Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cincinnati:Historic homes face demolition

This appeared in the Online Version of Preservation Online. This is important information!
In Cincinnati this fall, a four-block stretch in the West Side community of Sedamsville may become the city's 29th National Register-listed historic district. But the proposed Sedamsville River Road Historic District may be partially demolished by the time the National Park Service gives its final approval.
"This very special place, a place that retains character and integrity," says Bobbie McTurner, executive director of the Cincinnati Preservation Association, "may not exist in the very near future."
Located at the base of Price Hill, Sedamsville has survived floods, road widening, disinvestment, and loss of its business district. But the eastern section of the neighborhood may not survive a $50 million condominium development in the heart of the proposed historic district.
As planned, the 11-story structure—which conforms with local zoning but has not yet received final approval—would tower over its neighbors. It would also result in the demolition of up to 15 historic houses. So far, several buildings have been purchased by the condo developer, Arlon (Ray) Brown of Collins Riverside Development LLC, including the long-vacant St. Martin's German Evangelical Church, built in 1892.
On Aug. 12, Brown applied for a demolition permit for St. Martin's Church. The city has not yet issued that permit.
In the last few weeks, Brown has torn down four historic buildings within the proposed district's boundary.
Last year, the Sedamsville Civic Association hired a consultant to nominate the district to the National Register of Historic Places. This spring, the group asked the city to institute a demolition moratorium pending approval of the district by the state board. The city could not grant that request because the nomination was for a national rather than a local district.
On Aug. 1, the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board voted 8-1 to send the Sedamsville River Road nomination on to the National Park Service. During a long and contentious meeting, the board heard from both supporters and opponents of the development, and turned down a request to table the item. Franco Ruffini, deputy state historic preservation officer, informed the board that it must vote on the district in its present state, and if extensive demolitions occurred, the boundary could be revised.
If the National Park Service approves the nomination, the district should be listed in the register within three months. In the meantime, more demolitions are expected this fall.

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