T he Irish Cliffs Apartments 1958 and 1964 Fairmount Avenue are headed to demolition hearing on March 27th and the Knox Hill Neighborhood Association could not be happier!
The buildings sits at the corner of Harrison and Fairmount at the entrance of the neighborhood and in this case a vacant lot is preferable to what is there now. While the group is preservationist oriented, these buildings were built much later than the neighborhood (1957) and have no redeeming architectural value. Getting rid of these two buildings will not only help the Knox Hill Neighborhood but Fairmount and Westwood as well.
This property is one of the first things you see as you come up the hill and it is on the corner of the first traffic light. The building is run down and has been in steady decline since 2000. In 2006 an inspection was ordered due to a roach infestation and refrigerators not working. There were complaints of overflowing dumpsters in 2007. The buildings sat open for most of 2008 . A condemn order was issued 12/3/2008. There is a laundry list of violations and the buildings only use seems to be for addicts wanting to shoot up. People in the neighborhood are afraid to walk by the buildings. There have been numerous police runs originating from this address. It has been impossible to keep the buildings boarded up and secure.
Knox Hill residents are writing letters to the director of buildings and inspections prior to the hearing on March 27. Our goal is to let the city know we fully support their efforts to demo these buildings. We hope the city can "fast track" these buildings for demo as well.
The concern is that the present owner Westbanco/Oreilly? will sell this building again. The transfer history on this building looks suspicious anyway. According to public records obtained from the auditors office the 1964 Fairmount was transferred to Kevin Oreilly originally on 6/28/2005 for 195,000.00 (the 1958 building for195,500 as well), on 7/1/2008 there was a $0 transfer to Westbanco and then on 12/19/2008 a $0 dollar transfer back to Kevin Oreilly. These "'transfers" coincided with various inspections and orders. Oreilly also was listed as the owner of record of another problem ridden apartment building at 2551 Harrison in Westwood.
The buildings have been advertised on Craigslist and other real estate sites as a "fixer upper" with potential high return on investment. The seller gives a 100K figure for for 'fixup' of both buildings. No mention however has been made of the orders to keep vacant or the condemn orders. The neighborhood estimates it could take as much as 325-450,000.00 to bring the buildings up to a livable standard, given the nature of the economy and the unattractiveness of the buildings it is doubt full anyone would invest that much in these buildings. But the fear is it could be sold to another 'slumlord", perhaps from out of state, who would perpetuate the problem.
Knox Hill neighborhood association is asking for residents of Fairmount and Westwood to join them in support for demolition of this building and send letters of concern to the director of buildings and inspections, not only seeking the condemn order be granted but that this property be fast tracked. due to the serious negative effect it has on the community. The group would also like to work with city officials to find a developer of the site. the property has great views and would be viable as infill townhouses, a couple of single family or a mixed use commercial development. Since this is the 'entrance' to our neighborhood we would like to see some sort of quality development. Given the estimated 1.2 million dollars expected to be spent on restoration in the Knox Hill area over the next three years by private investment, this could be a viable site in the future.
These properties are on the Knox Hill Neighborhood Association's "Hit List" of 5 problem properties that have the most negative impact on the quality of life of the neighborhood.