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Cincinnati: Downtown: Bay Horse Cafe (625 Main Street)

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An application to demo 625 Main Street, the building on Main with the "Bay Horse Cafe" sign, was submitted last month.  Looking in EZ-Trak, the permit was denied pending a COA application.

 

I think it would be a shame to lose this building.  This block of main is really intact and this would leave a hole that likely will forever be a surface parking lot.

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i thought there was a redevelopment plan in place for this structure?  I agree this demo request should continue to be denied.  This streetscape is among a dwindling number of intact blocks.

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Demo should NOT happen. It's entirely savable & modern development would rarely lead to a building on that site, more likely just parking.

 

This is across the street from a streetcar stop for gods sake!

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I was one block away (but out of sight) when the shooting happened in the early afternoon in 2005 that led to the closing of this restaurant.  The sound of gunfire that ended someone's life is not a pleasant memory in itself, nor is the bad condition of the city during that period. 

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I love downtown and even call it home, but I must say -- this area of Main seems completely out of touch with the rest of downtown and hasn't had nearly as much TLC as the CBD it borders....and it's painfully obvious. Are there any streetscape plans or anything else in the pipeline to send some new energy over here?

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I hope so. I also think that lack of businesses that are a draw or destination make the area kind of stagnant. On a weekday, most other streets downtown are bustiling with downtown workers on lunch, running errands etc. Turn down Main and it's eeriely quiet. Check cashing, comvenience stores, and mobile phone shops do nothing good for this street.

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This block sees plenty of foot traffic on weekdays. The Orient, Penn Station, and Izzy's all do a strong lunch. Weekends are a different story...


"It's just fate, as usual, keeping its bargain and screwing us in the fine print..." - John Crichton

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This block seems like it would really stand to benefit, maybe more than any other block, if/when the St. Xavier Park residential development ever materializes. Adding in hundreds of new, around-the-clock residents and visitors to the immediate area would do wonders. So would finding new use for that large office building on the east side of Main between Sixth and Seventh that's been vacant since the county pulled out of it years ago. It doesn't seem like there's much hope whatsoever that it could attract new business tenants right now but maybe a streetcar stop right outside its front door will make it an attractive option.

 

But I do agree: Main Street from Sixth Street north to the courthouse just seems like it's completely detached from the rest of downtown. There's certainly no big corporate money in those blocks and it retains a gritty vibe that's been there ever since the Fort Washington hotel and the Bayhorse were the seedy places they used to be. Even the small Aronoff theater with a Main Street entrance rarely seems like there's anything going on there. In fact, I don't think I've once seen people going into that theater.

 

Hopefully the Bayhorse building can survive until the streetcar comes online. Then it'll be a much more attractive sell than it is now. Another surface lot there would be nothing short of hideous.

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Board denies demolition of former Bay Horse Café building

 

 

The City of Cincinnati Historic Conservation Board (HCB) has voted unanimously to support its staff recommendation to deny a certificate of appropriateness that would allow for the demolition of 625 Main Street, the building once occupied by the Bay Horse Café.

 

Ed Gabriel, a partner in the 625 Main Street LLC ownership group, told the board that his building has been subjected to damage caused by trucks entering and exiting Gano Street to make deliveries to the Aronoff Center for the Arts and various Sixth Street businesses.

 

The trucks were responsible for damage to the building's fire escape, which the Aronoff Center recently removed.

 

"It's been an ongoing issue," Gabriel said. "The problem is, my partner and I have considered maybe remodeling the first floor, and maybe putting some condos in the upper floors. It just doesn't make sense to put money in a building with the possibility of more damage."

 


“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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Board denies demolition of former Bay Horse Café building

"It's been an ongoing issue," Gabriel said. "The problem is, my partner and I have considered maybe remodeling the first floor, and maybe putting some condos in the upper floors. It just doesn't make sense to put money in a building with the possibility of more damage."

 

 

Oh FFS, that's the biggest cop-out load of BS I've ever heard. It's not like these guys are maintaining the REST of the building anyways.

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They are leaving some of the windows open upstairs.  I'm sure if the ZBA turns them down the next strategy will be to neglect it until its declared a public nuisance.

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If someone were repeatedly driving into my building, I would sue them for damages and repair the building. That would quickly put a stop to people driving into the building. And if it didn't, they'd just have to keep paying for more repairs.

 

How absurd is it that they act like they are 100% helpless to stop or otherwise do something about someone driving into their building? These are car accidents which they can report, and they know who's doing it.

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Alfred Berger is horrible for Cincinnati.  He may be a nice guy, he may mean well, but he owns DOZENS of blighted buildings and keeps buying more before he finishes fixing a single one. 

 

He spent $142,000 on the Bay Horse building that he bought yesterday.  You know what I would have rather had him do with $142,000?  Prevent his court street building from collapsing by fixing it up and solving the problem before it was too late. 

 

Or what about the metal blast building.  He stopped work on that... but keeps buying more buildings that need lots of work.  And he bought those two buildings from the Freestore Foodbank (1606 and 1608 Walnut) almost a year ago and nothing seems to have improved there either. 

 

What makes him so dangerous is people are afraid to call him out, because he's pro-preservation, a nice guy, means well, etc.  But he is becoming a slum landlord who owns way more buildings than he can fix in a reasonable amount of time. For many people, buying buildings becomes an addiction, and in Cincinnati you can do that because of the low cost of buildings.  There are hoarders, who think they are helping by buying these up, but in the end, they become part of the problem by rarely completing projects on the other buildings they own.  The Metal Blast building alone probably needs $500K to become usable.  That's the lowest you could expect to spend on that building. 

 

In 2014 alone, Fred Berger has spent over $500K acquiring blighted properties. There comes a point where you need to stop, and complete more projects than buildings you acquire.

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I didn't know work stopped on the Metal Blast/brewery property. I thought that was to be a performing arts venue?

 

Whenever someone announces they are building a performing arts venue, and they don't have multi-million dollar donors behind them, it's almost a guaranteed failure (west end church, metal blast building). performance venues (outside of concert venues where you are already a known promoter, re: Woodward) are incredibly difficult to launch. 

 

That building is unusable right now, and instead of keep working on it, he announced he was doing a project in Northside instead.

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Alfred Berger is horrible for Cincinnati.  He may be a nice guy, he may mean well, but he owns DOZENS of blighted buildings and keeps buying more before he finishes fixing a single one...

 

I never said he was a nice guy.  IMO, not really likable, but ...he does not demolish buildings.  Doesn't really rehab them either, just rents them out as-is, does minimal maintenance and eventually sells for a profit.  If he buys on a certain street, you can be sure that it is a depressed area that will soon see an increase in prices.  A few years ago he bought all around Findlay Market.  I'll bet he starts to sell those as soon as the streetcar starts operation.  Now he is betting that Court Street will soon get expensive.

 

I can't really blame him for Court Street collapse, it came a few months after he had bought it and there were some cracks but no indication that it was in imminent danger of collapse.

 

 

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Alfred Berger is horrible for Cincinnati.  He may be a nice guy, he may mean well, but he owns DOZENS of blighted buildings and keeps buying more before he finishes fixing a single one. 

 

He spent $142,000 on the Bay Horse building that he bought yesterday.  You know what I would have rather had him do with $142,000?  Prevent his court street building from collapsing by fixing it up and solving the problem before it was too late. 

 

Or what about the metal blast building.  He stopped work on that... but keeps buying more buildings that need lots of work.  And he bought those two buildings from the Freestore Foodbank (1606 and 1608 Walnut) almost a year ago and nothing seems to have improved there either. 

 

What makes him so dangerous is people are afraid to call him out, because he's pro-preservation, a nice guy, means well, etc.  But he is becoming a slum landlord who owns way more buildings than he can fix in a reasonable amount of time. For many people, buying buildings becomes an addiction, and in Cincinnati you can do that because of the low cost of buildings.  There are hoarders, who think they are helping by buying these up, but in the end, they become part of the problem by rarely completing projects on the other buildings they own.  The Metal Blast building alone probably needs $500K to become usable.  That's the lowest you could expect to spend on that building. 

 

In 2014 alone, Fred Berger has spent over $500K acquiring blighted properties. There comes a point where you need to stop, and complete more projects than buildings you acquire.

 

EXACTLY!!  Fix the sh!t you already have.

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Also blame the FHA for enabling the leveraging huge numbers of properties by a single party.  It would not be possible to the extent that it happens if the federal government wasn't backing the loans, enabling depreciation write-offs, deducting mortgage interest, etc.   

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Alfred Berger is horrible for Cincinnati.  He may be a nice guy, he may mean well, but he owns DOZENS of blighted buildings and keeps buying more before he finishes fixing a single one. 

 

He spent $142,000 on the Bay Horse building that he bought yesterday.  You know what I would have rather had him do with $142,000?  Prevent his court street building from collapsing by fixing it up and solving the problem before it was too late. 

 

Or what about the metal blast building.  He stopped work on that... but keeps buying more buildings that need lots of work.  And he bought those two buildings from the Freestore Foodbank (1606 and 1608 Walnut) almost a year ago and nothing seems to have improved there either. 

 

What makes him so dangerous is people are afraid to call him out, because he's pro-preservation, a nice guy, means well, etc.  But he is becoming a slum landlord who owns way more buildings than he can fix in a reasonable amount of time. For many people, buying buildings becomes an addiction, and in Cincinnati you can do that because of the low cost of buildings.  There are hoarders, who think they are helping by buying these up, but in the end, they become part of the problem by rarely completing projects on the other buildings they own.  The Metal Blast building alone probably needs $500K to become usable.  That's the lowest you could expect to spend on that building. 

 

In 2014 alone, Fred Berger has spent over $500K acquiring blighted properties. There comes a point where you need to stop, and complete more projects than buildings you acquire.

 

Ditto.  He's a speculator, not a developer.  He doesn't improve property, he milks it.  At least things are happening at a faster clip in the CBD and OTR -- he'll probably be able to unload them sooner and make his profit, before they decline much more.  Among the many other properties he's owned, he owned those big old houses that were on the SW corner of Highland (I think) and McMillan for years and I don't think he ever bothered to cut the grass.   

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Alfred Berger is horrible for Cincinnati.  He may be a nice guy, he may mean well, but he owns DOZENS of blighted buildings and keeps buying more before he finishes fixing a single one. 

 

He spent $142,000 on the Bay Horse building that he bought yesterday.  You know what I would have rather had him do with $142,000?  Prevent his court street building from collapsing by fixing it up and solving the problem before it was too late. 

 

Or what about the metal blast building.  He stopped work on that... but keeps buying more buildings that need lots of work.  And he bought those two buildings from the Freestore Foodbank (1606 and 1608 Walnut) almost a year ago and nothing seems to have improved there either. 

 

What makes him so dangerous is people are afraid to call him out, because he's pro-preservation, a nice guy, means well, etc.  But he is becoming a slum landlord who owns way more buildings than he can fix in a reasonable amount of time. For many people, buying buildings becomes an addiction, and in Cincinnati you can do that because of the low cost of buildings.  There are hoarders, who think they are helping by buying these up, but in the end, they become part of the problem by rarely completing projects on the other buildings they own.  The Metal Blast building alone probably needs $500K to become usable.  That's the lowest you could expect to spend on that building. 

 

In 2014 alone, Fred Berger has spent over $500K acquiring blighted properties. There comes a point where you need to stop, and complete more projects than buildings you acquire.

 

Fred rents to poor and struggling artists. He's a very positive aspect to this city and one of the few people looking out for the little guy. Your idea of blight may differ from mine as well, but it's just a circumstance of the situation that allows Fred to own these places, and no one had a problem with him doing this until the properties values started to go up in OTR. Fred is the last bastion of hope for some people who need homes, but don't qualify for public assistance. But don't worry guys, Fred will eventually sell and we can continue this gentrifying.

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Oh calm down. Letting a building rot and just BARELY maintaining it so it doesn't collapse is a problem. Nobody commented on what he's doing for "struggling artists." We're concerned about his hoarding of buildings that need major work which he has never put into any of his properties. That's bad.

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Oh calm down. Letting a building rot and just BARELY maintaining it so it doesn't collapse is a problem. Nobody commented on what he's doing for "struggling artists." We're concerned about his hoarding of buildings that need major work which he has never put into any of his properties. That's bad.

 

Yes but calling Fred a bad person isn't a good thing either, perhaps he just has different priorities. I know the guy and I see a lot of good in him, but I agree, he should be held more accountable for his properties, but I also like that people like Fred exist.

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I don't think anyone commented on him personally, but just his impact on OTR as being bad for Cincinnati from a built environment standpoint. In fact several people said he's a nice guy with good intentions but just can't keep his properties up to the standards they should be which becomes problematic.

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I don't have a problem with the occupied slightly beat up lower rent buildings he owns.  I'm happy that option exists for people.  I have a problem with the mass of vacant blighted un-livable buildings he owns.

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From everything I have seen, Fred has been a huge asset for Northern OTR and sporadically elsewhere.

 

Sure, he doesn't fix every building he owns or bring it up to livable conditions, but he saves a lot of buildings and does sell them.

 

He replaced the roof on the Metal Blast/Jackson Brewery building over McMicken. He partnered with someone else to save the buildings from the Freestore Food Bank parking lot proposal. I believe he is buying the building that is partially collapsed on Lang Street and will stabilize.

 

Yes, he owns a lot of blighted property, but he really doesn't demolish buildings and tries to keep them from further damage. Once he can find someone to buy the property from him for a little profit, he'll sell. Without him, we would have fewer historic buildings.

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The Biz Courier caught up: http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2015/01/28/cincinnati-investor-buys-another-property-along.html

 

"I saw the streetcar route and the casino. I didn't know if it would happen or not," Berger said. But he bought properties, thinking it would make even more sense to own them when those projects were developed.

 

Berger said he bought a number of properties during the recession. His other buildings along the streetcar route were purchased between 2008 and 2011. Instead of developing properties himself, Berger said he typically buys and stabilizes buildings, then sells them to others who want to redevelop them into finished products.

 

"If they're gone, you can't sell them," Berger said.

 

As for his other properties along the streetcar route, which include a number of apartment buildings on Race Street, Berger wouldn't say if there were any plans. Those properties are surrounded by buildings acquired or controlled by the Model Group, which is working on a $14 million redevelopment project that would transform a block of Race Street near Findlay Market.

 

"We'll see," he said.

 

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From that article, published today at 12:55pm:

As for his other properties along the streetcar route, which include a number of apartment buildings on Race Street, Berger wouldn't say if there were any plans. Those properties are surrounded by buildings acquired or controlled by the Model Group, which is working on a $14 million redevelopment project that would transform a block of Race Street near Findlay Market.

 

Also from Demeropolis, <a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2015/01/28/exclusive-model-group-expanding-redevelopment.html?page=all">published today at 1:14pm</a>:

In addition to those acquisitions, Model Group expects to close this week on the purchase of 1818 Race St., a 28,000-square-foot apartment building with first-floor retail space, from real estate investor Alfred Berger. Model Group will buy two more properties owned by Berger, 1808 and 1810 Race St., in a couple of months.

 

 

 

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There has been ongoing interior demolition over the past few weeks.


"It's just fate, as usual, keeping its bargain and screwing us in the fine print..." - John Crichton

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The city attached a stop work order to the front door on 03/31.


"It's just fate, as usual, keeping its bargain and screwing us in the fine print..." - John Crichton

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This was issued in January:

 

HISTORIC -DANGEROUS & UNSAFE BUILDING This is a reissue of case B200501892 orders to repair, B200601409 36 orders to repair and vacate, B200805333 VBML order, and B201105838 a barricade the building , keep vacated building vacant , and obtain a Vacated Building Maintenance License(VBML) order. Building was vacated because of a fire, unsafe, and unsanitary conditions. Thirty-six orders were written on this building and little work has been completed on required repairs see case B200601409. The mechanical systems HVAC, plumbing, and electric are broken, missing, fire damaged, and/or vandalized; the buildings masonry, north and south walls, have large cracks and broken window lintels indicating that differential settlement has occurred; repair and/or replace deteriorated broken, cracked and out of plumb masonry structural members in an approved manner-Plans and permits required; litter and debris is strewn throughout the building . This building is unsafe and unsanitary and is not fit for human habitation. You are ordered to promptly cause the dangerous and unsafe condition to be remedied in accordance with the CBC. The building is an historic structure and any alteration of the exterior requires a Certificate of Appropriateness, required permits must be obtained and plans and specifications may be required. Submit plans and obtain the required permits prior to starting work. You are ordered to cause the dangerous and unsafe conditions to be remedied within 30 days of the date of this notice. You are further ordered to barricade broken doors, windows and openings in the building to prevent entry by trespassers within 15 days of the date of this notice and keep it vacant effective immediately pursuant to Section 1101-65 CBC. Please refer to the enclosed information on barricading buildings. If the building is not made to conform to the CBC and is not approved for re-occupancy within 30 days of the date of this notice, you are ordered to comply with the obligations of owners of vacated buildings per Section 1101-77. CBC within the time provided for in the portion of Section 1101-77. CBC shown in the attachments. CBC SECTION: 1101-63. Dangerous and unsafe premises. All buildings having defects as set forth herein shall be deemed dangerous or unsafe buildings as follows: (1) Those whose walls, floors, foundations or other members are so out of plumb, level, original position, deteriorated, or overloaded as to be unlikely to perform their intended functions, or are in such condition or of such size as to cause stresses in any structural members likely to result in failure or collapse; or (2) Those which are, or have become, so dilapidated, decayed, or unsafe, or which so substantially fail to provide the basic elements of shelter or safety that they are unfit for human habitation or dangerous to life or property; or (3) Those which in the opinion of the director of buildings and inspections and a responsible officer of the Fire Division constitutes a serious fire hazard because of their use, construction, unprotected exposure, or lack of maintenance; or (4) Those which are a hazard to the safety, health or general welfare of the occupants or the public; or (5) Those which the Director has ordered vacated or kept vacant and which in the time provided by the order have not been brought into compliance with the CBC or into compliance with the terms and conditions of a current vacant building maintenance license. Any such dangerous or unsafe building is herewith declared to be a public nuisance. This building is located within a National and/or Local Historic District and may qualify for financial assistance for rehabilitation through grants or tax credits. When a building is located within a historic district the Historic Conservation Board (HCB) must review applications for permits. A Certificate of Appropriateness must be obtained from the HCB prior to issuance of a permit to demolish or repair a building under Section 1101-15-CBC.

 

It doesn't appear that any permits have been granted since then.

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