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Guest montecarloss

Cincinnati: West End: City West

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"City West" is a mixed income development in the neighborhood of West End. Built on the site of Laurel Homes which was the second largest public housing development in the country.  The neighborhood lies directly west, northwest of the CBD of Cincinnati and in most cities would be considered part of downtown.  You could go from City West to City Hall quicker than you could from Lytle Place to City Hall which is in downtown.

 

This project is a gem.  While the news continues to report crime in the West End this project is taking shape under the scope.  Not much press, under the radar of the residents and the media.  It just doesn't stop at housing as Taft High School just built a grand football stadium with "C I N C I N N A T I" written across the entrance way with more homes going up across the street.  While there are still pockets of crime to address City West is a mixed income development on the grandest of scales.  The grit is gone, these treasures are being built and to urban standards.  The fields you see in the pics will soon be other homes and some of these even have garages in the back of the homes.

 

There used to be a crumbling school in the background that has been torn down in the last 2 months to make way for a brand new school.  So while the media of Cincinnati continues to headline comments like, "CINCINNATI STILL DANGEROUS" because it finished 25th in the Top 25 most dangerous cities list (safer than cities like Atlanta and Miami), I see progress beneath it all.  While the women in suburbia who cuts my hair would never understand why I would go downtown and walk the streets with my daughter, I know exactly.  The Queen is still shining underneath all the clouds of boycott, crime and corporate welfare articles. 

 

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More info...

 

 

50169_Lf.jpg

 

A little history of what used to lie there:

 

Laurel Homes

 

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Bordering Downtown, Cincinnati's West End was once one of the city's most vibrant neighborhoods. Between 1937 and 1943, however, the character of the West End was profoundly altered when large tracts of land were claimed for the construction of over 2,000 units of ill-fated public housing at Lincoln Court and Laurel Homes. Lincoln Court and Laurel Homes epitomized the problems of the neighborhood until 1998 and 1999 when Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) received two HOPE VI grants that are the cornerstones of a $180 million revitalization program.

 

Today, CMHA, The Community Builders, Inc., residents of the developments, and a range of local stakeholders are building a new community that will once again make the West End one of Cincinnati's most desirable neighborhoods. The new master planned community of 835 mixed-income rental units and 250 for-sale homes will include a banking center, grocery store, new retail space, a community facility, childcare facilities, improved school facilities, and redesigned streetscapes and open spaces. The Community Builders' Community Initiatives division will play a central role throughout the program by working with former residents of Lincoln Court and Laurel Homes to help the take advantage of the employment and housing opportunities being created.

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Looks nice ( colors clash a little though ).

 

What exactly does 'mixed income' mean? Does this include the ever popular section 8?

Cause I gotta tell you, if it includes Section 8 their gonna have a hard time finding good hard-working people to buy those homes.

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Trees are needed, agreed. Other than that, love it to death.


"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

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There is no Section 8 in City West.  It is funded under Hope VI, a different federal housing program.  Not all of the units in the development are subsidized. 

 

The project consists of 1,022 townhomes:

250 (24%) are owner-occupied

338 (33%) are market-rate apartments

434 (42%) are subsidized apartments

 

(data from City of Cincinnati website)

 

I think there is also a requirement that you have employment if you're over a certain age, and if you're younger or don't have a job you have to show them you're in school (for the subsidized units). Leases are for 12 months or longer.

 

In my mind, a much better model than Section 8.

 

They have a leasing website but I can't find it right now.

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very good news and good loooking townhouses.

 

cleveland has a similair project going on in ohio city in the old riverview pj towers. it was stalled, but last i read it will happen. here is an informative link about it:

 

http://www.gcassoc.com/html/proj_descr.asp?pageid=1196

 

also, one comment struck me: "Built on the site of Laurel Homes which was the second largest public housing development in the country." that just seems like a stretch to me after eye-balling the old laurel five story pj's in the photo and compare that image to all the towering nyc area pj's i see. however, it's hard to tell as they are laid out horizontally rather than the vertical ny pj's style.

 

the new townhomes style are a def improvement, although i bet they are prob just reinventing in modern form what was there before all the stupid pj's were built in the first place!

 

 

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Guest Cincy45202

The difference is that laurel was one big mass government project from the get go. Where was the largest?

 

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^ I would agree with Cincy Kid, it is one of those two!

 

I don't believe all of Laurel Homes is shown in that photo.

 

Pruitt-Igoe was something else, when I lived in St. Louis I toured the History Museum and some of the footage is amazing.

 

PruitIgoe.JPG

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The developer of that did a great job making the houses unique...they don't look generic at all.....they look way better than the ones down the street from me at the southside works.

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re: pruitt-igoe pj's---wow those really stand out from the surrounding blocks ridiculously dont they?

 

i dk about pruitt-igoe being the largest, maybe it was back when it was built?  i just googled and it said they had 10k residents. however, another site said co-op city in the bronx for example has over 15k apts and another that there are over 20k residents in starrett city today. maybe it just depends how you want to talk about these public assistance monstrosities?

 

 

 

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Guest Cincinnatus

City West is certainly a big improvement, but I wouldn't suggest parking the Montemobile on those mean streets over night.  I would want a garage at the very least.  Also there are no stores nearby other than "convenience" stores.  I don't know that the crime problems in that area can be suppressed enough to make it a place most people would want to live despite its pleasant looks and proximity to downtown.

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^ maybe once people start to move in the retail will follow and crime will decrease.  Have people started moving in yet?  When will they it be completely built out?

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It is still going on and like I said above Cincinnatus, some have two car garages in the back.  There is also St. Ann's which is not part of "City West" that I love even more.  If I was a single guy than worked in the city, I would seriously consider St. Ann's.  I absolutely love them.

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Though it's leaps and bounds over what was there previously, I'm still not entirely sold on the concept of City West. Personally, I think you'd have to be crazy to buy a home in the middle of a rental-dominated development. At least, go 50/50. You're just not going to see the investment and care put into a neighborhood with a 75%(+/-) rental rate. That's going to drive property values down. I wish it the best but only time will tell on this one.

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Personally, I think you'd have to be crazy to buy a home in the middle of a rental-dominated development. At least, go 50/50.
I agree that was a factor in not buying there.

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Personally, I think you'd have to be crazy to buy a home in the middle of a rental-dominated development. At least, go 50/50.

 

The thing is, if you have too high a percentage of home-ownership units, it undermines the whole mixed-income concept.  Even if a unit starts out "affordable", the owner is permitted to sell at market rate when he's ready to move, meaning the unit has just left the "affordable" category.  As long as units remain rental, they can continue to be subsidized and thus remain affordable. 

 

It's a dilemma, and I don't have an answer for it. 

 

Does anyone know what percentage of City West is now occupied, and whether they're having any kinds of trouble?

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i guess they could have made some of the market rate rental units into home-ownership units, though...don't really understand that, although I'm sure the developers did their homework on it.

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Does anyone know what percentage of City West is now occupied, and whether they're having any kinds of trouble?

 

I haven't seen any numbers on occupancy.  I'd like to see those as well.

 

So far, I haven't heard of any trouble at City West itself, but, then again, I don't have any numbers and I don't know anyone who lives there.  I know for a fact a construction worker got shot there about a year ago, but I don't recall any other problems.

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So far, I haven't heard of any trouble at City West itself, but, then again, I don't have any numbers and I don't know anyone who lives there. I know for a fact a construction worker got shot there about a year ago, but I don't recall any other problems.

 

I don't know the exact percentage of rentals occupied but I can tell you there are alot of cars parked in the driveways and in front of the apartments every night.  With only 44% of the apartments being put aside for low income I think the market rate must be doing okay since almost all the apts. look occupied on Elizabeth and Chestnut.

 

I have lived atr City West for about a year.  The only trouble we have had is with two apartments side by side on Chestnut.  They are very loud and peolple are coming and going at all hours.  Makes you wonder what is going on inside.  I can tell you  that the management is pretty pro-active.  They have a HAMCO sheriff patrolling from 6pm to 2am every night.  They also have assured us that they are aware of the problem apartments and that the people will be evicted within the month.

 

The construction worker that got shot was the project foreman and he was targeted by a disgruntled ex laurel home resident from what I understand.

 

My wife and I love it down here and we feel just as safe as we did in Oakley.  Most people are friendly and respectful.  It's always the 10% that causes 100% of the problems.  If we could get some of the kids to figure out what a garbage can is and get the two troublemakers kicked out I would have no complaints. We are looking forward to having the other 176 for sale homes built so it does close the gap a bit between renters and homeowners.

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Sparke, I commend you for taking the risk of living there and making it work.  Your report was really encouraging.

 

You've already sort of answered this, but what's your sense of how well a mixed income community can work?  These types of developments are pretty novel -- Hope VI is the first publicly funded mixed income program, and private sector development tends to segregate itself naturally by income -- and I would be excited to know that mixed income communities can be attractive, vibrant, safe, and functional.

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I would say that homeowners and renters do seem to be seperated from eachother.  You can see it just by the way the first part of the project was built.  The townhomes all face Court or Cutter St.  So far the apartments have all been built on Chestnut, Elizabeth, Linn, and Clark with a few on Court.  Court street is the only street that townhomes and apartments are on the same street. 

 

We have gotten to know the other home owners through the HOA and little events such as picnics scheduled throught the HOA.  My wife and I have a dog so we are walking around all the streets all the time so we have gotten to know many of the renters and the kids in the neighborhood. The kids in the neighborhood also come over often to play with our dog or borrow some PS2 games.  As I said they are very nice people for the most part.  I think we are the exception more than the rule when it comes to that.

 

City West seems like it's own entity more than part of the West End right now.  The developement is great but I hope it will impact the surrounding area more as it is completed.  If you go two blocks west or two blocks north of what is completed so far it can get a little shady.  I really believe the community can work.  I think it is just going to take time to remove the remaining problems created by Laurel Homes.  By that I don't meean kick out all the poor people but kick out the criminals and the people who have no respect for the community.

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Thanks sparke for posting. Does the mayor live in city west? I heard he does.

 

If we could get some of the kids to figure out what a garbage can is

Adults too! If I have to pick up one more cheetos bag I think i'm going to go crazy.

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sparke,

Glad to hear you're enjoying City West. How well (or poorly) does sound travel from building to building, floor to floor in the townhomes? Any compliments or complaints regarding the build quality?

 

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The Mayor lives in Betts Longworth which is divided from us by the old Hays-Porter school.  We actually looked at a place in  Betts Longworth which was across the street from him.  With the school torn down I can see his place from our townhome.  Construction on the new Hays school is due to start this spring.

 

As far as noise we have no complaints.  We have an end unit so we only share a wall on one side and it gives us three extra windows.  I have never heard a peep from our neighbor.  He seems pretty quiet though.  He is a UC proffessor and lives by himself.

 

Drees has one of the new models open off Ezzard Charles on Laurel Park.  My wife and I feel like we have the best of both worlds down here.  We live in a brand new community and have all the luxuries of a suburban home(driveway, garage, new everything) and we can still walk to all the wondeful places, events, and festivals downtown.  Throw in a 15 year property tax abatement on top of all of it.

 

Anyone interested in living in or around downtown I would really suggest checking out the new model.  First time home buyers also can receive between 3,000 and 50,000 dollars (depending on income) worth of assistance that is forgiven completely over ten years.

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The only row houses along Ezzard Charles I can think of are right across the street from Taft High School.  I don't know if they are being renovated or not.

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Here's an article about City West, from the 3/7/05 Cincinnati Business Courier:

 

 

Urban residents-to-be like what they see at City West

Dan Monk

Courier Senior Staff Reporter

 

The Drees Co. reports stronger-than-expected sales volume at City West, where up to 25 prospective buyers a week have been touring the company's Laurel Park Drive model home since early February.

 

Click on link for article.

http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/stories/2005/03/07/tidbits1.html

 

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That site is going well when will there be any retail though.  Across the street there is that old theater that I think I went to when I was younger.

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^ There has been a grant awarded to help the Linn St. business district.  It's only something like $270K, but it's a start.  I agree that the area is under-retailed and once safety has been demonstrated I'm sure we'll see more investment.

 

There's a thread on it somewhere--I'm sure if you type "Linn St." in the search box it will come up.

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I drove by the site last week en route to Union Terminal for a wedding.  I would have LOVED to stop in and walk around, but I had other business to attend to!  This was something that was just getting starting when I was studying urban planning at UC about 5 years ago and I'm very excited to see that it's progressed so well.  The apartments look great and the effect should radiate out as the positive impression of the neighborhood spreads.  I'm also interested in the retail element nearby, so those of you in the know, keep us posted!

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from www.communitybuilders.org:

 

"The new master planned community of 835 mixed-income rental units and 250 for-sale homes will include a banking center, grocery store, new retail space, a community facility, childcare facilities, improved school facilities, and redesigned streetscapes and open spaces."

 

are there new retail spaces on-site or is this a reference to off-site, adjacent spaces?

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There is actually one row of apartments on Linn St. north of Liberty that have retail space on the bottom floor and apartments above.  Nothing has gone in yet but my wife and I would love to see a coffee shop go into one of them.  We even talked about someday maybe putting one in ourselves once all the homes are completed.

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Just came from our HOA meeting and we were told PNC Bank will be the first tenant going into the retail space I was talking about on Linn St.  A dry cleaner is also looking into going in as well.  UDF is also talking about building a store across from the new YMCA on Linn.  I know they are not the most exciting businesses but very nice places to have within walking distance on a daily basis.

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