Friday, August 31, 2007

College Hill big box?

The August 27 edition of the College Hill eNewsletter reports that the board of the Cincinnati Waldorf School has voted to sell 18 acres near the Star Tower to a big-box developer.

The land along Winton Road was originally purchased by the board in 2001 with the idea of raising funds for a new school.

A petition drive was initiated to get the board to reconsider a plan to sell the land to Sean Mullaney and Dianna Schweitzer. The husband and wife, who have children at the school, indicated that they would buy the land and hold the property in trust for three years, at which point they would give the school the first option of buying it back.

The big-box developer has not yet been named.

The property is currently zoned for single-family housing and would require a zoning change or a Planned Development District designation to be used for retail.

The eNewsletter also mentions that the first of two planned metallic gateway sculptures should be completed by the end of this year.

More on both of these stories can be found in the online version of the newsletter by clicking the links within this post.


Photo update: The Galleries at Pendleton

Click to enlarge

This pic of the Galleries at Pendleton were taken on Sunday, August 26, 2007.

The first phase of the development, which is being built on Dandridge Street across from the Pendleton Arts Center, will include eight attached townhomes starting at $160,000.

A future phase will include nine units on Pendleton and Spring streets. Those sites are vacant except for two condemned buildings at 1333-1335 Pendleton Street. Standing since the 1870s, these structures will likely be torn down.

The project is being built by Gary Mark Custom Homes.

Rendering of the Galleries at Pendleton

1333-1335 Pendleton Street


Wrecking Cincinnati, 8/31/07

RIP: 550 Stewart Pl, Avondale

DOB: 1900
Died: August 2007
Cause of death: A damaged foundation, roof failure, busted-out windows and mechanical system failure. This former group home for convicted felons had 27 rooms, including 9 bedrooms. By 2006 it had become run-down and vacant. It was finally declared a public nuisance in May 2007.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mount Adams also has small projects

While larger projects like Mount Adams Incline, the Elite and the Palisades of Mount Adams are pretty well known, there are often several smaller infill projects going on at the same time.

Some of the newer projects include a teardown, a large addition, and a land purchase that could lead to new condos.

The blighted property at 1037 Monastery Street (Monastery and St. Paul) is closer to demolition, with permits on the way.

The two-family home was supposed to be demolished in 2005 with plans to construct a new house on the property. Both wrecking permits that year expired before work was done. The property became overgrown and the City ordered it vacant.

A new owner purchased the property for $160,000 in April, and building permits for a new single-family house, which were applied for by the previous owner, are still being sorted out.

At 1237 Martin Drive, a 2,600-square-foot addition will be added to the original structure, which was built in 1864. The addition will take the two-family house to nearly 5,000 square feet.

Fletcher Remodeling & Custom Homes is doing the work. This one may be pricey because of the unstable hillside.

Permits for that project are in route.

Finally, Metropolitan Design and Development have purchased a quarter acre at 941-951 Monastery Street for $205,000. These six parcels start opposite Oregon Street and proceed up the hill.

Metropolitan is the same company responsible for the newer condos on the 1200 block of Elsinore.

No announcements have been made on this land purchase as the sale was only completed within the last two weeks.

1037 Monastery and 1237 Martin: Click to enlarge

GOOGLE AERIAL MAP: 1037 Monastery
WINDOWS LIVE BIRD'S EYE VIEW: 1237 Martin (looking east)
GOOGLE AERIAL MAP: 941-951 Monastery

Photo: God's Bible Facilities Building

Click to enlarge

Last Friday, I posted an article about the expansion of the God's Bible School and College campus in Mount Auburn.

At the time I didn't have a photo of the Facilites Building, which is being built at the corner of Josephine and Ringgold streets.

This photo is from Sunday. The building looks fairly utilitarian and inexpensive and isn't likely to win any awards.

Wrecking Cincinnati, 8/30/07

RIP: 4481 Eastern Ave, Linwood

DOB: 1880
Died: August 2007
Cause of death: Likely abandoned. The City ordered it vacant and barricaded it to keep out squatters. The neighbor purchased the property a few months ago at a Sheriff's sale and razed the house himself.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

SouthShore photo update, 8/29/07

It looks like they've got the four-story garage structure pretty much built.

The completed project will also include two towers with about 150 condo units and an 80,000 square foot office building.*

Photographs taken Sunday, August 26, 2007. Click on each photo to enlarge it in a new browser window.

* A marina is still possible but has not yet been decided.

OMS Photography moving to Northside

OMS Photography will soon begin remodeling 1636 Chase Avenue in Northside.

The 9,400-square-foot building at Chase and Turrill will include both photography studios and offices.

They purchased the building for $339,000 in February.

After moving to the new building, the business will retain a portion of its current home at 2135 Central Parkway.

OMS Photography is a commercial photography house specializing in food photography, digital retouching, and on-site shots. They have locations in Cincinnati and in Minneapolis.

1636 Chase Avenue

Wrecking Cincinnati, 8/29/07

RIP: 118-120 Dorchester Ave, Mount Auburn

DOB: 1905
Died: August 2007
Cause of death: Not to much info on these buildings, but I've seen them in person and they were not in good shape at all. The two buildings were joined. Handwrecking has been done to bring them down and removal is in progress.

Link: 5chw4r7z

Another blog that I subscribe to but hadn't yet added to my blogroll is 5chw4r7z.

His blog mostly contains photos and info about local places and events. Recent posts have included photos and info about Visionnati, Fountain Square construction and a night spent in a luxury box at a Reds game.

Archives go back to 2004. Check it out.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mount Adams Pedestrian Path set for 2008

Plan aerial: Click to enlarge

The Mount Adams Pedestrian Path project is expected to break ground in February 2008.

The project's goal is to repair and rebuild the pedestrian connections between Holy Cross-Immaculata Church and Adams Crossing.

The upper portion of the project involves the rehabilitation of all 85 Guido Street steps. These are the infamous steps used by Roman Catholics to "pray the steps" every Good Friday.

The lower portion of the project will restore a stone archway and public plaza next to Adams Place. The historic stone arch, which was moved for construction, was put into storage in 1990. The foundation for the plaza is buried under overgrown weeds.

Sections from Celestial/Hill to the Columbia Parkway pedestrian overpass and from the overpass to the new plaza will also be improved.

In late June, the City voted unanimously to accept one-eighth acre from the Adams Place Condominium homeowners association and AP Parking Company, LLC, putting the entire project area under City control.

The project is expected to be completed by September 2008.

In April 2006, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that costs were estimated at $1.5 million. A more current estimate is not available, as the project has not yet been put out to bid. Bids will be accepted later this fall.

Funding will come from City Department of Transportation and Engineering (DOTE) Steps and DOTE Gateway funds and federal ISTEA funds. DOTE has also applied for federal TCSP grant.

Thank you to Matthew Andrews, DOTE Project Architect, for the aerial and the photo.

The "Good Friday" stone arch: Click to enlarge


New SFD at 1821 Highland Avenue

A new single-family home will be built at 1821 Highland Avenue in Mount Auburn.

The parcel has been vacant since at least 1996.

No pricing details for the new home are available.

Houses in the general area are valued in the $80,000-$100,000 range with very little sales activity.

(On a tangiential note, I saw scaffolding on the neighboring house and it appeared that it was being painted.)


Wrecking Cincinnati, 8/28/07

RIP: 4132 W Liberty St, West Price Hill

DOB: 1900
Died: August 2007
Cause of death: Neglected and vacant for many years under a long-time owner. It was likely abandoned. It was finally declared a public nuisance in October 2006.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Outside of Covington, Kenton largely unwalkable

For the last two Mondays, I have been publishing Walk Score results for the purposes of determining which local communities are the most pedestrian friendly.

Further explanation is available in my two previous posts, which featured Cincinnati's neighborhoods and Hamilton County's suburbs.

This week, I tackle Kenton County.

Three discoveries jump out:

* Many Northern Kentucky communities are amorphous blobs with no center at all, or multiple smaller centers. This trend grows the farther out you go.
* The "mall" influence allows Crestview Hills to appear somewhat walkable, which it is not.
* The east side of Covington (Austinburg, East Side and Helentown) is vastly under-retailed.

As a refresher, here is what the numbers mean:

* 90-100: Can live fairly easily without a car
* 70-90: It's possible to get by without a car
* 50-70: Some businesses within walking distance, some require the use of a bike, public transportation or a car
* 25-50: Few destinations are within walking range, most require the use of a bike, public transportation or a car
* 0-25: Forget about walking

Areas marked with an "*" are Covington neighborhoods.

(NEXT WEEK: Campbell County)

Car-free living
Mutter Gottes/Old Town* (6th and Washington): 94
Ohio Riverside* (Garrard and 2nd): 94
Covington DT* (4th and Scott): 92
Covington Arts District (Pike and Banklick): 91

Borrow a car every now and then
Licking Riverside* (Garrard and 6th): 88
MainStrasse* (6th and Main): 83
Seminary Square* (11th and Scott): 83
East Side* (12th and Greenup): 78

You should own a car, but you won't always need it
Crescent Springs (Crescent Springs City Building): 66
Latonia* (Decoursey and Winston): 66
Linden Grove* (15th and Holman): 65
Crestview Hills (Crestview Hills Town Center): 63
Lakeside Park (Dixie and Turkeyfoot): 63
Fort Mitchell (Dixie and Highland): 62
Lewisburg* (Pike and Western): 60
Thomas More College (Turkeyfoot and Thomas More Pkwy): 57

Buy a gas discount card
Erlanger (Erlanger City Building): 48
Kenton Hills* (Edgehill and Sunset): 46
Taylor Mill (Taylor Mill and I-275): 46
Botany Hills* (Highway and Parkway): 45
Austinburg* (19th and Maryland): 43
Elsmere (Elsmere City Building): 43
Peaselburg* (19th and Howell): 43
Helentown* (18th and Maryland): 42
Kenton Vale (3100 Madison): 42
Villa Hills (Buttermilk and Collins): 42
Fort Wright (Dixie and Kyles): 40
Wallace Woods* (Greenup and Wallace): 37
Levassor Park* (Madison and 26th): 35
Park Hills (Amsterdam and Park): 35
Monte Casino* (Benton and Janes): 31
Bromley (Pike and Main): 28

Help...I'm trapped!
Edgewood (Edgewood City Building): 25
Latonia Lakes (Cedar and Clubhouse): 23
Independence (Madison and Independence): 18
South Covington* (Madison and Hands Pike): 15
Ryland Heights (Decoursey and Stewart): 6

37 Covington photos added

I have just added 37 photos from the Covington neighborhoods of Licking Riverside (17 photos) and Ohio Riverside (20 photos).

Click the above photo to go directly to the Licking Riverside gallery. The gallery will open in a new browser window.

For the other galleries, look in the drop-down menu at the top of the right-hand column.

Wrecking Cincinnati, 8/27/07

RIP: 1556 Dixmont Ave, Evanston

DOB: 1912
Died: August 2007
Cause of death: The house burned down in August 2006. The City declared it a public nuisance last April. (Yes, it took a year to demolish a burned-down house.)

Link: is a news aggregator and local networking tool that went live a few months ago.

Users can become a "neighbor" by signing up and creating a profile. You can then submit news, comments, or information about places, down to the ZIP code.

What I really like is the aggregator functions. They currently scan 14 local blogs (mine included). Every time I blog about a place, it is added to my map. You can then hover around these places on the map and find other stories or comments related to that place.

The service is currently operating in 54 cities and has been active locally for a month or two.

Is any of this making any sense? I'm probably not the best person to describe it because I'm still confused by most of it. I really haven't spent much time there, and I'd like to see what happens with this in the future.

Friday, August 24, 2007

God's Bible continues Mount Auburn expansion

God's Bible School and College, a little-known school centered around Ringgold and Young streets in Mount Auburn, continues to acquire property as part of its $3 million Faith in the Future campaign.

The college first began acquiring property around the area to drive out crime and make the area more secure for its students.

Two recent purchases were made on Josephine Street, on which the college owns the majority of the properties. Uptown Consortium's Parks and Neighborhood Revitalization Plan envisions the creation of a new gateway for both the college and for Filson Park at the corner of Dorchester and Josephine.

Some of the homes on the street will become student housing, either through rehabilitation or infill.

Construction of the new Facilities Building at Josephine and Ringgold streets is nearing completion. This building will also house the offices of the Campus Adminstrator.

A search of the county auditor's website shows that the college now owns 67 properties in the neighborhood, all of them along Ringgold, Young, Channing, Carmalt and Josephine streets.

God's Bible School was established in 1900 and has over 230 students. Seventy percent of students live on their Mount Auburn campus.

Visit the God's Bible School and College website


Wrecking Cincinnati, 8/24/07

RIP: 2011 Quebec Rd, East Price Hill

DOB: 1950
Died: July 2007
Cause of death: A cracked foundation, open roof, a rotting gable, broken windows and trash. The house was condemned in September 2006 and it was discovered that the owner was deceased. The house was declared a public nuisance in December 2006.

Link: MyHometownOhio

One blog that I read regularly but hadn't added to my blogroll is MyHometownOhio.

The focus of the MyHometownOhio blog is historic preservation and the revitalization of Ohio's city and town centers. There are also a ton of preservation-related links, photos, and news feeds.

They have featured my work a few times and I thought it was about damn time I added a link to them to this blog!


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Inside the Devou Park Master Plan

A draft Devou Park Master Plan was presented at a public meeting in July.

The draft was prepared for the City of Covington, the Devou Park Advisory Committee, and Devou Properties. Consultants on the plan included Human Nature, CDS Associates, Thelen & Associates, Fearing + Hagenauer, LSM Inc. and Davey Resource Group.

Building upon the 1998 master plan, the future of the park is envisioned as a combination of the "rustic natural qualities" of Mount Airy Forest and the "foundation of cultural assets" of Eden Park. Essentially, the park is to be considered an extension of Kessler's 1907 plan for Cincinnati's parks, which sought to site parks along the ridges surrounding the river valley and the urban basin.

One major issue is "identity". The park has multiple entrances and is detached from Covington's downtown by I-71/75. One possible (but unlikely) outcome of the master plan would be a gateway bridge spanning the interstate and connecting with Goebel Park.

The study also found that park assets such as the Behringer-Crawford Museum, the Drees Pavilion and the concert bowl are isolated from one another and could be better tied together. The first step in correcting this is a better articulated hierarchy of roads. Further studies will concentrate on how to improve wayfinding between all of the park attractions.

To build upon the success of the Drees Pavilion, an "overview district" is envisioned along the ridge. These buildings would complement the pavilion and would enjoy views of the city of Covington.

The museum needs more parking after its recent expansion, and the Art Deco bandshell is currently being studied for expansion.

Also to be studied is the financial viability of the golf course. The course, which loses money annually, suffers from severe landslides and crumbling infrastructure. The clubhouse is outdated and needs to be replaced.

The pool and recreation area might be moved to a more visible location, and the maintenance building would be rebuilt with more rustic materials or would be located to a new site. Materials for any new construction would play off of the palette provided by the WPA-built limestone and log structures in the park as well as the Drees Pavilion.

One new feature of the park is a proposed mountain bike trail for the portion of the park west of Sleepy Hollow Road. This effort is being spearheaded by the Kentucky Mountain Bike Association and seems to have the support from both the park board and the city.

Prisoner's Lake would be cleaned up, would have a dock and an overlook built, and would link with existing trails within the park.

Finally, selective cutting may be used to open up views, which could help unify the park by allowing visitors to orient themselves.

This fall's scheduled public meeting will build upon suggestions given at the July 9 meeting. The date of this meeting has not been announced.

Read the Draft Master Plan (PDF, 58 pages)

What are our Best Neighborhoods?

The August 2007 newsletter of the Project for Public Spaces lists five of the Best Neighborhoods in North America.

Applying their categories locally, here's what I've come up with:

Best New Neighborhood: Downtown
Hundreds of new residential units are either under construction, in pre-planning or proposed. Fountain Square has picked up momentum with new restaurants and activity. Living downtown has become sexy again and is well on its way to being considered a neighborhood--and not just a place to go to work or to catch a ballgame. If service industries catch up, look out.

Best Revitalized Neighborhood: Over-the-Rhine
3CDC and the Art Academy of Cincinnati have been instrumental in creating the Gateway Quarter, filling buildings with residents and new retail tenants. That particular area is clean, safe, and vibrant. Other developers are rebuilding and repopulating other parts of the neighborhood on smaller scale projects. Violent crime is down. Things haven't been this good in OTR in a long time.

Best Hip Neighborhood: Northside
I am biased toward this neighborhood, but it's got a lot going for it--good restaurants, diverse housing options, and diverse people. And it has just enough seediness to it to make it interesting.

Best Small Town Neighborhood: Bellevue
Though Bellevue is rather dense by "small town" standards, its business district is visually interesting and has come a long way since becoming a Preserve America community in the 1980s. Rehabs of its historic housing stock continue at a brisk pace. A more accessible public park would make this city outstanding.

Best Shopping Center That Is Also A Real Neighborhood
Thankfully, we don't have any of those!

Wrecking Cincinnati, 8/23/07

RIP: 1681 Harrison Ave, South Fairmount

DOB: Circa 1865
Died: July 2007
Cause of death: Rundown, tired and vacant for many years, likely demolished to prevent pursuit by the City.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Urban Sites seeks tax credits for Main Street site

Urban Sites Properties has applied for Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits for its Courtyard project at 1417-1421 Main Street.

The tax credits, which are distributed by the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD), are equal to 25 percent of the owner's qualifying rehabilitation expenditures.*

ODOD and the Ohio Historic Preservation Office have deemed eligible $685,511 of the projected $945,513 project cost.**

Both buildings are in the Over-the-Rhine Historic District, one of 28 City districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Units in the buildings will be loft-styled with stainless appliances, granite countertops and skylights. There will also be off-street parking and a common courtyard.

No details about the number of units or the pricing are available.

The upper floors were previously used as offices and storage. First floor tenant spaces are currently occupied by Mainly Art and Vintage Poster Bank.

Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits are issued throughout the year with only 100 tax credits issued during any one year period.

Statewide, there are 72 projects currently seeking credits.

View 12 interiors on the Urban Sites Properties website


* The credit can be claimed against the building owner's Ohio corporate franchise tax, personal income tax, or dealer-in-intangible tax liability.
** In other words, roughly $171,378 in tax credits.

There are many more Ron Browns out there

Friday's Enquirer had a story about Ron Brown, a 70-year-old Westwood resident who was sentenced to 170 days in jail for not cleaning up his properties.

While this case is a rarity for the housing court, there are many more people like him out there.

Their neighbors certainly know who they are.

The City of Cincinnati currently lists nearly 2,000 properties as either condemned or ordered vacant*, a 12 percent increase over a year ago. This doesn't include the hundreds with litter citations, overgrown lawns, or general repair orders.

It's not atypical for it to take between one and three years between pre-prosecution hearings on a property and the problem's ultimate resolution. It can take even longer if the property changes ownership because a new case has to be started.

I've seen houses that burned down take over a year to be demolished because it had to have a hearing and be put out to bid.

Perhaps the Department of Buildings and Inspections is understaffed.

I would like to compile a database of the City's worst offenders in the hopes of bringing them to light. If anybody has any ideas or submissions, please post them here.

I also invite general talk about derelict properties, slumlords, and the City's response to them.

* This doesn't include the City's numerous derelict properties.

Wrecking Cincinnati, 8/22/07

RIP: 1811 Carll St, North Fairmount

DOB: 1903
Died: July 2007
Cause of death: The house was open to the weather and died from the inside out. It was condemned in February 2006. The owner did some work without a permit, and then gave up on his efforts to bring it up to code. The case eventually went to court. In December 2006, the house was declared a public nuisance. The court case is still pending.

BC now part of Cyburbia

Within the last week this blog began appearing on Cyburbia's Cities and Places page.

That particular part of the website is an aggregator that culls posts from various urban-related blogs.

It's a great way to keep up with what's going on in other cities.

Cyburbia, which was launched in 1994, is an urban planning portal and message board. I've added them to my links.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hamilton County suburbs moderately walkable

Last Monday, I posted about Walk Score, an online tool that tries to approximate the walkability of any given neighborhood. I won't rehash the entire explanation here, so please click on the link to catch up.

As part of the experiment I tried to compute numbers for all of Cincinnati's neighborhoods.

This week, I will attempt to do the same with Hamilton County.

A couple of caveats:

* Some of these suburbs are large in size. So places like Blue Ash score high near the center but lower as you go farther out.
* Shopping malls skew the numbers because they feature a lot of shops in a small space. But have you ever tried to walk down Colerain Avenue?
* Economically depressed areas bereft of shopping options tend to sink to the bottom of the list.

As a refresher, here is what the numbers mean:

* 90-100: Can live fairly easily without a car
* 70-90: It's possible to get by without a car
* 50-70: Some businesses within walking distance, some require the use of a bike, public transportation or a car
* 25-50: Few destinations are within walking range, most require the use of a bike, public transportation or a car
* 0-25: Forget about walking

(NEXT WEEK: Kenton County)

Car-free living

Borrow a car every now and then
Blue Ash (Cooper and Kenwood): 88
Kenwood (Kenwood Towne Centre): 86
Madeira (Euclid and Miami): 83
Deer Park (Plainfield and Matson): 82
Finneytown (Brentwood Plaza): 80
Montgomery (Montgomery and Cooper): 80
Northgate (Colerain and Springdale): 80
Norwood (Montgomery and Smith): 80
Reading (Benson and Jefferson): 72
Mariemont (Village Square): 71

You should own a car, but you won't always need it
Cheviot (Harrison and Glenmore): 69
Anderson Township (Anderson Towne Center): 68
Columbia Township (Ridge and Highland): 68
Covedale (Glenway and Cleves Warsaw): 68
Silverton (Montgomery and Plainfield): 68
Dent (I-74 and Rybolt): 66
Mount Healthy (Hamilton and Compton): 66
Harrison (Harrison and Vine): 65
Madison Place (Bramble and Plainville): 65
Monfort Heights (North Bend and I-74): 63
Forest Park (Winton and Kemper): 62
Groesbeck (Colerain and Cross County): 62
Wyoming (Wyoming and Burns): 62
Evendale (Reading and Glendale Milford): 60
Plainville (Wooster and Walton Creek): 60
Sharonville (Reading and Creek): 58
Cleves (Miami and State): 55
Elmwood Place (Vine and 61st): 55
Lockland (Wyoming and Mill): 55
Glendale (Depot Square): 54
Delhi (Delhi and Anderson Ferry): 52
Springdale (Princeton and Kemper): 52

Buy a gas discount card
Fairfax (Wooster and Watterson): 49
Golf Manor (Bremont and Hammel): 49
Bridgetown (Harrison and Race): 48
White Oak (Cheviot and Jessup): 48
Saint Bernard (Vine and Washington): 45
North College Hill (Galbraith and Savannah): 43
Woodlawn (Springfield Pike and Glendale Milford): 42
Greenhills (Greenhills Shopping Center): 40
Lincoln Heights (Leggett and Medosh): 38
Arlington Heights (Elliott and Erkenbrecher): 34
Hooven (Hooven and Madison): 34
Newtown (OH-32 and Church): 34
Terrace Park (Elm and Marietta): 32
West College Hill (Simpson and Lincoln): 29
Amberley Village (Ridge and Section): 28
Northbrook (Pippin and Adams): 28
Miamitown (Harrison and OH-128): 25
North Bend (Miami and Taylor): 25

Help...I'm trapped!
Highpoint (4th and Cincinnati): 23
Pleasant Run Farms (Mill and Hazelgrove): 18
Addyston (200 Main): 17
New Baltimore (Main and Locust): 15
Camp Dennison (Glendale Milford and Lincoln): 14
Indian Hill (Village Administration Office): 14
New Haven (New Haven and Oxford): 8

More Kentucky photos added

I have just added 40 photos from various Kentucky cities:

* Erlanger: 10 photos
* Fort Thomas: 8 photos
* Park Hills: 8 photos
* Crestview Hills: 4 photos
* Lakeside Park: 4 photos
* Dayton: 3 photos
* Edgewood: 3 photos

Click the above photo to go directly to the Park Hills gallery. The gallery will open in a new browser window.

For the other galleries, look in the drop-down menu at the top of the right-hand column.

Wrecking Cincinnati, 8/20/07

(NOTE: Wrecking Cincinnati will now be a daily feature.)

RIP: 1811 Quebec Rd, East Price Hill

DOB: Circa 1865
Died: July 2007
Cause of death: Demolished as part of the Panther Athletic Complex project.

Domain purchased

Over the past weekend I purchased the domain

While this is not ideal (having to mention the "dash"), it was the best I could do to still get a ".com" address.

About a month ago somebody purchased I haven't found out who bought it (although I have a couple of guesses), but they have basically thrown away about $30. Great business move.

Look for this blog to eventually migrate to the new address. I'll be sure to let you know before that happens.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Wrecking Cincinnati, 8/17/07

RIP: 815 State Ave, Lower Price Hill

DOB: 1885
Died: July 2007
Cause of death: Open to the destructive forces of nature. The building was condemned in July 2006 but had been vacant long before then. It was declared a public nuisance in December 2006.

RIP: 923 State Ave, Lower Price Hill

DOB: 1883
Died: July 2007
Cause of death: Incomplete framing, no subfloor, and open to the weather. Bricks were falling from the top of the structure to the sidewalk below. It appears to be a rehab job that was abandoned. The owners were from out of state. After a long period of vacancy, it was finally condemned in April 2006 and was declared a public nuisance in July 2006.

RIP: 1733 Denham St, North Fairmount

DOB: 1880
Died: July 2007
Cause of death: Missing framing due to termites and rot, a poor foundation, and exposure to the weather. Accumulating problems led to condemnation in July 2005. Non-compliance led to the filing of a criminal case in September 2006. The house was declared a public nuisance in October 2006. It appears that the court case is still pending.

Save the Delta Queen!

Franz Neumeier photo courtesy of

As many of you may have read, the Delta Queen will stop carrying overnight passengers on or before November 2008, when a Coast Guard exemption expires.

The exemption was necessary because the paddlewheeler's superstructure is composed of wood (which is part of its charm). That type of construction would normally be considered an unacceptable safety risk to sleeping passengers as described in the Safety at Sea Act.

It does not appear that Congress will include the exemption in a current version of the Coast Guard funding bill.

Tony at the Musings From the Queen City blog has written a post about his attempts to reach Congressman James Oberstar (D-8th MN), who is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and has spoken out against the exemption. Apparently this guy doesn't take e-mails from people whose ZIP codes are outside of his district, even though he makes decisions that affect the entire country. is spearheading a campaign to save the Delta Queen's overnight passenger excursions. Save the Delta Queen offers an online petition, historical photos, a message board and more. There's even a site feed and an e-mail list for those who want to receive updates.

The Delta Queen was part of Cincinnati built environment for many years. It just moved on water.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Queen City Wiki is dead after a month

The experiment to create a Cincinnati-themed version of the Wikipedia interface appears to be dead after only a month.

The site came online in late June/early July and, shortly after, I exhorted people to join and contribute content.

Outside of a few entries about Census Designated Places there was pretty much no info added.

Soon, the site feed started coming back "Page Not Found", the website disappeared and numerous attempts to reach the owner of the site were not returned.

I assume that web hosting was paid for at least one year. Why give up after a month?

Link: CincyBlurg

Not a blog, a blurg.

CincyBlurg is written by "BlurgGurl", a resident of the City. She offers rants and criticisms with no apologies. Oh, and it features the Bullsh*tMeter and AssHat awards.

She once claimed to have a "blog crush" on Building Cincinnati. (My blog's flattered.)

Most of her blog was recently transferred from WordPress, so I have some reading to do. I've added it to my blogroll.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dear readers,

If one of you has purchased the domain name "", please e-mail me at I'd like to talk with you.


Tender Mercies to rehab Harkavy Hall

(NOTE: In a story last week, I posted about Tender Mercies, Inc. being awarded federal tax credits for their Harkavy Hall project. Tender Mercies CEO Bren Blaine has provided me with more information on the project, which I didn't have at the time.)

Harkavy Hall, provided

Tender Mercies plans on beginning the rehabilitation of its Harkavy Hall building in May 2008.

The building, at 24 W Twelfth Street, currently contains permanent housing for 30 formerly homeless, severely mentally ill people. It also contains communal facilities, laundry facilities, a barber shop and a common area for residents.

As part of the $4 million project*, the entire building will be gutted and rebuilt to code, with an elevator, fireproof stairwells and ADA accessability. More modern and efficient HVAC will also be added.

The 30 single-room occupancy units will be reconfigured, and an unusable basement will be finished and will include an office, storage space and a new barber shop.

The structure's historical facade will also be restored.

Residents will be moved to one of Tender Mercies' other five buildings during construction.

Funding for the project comes from Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, Historical Tax Credits, private foundations and individual donors.

Construction should be completed by the end of 2008.


* Actual construction costs: $2.8 million

Imperial House to become Holiday Inn Express

The Hamilton County Rural Zoning Commission will consider a site plan adjustment that would lead to a Holiday Inn Express.

The new owner of the Imperial House Hotel is planning an expansion and rebranding of the 197-room hotel at I-74 and Rybolt Road.

The adjustment to the approved site plan includes a 2,475-square-foot, two story addition on the northwestern side of the hotel and a 1,072-square-foot addition to expand the lobby on the southeastern side of the building.

Because of the future re-alignment of Rybolt Road, more parking would be added on the northeastern side of the building, existing parking would be re-arranged and new landscaping and signage would be added.

An indoor swimming facility and an outdoor patio are planned for the future.

A preliminary staff report found that the proposed changes fit the intent of the original development plan for the site.

The adjustment is expected to pass.

View renderings

Site plan: Click to enlarge


Link: CincinnatiArts

I was recently added to the blogroll of CincinnatiArts, so I checked it out.

The blog, which is operated by Enjoy the Arts/START, is centered around an arts events calendar and is part of a statewide arts database.

If you're into the arts, this blog should be at the top of your list.

It's been added to my blogroll.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

PC disapproves of Columbia Parkway condos

The City Planning Commission disapproved of a new four-story condo building proposed for East Walnut Hills.

Property owner Theodore Gleason wants to build the 12-unit building on four parcels (1.8 acres) that he owns at 2106-2110 Columbia Parkway. A lower-level, 27-space parking garage would also be included, with the total footprint being slightly less than 10,000 square feet.

The subject of the discussion was the rezoning of the parcels from SF-20 Single-Family to RM-2.0 Residential Multi-Family. SF-20 districts require a minimum lot size of 20,000 square feet, while RM-2.0 districts require a minimum lot size of 2,000 square feet for every dwelling unit*.

The land currently contains two two-family houses, both listed as by the county auditor as being built in the 1940s. The upper of the two houses, 2106 Columbia Parkway, features a mural by Leo Murphy and may be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Neither of the homes are conforming uses under the current zoning code.

The new building would take the place of 2110 Columbia Parkway, while the (possibly) historic home would be preserved.

Staff at the Department of Community Development and Planning recommended disapproval due to the prevailing surrounding land uses along the parkway, which have been single-family and two-family buildings.

The City's Department of Transportation and Engineering had also sided against the rezoning due to the safety concerns of more vehicles trying to enter the busy roadway via a steep driveway.

This issue will likely appear in front of the Economic Development Committee at their next meeting on Spetember 11, though their agenda has not yet been released.


* Lot size: 78,797 square feet. A maximum of 39 units would be allowed.

OTR transitional housing moving to McMicken

45-47 E McMicken Avenue

City Council has voted unanimously to extend a forgivable loan to Over-the-Rhine Community Housing for an affordable housing project.

The loan of $881,000 comes from federal HOME funds and will be used to rehab the building at 45-47 E McMicken Avenue into transitional housing.

The completed building, called McMicken Transitional Housing, will include nine efficiency apartments and three one-bedroom units. An on-site office will be staffed by representatives from the Drop Inn Center.

Units will be made available to people with a gross income at or below 60 percent of area median income.

Transitional housing had been located at Twelfth and Elm streets. That site was demolished for the future School for the Creative and Performing Arts.

Construction on the new site is expected to cost just over $1 million. The funding gap will be closed with a $134,000 grant.

Completion should be expected in about a year.

Federal HOME grants are given to states and localities to create affordable housing for low-income people.

The program, which is administered by HUD, allocates about $2 billion per year.


Link: Buy Cincy

Okay, so I'm just about the last person in the City to add the link to Buy Cincy. I think Urban Cincy, Jackie Danicki and Joe Wessels have featured it within the last few days.

The blog is run by Sean Fisher, who lives downtown and is an Urban Planning student at UC.

His first post details the reasons why it is better for the local economy to spend on local businesses. This line sums up the idea behind the blog:

"Locally-owned businesses contribute to a lively, vibrant, economically prosperous city."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Most City neighborhoods require a car

Walk Score is a web-based tool for researching real estate to find out the walkability of a property's neighborhood.

The interface allows you to enter any address into its search engine. It then calculates the distances from that address to shopping, restaurants, bars, schools, etc. and combines them all into a formula to calculate a "walk score".

The site breaks down the scores it computes as follows (paraphrased):

* 90-100: Can live fairly easily without a car
* 70-90: It's possible to get by without a car
* 50-70: Some businesses within walking distance, some require the use of a bike, public transportation or a car
* 25-50: Few destinations are within walking range, most require the use of a bike, public transportation or a car
* 0-25: Forget about walking

The site does admit its faults. It doesn't include factors such as street width, block length, crime, traffic, the availability of sidewalks, topography, the availability of public transit, freeways, bodies of water, or weather in its calculations.

It's fun anyway.

One thing that I noticed right away is the influence an adjacent neighborhood can have on the score. For example, Hopple and Colerain in Camp Washington is home to few walkable amenities, but the software draws into the formula destinations from both Clifton and Clifton Heights. Queensgate scores as moderately walkable, but I wouldn't try it.

Also, the score seems to have a socioeconomic aspect. Some neighborhoods near the bottom of the list are completely walkable, but the lack of economic investment lowers the number of available destinations.

And it's pretty clear that the public housing projects are little isolated islands, built without taking into account the residents' needs to actually go and buy things--or work--in a nearby commercial district.

I have tried my best to approximate the "center" of each neighborhood*, which is listed after the neighborhood name. These are subject to debate of course, and please feel free to post your findings.

The purpose of this project is to find out how walkable an area would be for someone living near one of these centers.

(NEXT WEEK: The rest of Hamilton County)

Car-free living
Downtown (Fountain Square): 97
Over-the-Rhine (Vine and Liberty): 91

Borrow a car every now and then
Oakley (Oakley Square): 88
Pleasant Ridge (Montgomery and Ridge): 86
Northside (Hamilton and Blue Rock): 85
Prospect Hill (Sycamore and Milton): 83
Clifton Heights (Clifton and McMillan): 82
Hyde Park (Hyde Park Square): 82
Clifton (Clifton and Ludlow): 80
East Price Hill (Warsaw and St. Lawrence): 80
Corryville (Corry and Short Vine): 78
Walnut Hills (Peebles Corner): 78
Mount Adams (St. Gregory and Pavilion): 77
Mount Auburn (Auburn and Dorchester): 77
Fairview (Ravine and Warner): 71
East Hyde Park (Erie and Marburg): 71
O'Bryonville (Madison and Cinnamon): 71
West End (Linn and Liberty): 71

You should own a car, but you won't always need it
Mount Lookout (Mount Lookout Square): 66
Roselawn (Reading and Summit): 65**
East Walnut Hills: (DeSales Corner): 63
College Hill (Hamilton and Cedar): 62
Mount Washington (Beechmont, Corbly and Sutton): 58
West Price Hill (Glenway and Cleves Warsaw): 58
Bond Hill (Paddock and California): 57**
Carthage (Vine and 70th): 57
Westwood (Harrison and Montana): 57
Avondale (Avondale Towne Center): 55
Hartwell (Vine and Galbraith): 55
Lower Price Hill (Eighth and State): 54
University Heights (McMicken and Marshall): 54
Madisonville (Madison and Whetsel): 52
Queensgate (Union Terminal): 52

Buy a gas discount card
South Cumminsville/Millvale (Beekman and Dreman): 48
Columbia Tusculum (Columbia Pkwy and Delta): 46
Camp Washington (Hopple and Colerain): 45
Kennedy Heights (Montgomery and Kennedy): 43
East End (Eastern and Setchell): 42
Paddock Hills (Paddock and Tennessee): 40
Sayler Park (Gracely and Monitor): 40
Evanston (Five Points): 38
North Fairmount (Beekman and Hopple): 37
Mount Airy (Colerain and North Bend): 35
Winton Terrace (Dutch Colony and Winneste): 32
Linwood (Eastern and Linwood): 32
Spring Grove Village (N Edgewood and Epworth): 31
Sedamsville (River and Delhi): 29
South Fairmount (Queen City and Grand): 29
North Avondale (Reading and Paddock): 28
East Westwood (Baltimore and McHenry): 26
English Woods (Community Center): 26

Help...I'm trapped!
Fay Apartments (3800 President): 23
Riverside (River and Anderson Ferry): 18
California (Kellogg and Eldorado): 15

* Winton Hills doesn't really have a center. I have included Winton Terrace instead. Also, I've included the subneighborhoods of East Hyde Park, O'Bryonville and Prospect Hill. Generally, I will put the "center" in the middle of a business district or at the busiest intersection.
** Jordan Crossing (Swifton Commons): 72

Kentucky photos!

Yes, I know. Where has Kentucky been?

I've tried to begin to make up for that by posting 29 photos of Kentucky.

Eight of those photos are in a new gallery for Bellevue. Photos of some Covington neighborhoods have also been added in the following galleries:

* Peaselburg: 9 photos
* Botany Hills (formerly West Covington): 6 photos
* Latonia: 3 photos
* Lewisburg: 3 photos

Click the above photo to go directly to the Lewisburg gallery. The gallery will open in a new browser window.

For the other galleries, look in the drop-down menu at the top of the right-hand column.

Link: Cincinnati Now

One local blog that's been flying under the radar is Cincinnati Now, which seems to be about pretty much anything and everything regarding Cincinnati.

Site owner Mike San Marco, who lists his residence as Loveland, says that the blog's focus "is on Cincinnati, a healthy, vibrant, connected city".

This is one of the newer blogs out there, and it will be interesting to see if it has legs. The posts are short but sweet. Maybe future content will be filled out a little bit.

I've added it to my blogroll.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Cincinnati Park Board adds nearly 60 acres

The Cincinnati Park Board has accepted additional acreage near Mount Airy Forest and near Rawson Woods.

The largest donation, from the Hamilton County Park District, includes 55.8 acres in three seperate areas (see map below):

* Between Kirby and Glenwood avenues
* Off of Colerain Avenue between Bahama and Hawaiian terraces
* Off of Colerain Avenue between Hawaiian Terrace and High Forest Lane

The City and county park boards cooperated in acquiring Clean Ohio funds with the intent of eventually having the acreage controlled and maintained by the City board.

These properties are part of a connected greenway of nature preserves envisioned in the Park Board's Centennial Master Plan.

Terms of the deed include a state restriction that it must only be used as greenspace, but that light recreational uses such as trails are acceptable.

In the event that the Park Board can no longer maintain them, control would revert to the county park district.

Rawson Woods

The Cincinnati Park Board also accepted the donation of 1.1 acres near Rawson Woods from Paul Pratt.

The site, at the end of Warren Avenue, will not be developed and will have no public access.

WINDOWS LIVE BIRD'S EYE VIEW: Rawson Woods (looking west)

Sycamore to vote on Gold's Gym, offices

North Elevation: Click to enlarge

The Sycamore Township Zoning Commission will consider a modified PUD-2 application for a new office building on August 13.

P&P Real Estate (P&P) is proposing a five-story office building containing 187,000 square feet with an attached six-story parking garage.

The structure, to be built on 4 acres at the corner of Montgomery and Hosbrook roads, will be constructed of pre-cast concrete and glass and will have first-floor retail space, a two-story Gold's Gym, and two floors of offices.

P&P is asking for a reduction in the required number of parking spaces, the reduction of the ten-foot buffer requirement, and allowances to build a 70-foot building in an area with a 35-foot height restriction.

Construction will require demolition of two office buildings and a vacant restaurant building.

The project is being designed by EOP Architects.

7 PM. Sycamore Township Administration Building, 8540 Kenwood Road.

Site plan (garage at bottom): Click to enlarge

East elevation: Click to enlarge

South elevation: Click to enlarge

West elevation: Click to enlarge


Link: My Wine Education

I've just added the local blog My Wine Education to my blogroll.

The blog is mostly written by Michelle Lentz. Her husband Kevin also writes a few entries now and then, including stuff about beer.

While I'm not really into wine, there's a lot of other information about local happenings and it's worth checking out.

Oh...and this blog was the co-winner in the recent blog contest sponsored by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, CincyTechUSA and

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Bortz offers newest motion to stop Queensgate Terminals

City Councilmember Chris Bortz has introduced a motion asking for the City to cease negotiations with Queensgate Terminals (Queensgate) and to investigate using the land for residences or for a public park.*

The City's negotiations with Queensgate are a requirement of the settlement of a court case involving 30 acres of land along the Ohio River in Lower Price Hill.

The owner of the land, Hilltop Basic Resources, claimed that the City's appropriation of land for the future rebuilding of the Waldvogel Viaduct would impede access to their property.

The court ruled that, in addition to purchasing the land for $5 million, the City had to negotiate a lease with Queensgate for its use.

Queensgate plans to use this land for a multi-modal shipping facility that will feed freight to a larger facility that they're developing near Jeffersonville, Ohio.

Bortz would like for all industrial uses of the property to be cleared away immediately and for the Department of Community Development and Planning to begin a study to determine the feasibility of residential or recreational uses.

Failure on the City's part to enter into a lease with Queensgate would mean that the City would have to find another way to fund the maintenance of a $5 million site that has no tenant.

They could also face legal damages of $1 million or more, plus legal fees. As part of his motion, Bortz would like to protect all neighborhood funds from any potential monetary penalties.

On March 7, Councilman John Cranley introduced a motion that any proposed lease should be rejected and that the property should be used as greenspace. Cranley's motion was signed by all 9 Council members. An ordinance regarding the lease later died in committee.

Bortz's motion has been passed to the City Manager's office for a report. There is no timetable for return.

Design work for the Waldvogel Viaduct is expected to be completed in 2009 with construction beginning in 2011.

Further reading, including maps and aerials:
BC: City against riverside intermodal terminal, faces legal penalties (6/15/07)

* The motion was also signed by Councilmember Chris Monzel.

Affordable housing projects win federal tax credits

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) has awarded Walnut Hills Redevelopment and Tender Mercies, Inc. federal tax credits for the development of affordable housing.

The federal tax credits, distributed via the OHFA, are enacted every year for ten years. The housing credit can be deducted from the owner's federal taxable income.

Walnut Hills Redevelopment won $870,000 in tax credits for the rehabilitation of the Walnut Hills Apartments at 849 Beecher Street. The rehab of the 197 units will cost $3.8 million.

Tender Mercies, Inc. was awarded $308,000 in tax credits for their Harkavy Hall project at 24 W Twelfth Street. Details on that project are unavailable.

Two other local applicants, Over-the-Rhine Community Housing and Model Property Development, did not receive any funds in this round.

The OHFA awarded more than $18.75 million in tax credits to 34 developers.

There were 90 total applicants.

To read about the losing applicants:
BC: Model Property Development seeking federal funds for fourteen-building rehab (7/3/07)
BC: North Rhine project could lead to 54 affordable units (6/12/07)

Link: RRD Photo

I don't know what took me so long, but I've finally added the link for the RRD Photo Blog.

Ryan Dlugosz is a local freelance photographer, and he shares his work often. He's also very skilled with photography equipment and photo editing software, and he shares that as well.

If you're into photography or local photos, it's worth checking out. I've added it to my blogroll.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

American Can named local landmark

City Council has approved unanimously the designation of the American Can property as a Local Historic Landmark.

Inclusion on a local landmark list makes the project eligible to receive the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit.

The tax credit is equal to 25 percent of the developer's rehabilitation expenditures.

Only 100 tax credit certificates can be issued over any one year period*.

The American Can building, built in 1921, is a nearly unaltered building in the Commercial Style and was home to one of the nation's largest can manufacturers, employing as many as 1,000 people by the early 1950s.

The building is the 29th site to be named a Local Historic Landmark.

Developers Bloomfield, Schon & Partners still hope to have the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A decision on that isn't likely until at least December.

Upon completion, the American Can Factory Square will contain 93 market-rate apartments and 30,000 square feet of commercial space. There will also be a new 20,000 square foot office building, 13,000 square feet of retail on the adjacent Myron Johnson property, and 30 townhomes along Langland Street.

Further reading, photos and maps:
BC: Scooped on the American Can story (7/19/07)
BC: Northside: American Can Factory Square (5/16/07)
BC: Northside: American Can Factory Square (3/17/07)

* Usually issued as applicants come along and not on a specific date.

Short Vine Vending District closer

Legislation to create a vending district along Short Vine has been passed to the Vibrant Neighborhoods, Environment and Public Services Committee.

The City had been waiting for approval from the University Village Association.

A vending district would ensure that street vendors in the area follow a standard set of rules and regulations.

The tentative boundaries of the district include both sides of Short Vine between Corry Street and University Avenue.

If approved, the City will have to amend the Cincinnati Municipal Code.

The City's Municipal Code currently has three established vending districts. The Liberty-Dalton Vending District and the University Hospital Vending District became law in 1985. The Downtown Vending District became effective in 1997.

The next meeting of the Vibrant Neighborhoods, Environment and Public Services Committee is September 5 at 3 PM.

Further reading:
BC: Short Vine Vending District to be created (6/26/07)

Link: Citizens for a Better Norwood

The local blog Citizens for a Better Norwood recently passed the one-year mark.

This blog gives the best local coverage of Norwood's public safety agencies and of its school system. It also highlights local people, local achievements, and local issues.

Local media coverage of Norwood tends to center around office development, the city's finances, and the Rookwood Exchange eminent domain debacle. There's a lot more to the city!

It's been added to my blogroll.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Service agreement, funds for Columbia Square

The City has authorized a service agreement with Al Neyer, Inc. (Neyer) and Columbia Square, LLC for the Columbia Square development at Columbia Parkway and Delta Avenue.

The service agreement sets the terms for the issuance of bonds for each of the project's three phases.

As reported yesterday, the City authorized the issuance of $4.3 million in bonds to help pay for the parking, site improvements and utilities.*

Debt on the bonds will be serviced by tax revenues generated in an already established Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district.

City Council approved the use of TIF for the site in 2003 and codified it by entering into a development agreement with Neyer in June.

The City also has replaced $500,000 taken from the Columbia Square capital project account, which will fill a financing gap and allow Neyer to proceed with their construction loan from National City Bank.

In 2005, the City transferred those funds from that account to cover costs for the Stetson Square project. They recently found a source for reimbursement in three other project funds (figures rounded):

* Retail/Commercial Opportunities 2007: $165,000
* Downtown Housing Development 2007: $95,000
* Neighborhood Housing/Commercial Development 2007: $240,000

Later this month, the City will use these funds--in conjunction with the unspent $150,000 in the project account--to purchase land from Neyer for construction of public surface parking.

The three-phased project

Phase I will consist of the construction of a 49,000-square-foot office building and public parking on the southeast corner of Columbia Parkway and Delta Avenue.

Phase II will be 29,000-square-feet in neighborhood retail buildings on the south side of Columbia at Hoge Street. These possibly could include restaurants and a bank.

Phase III will be a 34,000-square-foot office building on the northwest corner of Columbia and Delta.

Residential uses, which at one time were numbered as high as 72, are absent from current plans.

The project cost is estimated at $23 million.

The city has already spent nearly $850,000 for the local share of the $1.6 million Columbia Parkway streetscape project, which was necessary to make the project feasible.

The streetscape was dedicated June 21.

City eyes Avondale aquatic center

An ordinance to build a family aquatic center in Avondale is currently in the Education, Health and Recreation Committee.

Passage of the ordinance would allow the City to execute a restrictive covenant with the trustee of the Otto Armleder Memorial Trust, National City Bank, to develop the complex as the the Otto Armleder Memorial Family Aquatics Center.

The City would also enter into a disbursement agreement with the bank to receive $1.9 million for the complex, which would be built at 3630 Reading Road, adjacent to the Hirsch Recreation Center.

The Cincinnati Recreation Commission (CRC) first applied for the trust proceeds in 2000.

The CRC currently operates one Otto Armleder Aquatics Center at 226 Stark Street in Over-the-Rhine. A second will open in 2008 at the Dunham Recreation Center in Price Hill.

The next meeting of the Education, Health and Recreation Committee is September 4 at 3 PM.


Wrecking Cincinnati, 8/7/07

RIP: 1703 Sutter Ave, North Fairmount

DOB: Circa 1900
Died: July 2007
Cause of death: Apparent indifference. The house was ordered vacant for numerous code problems in June 2005, then there were no repairs and no VBML compliance. It looks like the owner razed it himself to avoid problems with the City.

RIP: 1110 Garden St, West End

DOB: 1873
Died: July 2007
Cause of death: A collapsed roof and cornice and a lack of windows led to severe water damage. It was ordered vacant in January 2005 and condemned in November of that same year. The house was then declared a public nuisance in July 2006, but demolition was put off while a check was made of its historic credentials. It was razed by the City.

RIP: 505 Poplar St, West End

DOB: 1879
Died: July 2007
Cause of death: The roof was open and the rafters were rotted, the chimney fell off, and the masonry walls had huge cracks. Trash was everywhere. The owners had no means to make repairs and couldn't sell it, so they simply abandoned it. It was condemned in February 2006 and was declared a public nuisance in June 2007. Demolition started in late July, much of it done by hand.

Link: Price Hill Blog

The Price Hill Blog just entered the local blogosphere about a week and a half ago.

I look forward to reading some West Side perspectives. There's a void as far as those go.

It's been added to my blogroll.

Monday, August 6, 2007

City authorizes $71.1 million in bonds for projects

Cincinnati City Council unanimously passed six emergency ordinances that will help fund local development projects.

The ordinances authorize the City's Director of Finance to bonds for the following:

* Baldwin 300: $30 million for a public parking garage and other non-enumerated work;
* One River Plaza: $17.295 million for a parking garage, terrace and plaza;
* Cincinnati Encenter: $9.75 million for sidewalks, street lighting, sewers and roads;
* Madison Circle: $5.68 million for roads within the development as well as improvements to Madison Road (including a new traffic light);
* Columbia Square: $4.3 million parking, site improvements and utilities; and
* Keystone Parke: $4.075 million for a public parking garage.

All six projects are located within TIF (Tax Increment Financing) districts. Tax revenues from the developments will service the debt on the bonds.

City bridge safety

On Friday, Joe Wessels reported in the Post about the condition of the City of Cincinnati's bridges.

In the article, Wessels gives details of the 2005/2006 Annual Bridge Condition Report, which was prepared by the City's Department of Transportation and Engineering. Some of the findings are rather frightening.

On the same day, the City posted the 20-page report on its website. On it you can find ratings for the city's bridges as well as details on future plans for their maintenance and/or replacement.

Read the report (PDF)

Wyoming, Ohio River photos added

Forty-three photos have been added in the following galleries:

* Ohio River: 16 photos
* Wyoming: 13 photos
* White Oak: 6 photos
* Cincinnati Roads: 5 photos
* Lunken Airport: 4 photos

Click the above photo to go directly to the Wyoming gallery. The gallery will open in a new browser window.

For the other galleries, look at the drop-down menu at the top of the right-hand column.

UrbanCincy on Cincinnati planning history

Late last month the City announced that it has hired Charles C. Graves III as the new director of its re-established Planning Department.

Graves will start his new job September 4th.

On the UrbanCincy blog, Randy Simes gives a brief history of Cincinnati's plans throughout the years.

The hope is that the re-instatement of the Planning Department will once again lead to progressive planning being a part of the City government.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Former Mairose Grocery razed

Death of a corner: Click to enlarge

The building that housed a specialty meat shop since 1891 has been razed and the lot paved over.

Tucked away on Monteith Avenue between Erie and Observatory avenues, the Mairose Grocery has been lost to changing tastes.

The business closed in February, a month after owner Ken Jackson announced that the store would close due to a lowered demand for premium meats.

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati purchased the building in May and recently razed it, then graded the site with gravel -- ostensibly to use the site as additional parking for St. Mary Church.

Department of Buildings and Inspections recently informed the contractor doing the gravel work that a parking lot use requires the submission of plans and the acquisition of a permit.

The Archdiocese has not yet applied.

The Hyde Park institution had operated under the Mairose name since 1938 and had been in the Jackson family since Ken's father Al purchased the business in 1961.

Formerly 3429 Monteith Avenue


Commissioners okay Forest Park annexation

Wednesday's Board of County Commissioners vote may help Forest Park redevelop an underperforming retail site.

The Commissioners voted unanimously to grant a petition for the annexation into the city of 1.226 acres of adjacent city-owned land.

The land, which is at 2245 Sevenhills Drive in Springfield Township, is part of a four-acre shopping center that the city purchased for $725,000 earlier this year.

The justification for the annexation is that Forest Park wants to market the combined site to developers and would prefer for the development to be done under one set of rules and regulations instead of two.

City officials see this site as an opportunity for a gateway project that will help spur other redevelopment of the Hamilton Avenue corridor.

Ideas have even been floated about combining the Kmart property with the Thriftway property (across Waycross Road) for an even more massive project. Funding for the infrastructure and site improvements would come from the creation of a TIF district.

Currently, there is no timetable for a decision. The city is currently working on a comprehensive plan for the site.

In the April 18, 2007 Hilltop Press, City Manager Ray Hodges mentioned that we might see the demolition of the Kmart building in September.

Further information, including maps:
BC: Forest Park: Kmart redevelopment (5/23/07)

I didn't win

I didn't win.

But being recognized as one of the ten best is still pretty good.

Congratulations to Drew Steinbrecher and Michelle Lentz for their co-championship, and to Kevin Dugan for winning the best blog competition among chamber members.

Links to their blogs can be found in this post.

It seems like local blogs are being added at a much faster pace. Hopefully we can all work together to make each other better. And maybe, in the future, we can make judges' decisions on which blog is best much, much more difficult.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Are Avondale condos risky?

610 Maple Avenue

Demand appears to be low for a condo conversion near Reading Road in Avondale.

Redman Properties first listed the four units at 610 Maple Avenue in June 2006 for between $172,000 and $178,000.

They have since been relisted as three units for between $183,000 and $189,000.

Condos in the circa-1900 building are around 2,000 square feet and range from 2 to 3 bedrooms and from 2 to 2.5 bathrooms. Units have a 15-year tax abatement.

Properties in the area vary widely in value from the $40,000 to over $100,000.

Nearby 552 Maple Avenue sold for $13,000 in February, and there are four condemned or vacated properties in the immediate vicinity. *

Redman Properties bought this building for $65,000 in 2004.

The new condos are adjacent to some stable developments such as Maple Tower (a senior facility run by CMHA) and the Cedar Meadows townhomes, which is marketed by the Avondale Redevelopment Corporation.

The site may eventually benefit from the Burnet Avenue redevelopment a couple of blocks to the west, but right now it looks like a risky proposition.


* Nearby City-owned condemned or vacated property numbers are unknown.