Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Knox Hill Neighborhood Association to restore the C. Winkler House

Artist conception of stabilized home
Thanks to a generous KHNA board member, the endangered home at 1855 Knox has been saved from city bulldozers. A new partnership with Knox Hill Neighborhood Association, will result in the C.Winkler house receiving a complete exterior restoration to Secretary of Interior  standards for Historic Preservation,  a new owner, and it is hoped, a new lease on life.

Charles Winkler was a stone mason who had his own company and  who along with Antone Naegele a competitor who also lived in the neighborhood, worked on a  number of Landmark properties including some built by the noted Hannaford Architectural firm. This home, his personal family residence, remained in the same family ownership  until 1969.  The single family home was built in the French Second Empire Town home style and still retained many important architectural features including its slate Marsart Roof and  some period interior detailing. The home is 4 stories and includes an original 'servants tunnel' at street level which allowed for delivery of good and supplies to the home's servant quarters.. It is the only home in the Knox Hill Neighborhood neighborhood with this feature. The home also has a unique underground room behind the front retaining wall.

The once elegant Second Empire sits at the highest point on the block.
The home has been vacant since 2002 and when the last owner Porgieman Properties, failed to obtain a IBI sign off  on a new electrical box. The sign off was finally obtained but the property owner has failed to maintain the property since then , allowing it to deteriorate and that resulted in numerous weeds and trash complaints. When the property was broken into in 2009, the city ordered it barricaded. The property which has no structural problems went to VBML in 2009 and was condemned shortly after that. As one Knox Hill board member put it  "Classic case of bad property owner and city's unwillingness to take corporations  to court for non-compliance and we, the neighborhood suffer". Had it not been for one Knox Hill board member, frustrated with city of Cincinnati "backward policies" the property would have been declared a nuisance last week and be on the city demo list as an offer was made and accepted by Porgieman Properties whose attorney appeared at that hearing and made the accepted sale offer public at a nuisance board hearing.. Effectively continuing the nuisance declaration. KHNA has been actively working with several neglected property owners to essentially fix their property or sell it to someone who will..

The city will not spend CDBG monies on stabilization in Knox Hill,  preferring instead to bulldoze  otherwise structural sound properties. KHNA filed a citizens complaint with HUD in 2010 challenging  the city's lack of section 106 process and is now considering a new complaint to HUD asking HUD to require the city use funds CDBG  funds for stabilization within Knox Hill and stop senseless demolitions of otherwise viable and historic eligible properties. Thanks to Knox Hill's efforts there are 3 properties under restoration to preservation standards in the 1800 block of Knox alone with others in the pipeline.

The property will have exterior restoration over the next few months and neighborhood Volunteers will assist with clean up of the lot. Landscaping materials are being donated.  Victorian Antiquities and Design will act as restoration consultants on the restoration and Cathy Frank, of Comey and Sheperd Realty has been asked to handle the sale of the exterior stabilized homes. A portion of the net profits from the sale will be donated to the KHNA "Save not Raze" program and establish a revolving fund to acquire and stabilize more homes.

The new owner will agree to a deed covenant that will require the home remain single family, be maintained to US Secretary of Interior standards for Historic preservation and agree to complete the interior restoration within a specified time frame. KHNA estimates the completed home could have a final value in the 185-225,000 range depending on how the owner finishes out the interior of the property. The house has incredible views of the city and Lick Run Valley The program is modeled after the highly successful Indiana Landmarks Flip program.

As stated in the KHNA Press release today: 'This partnership to save property is about residents taking control of their own neighborhood's direction  and no longer accepting failed city policies."

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