Plans to turn a former Columbus City Schools building into a community center have gotten a financial boost.
The City of Columbus and the state have each included millions of dollars in their capital improvements budgets to help restore the 110-year-old former Reeb Elementary School building at 280 Reeb Avenue and turn it into a social-services hub providing job training, education, and other services. Columbus Finance Director Paul Rakosky says money in the plan just approved by City Council will help ensure ground can be broken in June.
The city acquired the building in 2012, trading the school district a 52-acre parcel of land on the east side that once held the troubled Woodland Meadows housing complex. The district wanted it to become the new home of the Africentric School. Since then, local business leaders and the Columbus Foundation have teamed up with the city on the 12-5 million dollar project designed to help the nearly 7 thousand people living in the area bounded by Frebis Avenue, Champion Avenue, State Route 104 and South High Street. Public data shows 43 percent of the residents live in poverty, including 62 percent of children. Officials say the building is expected to open in September of 2015. Officials are hoping to have the building included on the National Register of Historic Places.