Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Could OTR be 'delisted' as a national historic district?

Could OTR be 'delisted' as a national  historic district? YES!

I don't own property in OTR but as a community leader I recognize that the loss of OTR as a national historic district would seriously set back preservation in this city. and I've been warning on this blog that point for over two years now and those of you who own property and have businesses in OTR have not been listening. So let me make this clear.

Given the fires that have occurred over the holiday, and  the CPS demolition of property, not to mention the City of Cincinnati's Blight=Bulldozer policy anyone who owns a piece of property in Over the Rhine who wants to tear a building down for parking lot can hire any halfway decent attorney now, go to court and successfully argue that OTR has lost so much "historic fabric' that it no longer meets the requirements of its original historic registry nomination and should be 'decertifed' as a historic district and those protection granted should be nullified by a court ,

Simply put, OTR could be parking lot, a CVS, or a Walmart

Now do I have your attention?

As President of a Neighborhood Association intending to have its neighborhood placed on the national registry and not currently having those protections, I understand how important those protections are.As far as I can see Knox Hill Neighborhood Association is the only one out there fighting to keep this city from being demoed. Knox Hill is the ONLY neighborhood to file a HUD complaint regarding Section 106 review. Knox Hill is the only neighborhood complaining to OHPO about the Urban Conservators 'rubber stamping" of properties for nuisance declarations. Knox Hill is the only neighborhood group to publicly ask for  the current Urban Conservator to be fired.. Knox Hill is the only neighborhood exploring filing a federal lawsuit asking a court to review if current use of VBML policy by city inspections is resulting in 'governmental redlining" of economically disadvantaged neighborhood and denial of housing opportunity and lending in those neighborhoods because of the VBML policy.

Why is it that a neighborhood association in existence for barely two years is taking the lead on these issues? Where is Brewery District, OTR Foundation, and for that matter Cincinnati Preservation Association  and 3CDC?  Are you so worried about your precious "reputations" that you are afraid to take on the city and tough issues? Frankly if OTR is decertified, no one is going to take any of you seriously anymore.

So what do you do? Do you start complaining to HUD, do you ask for review of the Urban Conservators decisions by OHPO? For that matter will you even 'dare ask' or join Knox Hill in our request he be fired because he is not acting in the best interests of preservation? You keep having all these email conversations about the need to hire an attorney for preservation issues but none of you are doing anything?

It is up to you. I, and Knox Hill Neighborhood Association can not, and should not, have to fight your battles for you. Either OTR means something or it doesn't. Either it becomes something or it doesn't. Either you fight back or you lose everything.

I have my own neighborhood to save. I do care what happens to OTR, but you have several organizations and 3CDC, major publicity, lots of money flowing in to your neighborhood. My neighborhood has no paid staff, no big budgets , yet, we have not had a demo in our neighborhood in months. Maybe, just maybe, because the city knows we are prepared to fight, maybe because they know we will be asking the new congress to investigate how NSP funds were spent by this city, maybe because they are worried about a federal lawsuit on redlining? BUT we have had no demos for  months, can OTR say the same?

This blog is about Preservation and there are lots of neighborhoods that have the same issues as OTR, that do not have the resources you have, everyone is struggling to save their neighborhoods and make no mistake, the enemy here is not the slumlords, it is the city, if we work together and support each other we can reverse city policy, we can replace useless city council members, but you can't sit back and expect someone else to fight your battle for you.

The future of OTR in 2011 is up to you.


St Charles said...

Paul is right we have to step up to the plate with a complaint to HUD for 106 violations and a suit against the city.

ratita said...

Your historical buildings here are in incredible shape and I do not understand the mentality of the majority of people from Cincinnati not wanting to preserve their historical districts. It is the only redeeming quality of this city, without the historic districts you wouldn't really have anything to make this city interesting, because the rest of cincinnati is just another nondescript suburban wasteland filled with mcmansions and sheetrock boxes meant to be torn down in a few decades.

Instead of preserving, restoring and taking pride in your history, albeit young compared to other ancient sites around the world, you destroy it and don't even care. What a shame. (I'm referring to the people who do not care)

Sadly it seems that the majority of residents of this city do not give a rat's a$$ about this issue. I have heard one too many say that they should demolish these old buildings and build all new stuff in order to revitalize the city. So incredibly sad. Coming from a city that is close to 500 years old and from a country that takes so much pride in its history, this makes me ache. Why isn't there a program of corporate "adopting" of historical buildings? Lima did this 15 years ago and the city looks amazing.

Here I am, a transplant with no roots to this place at all, trying to fight a battle that shouldn't be of my concern, having been accused by some people that because I am a foreigner I have an "agenda" and that my nationality means that I don't care about these issues or that instead, I'm set to actually helping destroy the local historical places. In fact, it truly makes me sad and mad when I see these situations, when it is truly salvageable and instead is destroyed.
This issue is important to me because history doesn't belong to just the locals, it belongs to everyone. Would it be ok for the peruvian government to demolish Macchu Picchu because they thought they could use the land for something else?

Neil said...

Raita: I don't even live in Cincinnati anymore, but felt what was happening there was absolutely insane. When I lived there it was really depressing in part for that reason.

Currently I barely even have a stake in the community, yet I feel that its important to organize and help out those still living in Cincinnati. When I lived there I was very frustrated at the lack of care, and didn't feel that there was the willpower locally to organize people. Seeing a community finally grow around preservation that is willing to fight makes me feel very good, and all the pent up rage I have from when I lived there needs an outlet and that outlet has been found.

If someone who lives outside of Cincinnati but came from that general part of the country cares enough to support it, then someone who didn't come from Cincinnati but lives there totally has the right to support its success. There is a maddening amount of potential for Cincy to be a great place, lets hope that we can all be united in our cause and that we see it come to fruition.