Our West Columbus Home
About Westside Craig Wise
Founder of UpperColumbus.com
From the day I heard that Columbus leadership had agreed to give BIG LOTS up to $26 Million in tax cuts to move 800 more workers out of the west side, I became sort of infatuated with figuring out why the West Side's economy has not yet stopped collapsing since well before my wife and I bought our Westgate Home, back in 1984, where we still reside today.
So what the hell do I know about the west side's economy?
From 1980-1982, I sold cable TV door to door in West Columbus, for Warner "Qube". During that time, I never felt scared or had my cars disturbed as I walked up and down almost every Westside street. I did well enough to become Qube’s 1st Territory Manager.
In late 1982, after selling them cable TV, I started selling new cars at Westland Chrysler on West Broad St.
I did well again, for 6 of the next 8 years, I finished each as one of Chrysler's top 100 salespeople (based only on how many new cars I sold). I sold over 300 new cars each year, almost entirely to Westside residents, who simply walked in.
I was not alone, a great many salespeople were still making fine honest livings on W Broad St. in those days.
Through the 70s and 80s, Westland Chrysler and Westside Dodge (different dealerships 3 blocks apart), were both consistently among Chrysler Corporation’s 25 largest volume dealers, and many, if not most of my Chrysler customers were retired from Westside manufacturing plants. The other four W. Broad Street new car dealers were also very successful.
Unfortunately, by 1990 the Westside’s economy had lost so much industry that these dealerships were closing.
So I was forced to continue making a good living on other sides of town. I spent most of the next two decades selling and redesigning new homes and developments for Trinity (Homewood) Homes, Crossman Communities, and then after Crossmen left town, (along with their Delux Homes division), I continued as a freelance realtor for several years.
During my first year in new homes, the owner of Homewood, and multi-time president of OSU's Board of Trustees, Georges Skestos, taught me how to pre-re-engineer his existing home plans to reduce the engineering hours he paid for changes, as well as the cost my customers pay. He taught me this because I almost instantly became Trinity's top representative, and he wanted me selling from his model homes in his big Dublin communities, where buyers pay more expecting a one of a kind home. In the 8 years I worked for him, I sold about 2/3's of his Trinity brand homes.
Even with all the new homes, we felt too attached to leave our Westgate home, we both grew up in far smaller homes, in much rougher local communities, and so we did not want to give up on the Westside. So even as I sold most of 1000 new homes from Hilliard to New Albany, I still enjoyed my old Westgate house, where we still live.
By 2000 the Westside had lost likely 40,000 middle-class jobs, with no end in sight. I kept watching businesses just shrinking away. At this time I believe every Westside neighborhood had started experiencing serious levels of poverty and crime, even Westgate.
Anyways the simple engineering I was taught, began to show me other things soon after 2000, I began building an assortment of physically helpful prototypes for aging adults, that I had been imagining for myself, and motion hindered friends. I hope to one day produce many new consumer products in Upper Columbus, but that is another story.
Then about 2 years ago I heard about that BIG LOTS being paid tens of millions of dollars by the City of Columbus to move 800 west side jobs to an area that did not even want them, I began studying west side history to see how just this area can be so economically depleted while virtually every other large area in Central Ohio is booming.
One of the reasons I sold so many Chryslers to older westside people was that I really enjoyed talking to them, I always questioned them about themselves and their interests, and often discussed Westside and Columbus histroy with them. In the last 80's I produced a Columbus History TV show that I gave to Columbus's Cable Channel 21, called "Columbus Yesteryear", which they played thousands of times over the next decade.
I remember hearing about a row of very fancy big homes on the front ridge of the Hilltop overlooking the city, that were torn down by the city and state governments so they could be replaced with enormous Lunatic and Imbecile Asylums.
I never imagined I would come across that story again until I realized that the placement of these 2 Asylums took out every inch of the premium property in West Columbus. I mean every inch of land the new West Columbus had above the Franklinton floodplain, which was at least 10 times more property than these monster sized spook houses needed, the first day the west side was annexed in 1870. Click here for the rest of that horror story.
I don't want to sound self-righteous, but I feel that I am one of the few people that really know and care about this area and I just want to do something to bring it back.
I can't make this happen without help, so do all you can to support the formation of the Upper Columbus Chamber of Commerce, few places in America need their own chamber more.
Westside Craig Wise
Anything else you need to know about me? Email me , and I might tell you.