Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Neighborhood group ready to play 'Hardball' with problem corner

Residents of the Knox Hill Neighborhood Association are ready to play "hardball" with the problem corner at Harrison and Fairmount. The properties sit at the western entrance to the neighborhood and is an epicenter of crime, litter and blight in the area.

The problem stems from a thrift/variety store operating at 1932 Harrison. According to city records the property was ordered vacated on 2/28/2008. Also there was an order to obtain Permits on Plumbing, HVAC, Electrical. Windows , paint and repair fire escape as well as numerous other violations . # BC20080052.

An order was issued on 2/28/2008 B200801362 — 1932 HARRISON AV to OBTAIN A VACATED BUILDING MAINTENANCE LICENSE Apply for a Vacated Building Maintenance License and provide proof of liability insurance within 30 days of the date of this notice and cause the premises to conform to the minimum standards of safety and structural integrity set forth in 1101-79.4 below within 90 days of the date of this notice

A check of records reveal that there has been no compliance with those orders and business (corner thrift/grocery store) is operating at that location in apparent violation of the above orders. The property was purchased in 2006 by Sharon Partners LLC. the property was cited again on 7/25/2008 along with several vacant lots immediately south for litter and high weeds. The thrift store has been in operation there for some time, it remains unclear how a business is allowed to operate in structure that is shown on the most current Vacant buildings list as ordered vacant?

The corner has become a haven for open air drug dealing at all times of the day. One long time resident who lives nearby stated she sees this activity all day long and has been out in her yard and had neighborhood "thugs' yell obscenities at her for being outside and throw trash over her fence on purpose.

Greg Drake a member of the Knox Hill Neighborhood Association states " The drug dealing is open, obvious and the business operating out of there, one would have to be blind not to see it." Other residents agree and say the store serves "no useful" purpose and is of no benefit to the neighborhood.
The property itself is historic and worthy of restoration. This intersection was once an anchor to the neighborhood. However the neighborhood group wants the current tenant thrown out and a 'better and higher" use of the property found. In fact the neighborhood would like to see the entire intersection transformed.
This transformation would include the closing ( and possible demolition) of the bar across the street at 1933 Harrison. Demolition of the Irish Cliffs apartments at the N.E. corner of Fairmount and Harrison which are currently vacant and a drug haven. Ideally the group would like to see a new mixed-use commercial structure to be built there as well as landscaping and better lighting at the intersection. The 1932 Harrison Building could be restored as mixed use commercial with condos above and landscaped off street parking could be constructed south of the building or additional commercial buildings.

This intersection is the first thing you notice as you ascend the hill headed into North Fairmount and Westwood and its deteriorated condition sets a bad tone for the entire area. A concentrated effort will be needed to "clean up' the corner. The neighborhood association has sent a letter to all the affected property owners asking them to "voluntarily" clean up and bring their properties into compliance within the next 30 days. The group is also sending a letter of inquiry to the appropriate city of Cincinnati officials to explain why this property fell through the cracks on enforcement and what can be down in the future to prevent this from happening.
If the property owners do not come into compliance and the city does not enforce its own orders the neighborhood association will plan to take the following steps.

1.)The Association will post photos taken by neighborhood residents of the illegal activities and drug deals and post them on the Knox Hill Neighborhood Association website.

2.) Hold a press conference at the intersection of Harrison and Fairmount where residents, the neighborhood association and local clergy will present their case directly to the public and through local media of the need for the city to fix this blight.

3.) Neighborhood residents have vowed to picket the location at random times to draw attention to the problem.

4.) The neighborhood will rent a billboard on Harrison Street approach that proclaims "Warning Drug dealers ahead! Your tax dollars are NOT at work!"

The neighborhood is fully prepared to work with city agencies and fully support them in enforcement including showing up en mass and hearings or signing any necessary petitions

In my view, the city has the orders against all the properties concerned, it will become a question of enforcing existing orders and the city following through. This corner could be a real asset to the community and not only help Knox Hill with its turnaround but set the tone for N.Fairmount and Westwood. You have a group of residents who are concerned and have a vision for their neighborhood as taxpayers we have the right to expect the city to enforce it's own orders.
As it stands this corner is a real eyesore. You have property owners who don't care and the neighborhood must draw a line in the sand and say 'No More' and expect the city to do its job.


Bob said...

Brilliant! I have long wondered how the city can allow this hell hole of a corner to continue to operate as is. What is the URL of the Knox Hill site? As a Westwood resident who is sick of our city pandering to the lowest common denominator, I am in full support of your initiative.

Where do you get the vacate orders information from? I know that the Hamilton County Auditor's site supplies plenty of sale/tax/owner info -- but I'm not sure where to find the city records for properties such as this...

Paul Wilham said...

The Knox hill site hasnt been up long but the URL is:

The city.county permit and orders site is http://cagisperm.hamilton-co.org/cpop/permits/address.aspx

That site shows the orders against the building, when the complaint was turned in and the result (and followup if any) This is a valuable tool as we now know what "should" have been done to this building.

I personally don't blame the city there are 2-3000 vacant properties they have to monitor with the limited staff they have. However we as neighbors CAN do the monitoring and if we find something they overlooked we can sure bring it to their attention!

I think this corner is an eyesore as well and it really is a "gateway" to North Fairmmount and Westwood. I would like to see a long range "corridor plan" put together for Harrison.

Bob said...

I've spoken with new council member Greg Harris recently, and expressed similar concerns about the current state of Harrison from Grasselli to LaFeuille. He is working with another council member on a couple of fronts: one is a plan to institute strong cross-agency cooperation among CPD and federal authorities such as the DEA, the other is to speed up the process of blight removal when there is no chance or point of salvage/stabilization. In his own words "...it should take months, NOT years..."

He's an appointed member of city council for now (courtesy of John Cranley's departure) and resides in West Price Hill (so he's well aware of the challenges we're facing). You might want to reach out to him -- he's usually very responsive when contacted via e-mail. More about Greg: http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/council/pages/-35528-/

Paul Wilham said...

Thanks Bob for the info. I had a conversation with someone in city inspections this morning and apparently there is some sort of lawsuit that has been filed against the city by this property owner. He didnt have the details but gave me a number in city legal. I have a call into them and will update when i find out something. If you would send me an email at victiques@hotmail.com so I have you on my contact list so I can keep you informed.

Kevin LeMaster said...

Good for you, Paul! I appreciate your desire to be proactive, especially being such a recent community stakeholder.

I hope you'll document how your efforts turn out.

Bob said...


Some inspiration -- people doing just as you've suggested to get attention for troubled properties in their area: http://bit.ly/WpS5d.

In this clip, residents of Price Hill and Westwood picket in an exclusive area of Delhi -- in front of Phil Yeary's house (owner of 2 disgusting apartment complexes in both neighborhoods).


There is a Westwood Concern meeting next Tuesday at the Midway school on Glenmore -- I'm planning on attending.