Thursday, June 9, 2011

MSD Lick Runt project: Can we learn from Kenyon-Barr?

The MSD Lick run project will totally destroy a Business district and residential neighborhood in the "hope' that developers will find a "glorified drainage ditch" an attractive asset. The reality is that few developers would build in an area lacks a viable business core.

How much would one pay today for a 16 room limestone mansion within walking distance of downtown?  250K? 500K?,  a million? All this tax base was destroyed in the 1960's for an industrial park!
So what can we learn from Kenyon Barr you ask? Well unless you are in your 70's or 80's you probably never heard of Kenyon Barr. Urban Planners know about Kenyon Barr because its in several major urban planning books as an illustration of BAD urban planning, and a prime example of  textbook Urban Renewal FAILURE..

Rowhouses and duplexes like the nice second Empire one were everywhere in Kenyon Barr. Today if still standing this might be Cincinnati's "Bed Sty' or "Dupont Circle'
Kenyon Barr sits where Queensgate industrial park is today. An enterprise that has never realized any real potential and fell far short of city 'expectations'. In the process over 700 structures were demolished and 25000 African Americans were literally 'thrown out' with few places to go and it was all leveled. It was a FAILURE!

Another nice detailed upper middle class building when built. IN A LANDFILL!
It was also racially motivated ( though strongly denied by city officials at the time).

City inspections targeted the area by writing  violations and condemning structures to drive prices down so they could be bought cheaply for the industrial park.......Sound familiar? Many urban planners have speculated that if  Kenyon-Barr were still standing, a walkable urban neighborhood of most single family and rowhouses close to the Central Core that it would be worth Millions today !

When you drive down Vine street and comment to yourself about "how smart" Cincinnati was to save it and thanks to 3CDC it is turned around, ask yourself what this long gone Kenyon Barr Neighborhood would be worth today?
 MSD Lick Run: Shortsighted? Yes. Bad idea? Yes. BUT here we are again 50 years later about to repeat the same shortsighted, grab the bulldozer, clear it and development will come "Scheme"  that like every other "urban renewal-disguised-as-something-else" will Fail.

It doesn't have to happen. We can stop this . Come to Saturday's walking tour at 9:30 AM, meet in front of the Orion Academy (1798 Queen City Ave). Educate yourself about some great architecture and why its important to save it. Lets not repeat another Cincinnati failure.

1 comment:

Robert Riley said...

I was raised in the house in the first picture, l didn't need to see the address to know it is 950 Court st. I am 74 and was in the Army when it was torn down, but l spent about 13 of my first 18 Yrs knowing this beautiful piece of German architecture . l have lived in other beautiful homes in including the one l live in today in Florida. l cleaned ,,swept and mopped all three floors on Saturday and the ornate door knobs, lovely tile floors, stained glass windows going up the rear stairclase , along with fireplaces and an elevated library in the master bedroom with sliding French doors that opened the entire first floor, In price it comes no where close to the price my present home is valued at,but l would swap even in the blink of an eye.The house at 948 was owned by Queen City Smoked Fish , and the one on the left 952 Was owned by the biggest landowner in the Westend Marge Schott. This was a beautiful area with small business located near and everybody knew everybody else.So sad but thanks for the memory.............Robert Riley, aka Butch