Aug 16, 2022 - News

Art precedes wrecking ball in abandoned Woodcliff neighborhood

A birds-eye view of a row of painted houses in a blighted neighborhood.

Artists with Catalyst Columbus painted the sides of abandoned homes in Whitehall's Woodcliff neighborhood. Photo courtesy Brian Suiter

At the corner of Broad and Hamilton Streets in Whitehall, the sight of derelict condominiums has given way to vibrant walls of purple and blue.

  • The unusual display of public art has given the doomed condos a fresh look ahead of a massive redevelopment in the works there.

State of play: Demolition still awaits the abandoned, 50-acre Woodcliff neighborhood to make room for a $250 million residential and commercial project.

Why it matters: The deserted community has become a well-known oddity since the last residents moved out in 2019.

Flashback: Whitehall purchased the blighted neighborhood in 2018, a decade after declaring it a public health nuisance.

What's happening: A Miami developer plans to build 1,000 new residential units on the site, 20% of which will be set aside for affordable housing.

  • The project includes large green spaces, access to a nearby city park, new office space and a business district.

Yes, but: Progress has stalled since February, while the city seeks state funding to pay for demolishing the empty condos.

  • A spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Development tells Axios it is still reviewing applications and has no timeline for awarding grants.
  • Construction on the first of three phases will begin once Whitehall gets an answer either way on its application, city deputy director of public affairs Megan Meyer tells us.

The intrigue: Whitehall commissioned a sculpture for the new development by the public art nonprofit Catalyst Columbus, known for painting the "We Are Stronger Together" mural on a highway overpass in 2020.

  • Artists touring the site were inspired to paint the sides of abandoned homes to beautify the area and be a "catalyst for conversations between community members," co-founder Brian Suiter told Axios in an email.

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