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Location DB > United States > Ohio > Columbus > CCF
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 Database Info
created by TheRev on 4/12/2005 11:06 PM
last modified by oh-ten on 11/22/2008 3:08 PM
Publically Viewable Publically Viewable
This location has been labeled as Demolished, and therefore can be viewed by anyone.
Completely gone and levelled as of later 2007. - Servo

Freaking massive urban factory complex comprised of 113 buildings from 1917-1973 in various states of decay. Extreme Fire Damage in the shipping and recieving buildings makes for a dangerous jungle gym. Some heavy machinery is still on site, and the boiler building is still, for the most part, whole.
 Basic Information
Type: Building
Status: Demolished
Accessibility: Easy
Recommendation: worth the trip
 Physical Information

Columbus, Ohio
United States
Owner: Decorative Surfaces Intl.
  • See a map of this location
  •  Hazards
  • asbestos
  • rust
  • unsafe flooring
  • flooding
  • water
  • air quality
  • Arsonists, Mysterious Blue Slime Dripping from Tanks, Oily Pools, Homeless people living there (who chase you with lead pipes), Vandals, Arsonists, Pipe thieves, Unlabled 55 gallon drums, Collapsing Floors, Fire/Demolition Damage, Falling Debris, Piles of White Powder (possibly asbestos), about 20 different levels that cause tripping hazards, Some ladders aren't trustworthy (even some that look safe), A warning sign on the fence claims "this facility contains hazardous materials which if released could cause immediate danger to health and the environment" but the EPA report cites only lead paint and soil solvent (that's all that's shown up in my research thus far).
  •  Interesting Features
    The complex is most notable for its vastness, easily comprising 4 city blocks and boasting dozens of interconnected buildings.

    Manufacturing Complex is 12 acres, Total Land Area incl. Former Parking Lots is 17 acres -ohten

    -A roof so vast that you can get lost on it (trust me, I have more than once) [watch for police helocopters --ohten]
    -It's own steam plant
    -Burned out shell of a building with large twisted I-beams
    -Remaining files and records (need waterproof boots to get to the room)
    -A Watertower thats a fun climb for the suicidal

    I've heard rumor of a 75' underground tunnel, I'll have to go back to verify soon. [There are 2 utility Tunnels - ohten]
     Security Measures
  • fences
  • barbed wire
  • locked gates
  • Homeless Pipewielding defacto security guards as mentioned before
  •  Historical Dates
    Built: 1900
    Closed: 2001
     Required Equipment
  • flashlight
  • breathing mask
  • gloves
  • long pants / sleeves
  • towelettes
  • Hard-soled shoes/boots
  •  Recommended Equipment
    Flashlight, Camera, Tripod, Rope, Water, A snack, Waterproof Boots, A Raft to explore the Basement
    History by Ohten:

    The area bounded by [redacted] serves as a microcosm for postindustrial landscapes throughout the world. Lying at the edge of the working class Weinland Park neighborhood, the area that would become the CCF site was platted during the Ohio Centennial of 1904. The plant itself began two years before on unincorporated land as the Columbus Elastic Waterproof Company. Shortly changing its name to the Columbus Oil Cloth Company, the small factory located at [redacted] and the railroad tracks produced waterproof blankets for horses and carriage tops made out of oilcloth, an early waterproof fabric coated with a permeable painting oil. The plant continued to expand from three small buildings to almost 30 clustered buildings in 1929 when it officially became known as CCF. The area around the plant had the second largest concentration of industry behind the vast mills of Steelton south of the city. Neighboring industries included Jeffrey Mining and Manufacturing and Berry Brothers Bolt Works on East 1st Avenue, Wonder Bread, the Budd Dairy, and D.L. Auld Company (later Johnston Metal Industries, now defunct) on N. 4th Avenue, and the enormous complexes of the Clark Grave Vault Company between East 2nd and East Fifth Avenues (the only industry still in business) and Timken Roller Bearing on Cleveland Avenue. The industries congregated to the area because of easy rail service. The C.C.C. & St. Louis Fairgrounds Yard lay directly to the north and the Norfolk and Western Railroad’s Joyce Avenue Yard lay a mile to the East. In 1930 the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Grogan Yard to the west of the complex was greatly enlarged; as a result of all the rail access the plant had as many as two dedicated railroad sidings at a time, although they kept being relocated to facilitate further plant expansions.

    As the plant expanded it ran up against the existing neighborhood centered around Parker St. directly to the south. Remaining successful with an expanded product line including upholstery and table cloths even during the depths of the depression, the company began to buy houses and demolish them for piecemeal expansion of the complex. In the late 1930’s research and design facilities were added bringing the total of buildings to around 45 clustered between [redacted]. During World War Two the factory switched production to that of life jackets and greatly expanded. In the postwar period, production expanded to wall coverings, decorative upholstery, and other home furnishings. By the early 1960’s the plant, fully benefiting from the postwar economy employed more than 2,000 people in over 100 buildings with a combined total of 700,000 square feet of space on eighteen acres. Times were changing, however, and many of the employees had left the working class neighborhood of Weinland Park for distant suburbs; urban manufacturing complexes were inconvenienced by their hemmed in locations and despite the three city blocks of parking and acre of paved loading space the liabilities of the site were becoming clear for the company as well as for of the surrounding urban industries.

    It was in 1961 that Borden International acquired CCF and ushered in a final era of productivity. In October 1964, as the result of the acquisition of trackage from the moribund Pennsylvania Railroad, the adjacent Grogan Rail Yard was mothballed. After this time, the bulk of shipping and receiving for C.C.F. shifted to trucking, although the former P.R.R. Joyce Yards lasted into the middle 1980’s. The last attempt at modernization was made in the early 1970’s with a new tenter and storage building being erected to replace older buildings in 1970 and 1972 respectively; these new buildings along with increased printing capabilities heralded a final shift in production to Wall-Tex wallpaper, laminates, and specialty films. By the 1980’s the surrounding population had entirely shifted from blue collar Italian, Irish and Eastern European homeowners and workers to high levels of abandonment and absentee ownership and tenancy by poor African-American families. In the most recent census Block Group 16.1 was 90.4% renter occupied by a 81.5% population of African-Americans with almost half of all households making less than $10,000 a year, and over one fifth of residences were vacant. The industries and businesses in the area were struggling to keep up with more modern competitors as well as seeing traditional market bases evaporate due to changing demand. In 1987 the majority of the Jeffrey Mining and Manufacturing complex several blocks to the south was demolished; it would be a sign of things to come. CCF struggled for the next decade against changing tastes and technologies; in addition the aging factory had become an environmental liability. Releasing as much as a million pounds of toxins into the air it frequently was the worst polluter in Franklin County. This changed in 1996 when the company used a EPA loan to upgrade pollution control systems. In the late 1990’s C.C.F.’s parent company Borden was faced with the proposition of liquidating CCF. An employee led buyout of the company aided by American Capital Strategies resulted in a name change to Decorative Services International. Despite this effort, increased expensed for design and a lack of demand drove DSI into bankruptcy by 2001. Many assets (but not the physical plant) were sold to Omnova Solutions, a Fairlawn, Ohio textile company. The plant's 250 workers were told that they would work through the end of July 2001, at which point they would be laid off with severance. On July 25, 2001 workers arriving at the plant discovered that they had been locked out without pay a week early; they would not receive their back pay.

    From this point, the saga of the amazing destruction CCF reads much like the history of the South Bronx. Remaining equipment ranging from rotogravure presses to milling machines and steel tanks were sold at auction November 28, 2001. Not all equipment was sold, and some remains on site to this day. The 113 building complex remained closed and for sale throughout 2002. In late 2002 scrap dealer James Ramey and his Alloys International company began clearing the site under contract with bankrupt Decorative Surfaces International. In early 2003 Ramey gained an option to buy the plant from DSI; he planned to salvage what he could from the site and then clear it for a development of 40 single houses, four ten story apartment buildings and a retail center. The plans were never formally presented before the city. Ramey succeeded in raising five buildings at the heart of the complex by late spring 2003.

    In the early morning hours of May 14, 2003 a two alarm fire caused heavy damage to the third floor and roof of the three story office building just North of the intersection of [redacted] and [redacted]. It was quickly ruled an arson and would be the first of many. Numerous arson fires ensued throughout the older buildings of the complex including a three alarm fire on the night of August 10, 2003 that burned through the shipping departments and a three alarm fire on August 16, 2004. Whether these fires were merely the result of homeless who had begun to inhabit the complex or of pyromaniacs is unknown, but Ramey’s removal of the overhead fire doors separating many of the buildings as well as his removal of exterior doors and inability to secure the site certainly led to the complex’s quick destruction. Ramey, having sold off considerable amounts of scrap and salvage from the plant and having demolished several buildings, failed to close on his offer to purchase the site. In the summer of 2004 the federal EPA moved onto the site to secure and remove numerous barrels of waste from the hazardous waste storage building adjacent to the railroad tracks at the south end of the complex. By August 20, 2004 when the Campus Partners development corporation gained an option to buy the site, it was reported that firefighters had responded to seventeen fires including three which had been definitively ruled arson resulting in $551,000 of damage. Firefighters now only assume a defensive response to calls to the complex, and the section of [redacted] Avenue between [redacted] has been closed by the city for safety reasons. Since 2004 at least three more buildings have burned, including the laboratory, leaving with possibly one exception, only those buildings that are steel or masonry framed; the fire in one of the northernmost buildings was enough to collapse the floors and melt the steel beams. Ten buildings still stand gutted by fire and two with partial damage. On a recent visit to the site virtually all of the exterior doors and windows were either gone or provided ready access. Locals often frequent the complex to salvage anything of value they still can including copper wire, metal conduit, doors, and remaining chairs and furnishings.

    In early 2006, Campus Partners again gained an option to purchase the site.

    The site is now the subject of a number of urban renewal plans, including plans in the works for it to be purchased by the joint OSU/City of Columbus Campus Partners organization. If this plan goes through, expect demolition.
    If not going under the Axe by OSU, the Weinland Park Redevelopment Plan involves razing the site, cleaning the soil, and building houses and green spaces there; or building a train maintenance area for a possible Columbus Light Rail. The Weinland Park and Campus Partners plans may work in conjunction.

     Media Coverage
    From the OSU Lantern:

    Demolition of old factory to bring housing, retail
    Karen McClintock
    Issue date: 1/4/07 Section: Campus

    Media Credit: Matthew Hashiguchi
    The Columbus Coated Fabric Company has become a rundown haven for broken glass, rusted metal and hazardous chemicals.

    Faded turquoise paint and graffiti art covers the building that once held Columbus Coated Fabrics, a manufacturing facility that produced vinyl coated cloth products.

    Now Campus Partners, a developer affiliated with Ohio State, wants to demolish the building south east of OSU's campus and use the 17 acres for housing, retail and civic space.

    Its Weinland Park Neighborhood Plan would put 495 housing units, 5,000 square feet of retail and a 5,000-foot neighborhood center on the site. The clean up project would cost around $2.8 million. The most contaminated two acres of the lot would likely become parking lots under the plan, said Steve Sterrett, director of community relations for Campus Partners.

    Plastic compounds, heavyweight oils, lead and asbestos have all been identified on the site, he said.

    Campus Partners acquired the property in October long after Columbus Coated Fabrics closed in 2001. The collapsing building has withstood two chemical fires and is dangerous for cars traveling past on partially closed Grant Avenue, said Officer Greg Martin of the Columbus Division of Police.

    Barbara Pappas, a lecturer for OSU's department of chemistry, said the asbestos on the property could be expensive to dispose of properly, but the procedure is routine.

    "Given the nature of the contaminants, I would think they could clean it up and make it safe for future development," she said.

    To receive state funding to clean up the site, Campus Partners must submit an application in April. As part of that application, they will design a development plan to replace the current building and must have developers willing to commit to the plan.

    The current Weinland Park Neighborhood Plan is Campus Partners' rough draft. Sterrett said they will spend the next few months developing a detailed plan for the area and will likely find out in the fall of 2007 whether the project will receive state funding. If approved, remediation work would begin in 2008.

    Ray Robinson, who has worked as a service technician for 10 years at neighboring Columbus Medical is skeptical of the project.

    "Probably nothing should be put up there, just leave it as dirt," he said. "If they put apartments there, it's just low income around here so no one would be able to afford them."

    But Campus Partners said the retail space will create job potential and the housing will be mixed income.

    Sterrett said once all of the remedial work is finished, redevelopment could begin as early as 2009, and at that point, building will likely be done in phases.

    "It might take a couple of years before the market can absorb some new housing," he said. "If you do it in phases, it might make the whole project go smoother."

    He said demolition of the current building alone will improve safety in the area.

    "Any time you can occupy something that was vacant it's going to help," Officer Martin said. "Vacant property just attracts crime."

     Future Plans
    My guess is that it'll see the wrecking ball within the next 2 years, but that's only a guess.

    [At this point $353,149.39 in back taxes is owed... or half the value of the property - oh-ten]

    Add your own story
     Photo Galleries
    Click to view gallery
    Wed, Apr 13th, 2005
    posted by TheRev
    51 pictures
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    ohten's older photos
    Fri, Mar 10th, 2006
    posted by oh-ten
    12 pictures
    Click to view gallery
    Mon, Apr 10th, 2006
    posted by vacant
    1 pictures
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    ohten's pictures april 2k6 - installment 1
    Tue, May 2nd, 2006
    posted by oh-ten
    30 pictures
    Click to view gallery
    the son of ohten's pictures april 2k6
    Tue, Aug 22nd, 2006
    posted by oh-ten
    16 pictures
    Click to view gallery
    ohten's pictures april 2k6 redux
    Tue, Aug 22nd, 2006
    posted by oh-ten
    25 pictures
    Click to view gallery
    Weatherboy's Visit
    Tue, Apr 3rd, 2007
    posted by Weatherboy
    25 pictures
    Click to view gallery
    Rana X. Photos
    Tue, Feb 3rd, 2009
    posted by Rana X.
    3 pictures

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    Mon, Apr 10th, 2006
    posted by vacant
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    This location's validation is current. It was last validated by Steed on 2/4/2009 5:54 AM.

     Latest Changes
  • on Feb 4 09 at 5:54, Steed validated this location
  • on Feb 3 09 at 17:22, Rana X. updated gallery picture winter 2006
  • on Feb 3 09 at 17:22, Rana X. updated gallery picture winter 2006
  • on Feb 3 09 at 17:22, Rana X. updated gallery picture winter 2006
  • on Feb 3 09 at 17:21, Rana X. added some pictures to a gallery
  • on Feb 3 09 at 17:21, Rana X. created a new gallery
  • on Nov 23 08 at 16:04, Emperor Wang validated this location
  • on Nov 22 08 at 15:08, oh-ten changed the following: Status, Hazards
  • on Jan 17 08 at 6:02, Emperor Wang validated this location
  • on Jan 17 08 at 5:16, Servo changed the following: Future Plans, Description
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