. High Uptown is a critical link to strengthening the connection and the overall revitalization of Uptown and the Mill District.
Our short term goal is the preservation of the three houses in High Uptown. Long term goals and vision are to expand our existing loan programs into the four neighborhoods of The Mill District and revolve more of the remaining historic properties within them.
There is a 14,000 affordable housing unit shortage right now in Columbus. Most of the homes in The Mill District were built pre-1950, on small lots, and are 1,500 square feet or less. In some sense, affordability is built in, but the physical conditions are poor. Where there is a gap Historic Columbus has been able to step in and provide assistance through façade loans, rehabilitation loans, and grants. In some cases, as is the case with the recently purchased houses on Third Avenue, it is necessary for Historic Columbus to acquire and stabilize. Our Revolving Fund allows Historic Columbus to be the patient capital “preserving” the existing housing stock for the coming demand.
Our organization is convinced that through strategic focused investments it is possible to revitalize a neighborhood, develop sustainability for community, and raise the quality of life for all.
City Village Houses
1523 Third Avenue
William L. Cooke House
1531 Third Avenue
Andrew Williams House
1535 Third Avenue