Tuesday, April 22, 2014

OTR leaders, while you were preoccupied with your dedicated bike lane, 50 Ft away another hisitoric building is demoed

The demo of this historic structure on Mohawk is less than 50 feet from the proposed dedicated Central parkway dedicated bike lane  project
Yesterday after I made the mere "suggestion" that maybe we had more important issues than a dedicated bike lane on Central Parkway, I was immediately jumped on by bike advocates, 'self appointed OTR leaders', and Millennial's who suggested I was being an "obstructionist to connectivity" on Facebook. In middle of all that, I received the above photo showing NOT 50 FEET away from the precious proposed Bike lane, another historic pre 1900 building on Mohawk, in the middle of the Brewery district was coming down.

The IRONY of this sad situation is, I actually looked at that building and the one east of it to buy and redevelop as first floor retail for our design firm and antiques business. In fact I was ready to put a great deal of effort in Brewery District. The building was not 'too far gone' when I looked at it. The problem was not in the actual monies it would take to do the work to rebuild the roof structure and replace the floor jousts on parts of the upper floors. The problem was, that I could not justify the  additional cost of legal fees and hundreds of hours of wading though city red tape and roadblocks. Those cost would have added so much time and money to the final project costs that it didn't make economic sense. It also points to why we are so behind other cities in terms of downtown redevelopment.

We are on an unsustainable path of  Blight=Bulldozer and until people realize that we are destined to be a second, or third rate city and we are a national laughing stock in Preservation circles, its not going to change. There are some people in OTR that need to stop patting themselves on the back, roll up their sleeves, and start fighting for Preservation. They need to stop listening to certain city councilmen who whisper sweet nothings in their ear about how great they are , and how great OTR is and WAKE UP. The council has the ability in their application for HUD monies and other funds to change how monies are spent and allocated and until you start making their life uncomfortable, it is far easier to appease the demolition contractors  who will contribute to their re-election campaigns.

While by no means Preservation, the saving of these historic iron front facades in Louisville, at least preserved historic street view integrity
Ponder this, since 2008 when we bought our first property in Knox Hill, the City of Cincinnati has demolished over 700 buildings, the vast majority built pre 1900. Add to that number, other significant private developer driven loses like Corryville , the area around Peebles corner, 3CDC demos and private demolitions where the owner just gave up and rented a bulldozer, all the demos in Fairmount for the MSD project, you add hundreds more to that number. Put that number into perspective, If the city lined up the bulldozers in just one area ( say OTR) it would no longer exist....and you are obsessing about a dedicated bike lane project? REALLY? Maybe, we need to worry a little less about "connectivity" and a little more about having something to connect to?

Even in small town America, people seem to care more about their buildings than we do, This historic façade in Tustin CA was saved after a fire and new conduction will be behind it. Here we would just bulldoze it.
The City of Cincinnati CITY WIDE has allocated only 200,000 for building stabilization in 2014, and those funds are being spent on two projects. one in Bond Hill and one in Price Hill. That's it TWO projects! While we stabilize two projects the city will demo an additional 250 properties in the name of 'blight abatement' this year. I spent more last year on stabilization and restoration of pre 1900 properties, than the entire City of Cincinnati will spend CITY WIDE in 2014. How pathetic is it that? This city, which claims to care about its historic core, gets away with demoing 250 properties this year and stabilizing TWO.

For those of you who are now suitably outraged by the demo of the Mohawk Building, guess what? Its not the only one coming down in Brewery District. the bike lane is supposed to spur redevelopment , will there be anything to redevelop or "connect" with?


Jules Rosen said...

Paul, I agree that we do need to pressure Council to use HUD funds more appropriately. However, the bike tracks are a livability issue, and connectivity and preservation go hand-in-hand. Very few individuals are going to want to restore buildings on a highway-like road. Until you institute traffic-calming strategies, in this case bike tracks, along Central Parkway, it is going to be difficult to sell Central Parkway and the West End as walkable, urban spaces, the likes of which are so desirable in the Gateway Quarter.

Paul Wilham said...

The people who talk about "walkability and connectivity" are the very people who are rapidly finding themselves priced out of OTR.

The more serious issue with Central Parkway and the one NO ONE wants to talk about is when the Western Hill viaduct needs replacing, Central Parkway will have to be a major N&S artery carrying vehicular traffic during part of that process. If anything we should be talking about widening it for another lane of traffic.

Cynthia Zulla said...

I drive by this everyday on my way to work. While I agree, we need to make it easier for people to purchase and rehab these properties, the bike path is just as important to make this area a walkable neighborhood. I can't even cross with my dogs at that intersection it's such a cluster - and pedestrians/prostitutes crossing on Mohawk against lights (or not at lights at all) make it unsafe as well for drivers. Add the Metro in for jollies that stops at the corner of Mohawk & McMicken that everyone crosses lanes to drive around. That whole corner is such an eyesore. It's such a catch-22. We need a cleaner safer neighborhood to attract investors and we need investors to attract residents that want cleaner safer streets. And I'd love someone to invest in the Imperial theater. It would make a great coffee shop/cafe! I live on Dayton Street - we need more walkable/bikable destinations in this area.

Paul Wilham said...

Cynthia I know several people who would invest in the area, the problem is with the ownership of those buildings and the demolition by neglect that is taking place. I have been in no less that six buildings down there and made an offer on one. The problem is the hundreds of hours trying to actually start renovation in city redtape and the additional legal costs of doing all that. There is a reason people are restoring in Newport and Covington. Until the city realizes that it is in their best interests to streamline the permit system and actually get people in there , nothing changes.