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Columbus, OH 43215


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Council Votes to Breathe New Life into Historic Trolley Barn

Trolley Barn Rendering

Current Trolley BarnHistoric building to serve a new mixed-use role on the Near East Side

[COLUMBUS, OH] Over the past six decades, a piece of Columbus' history has remained dormant on the Near Eastside. With the last streetcar rolling out of the Kelton Avenue Streetcar Barn and Machine Shop in 1948, the site has remained empty, waiting for a new role to play in the story of Columbus. Today, with the help of proud community residents and City Council, a $30 million rejuvenation is coming to 1600 Oak Street.

On Monday, December 16, 2019, Columbus City Council voted to transform a vacant, blighted landmark into a vital community asset. The "Trolley Barn" will become an anchor mixed-use development connecting people to jobs, food and culture.

"We are excited about the restoration of a historic property that will serve as an asset to the Near East community," said Councilmember Emmanuel V. Remy. "The rich history of the property will be retained and reimagined, and I couldn't be more pleased to be part of this story."


In the early 1900s, the Kelton Avenue Street Car Barn and Machine Shops served as an electric trolley station. Train service extended to the Zanesville region, connecting residents to jobs, housing and shopping. Following today's vote, the complex will eventually house a fresh food market, small business co-working and flex office space, restaurant, community and education space, all while retaining the original character of the historic building.

One of the critical components of the project is the fresh food market.  This market will greatly increase the community's access to fresh food, allow for more choices and higher quality of food. Of the 19 food stalls, one will be provided to Columbus City Schools Culinary School students to create, formulate and deliver new and enhanced products.  

“We have wanted fresh food in this neighborhood for decades, but nobody has stepped up till now,” said longtime resident Larry Price. “This food  market is good for the neighborhood, its residents and the students who attend Columbus schools. Healthy foods mean healthy families.”

The meeting and small business co-working space will offer entrepreneurial support with free access to high-speed internet and quiet working spaces. This capitalizes on the trend of shared office spaces to help nurture and support small businesses.


Earlier this year, the state introduced a new financing tool to help local municipalities attract investments that preserve historic buildings in communities, called Downtown Redevelopment Districts (DRD).

The goal of a DRD is to promote the rehabilitation of historic buildings, create jobs, and encourage economic development in commercial, mixed-use and residential areas.

"If we want our schools to be better, we have to have our neighborhoods be better," said Near East Area Commissioner Kathleen Bailey during the December 9, 2019, public hearing. "This is a multifaceted project that doesn't fix everything but is certainly moving in the right direction.”

On the Trolley Barn site, a DRD will be created where the developer will pay 100 percent of the property tax revenue due on the site. The funds generated will support the Columbus City School District, levy agencies as well as subsidize the operation of the onsite food market. With a 70/30 split, the project site is anticipated to generate $3.9 million in new property tax revenue to Columbus City Schools over the term of the agreement.

“Using the Downtown Redevelopment District as a strategic investment tool to redevelop the Trolley Barn will increase food access for the neighborhood, improve the neighborhood health indicators and support small and minority business growth,” said Interim Development Director Michael Stevens.