Tuesday, October 11, 2011

West End: More low income or more demolitions? Time for real Preservation

The West End face's another familiar challenge. More Low income crime ridden housing or more demolitions.

At stake is a a huge chunk of West End Real Estate, specifically 1800, 1803, 1804, 1807,1809, 1813, 1817, 1819, 1901 Baymiller all up in the court of housing appeals. If those addresses sound familiar its because they are all old  Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority properties that were shut down years ago because of the poor living conditions and high crime in them.  CMHA dumped these properties on the market with no protective covenants requiring restoration or Preservation, presumably to get out from under the legal problems with these properties which had gone from VBML to condemn status. Most of these properties have been 'mired' in low income housing since the 1970's

The properties were bought by "West End Renaissance Village" / CRA  (Community Revitalization Agency),which according to its website is proposing to build new "systems built" (Prefab) homes on the east side of Baymiller. According to the website:

"Community Revitalization Agency paid considerable attention to the design of the garages of the newly constructed homes.  CRA had the homes designed to provide garages entering in the front of the homes principally due to the lack of available alley entrances.  Also, community input suggested that alley entrances would present somewhat of an issue due to inner-city issues with respect to crime.  Consequently, each home will need a “curb cut” to provide adequate entry from the street".

Front facing garages would destroy the historic appearance of the West End. The historic homes will be "Rehabbed' according to the website. There are no architectural renderings of this proposal anywhere on their website

This proposed influx of 'affordable hosuing' may however come as a surprise to those along Dayton Street who have invested millions of dollars in restoring homes back to single family. Apparently no historic protections exist in that area of Baymiller.

In fact 'West End Renaissance Villages" partners are listed as: Brightstar Baptist Church, Ohio Finance Fund, Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, Whitepine Construction, All American Homes, Wichman & Gunther , the website proclaims that Renaissance Village will have  64 sites concentrated on York, Baymiller, Findley and Linn Streets  More info here:

No one seems to be able to ascertain if "West End Renaissance Village" and  the CRA , even has  the money to build this grand project. Sources tell me that there were plans to use "Hope VI" monies but given the current litigation over where previous monies were spent that seems doubtful.

In the meantime many of these properties are falling down, In fact some have orders going back 10 years and several were ordered vacated by the city . No one can explain why CMHA, funded with Federal tax dollars was 'allowed' to let these buildings fall into such disrepair in the first place not why these properties , which given their location near the Dayton Street Historic District, and have value, were essentially 'given away' by CMHA. It looks like the classic "slumlord shuffle" but with a governmentt agency and a non profit. All of this  at a time when the poor are leaving the west end for areas with more job opportunities and many of the social services churches are leaving, why there is a push to keep the West End  in stranglehold' of low income housing is a big question. Why was CMHA allowed to escape its maintence responsibilities on these properties in the first place and can CRA demonstrate it has the monies to beging immediate stabilization of these properties?

Its is also a question that property owners in the West End who have spent millions restoring their homes need to be asking now and preservationist city wide should be concerned about. What needs to happen is that these homes need historic protections and should be sold with protective covenants to people with the demonstrated funding to restore them. We must move beyond the 1960's and the idea that this area must remain a poor enclave.The West End need to be allowed to realize its full potential and be returned to the vibrant historic community it once was..

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post Paul. I had no idea about this misguided plan.