Franklinton exists today with problems and potential. Here's what it has going for it - and what's holding it back.

Franklinton exists today with problems and potential. Here's what it has going for it - and what's holding it back.

Potential

Unprecedented access

Franklinton is separated from mainland Columbus by the fickle Scioto River, and connection has been a problem for much of its history. For example, between July 2008 and May 2011, the Broad Street bridge was the only link between the neighborhood and Downtown. Access problems have been addressed with construction of the Main Street bridge (which opened to two-way traffic in May) and the Rich Street bridge (slated to open next May).

New redevelopment projects

The most successful so far is 400 West Rich, a complex of studios and offices taking shape from a manufacturing building at 400 W. Rich St. A live-work space is planned for the B&T Metals site at 435 W. Town St. And the City of Columbus has partnered with the Franklinton Development Association to purchase a State Street warehouse that's slated to become 42 condos.

Community spirit

Residents can learn to fix their bike and grow their own food thanks to two local groups trying to build the neighborhood from the ground up. Franklinton Cycleworks is a community bike shop that offers free classes, open shop sessions and cheap starter bikes. Franklinton Gardens operates six community plots that grow fruits and veggies.

Attention from the top

Mayor Michael Coleman has repeatedly highlighted Franklinton in annual State of the City addresses - and followed up with programs and financial investment. For example, Franklinton was a target of his $25 million Home Again initiative, which started in 2006. "I have made a personal commitment, as mayor of this city, to make it happen over time," Coleman told Alive last week. "It's not an overnight process."

Problems

Low property values

Franklinton lies on a floodplain, and stringent federal and city building restrictions made it financially difficult to fund a new project or renovation between 1983 and 2004, when the Franklinton Floodwall was completed. Their effect remains evident. "The issue in the neighborhood is the [property] values are so low that they don't support any new construction or substantial revitalization," said Jim Sweeney, executive director of the Franklinton Development Association.

C rime

Much of Franklinton suffers from the petty property crime common in many urban neighborhoods. Yet drug abuse is rampant in some areas, and Sullivant Avenue is the one of city's most active prostitution strips. It's these visible crimes that often scare people from the neighborhood.

Poor perception

Though it's changing, the public perception of Franklinton is one of decay, blight and danger. Consider this segment from "A Concise History of Columbus, Ohio and Franklin County," published in 2009: " Franklinton has been bedeviled by the infiltration of drug abusers, petty criminals, and low property values. It remains to be seen whether the historic village can recover some of its value."