Friday, July 30, 2010

Knox Hill: The little neighborhood that could.

In as much as we are witnessing a watershed moment, the demolition of the Irish Cliffs apartments, I thought it appropriate to look at where Knox Hill is and what its future plans going forward are.

In December 2008, No one had ever heard of Knox Hill in fact few even knew there was a neighborhood on the top of that tree covered hill. Today many know where Knox Hill is and several have joined us by buying and restoring in our neighborhood. Some, mostly city officials who had long ago written off the area and slumlords, wish Knox Hill would go away, because it is no longer 'business as usual" for them.

When Knox Hill was formed we all took a look at where we were and what was holding us back, that meant the setting of several goals. As neighborhoods go we accomplished alot in less than two years. so lets take a look at where we are today:

Rebranding: We have sucessfully rebranded the area from being part of Fairmount to Knox Hill. We have established a community website:

We have established a community facebook page with 60 members:

We have established a contact program whenever a property in our area list the MLS, we contact Realtors and let them know about the area, w hat it has to offer, pointing out key restorations in the neighborhood and encouraging single family ownership and making sure that Realtors are on notice when properties they market are illegal apartment conversion.

Historic Preservation: One of the primary goals of the neighborhood is historic preservation and Knox Hill continues to work with the Preservation Community

Historic District Nomination: Knox Hill is working on a Historic District Nomination for the area.

State Representative Densie Druehaus meets with neighborhood leaders to discuss issues ranging from the foreclosure crisis, preservation, and tax policy.

Preservation Education: Knox Hill leaders have provided tour opportunities to other community leaders, Architect and builders, Realtors, politicians and preservationist to highlight the architectural offerings that Knox Hill offers.

Save not Raze Project: Knox Hill is working with owners of distressed properties to match those properties with preservation minded owner occupied buyers.

Preservation Advocacy: Knox Hill continues to work closely with CPA (Cincinnati Preservation Association) on key issues and continues to identify and advocate for historic properties in our area. We have also offered letters of support to other neighborhood groups on Preservation opportunities. We supported Westwood efforts to save the Gamble house and have lent technical assistance to other preservationists and other groups. We were represented at the West Side Preservation Summit and had materials available about our preservation efforts.

Safe neighborhoods: Another primary goal of the association we have met with local police offers and encourage a safe neighborhood.

Crime watch We have established a community crime watch program along Knox street and will be implementing a similar project on Fairmount.

Illegal dumping: We routinely inspect the area for signs of illegal dumping and immediately report it.

Eliminating Dangerous property: Knox Hill continues to advocate for demolition of NON CONTRIBUTING structures in our neighborhood , like Irish Cliffs and we were successful in running a local motorcycle gang out of our neighborhood that wanted to operate out of a condemned structure.

Governmental accountability : Knox Hill believes that city governments must support neighborhood development not hinder their development through misguided policies and programs.

Federal HUD complaint: Knox Hill filed a Citizens complaint with Housing and Urban development over the city policy of demolition of historic eligible structures without a proper section 106 reviews . That initial complaint has since had additional data supplied by our organization and others, and is working through the review process. The city is currently reworking is policy and Knox Hill will continue to advocate that no property be demolished using federal funds without a 106 review including the hundreds currently declare nuisances without benefit of 106 review.

VBML: Knox Hill has maintained that the VBML is a hindrance to neighborhood redevelopment and has met with leaders from neighborhoods, the business community, real estate agencies and lenders and as a result of that a consensus has been reached that the VBML program needs to be eliminated. To that end Knox Hill and other neighborhood groups and preservationist are collecting petition signatures and expects to lead a coalition of neighborhood groups and members of the business community in presenting thousands of petition signatures asking the council to dismantle the VBML ordinance in favor of a more targeted enforcement approach. Barring that the organization has been in contact with attorneys in Washington DC who advocate for neighborhood and property issues and may take the issue to federal court.

Land banking: Knox Hill continues to support the formation of county landbank

Housing court establishment: Knox Hill support the need for a dedicated housing court.

GOALS: Knox Hill has established a number of short and long term goals and well as new projects going forward.

Home ownership: Increase Home ownership by 10 percent in 2011-2012

Green initiatives: Knox Hill already has one rain garden in the neighborhood and expects to create several others. We are working on a community garden projects as well as landscape of right of ways in the neighborhood. We hope to work with MSD on their initiative on the west side with the proposed Lick Run daylighting project.

Establishment of a non profit development arm: Knox Hill will establish a non profit Knox Hill community development corporation, KHCDC, that will be changed with acquiring property through both donation and receivership, stabilizing those properties and reselling them with restrictive covenants. The KHCDC will seek grants and donations to support both a Paintup/fix up project aimed at elderly and low income homeowners as well as establish Preservation grant/Loan programs, geared towards those who are restoring properties for restoration to help with stabilization monies as well as establish a FLIP program.

New Infill: Knox Hill, through KHCDC will work to attract builders to the area to build new appropriate construction market rate houses on vacant lots and work to find a developer to developer a large land tract in the area as upscale residences and townhouses.

Submission of Registry Nomination: We expect to submit our Registry nomination by the end of the year

State Historic Building Inventory: We intend to list as many properties as possible on the state list.

Historic marker: Knox Hill will embark on a fundraising effort to establish a historic marker at St Clair park on the site of the Schuetzen Verine. We want to work with Park officials on marketing the park and making improvements to trails and facilities.
Neighborhood expansion: Knox Hill is exploring requests from many neighbors nearby to expand the neighborhood boundaries to include areas south and north of our current boundaries.

In short, Knox Hill is not going away, we are not backing down on VBML or Section 106 issues, we will continue to advocate for historic preservation and a better, safer community for all our residents. In short the Knox Hill Neighborhood Association, "the little neighborhood that could' is on its way to being a big neighborhood that can!

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