Saturday, June 30, 2012

Historic Row of Knox Hill Italianate cottages endangered

The "Zahn Row" built as four Italianate Shotgun Cottage units will be considered at the Monday 2 PM meeting of the Urban Conservator section 106 review.The Zahn Row is the ONLY connected row structure in the Knox Hill Neighborhood. and representative of a rare surviving form of Cincinnati Architectural Legacy.

Built by the Zahn Family as an investment property in the 1880's, it 'may' have been originally built to provide weekend accommodations to those visiting the Schuetzenverin which burned in 1888. The Zahn family were from Russia and settled in Cincinnati. The property stayed in the Zahn family until 1938 when George Zahn died and it was passed to another family member who divided the units.

The property provided housing to many who worked at both the Lunkenheimer Valve Company two blocks away and the Cincinnati Midwest Textile Company at the foot of Knox Street. The potential loss of 1536-38 Know woudl rwesult in the destruction of 1/2 the continuous row and damage the intact urban cluster which also include the property at 1540 Knox Street which the Knox Hill Neighborhood Association's "Overlook at Knox Hill Project". This block is the last of the more dense urban structures before one goes up the hill to larger homes on larger lots.

Although the front facades have been altered the key element remains, the elaborate tin entablature at the top of the structures. The 'remuddling' is easily reversed and windows and doors are in their original locations. Given the large investment in the overlook project these properties are ripe for restoration.

The 1536-38 properties are currently owned by the Carlson Family who presently own over 185 properties in the Fairmont area, the vast majority of which are delinquent in property taxes, have city orders or in the case of vacant lots have allowed to become overgrown. Rick Carlson under a newly formed LLC called Tuscan Hills recently purchased additional property at the 2012 forfeiture sale, even though he personally and all his family members are prohibited from further participation due to being property tax delinquent.

Representative from Knox Hill Neighborhood have prepared an extensive architectural and historic survey on the area as part of an APE (Area of Potential Effect) report for the section 106 review which details how the properties are historic eligible and how their demolition would have significant impact on the architecture of the community. KHNA hopes the property will be declared historic eligible by the Urban Conservators office as under federal guidelines the city would then be required to determine if the property could be stabilized as an alternative.

KHNA believes Zahn Row could be redeveloped and provide quality small scale housing for first time home owners or empty nester's convenient to downtown
As one KHNA board member put it, "You are about to have 250K invested into a house next to this, We should not be penalizing historic Architecture, and the neighborhood, because of slumlords. This is the perfect opportunity for the city, the neighborhood and the land bank to get together on a project and redevelop working with the community. These are 1 bedroom units with plenty of room to expand in the raised basements, and perfect for first time homeowners or empty nesters in an up and coming historic area minutes from downtown."

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