City Quotient: The significance of SIDs

Jeff Darbee

Someone told me that the Downtown SIDs are the reason the center of our city is looking so good these days. Who or what is a SID? There are several SIDs in Columbus; Capital Crossroads and Discovery District are the two in the Downtown area. SID is short for Special Improvement District, allowed under Ohio law since 2000. It's a special taxing district, a specific geographic area in which property owners pay an extra assessment in addition to their regular property tax for additional services. A majority of owners in a proposed SID must agree to be assessed, and every property in the district subject to property tax has the assessment added to its semiannual bill.

Each SID has a board that must include property owners, and the board develops a specific plan for the use of the assessment. The SID also has to be renewed periodically, so the assessment isn't necessarily permanent (although the Downtown ones have been renewed several times).

Among the duties of the two Downtown SIDs are sidewalk sweeping, plant watering, security patrols and helping the homeless get needed services. Other SIDs are in the Short North and the University District.

I've enjoyed shopping at the North Market, which has a unique selection of vendors. But “North” implies that there are other public markets in Columbus. Are there? There were. The city's public utilities department once ran four markets. Central Market was Downtown, filling almost the entire west side of South Fourth Street between Town and Rich streets. It was built in 1850 and housed City Hall on its second floor until 1872. It had five horseradish sellers and spawned temporary vendor stands on nearby streets. Surrounding it was the Market Exchange District—the Little Palace restaurant on South Fourth is in a former hotel that served farmers coming to town the night before market day. Central came down in 1966; its site is part of the Greyhound bus station.

There also was the East Market at Miami and Mount Vernon avenues in today's King-Lincoln District, demolished years ago. The West Market still stands at 115 South Gift Street in Franklinton and is home to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus. Its corner tower makes it look a little like a church.

And then there's the North Market. The original 1870s brick building was on the current parking lot, but it burned in 1948 and was replaced by the large Quonset hut many locals will remember. By the 1980s the market was rundown and its future was hazy, but in 1995 it moved into the current building, a renovated former threshing machine warehouse, where it has thrived as a relic of how people shopped in the old days.

Jeff Darbee is a preservationist, historian and author in Columbus. Send your questions to, and the answer might appear in a future column.

Sources: Architecture: Columbus; North Market website; Columbus Metropolitan Library atlas maps