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Old 06-29-2011, 06:32 AM
 
10,139 posts, read 22,495,763 times
Reputation: 8244

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Quote:
Originally Posted by restorationconsultant View Post
Wilson, Wow we agree on something! Right now I am trying to stop MSD from demolishing 100 properties in Fairmount between Queen City and Westwood Blvd, placing all that in a landfill. Digging out on average 20 feet of "brownfield soil" over a 40 acre tract and trucking in clean fill, to build/recreate a open drainage ditch that the city covered over in 1910 due to the fact it flooded the Fairmount basin regularly. They are calling this a 'green project' as part of the sewer overflow project.

Of course in 'typical Cincinnati fashion" MSD has already bought 20 plus properties and was planning to demo a bunch before they realized they are historic eligible and must undergo a lengthy Federal section 106 review process. They also acquired 84 properties at the city forfeiture sale in Fairmount for this project removing them from the county tax roles. Mind you there is no guarantee that EPA will even approve this plan, or it will meet with the federal consent decree. They may still have to build the 'deep tunnel'. OH did I mention MSD already received a 850,000 earmark?

The whole reason for 'being green"? The city was told by Moody's that they would lower the MSD city Bond rating BECAUSE they didnt have sufficient property tax base to pay for it. This 'plan' is supposedly cheaper though MSD will not release any hard figures. This explains why the city code enforcement had targeted Fairmount for 3 years as they were trying to drive property values down so MSD could buy cheaply during eminent domain (guess they didnt learn anything from Norwood's eminent domain lawsuit/fiasco?) So the city writes order and condemns and bulldozes property driving down values on everything around it and the tax base and our bond rating is in jeapordy.

The scheme is to attract developers to build higher end 2-350K infill overlooking what will be a glorified drainage ditch.

So the "big plan" is to demo a viable restorable historic business/residential district , displacing operating buisness and homeowners. Remove millions of dollars of property from the property tax roles permanently, to put in ditch and "magically" developers will come and build facing two streets with a 50,000 car a day traffic count? FYI, they have no developer comittments.

One word..........BOONDOGGLE!
And, when their plan fails, there will appear the need for enough tax incentives to make it viable (read Betts Longworth). With enough public money squandered on it, you can make even the most ill conceived plans appear viable.

Last edited by Wilson513; 06-29-2011 at 07:31 AM..
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Old 06-29-2011, 07:08 AM
 
Location: Indianapolis and Cincinnati
682 posts, read 1,391,252 times
Reputation: 610
I agree Wison, but their big problem is Section 106 review since Federal monies are involved. They need to have EPA approval by 2012 and conduction a section 106 review involving more that 400 properties , because the "area of impact" (APE) must include historic eligible houses near the site. I've already alerted OHPO, National Trust, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation so they cant do a 'typical back room rubber stamp" and many of the properties are on the city historic building inventory and demoing historic assets is completely opposite the "Plan Cincinnati' working plan that calles for leveraging historic assets as part of development opportunity.

If a negative impact is found (via section 106) they then have to look at moving these properties or reaching a memorandum of understanding. THAT can not happen in the timeframe they need.

We have put together an alternative proposal that reduces the 'daylighted area' but would still meets the EPA mandate, keeps the "historic core business/residential district" in fact creates a national registry district and opens the area up for a National Trust Mainstreet program which is a PROVEN way to redevelop. We sent copies to the entire city council and mayor so they cant claim theirs is the only solution.

Architecturally, the area is better than OTR in many respects. More 'higher end' Second Empire and Italianate archietcure, no 'tenement' built type buildings you see in OTR and some achitecturally exceptional Storefront/business buildings not to mention some real gems like the Vitt & Stermer building or their one of a kind Art deco annex building. As a potential national historic distruict it holds together well , has significant history too. Most of it is vacant (thanks to city inspections) but its not tore up like many of the buildings in OTR. I've been documenting the architecture on my blog for over a month:
Victorian Antiquities and Design

Most people forget that fairmount was fairly prosperous town before the city annexed it and there was soem real money spent there on buildings as a result. Of course St Bonaventure was an anchor there for many years. Most people 'fly by' those building at 50 MPH and never actually look at them. I recently conducted a historic walking tour of the area and people were really surprised by the actual quality of the architecure. Since the Enquirer story came out we are planning another tour because of the interest. (You might find it enlightening)

Of course the city plans nice brick sidewalks , bike lanes, historic street lighting etc, but tearing everything down to buidl "new urbanist" crap has already been done to death in OTR and they can't explain how they will actually slow down traffic on Queen City and Westwood to 30 MPH?
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Old 06-29-2011, 08:08 AM
 
2,886 posts, read 3,965,971 times
Reputation: 1499
Quote:
Originally Posted by restorationconsultant View Post
...We have put together an alternative proposal that reduces the 'daylighted area' but would still meets the EPA mandate, keeps the "historic core business/residential district" in fact creates a national registry district and opens the area up for a National Trust Mainstreet program which is a PROVEN way to redevelop. We sent copies to the entire city council and mayor so they cant claim theirs is the only solution...
I perked up when I read this, because I used to work for the SHPO in another state, specifically with the Main Street Program. Yes, it's a proven way to redevelop, but the likelihood of that area ever becoming a candidate for funding through that EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE avenue is zip to nil. It lacks a contiguous core of buildings that are in good enough condition to rehab even in a prospering economy. It's surrounded by slum-type housing for poor people, not the kind of customers who would support viable, rent-paying businesses.

Main Street as designed for use in small towns (look at success story Madison, Indiana) although it's been applied to such areas as Mainstrasse in Covington. Compare those two to Fairmount, and ask yourself where the literally millions and millions of dollars to even lay the groundwork for a successful Main Street program would come from. Sure, I wish it were different, but the area is simply Too Far Gone.
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Old 06-30-2011, 05:57 PM
 
Location: Indianapolis and Cincinnati
682 posts, read 1,391,252 times
Reputation: 610
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarah Perry View Post
I perked up when I read this, because I used to work for the SHPO in another state, specifically with the Main Street Program. Yes, it's a proven way to redevelop, but the likelihood of that area ever becoming a candidate for funding through that EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE avenue is zip to nil. It lacks a contiguous core of buildings that are in good enough condition to rehab even in a prospering economy. It's surrounded by slum-type housing for poor people, not the kind of customers who would support viable, rent-paying businesses.

Main Street as designed for use in small towns (look at success story Madison, Indiana) although it's been applied to such areas as Mainstrasse in Covington. Compare those two to Fairmount, and ask yourself where the literally millions and millions of dollars to even lay the groundwork for a successful Main Street program would come from. Sure, I wish it were different, but the area is simply Too Far Gone.
I disagree, I've worked with a number of main street programs. Fairmount is essentialy a small town that was annexed by the city Also the neighborhood is NOT far from too far gone. The architecture is remarkably intact, there is a fairly high owner pocket around there, MSD can (for far less than demolition costs) paint and stabilize the buildings they have bought.

I've already been talking to some potential corporate sponsors for startup cost of marketing and hiring a director for a Main Street program. More importantly I have a list of preservationists (mostly from ourt of state) who are willing to take on these properties. I am willing to take on one myself for our own business. There is one charter school Orien Academy, and another private school opening over on Waverly near Lunkin valve.There are 42 business owners in that area who do not want to move as it is. I've been getting on average 500 emails a week from Preservationists and groups from across the country encouraging us to fight for that neighborhood.

In fact as for being too far gone the city was saying the same thing in 2008, about our neighborhood, Knox Hill ,that is located on the Hill overlooking this area. We have largely stopped demos. In fact Three homes that were slated for demo are now under restoration. We have attracted a number of new owner occupants and have driven out both a motorcycle gang and several drug dealers. Right now there is over 2 million dollars in private investment going on in our neighborhood right now with more people coming in. We are in the process of a National Historic Registry Nomination. We have an active neighborhood group, community gardens and rain garden projects going on in our neighborhood. Some of our new residents are people who made their bucks in Mt Adams and have come to our neighborhood because of its proximity to downtown and views of the city and valley.

People forget that Columbia Tusculum and even Mt Adams were run down at one point and many said the area was too far gone at that time. Look at OTR, who woudl have thought after the riots that things woudl now be moving along at the pace they are,

The only thing holding this city back are locals with no vision. I have turned around far worse neighborhoods in other cities I have lived in.
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Old 06-30-2011, 06:23 PM
 
2,886 posts, read 3,965,971 times
Reputation: 1499
Quote:
Originally Posted by restorationconsultant View Post
I disagree, I've worked with a number of main street programs. Fairmount is essentialy a small town that was annexed by the city Also the neighborhood is NOT far from too far gone. The architecture is remarkably intact, there is a fairly high owner pocket around there, MSD can (for far less than demolition costs) paint and stabilize the buildings they have bought.

I've already been talking to some potential corporate sponsors for startup cost of marketing and hiring a director for a Main Street program. More importantly I have a list of preservationists (mostly from ourt of state) who are willing to take on these properties. I am willing to take on one myself for our own business. There is one charter school Orien Academy, and another private school opening over on Waverly near Lunkin valve.There are 42 business owners in that area who do not want to move as it is. I've been getting on average 500 emails a week from Preservationists and groups from across the country encouraging us to fight for that neighborhood.

In fact as for being too far gone the city was saying the same thing in 2008, about our neighborhood, Knox Hill ,that is located on the Hill overlooking this area. We have largely stopped demos. In fact Three homes that were slated for demo are now under restoration. We have attracted a number of new owner occupants and have driven out both a motorcycle gang and several drug dealers. Right now there is over 2 million dollars in private investment going on in our neighborhood right now with more people coming in. We are in the process of a National Historic Registry Nomination. We have an active neighborhood group, community gardens and rain garden projects going on in our neighborhood. Some of our new residents are people who made their bucks in Mt Adams and have come to our neighborhood because of its proximity to downtown and views of the city and valley.

People forget that Columbia Tusculum and even Mt Adams were run down at one point and many said the area was too far gone at that time. Look at OTR, who woudl have thought after the riots that things woudl now be moving along at the pace they are,

The only thing holding this city back are locals with no vision. I have turned around far worse neighborhoods in other cities I have lived in.
Which local programs have you worked with? Maybe we have some professional acquaintances in common. I wish you the best with this initiative. I'll be watching.
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