Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Knox Hill Neighborhood on CPA Website

The Knox Hill Neighborhood is mentioned on the Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA) website on its 'Endangered Places" page and draws further attention to the fact that otherwise restoration worthy houses are being bulldozed by the city.

The Knox Hill Neighborhood Association has supported efforts to demolish truly blighted, "Non contributing" structures such as the Irish Cliffs Apartments at Harrison and Fairmount, but is drawing the line on historic structures that are contributing elements to the neighborhood. The Knox Hill presently has 20 structures that are either on the city VBML or Demo list, as the city tries to add more.
The neighborhood, which was built as summer homes for mostly wealthy industrialist in the city between 1860-1890 is enjoying renewed interest. Currently there are several homes under restoration in the neighborhood with over 1 million dollars of recent private investment.

CPA had one of the properties on the list looked over by an architect and engineer who both advised CPA the property was sound yet the property was declared a 'nuisance' by the city placing it on the Demo list.

The Knox Hill Neighborhood Association has started a "Save not Raze" project to identify historic structures on the list that could be restored given the interest by a new "preservation minded" owner. http://sites.google.com/site/knoxhillneighborhoodassoc/Home/save-not-raze-project

The Neighborhood Association members have embarked on a education and public relations campaign and have given tours to members of the media, local Realtors and architects as well as builders who might consider building architecturally compatible infill homes on vacant lots.

The group is also pushing for a more limited legal definition of the term "blight" to be only those homes which have serious structural or safety issues such as a fire, where demolition is appropriate. Currently the city uses "blight" in a very broad scope and that has caused otherwise restorable properties , such as a 1890's Victorian at the corner of Blaine and Fairmount, to be demolished. The city is using largely federal monies and member of the group assert that is fine but they want their neighborhood off limits so restoration and preservation efforts can take hold.

"At a time when the neighborhood is turning a corner, where there is real interest by people coming in and restoring this neighborhood, you have the city with bulldozers trying to destroy it" said Greg Drake , Knox Hill Board member, " The vacant lot that's left isn't creating any tax revenue and this city is in the middle of a financial crisis. The city doesn't want to do the hard work of dealing with these problem property owners so they take the easy way out, declare the property a nuisance and tear it down, as taxpayers, we should expect more from city government".

Members of the group have cleaned the city right of ways and a formerly vacant lot is now a native garden. Progress is being made, the neighborhood hopes to slow and hopefully reverse, the demolition trend. Ideally the group hopes to persuade city leaders that it is in the best interests of the community to negotiate with problem property owners to sell these homes to preservation minded people willing to make the substantial financial investment.

The neighborhood has the architecture, Italianates, Queen Anne, and a collection of over a dozen Second Empire Cottages, as well as some rarer forms of Architecture such as Chalet. With the great views, rural feel and proximity to downtown the group feel the neighborhood is poised for Renaissance.

No comments: