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Archive for April, 2010

I keep telling myself that it’s temporary housing.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing – I am living with a good friend I’ve known for years, I have my own space here and it’s inexpensive.  And while I’m technically still in Columbus, this section of town along Bethel Road is very sub-urban.

Everything is set back from the street far enough that there is almost an extra block walk involved.  One can say that there’s a Kroger on Bethel and Dierker, but the truth is that it’s almost another two blocks before one reaches the front door.  In the same strip center where Kroger resides are a multitude of other shops, but they’re further and further away from the designated intersection.

Strangely, the sidewalks don’t extend beyond Bethel Road.  There are literally several hundred housing units within walking distance of Kroger – but someone forgot to attach the sidewalks.

Housing density along Bethel Road is reasonable and perhaps even more dense than my former Merion Village neighborhood.  Townhouses, apartments and condos line the streets, but are typically shielded from the non-stop vehicular traffic of Bethel Road by earth berms, landscaping and enormous set-backs.

Obviously, this is a part of the “old” Columbus when automobile use was expected and pedestrians, bicyclists and those in wheelchairs were wise to live elsewhere.  Sadly, parking lots rein supreme though a road-side sign states we’re part of the Scioto Watershed.  That’s humorous given the excessive run off that takes place along Bethel Road.

The relative good news is that I’m not necessarily isolated in a sea of asphalt and concrete. Two COTA bus lines serve Bethel Road regularly.  The #95 whisks me to work in fifteen fewer minutes than did the #16 (which was becoming increasingly GHETTO because loud gangs of foul-mouthed, fighting youths pack it when leaving Easton on the weekends).

For my recreational use, COTA route 18 gets me back downtown and into the former ‘hood where I can enjoy a few drinks with the gang.  Never a worry about having too much to drink.  Only a worry to make sure I catch the last bus back.

Despite the car-forced zoning out here, there are a handful of pedestrians and bicyclists trying to make a go of it.  There are a few folks that wait with me for the bus to work.  Even more on the 18 as it passes through OSU.  The bank, movie theaters, restaurants and grocer are all within walking distance – and actually, I have more within walking distance here than I did when I was living in town, its just that walking isn’t the norm.  (Psst…maybe that’s because someone forgot to build the sidewalks).

And that’s a shame.  I would have expected that the City of Columbus would have remembered to install sidewalks along their streets.  I’m a pedestrian and this is my city too.

(Psst…hey you, yes you City of Columbus.  Traffic might decrease on Bethel Road if the sidewalks on Bethel Road actually connected to the adjoining neighborhoods).

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Join us next month as WOSU and NPR bring this one-day “un-conference” to Columbus.

We’ll spend the day at the WOSU studios at COSI sharing ideas and concepts that are important to you – because the topics will come from you, the audience.  Let’s see what we can discover together.

Register soon, bring your ideas about community involvement and help us lead the discussions.

Learn more about PubCampOhio by clicking this link.

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SOLD!

“They’d like to close on the 31st of March,” my realtor told me.
“That’s only 13 days from today,” I replied in a somewhat stupefied state.

After having had my house on the market for ten months and nearly taking it off the market because I was simply tired of waiting, the offer came, and came with a rapidly approaching time line.

Pursuing the sale of my house during the worst economic period in fifty years was a long shot and virtually everyone told me so.  At one point there were seventeen houses on my street for sale.  There were plenty of lookers over the course of those ten months – scores and scores of lookers in fact.

There were plenty of comments too.  “The kitchen is too small”, “the kitchen doesn’t have granite countertops”, “there is no garage”.   While the lookers and realtors continued to point out some of the [perceived] short-comings of the house, I continued to highlight it’s strengths.

Yes, I could have knocked out walls and installed top of the line finishes but instead, over the course of nine years, I focused my efforts on making my house energy efficient and thus a less expensive place to live.  To showcase these items I redesigned the brochure that potential buyers would take with them after viewing my house.

In addition to pointing out these not-so-visible upgrades on the new brochure, I included some history of the area and made mention of the community efforts of the neighbors.  I included the house’s “walk score” and access to public transportation.  I even stated that I’d intentionally left out certain upgrades for cost-saving reasons.  Yes, I admitted in print, that certain amenities had been left out.

Certainly not every home can appeal to every buyer, but I knew that energy-saving upgrades had value, I just had to appeal to the buyer who cared more for their long-term savings than to their subjective approach to visual appeal.  And yes, it often felt like an up-hill battle.

I also felt that it was important for a buyer to understand that in addition to buying a house, they were also buying into a sustainable lifestyle.  Rather than just seeing themselves living in the house, they had to understand that this environment was going to have a positive impact on how they lived within the total environment surrounding the house.

Call it coincidence or call it smarter marketing, but it was the first showing following the placement of the new brochure that led to the offer.

The offer and acceptance led to a whirlwind of activity – namely emptying a two-story house.  Now that I’m settling in to my temporary living arrangement in north-west Columbus (essentially “suburbia”) I’ll have time to continue writing.  And trust me, after a week in suburbia, there is plenty of social commentary coming to the surface.

The new owner of my house began moving in this past weekend.  She called me, in fact.

“Thank you,” she said, “for doing all the work you’ve done over the years.  I really love this house.”

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