Brenda St. Clair was 5 years old when her family moved to Franklinton in 1955.
Both of her parents – like many in the blue collar neighborhood – worked at the bustling North American Aviation plant on the city’s west side, which employed thousands and promised a solid, middle-class life.
St. Clair was there when the plant closed, the floods came and Franklinton’s residents fled for the suburbs. For decades, Franklinton was frozen in time, neglected and unpolished.
Now, St. Clair is there to see its latest transformation, one that again is promising a solid, middle-class life.
“The neighborhood started changing very quickly,” she said. “Once the ball got rolling, it rolled fast.”
Today, Franklinton hosts crowded breweries, bars and art galleries. Homes are being flipped, short-term rentals are popping up, and thousands of apartment units are being added in new developments that are replacing vacant homes, rundown warehouses and empty lots that once dotted the neighborhood.
Marty Johnson was the first tenant in 400 W. Rich, a building filled with art studios. She moved to Columbus in 1980 from Hartford, Connecticut, where she was a photographer.
Now she makes prints and lithographs from her Franklinton studio.
“I saw Columbus as a town of opportunity,” she said.
Ripe for development
So far, the eastern edge of Franklinton has been the focus of most redevelopment and building activity.
And it continues to see the most activity today.
Columbus developer Brett Kaufman has invested heavily in the neighborhood with his Gravity development, now encompassing two huge, mixed-use complexes along both sides of West Broad Street in east Franklinton, with a third mixed-use project in the pipeline.