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Old 05-09-2010, 10:08 AM
 
4 posts, read 10,389 times
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I am considering buying a house in the 5400 block of Whetsel Ave. It is an arts and crafts bungalow - my dream house - it is a stunner although it needs some serious work - I have the skills to restore it.

I am new to Cincinnati and would appreciate frank advice.

I am a middle aged white woman. I live alone so no need to fret about schools. I have lived happily in integrated neighborhoods in Philadelphia and Washington. I would definitely be in the minority here.

My question - is Whetsel safe? Is the area welcoming to various cultures? Some neighborhoods can be hostile to outsiders. The houses nearby are in good condition but streets a few blocks over are hurting.

I have read that Madisonville is up and coming. I would just like to live quietly and respectfully with my neighbors.
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Old 05-09-2010, 10:23 AM
 
Location: Mason, OH
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My advice is follow your instincts. Spend enough time in the neighborhood to get a real feeling as to what is going on. If it feels good to you and restoring this house is an ambition, then go for it. You may get a lot of adverse advice in this forum, but it takes people like you to invest in and turn around a neighborhood. If you decide to buy, best wishes.
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Old 05-09-2010, 10:38 AM
 
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I wouldn't live there. Three blocks south you can pull up in your car to the corner of Whetsel and Madison and buy crack and maybe get shot. When I get to that intersection I try to time the light so I am not sitting there for an extended period at the red light. Madisonville Citizens on Patrol are the the best, but they are fighting a tidal wave of crime there. Here's an older article on them:
http://www.enquirer.com/editions/200...c_chase03.html

There are nice houses there, but I think its backwards to find the house first and then see if you can stand the neighborhood. Find a neighborhood you want to live in and look for a house you like and can afford.
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Old 05-09-2010, 10:45 AM
 
Location: Mason, OH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilson1010 View Post
I wouldn't live there. Three blocks south you can pull up in your car to the corner of Whetsel and Madison and buy crack and maybe get shot. When I get to that intersection I try to time the light so I am not sitting there for an extended period at the red light. Madisonville Citizens on Patrol are the the best, but they are fighting a tidal wave of crime there.

There are nice houses there, but I think its backwards to find the house first and then see if you can stand the neighborhood. Find a neighborhood you want to live in and look for a house you like and can afford.
I agree with your assessment. Which is why I advised to spend some time there and get a real feel for the neighborhood. But it does take someone to take a chance, otherwise very few neighborhoods in this city will ever turn around. If you simply want a sure thing, then move to West Chester or Mason.
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Old 05-09-2010, 11:02 AM
 
Location: Sunny Florida
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I do not believe that neighborhood is a safe place for a single woman to live, but I'm very cautious about my own personal safety.
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Old 05-09-2010, 11:15 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kjbrill View Post
I agree with your assessment. Which is why I advised to spend some time there and get a real feel for the neighborhood. But it does take someone to take a chance, otherwise very few neighborhoods in this city will ever turn around. If you simply want a sure thing, then move to West Chester or Mason.
I think there are compromises. Kennedy Heights and Pleasant Ridge are not completely safe, but well integrated and with some decent housing stock. Madisonville is one of the oldest communities in Cincinnati and it is such a shame that it has not rebounded. I went to the public high school that serves Madisonville almost 50 years ago and it was a rough place then. The whole time I was at Withrow, the thugs from Madisonville and Evanston were at war with one another. There were fights almost every day, but back then people did not get shot. Only stabbed, choked or bludgeoned.

Today, its not that people aren't trying. Lots of pioneers and some die hards. But, the drug boys got a foothold in Madisonville back in the 80's and that set things back, and so it is what it is.
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Old 05-09-2010, 12:08 PM
 
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When hubby and I were househunting in 2001 we were able to persuade a realtor to allow us to spend the night in a vacant house we were considering buying. In that case our issue was traffic noise. If it's a possibility in this case you might want to consider it, or at least spend some time observing the street in the evening and wee hours. Think about whether you'd be comfortable coming and going from home after dark, and talk to as many of the neighbors as possible to find out (a) if they feel secure themselves and (b) whether any of them might consider you a target.
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Old 05-09-2010, 12:26 PM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
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(Waiting eagerly for the contrary responses to roll in, 'cause I know they will!)
The buzz about Madville is overwhelmingly positive of late, in terms of the neighborhood as a whole improving, and there are sections which didn't need to rebound in the first place. But this is one of those times where wilson1010 and I are on the same side. Whetsel Ave is by far the armpit of the community, and the Madison Rd corner is a perennial trouble spot. The first wave of urban pioneers will probably reach it before too long, but now would not be the time to make an investment there. OTOH the adjoining "unincorporated, township" section called Madison Place, and the historically blue-collar suburb of Fairfax just beyond, are WELL worth looking into.
As someone who drools at the sight of an Arts-and-Crafts bungalow AND has deliberately dwelled in "diverse" urban communities whenever possible since leaving the family nest, I feel your pain. But all is not lost, b/c Cincy is a treasure trove of houses like that. Nearby Norwood, a city unto itself surrounded by Cincinnati, is bouncing back nicely from having lost its huge General Motors plant and some other manufacturing operations. Xavier University is jump-starting a revival of the city's southern reaches by investing heavily in campus expansion. A recent and soon-to-grow shopping complex in one corner of town is bringing more money into municipal coffers. Taxed-out current, and priced-out would-be, residents of Oakley and Hyde Park are casting their eyes Norwood-ward. The yuppie son of friends has made enough money from remodeling and "flipping" three Norwood houses to buy five more. So this could be a rare window of opportunity that's starting to close. One sure sign of an area's becoming "desirable" - a B & B - is there in the form of at least four. And better yet, when I troll the real estate listings I see that some of Norwood's varied housing stock that's for sale are bungalows!
The wood-framed style of these kinds of homes is far from uncommon in and around Cincy, but brick ones are more plentiful. College Hill and Kennedy Heights both come to mind immediately when I think of that variety. Some entire blocks in those areas (Bantry in Kennedy Hts, and Lantana in College Hill, to name but two) are lined with those sturdy 1 1/2-story domiciles, with their cozy front porches and second-story gables. Both neighborhoods aresomewhat "integrated," though the sections with bungalows are less affluent and predominantly if not entirely AA. Neither community has a major crime problem, but both are experiencing some issues with juvenile wanna-be gangs of late. And your garden-variety B & E's and "non-random" shootings do occur from time to time. It's a life-in-the-city type of thing rather than something to fret over, though.
Another nice pocket of brick bungalows can be found in Northside, on the Spring Grove Cemetery side of Hamilton Ave. This "multicultural" and rapidly gentrifying community is now one of the most favored locales for Cincinnati's cultural minority known as "artsy progressives." (Live in Cincy for more than a month and you'll know what I'm talking about where "progressive" is concerned, LOL!) It's the kind of neighborhood where you can dump your washing machine post-upgrade at your choice of used-appliance stores, then stop in for a salad of locally and sustainably grown produce a few doors down. Another strong selling point of Northside is that it's just across a viaduct from "Hip Central" Clifton - close to, yet apart from, the collegian hordes - and a quick trip from downtown.
"Hot" for a while was Winton Place, the enclave on the other side of the cemetery from Northside bordered by Winton Rd and Spring Grove Ave. It's chock full of brick and wood-frame bungalows, other appealing types of older houses, and not too many apartment buildings at least along the side streets. A new Kroger-anchored strip mall opened in the fringe area between Winton Place and Clifton and is doing well. But I don't steer people in that direction as I might have as recently as 2008. The Achilles heel of the neighborhood is the sprawling public housing "development" called Winton Terrace on its northern flank, a crime incubator practically since Day One in the late 1940's and not improving. By this decade the problems spawned there had given Winton Place enough of a bad reputation - not always deservedly - that it was decided to rechristen the area "Spring Grove Village." (I refuse to do this, and if enough people don't adopt the new name it'll go away.) No one living around those parts has contributed to C-D to paint a fair and up-to-the-minute picture. However, what I've seen during return trips to Cincinnati - and heard in the news, biased as that is - hasn't been positive. It would still be a safer bet to buy a house there than along Whetsel IMHO.
If your pocketbook permits, the house you seek is available in Oakley by the score. But the gentrification horse is all the way out of the barn there - no more "steals."
Pore over the real estate Web sites (both Comey & Shepherd: Comey & Shepherd Realtors - Welcome and Cincinnati Real Estate - SibcyCline.com® Homes For Sale in Cincinnati, Dayton and Northern Kentucky are open-access) and randomly "plug in" ZIP codes starting with "452." You'll be astounded at the quantity and variety of choices, and no doubt also by where some of them are situated. Then get back to us for the lowdown on the towns/neighborhoods where appealing possibilities lie.
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Old 05-09-2010, 01:16 PM
 
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Since my earlier post, I took a look online at the part of Whetsel the OP is asking about. It's on the edge of Madisonville where the hill goes up into Kenwood. Would I live there as a single woman? Probably not, because like Sunnydee, security is a big deal to me. But it may be far enough removed geographically from the Madison-Whetsel Ground Zero zone to be pretty safe. And if it's the bungalow I see in the real estate listings in that block, the price is right for sure assuming it has no serious structural problems.
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Old 05-09-2010, 05:13 PM
 
4 posts, read 10,389 times
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Many thanks for your honest answers and for sharing your experience. I appreciate the generosity of your time.

I thought that because the house was closer to Kenwood than to Madison it has real potential, given my limeted understanding of this market. But I spent several hours yesterday observing the immediate block and have some concerns about the activity a couple of doors down. I was happy to see that there are many families with young children on the block. The house "talks" to me but being alone gives me serious pause.

Again, thank you for your good counsel - you've given me a lot to think about.
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