My Neighborhood: Columbus City Council’s Shayla Favor Celebrates the Near East Side

The elected official and leader of PACT chooses some of her favorite spots in the historic comeback community.

Steve Wartenberg
Shayla Favor on the Near East Side at the Maroon Arts Group Box Park on Mount Vernon Avenue, which features gardens and local artwork

The construction of Interstate 71 in the 1960s cut off the Near East Side from Downtown, initiating a gradual decline of the city’s historic Black enclave, which includes such neighborhoods as Olde Towne East, Franklin Park and King-Lincoln Bronzeville. In recent years, however, the Near East Side has experienced a rebirth. “I want to be part of the choir bringing awareness to the issues and making this truly a place where people can live, work and play,” says resident Shayla Favor. She’s a member of Columbus City Council and executive director of Partners Achieving Community Transformation, better known as PACT, a nonprofit that works to revitalize the Near East Side. Here are some of her favorite stops.

Lincoln Café

The eatery is more than a place to grab a cup of coffee and breakfast. “It’s a place of community, a meeting place, a gathering place,” says Favor, who regularly holds meetings there.

Lincoln Theatre

The Lincoln opened in 1928, built in response to the segregation that prevented Black residents from attending other venues. Notable performers include Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, James Brown and Duke Ellington. Its renovation more than a decade ago was a linchpin of the neighborhood’s recent turnaround. Favor’s favorite performance at the Lincoln? Maysa Leak, a jazz singer.

Franklin Park

Favor, her husband, Corey, and their dog, Hudson, enjoy early-morning walks through the vast, beautiful grounds. “It’s so peaceful and quiet, and it’s an amazing treasure. It reminds you to be still,” Favor says.

Box Park

The unique Maroon Arts Group Box Park consists of three repurposed metal shipping containers that serve as a stage, art gallery and food pantry. Favor especially likes the paintings by local students displayed around the perimeter of the park.

Trolley District

The massive former trolley barn has been renovated and turned intoa destination featuring two bars and the East Market food hall. “It’s so exciting to see it transformed,” says Favor, adding this is now a regular stop on her walks. “I’m in the research phase of finding my favorite sandwich, but the Cuban with fries is amazing.”

This story is from the September 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.