Friday, May 21, 2010

Why Cincinnati must develop a "Preservation Culture"

The City of Cincinnati has it WRONG! The vacant building task force has it wrong, The Nuisance Board has it wrong, The city Urban Conservator has it wrong as well.

What I am talking about is our approach to "blight abatement' and why we lag so far behind other cities, and how our 'shortsightedness" and desire to "burn through' federal monies city officials do not have to pay back is causing the long term destruction of our Urban Communities.

Not to say our city officials are stupid, they are just "uneducated" as to the value of historic Preservation and saving what they view as "worthless". So today I wanted to illustrate how developing a "Preservation Culture' where city officials "get it" leads to neighborhood turnaround. As you all know, I have restored in Indy for a number of years and for the most part city officials there have it right. We don't "tear down" blight we stabilize and market it and make it an economic "win-win".
When you look at the top of the blog and see that house it looks impossible. In fact many of the houses in that neighborhood looked the same or worse. In Cincinnati we would have torn it down years ago. NOBODY in their right mind would restore THAT! Yet, as you can see, someone did. In fact this is now a VERY EXPENSIVE house in a very expensive, near downtown neighborhood in Indianapolis. Preservation Culture made that save possible.The idea we do not bulldoze "blight' we restore it. Because we truly fix the blight problem, others feel safe to come in and restore as well.
Look at this cottage before and after. We tear down property with more architectural style EVERY DAY in Cincinnati because our city officials look at areas like Price Hill and Fairmount as "valueless". Would it surprise you to know this "little house' is worth over a quarter of a milllion dollars? It wasnt always that way but had it been bulldozed it would be worth ZERO today
Preservation as an economic development tool is well known to be successful in most cities, for some reason the Cincinnati Vacant Building task force does not get it

How many Corner store buildings have we torn down in Cincinnati? How many neighborhood groceries? How many commercial buildings have we demoed because they were "blighted"? Would it surprise you to know that today this building is worth over 1.5 million dollars? It was divided into two Luxury condos and then converted back to a single family unit. It sits facing a Freeway, less than 100 feet away. Yet someone bought it. It has great value, but if the culture existed like Cincinnati it most certainly would have been demoed because at the time that neighborhood looked awful. Today is restored.

The preservation community must "Educate' city officials as to the value of 'fixing' blight, not with a bulldozer, but with paint, hammer and nails. It is how you "build ' a county tax base that provides the kind of services you need for a modern city that people want to move to and thrive in. We need to do a better job of education, hopefully the West Side Preservation summit in June will be a great start to that education our city officials so desperately need.


St Charles said...

Paul you and Greg are an inspiration to not just the neighborhood but the Nation. Yes we Can Rebuild America one house at a time. Your gardens would make even Henry Shaw proud. You do need some dahlias for authentic Victorian Style and Rigosa Roses for fragrance.

St Charles said...

PS meant to put this on your weekly update.