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Columbus, Ohio: Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Fuels Redevelopment of Historic Public Housing

Aerial photograph of a mixed-use community covering several city blocks with apartment buildings, townhomes, and parking lots, with a downtown skyline in the background.
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Photograph of a row of two-story townhomes.
Photograph of a row of two-story townhomes.


Home > Case Studies > Columbus, Ohio: Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Fuels Redevelopment of Historic Public Housing


Columbus, Ohio: Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Fuels Redevelopment of Historic Public Housing


In 1940, the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) in Columbus, Ohio, opened Poindexter Village, one of the nation’s first public housing projects. The 414-unit housing project was constructed on the former site of the Blackberry Patch, a successful settlement of the Great Migration and home to Black entrepreneurs, families, musicians, and community leaders such as Reverend James Preston Poindexter, a pastor active in the abolition movement and namesake of the public housing development. Over time, disinvestment spurred the decline of both the housing project and the adjacent Near East Side neighborhood, which became areas of concentrated poverty.

In 2014, HUD awarded CMHA a $29.7 million Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) implementation grant to redevelop Poindexter Village, distributing the funding across three categories: housing, people, and neighborhood. Through a competitive procurement process, CMHA selected McCormack Baron Salazar as the co-lead developer responsible for transforming the site into a 450-unit, mixed-income, multigenerational community. In addition, the CNI grant helped revitalize the Near East Side neighborhood by catalyzing economic growth and investment in other properties following the completion of Poindexter Village in 2020. Poindexter Village received the Novogradac 2021 Developments of Distinction Award in the Metropolitan Community Impact category.

Redevelopment of Poindexter

Because the previous residents of the public housing project held a strong emotional attachment to the site, CMHA, the city of Columbus, and Ohio State University founded a neighborhood organization called Partners Achieving Community Transformation (PACT) and created an expert group to assess the feasibility of rehabilitating the existing buildings at Poindexter Village. The group concluded, however, that rehabilitation was not economically feasible, and CMHA decided to replace the distressed public housing units with three developments built in five distinct phases.

The first phase, Poindexter Place, opened in 2016 and features 104 units of seniors-only housing. The second development, Legacy Pointe at Poindexter, has 336 apartments and was constructed in 3 phases between 2015 and 2020. Legacy Pointe at Poindexter Phase IIA and IIB each have 87 units, and Phase III has 37 townhomes and 125 garden-style apartments. Legacy Pointe includes live-work units as well as onsite property management staff, a community room, and a fitness center that also serves other Poindexter Village residents. The fifth phase, called The Harris, offers 10 market-rate apartments within a historic building that was the first daycare center for Black children in Franklin County. Poindexter Village offers long-term affordability and attracts a diverse population of residents, offering apartments ranging from one to four bedrooms to accommodate individuals of various socioeconomic backgrounds.

Supportive Services and Historic Preservation

The redeveloped Poindexter Community Center is the community’s focal point, offering various essential services and amenities catering to the needs of residents of Poindexter Village and the broader Near East Side neighborhood. In the CNI grant, CMHA designated Urban Strategies, Inc., as lead organization for people strategy, responsible for addressing needs and aspirations of Poindexter Village residents as captured in a resident needs assessment. The nonprofit has helped families maintain housing stability and gain upward economic mobility through case management and service coordination. Its services encompass health care, wellness, behavioral care, educational attainment, job training, and case management programs in collaboration with local organizations.

Although the new housing units replaced the original buildings, CMHA sought to preserve the spirit of the original Poindexter Village and its significance in the history of Columbus. As part of CMHA’s commitment to honoring the neighborhood's rich heritage and reaffirming the community’s pride of place, two of the development’s original buildings were preserved and repurposed for nonresidential use. In 2016, CMHA sold the original buildings to Ohio History Connection, which has partnered with the James Preston Poindexter Foundation to begin planning for the Poindexter Village Museum and Cultural Center, with exhibits and event space dedicated to the public housing project’s rich history. The planned museum will showcase images of the Blackberry Patch, snapshots of life at Poindexter Village during its heyday, project artifacts, and interviews with former residents.

Financing Poindexter Village

The total development cost of Poindexter Village was $126 million (table 1). Legacy Pointe at Poindexter cost $83 million, Poindexter Place cost $17 million, and The Harris cost $2.5 million. CMHA used $20.8 million of the CNI grant for housing development costs and used the remaining CNI grant funds for the people and neighborhood categories of the redevelopment effort. In addition to private mortgages and construction loans, CMHA contributed funds through its capital funds and general revenue accounts. Community development block grant funding, HOME Investment Partnerships funds, and low-income housing tax credit equity also covered the development costs.

Table 1: Funding Sources for Poindexter Village

LIHTC Equity $45,600,000
CMHA Funds 33,100,000
City of Columbus Funds 29,100,000
Private Mortgage 16,600,000
Ohio State Funds 1,600,000
Total $126,000,000

The Blueprint: Concurrent Neighborhood Plans

The redevelopment of Poindexter Village is a crucial component of the Blueprint for Community Investment, a PACT transformation plan for the 800-acre Near East Side neighborhood, situated between downtown Columbus and the city of Bexley but physically isolated by major interstate highways. The neighborhood had experienced disinvestment, leading to distress, crime, and abandonment radiating from the Poindexter Village site. However, the redevelopment project has sparked the area’s transformation, making the Near East Side one of the most desirable neighborhoods to live in the city.

Alongside housing, the Blueprint includes other initiatives targeting neighborhood retail, green spaces, transportation improvements, and infrastructure enhancements. Notably, it introduces an innovative intergenerational daycare center, a fusion of child care and adult care in partnership with the Ohio State Office of Geriatrics and Gerontology and the Columbus Early Learning Centers. The newly created green spaces will connect University Hospital East and Champion Middle School while preserving historic trees. An efficient street grid will improve both auto and pedestrian circulation, prioritizing safety, comfort, and walkability. In addition, stormwater management at Poindexter will promote sustainability and environmental responsibility within the community. This comprehensive approach combines history, partnerships, and innovative strategies to create a vibrant and healthy community in the Near East Side neighborhood.

Over the lifetime of the CNI grant, Near East Side has realized $300 million in additional neighborhood investment, which has helped deconcentrate poverty. According to Robert Bitzenhofer, CMHA’s vice president for planning and development, the redevelopment of Poindexter Village has spurred population growth and investment in new housing projects, including the construction of market-rate multifamily housing units, which the neighborhood has not had in decades.

The contents of this article are the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the U.S. Government.