Downtown housing directly tied to Downtown growth

In 1964, singer Petula Clark sang about Downtown, “… We can forget all our troubles, forget all our cares. So go downtown, things'll be great when you're downtown, don't wait a minute for downtown, everything's waiting for you downtown ...”

Springfield realtor Dori Gaier of Coldwell Banker Heritage Realty would agree. With the Downtown Springfield housing market booming, Downtown really is the place to be.

Gaier, a realtor since 2005, says despite the recent gradual increase in interest rates, Clark County is still a seller’s market, and more buyers are making the move to Downtown Springfield.

“It’s a variety of demographic buyers,” she says. “With everything else going on Downtown – and the trend away from shopping malls and urban sprawl - the focus is more on Downtown and the amenities it offers.”

Gaier says last year she sold a Downtown Springfield condominium to a couple from the Ridgewood Neighborhood.

“[They] sold their single-family home in Ridgewood, and decided they wanted to be Downtown,” she says. “They liked what was going on down there and moved.”

Gaier says there is much to do in Downtown Springfield and that is appealing to home buyers of all ages.

“With the brewery and the shops, they have such a collaborative to provide events like the Farmers Market, First Fridays, and Holiday in the City – things to bring people Downtown,” she says. “That has led to people wanting a lifestyle to be more involved in that.”

Gaier says additional appeal to Downtown living is it’s easier to own a condo or a loft, than own a house.

“No yard work. You don’t have to shovel snow,” she says. “There is a certain appeal as far as the way you live your life or quality of life, or what you want to spend your time doing.”

Gaier would like to see more condos and lofts available.

“A lot of younger people are buying condos. First time homeowners - they are busy, they are getting their careers started, they don’t have families yet, and they just want to live,” she says. “They don’t want the yard work and everything that goes along with a single-family home ownership.”

In the past, Springfield has been appealing to people working in Columbus in Dayton, because it has easy highway access and affordable living, Gaier says.

“There is something to be said for small town living ... we have a lot of things that people don’t realize, that even big cities don’t have," she says. "Look a little deeper at what Springfield has: art museum, Summer Arts Festival, Buck Creek, and the rapids ... we have a great quality of life here.”

Kevin Rose, Springfield historian and director of revitalization for The Turner Foundation, says additional housing is needed in the area.

“The Turner Foundation is in the middle of a multimillion-dollar Downtown housing project,” he says. “A lot of discussion is being had about it. In general, in our community, we need more and better housing to help keep people in the community.”

Rose says, “Do you want to live in Dayton or Columbus?” is a flawed concept that has existed for too long.

“People want to live in Springfield,” he says. “Springfield has so many opportunities ... there is so much to do here. Nightlife, recreation. It’s affordable to live in Springfield.”

Rose says current trends are in Downtown living and that viable housing is how cities sustain downtown businesses.

“You need a core of people who live there and are using that every day,” he says. “That allows you to … have an ecosystem in your urban environment. We used to debate, 'Do we need stores to make people want to live Downtown, or do we need Downtown living to make stores want to be there?' And now we know. It’s living.

"Living is the number one factor we can have to turn around our Downtown, and by turning around our Downtown, we turn around our community in general. When businesses are looking to locate in our Downtown, they want to see Downtown housing.”

The Downtown housing market is undersaturated in terms of quality urban living and has a lot of room for growth and transformative change, Rose says, adding that Springfield boasts many historical buildings, which have become more desirable.

“You can really have a more desirable product in a grand old building with hardwood floors and 12-foot ceilings that you just can’t build at that scale today because of code or costs,” he says. “The adaptative reuse of historic buildings is what is hot today.”

Rose says what’s going to drive people to Springfield is sense of place, cost, and the ability to live in a small city where residents have opportunities for intimate engagement with neighbors and community.

Rose called Springfield a small city with big city amenities.

“Springfield has a world class symphony, a history museum unlike any other in the Midwest, a design and architecture museum that no other town has, a great art museum, Project Jericho that is recognized nationwide,” he says. “Those kinds of things make Springfield attractive. It’s the type of place people want to live, especially coming from the larger markets in a post-pandemic era.”
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Read more articles by Darci Jordan.

Lifelong Clark County resident Darci Jordan is a freelance writer and former staff writer/columnist for the Springfield News-Sun. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a bachelor of science degree in Agriculture Communications. She currently also serves as a writer for the Clark State Community College marketing department. She enjoys time with her family, horses and Ohio State football. Go Bucks!