Demolition crews Wednesday began razing Poindexter Tower on the city's east side.
It was first built to house low-income elderly but in more recent decades became a symbol of urban blight. As schoolchildren and neighborhood residents watched, Columbus mayor Michael Coleman smashed a large backhoe bucket into the foundation of Poindexter Tower on Mount Vernon Avenue. "This is a monument to misery in this community. And, we're turning this misery into hope and the seeds of change. And we're going to improve the quality of life in this neighborhood, so help me God."Â Says Coleman Champion Middle school teacher Melissa Saint Clair brought her 7th grade class from across the street to see the demolition. To prepare for the short "field trip,"Â Saint Clair says the class learned about the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority and the history of the building. "CMHA built this in 1960. It was for the elderly and it was affordable housing. And then through the transition of it being in the area that it was in, some crime happened." Says Saint Clair. "We learned about murders and assaults and vandalism. Then in 1996 a gentleman bought it for a dollar, was $2.4 million from the government, didn't do right by the money, didn't do right by the residents. So by 2006 the residents decided enough was enough." At that time the 101 unit building was abandoned. The private investor failed to sell nearly a third of the units as condominiums and it took the city prosecutor and the county treasurer six years to gain ownership of all the units. Champion Middle School 7th grader Dominique Hardy says she knew the possible danger when walking past the vacant building. "Right now I'm really kind of scared because, you know, its been vacant for awhile. So I'm really kind of worried." Says Hardy. The $1 million dollar demolition cost will be paid with monies from the city, Franklin County, and from state monies gained from the settlement of mortgage fraud cases. Plans for the site are uncertain. But, Al Edmondson, president of the Mount Vernon District Improvement Association suggests a possible future. "We need a place for our veterans, so if they were building a place to help house our senior veterans and those things like that, it would be great, because you can create a whole veteran community that it would be so positive to have just people, more people in the neighborhood because we need bodies."Â Says Edmondson. Demolition crews expect to complete their work in three weeks.