Sustainability Studio

MCRP Studio / Spring 2015 / Maria Conroy

Milo Grogan Sustainability Plan Cover

View a PDF of the full Milo Grogan plan

Originally framed by a network of industrial railroads coming northeast out of Columbus, Milo-Grogan was initially two neighborhoods in the late nineteenth century: Milo, named after a brickyard owner named Milo Streets, making up the western side of the neighborhood, and Grogan, named for Joseph Grogan, a local shopkeeper and Post Office administrator, comprising the eastern portion. The two neighborhoods were isolated in their infancy by the railroads that surrounded them and by the fact that the neighborhoods were not part of Columbus nor connected to its infrastructure. The City of Columbus needed tax revenue from the bustling industry growing along the railroad tracks in Milo and Grogan and the pair of neighborhoods needed modernization. Columbus annexed the two neighborhoods in 1908. For the next half-century, Milo-Grogan and its industrial businesses prospered. Sadly, suburbanization and highway construction, maladies that afflicted many industrial neighborhoods in the mid-20th century, precipitated Milo-Grogan’s decline; economic, industrial, and social conditions began deteriorating after World War II and have continued to do so since.

The Milo-Grogan Area Commission is an organization that represents the neighborhood and works with Columbus, local businesses, neighborhood residents, and potential developers. Founded by the Columbus City Council in the 1970s, the commission is a quasi-governmental body, comprised of 11 volunteers who serve in a decision-making and advisory capacity, facilitating communication between the aforementioned stakeholders. It is this organization that represented Milo-Grogan and served as the point of contact with Dr. Maria Manta Conroy and her graduate students in City & Regional Planning at The Ohio State University during this effort.

During the fall 2014 term, Dr. Jack Nasar of the City & Regional Planning program oversaw an urban design studio in Milo-Grogan; it was he who recommended to Dr. Conroy that she continue their work in her sustainability studio class during the spring 2015 term. The plan Jack Nasar’s studio produced is the most recent work among several plans and efforts in the last decade developed to help revitalize Milo-Grogan. In 2007, the City of Columbus Department of Development’s Planning Division produced the Milo-Grogan Neighborhood Plan, which contained proposals for community-building, urban design, land use, and public and private investment; as of 2012, most of the plan's recommendations had not been implemented. In 2009, Dr. Jesus Lara, a landscape architecture professor in The Ohio State University’s Knowlton School of Architecture, conducted an urban design studio, which made recommendations for the physical design of a portion of the neighborhood in order to improve residents’ quality of life. In all, three significant planning efforts have focused on Milo-Grogan in the last eight years, and there is little evidence that any of them made a lasting beneficial impact.

This plan is a culmination of the efforts of Dr. Conroy and 13 students, who studied and evaluated the Milo-Grogan neighborhood during the spring 2015 semester. The purpose of this plan is to introduce sustainable principles into the community and to encourage and foster practices and behaviors that produce sustainable outcomes. These outcomes will serve to reinvigorate Milo-Grogan, effectively planting the seeds for a prosperous community.