Friday, November 5, 2010

Cincinnati officials need to 'rethink' Demo policies as "Preservation Wave" hits Cincinnati

The standing room only crowd of over 300 people that attended the public hearing on the use of eminent domain to save the Gamble House is a testament to the "Preservation wave" that has hit Cincinnati like a tsunami.

This was not just Westwood residents but residents from across the city, and the region, who recognized the importance of saving this historic home. The Gamble House may be the 'poster child' of preservation, but it's not just the Gamble house that has galvanized public opinion that we need to start saving and restoring what we have rather than demolishing our history. The Gamble House facebook group has almost 3000 members and has drawn both national and international attention to preservation issues in Cincinnati.!/group.php?gid=309727368005

In just the last couple of years we have seen several new developments on the Preservation front. OTR ADOPT was formed to save endangered properties and find new owners for them,. These are last chance properties that were on their way to demolition.

Camp Washington continues with its receivership efforts to acquire property and stabilize them and has been spreading the word through conferences to educate other neighborhood groups about how to effectively use receivership.

Knox Hill was formed in 2008 as group dedicates to Historic Preservation and is a model of "micro neighborhood" development with concentrated efforts in small areas and others are looking at that  as a way to jump start their own neighborhood efforts. Knox Hill also started its "Save not Raze' project and expects to start up a  non profit development corporation in 2011 to work on restoration/redevelopment.

The West Side Preservation Summit , put together by CPA, was held this year and brought together community leaders from across the West side to discuss preservation issues and develop long range plans.

Lower Price Hill continues to advocate for restoration and prevent encroachment of industrial interests into their neighborhood.

Westwood continues to go after non contributing structure like apartment buildings built in the 1960's while preserving single family homes. This "targeted approach' encourages more single family development and restoration efforts.

The HUD complaint filed by Knox Hill is forcing city officials to come to the table and develop a meaningful Section 106 review process.

Sedanmsville and Riverside are working on historic building inventories as a means to target smart restorations efforts in their communities.

A new group No More Demolitions in OTR is targeting the demolition and redevelopment issues and working to make sure demo for development sake doesn't happen .!/home.php?sk=group_123573741034597&ap=1

Residents in the West End/Dayton street area are organizing to prevent several planned city demolition in their neighborhood.

The recent elections may also force the city to 'rethink' its demolition policies. It is highly unlikely that there will be any more "stimulus' (NSP) program monies in the future which has been a major source of demolition funding in the last couple of years. Couple that with the house control of committees by more fiscally Conservative Republicans and many believe that HUD programs like CDBG funding will need to be more 'results' based with an emphasis on development. There may also be greater pressure put on the council to change how monies are allocated from the city budget with more emphases put on restoration/stabilization rather than demolition.

Overall policy may have to change, community leaders are calling for severe restriction or outright elimination of the VBML program. In the 14 years this city has had its VBML program the number of properties on the VBML condemn list has grown to over 2500 properties. In the same period residents have watched cities like Louisville and Indianapolis (cities without a VBML ordinance) turn around their urban neighborhoods.

The 2500 plus properties on the VBML based on a typical city block of 20 houses would represent the elimination of 125 BLOCKS of houses if all the VBML/Condemn properties were placed side by side on one street. Many also are questioning if the VBML and condemn ordinances is resulting in "Redlining" of economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. In fact some groups have been in discussions with housing advocate attorneys in Washington DC with the thought of pursuing  Federal lawsuits if city policies do not change.

Community leaders are also talking about the Idea of Preservation Landbanking and some sort of "umbrella' organization to take endangered property and stabilize/landbank for future restoration,

The "Preservation wave" has hit Cincinnati and it looks like its up to city official and the council if they want to embrace preservation or be swept out of office.

1 comment:

St Charles said...

Paul you are right on this one. City officials and politicians I think were completely taken back by the sheer number of people at the Gamble House Rally. They are all on notice that they better jump on the wave or be swept out of town. Larry Harris the City Conservator was at the Gamble House Rally but sat in the back and said nothing. To his credit he has consistently maintained the Gamble House should not be torn down. Which is a start but if he was a smart man he would get on board with Preservationists immediately or risk loosing his job as the anger is seriously mounting about the demolitions. Harris as the City Conservator will be ground zero for a turn around he either has to change or go.