It was fall 2012, and Chris Gelpi’s job offer from Ohio State University’s department of political science couldn’t have come at a better time. His kids had recently moved out, and after 16 years in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, he and his wife, Janet Newcity, were ready for a change from their suburban lifestyle. “I spent half of my days in the car,” Newcity says. “We were tired of that and wanted to be able to walk everywhere.”
The couple learned Miles-McClellan Construction was developing two lots on West Second Avenue in Harrison West. They jumped at the chance to have a new house in a historic neighborhood. Its main difference from their house in Chapel Hill: “This place is built around our dogs,” Gelpi says with a laugh.
Newcity is a volunteer guide dog trainer. In addition to their two black labs, they have a “pretty continuous supply of labs, from two months to 18 months.” Training the puppies, at times, proved difficult in Chapel Hill. “They’re young and need a lot of exercise and socialization,” she says. “Here, I can walk them to the bank, the post office, restaurants. They wear special identification, and people are very open to it.”
The couple agrees: Harrison West is about proximity. “You can be near the center of everything without being in the center of everything,” she says.