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Cincinnati: Over-the-Rhine: Washington Park

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And we appreciate what you're doing.  Do what you have to do.  Please let us know what's going on when you need us.


CPS is about to lose my support on every issue if they do this.   I've been a big supporter of their $1B building program, but they'll completely lose me if this goes down.

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I went around the proposed school site and took some photos this morning.  It is desolate, and boarded up.  Most of these buildings were occupied a year ago.  I didn’t get  a photo of 1313, 1315 and 1317 Walnut because there were too many people hanging out and didn’t want to disturb them.  If you know what I mean.


First, the auditor map of area:



1329 walnut:



1333-49 Walnut.  8 contiguous blgs to be demolished:



1333 walnut with 28 mercer behind:



1329 walnut with 27 Mercer behind:



27 mercer:



Southwest corner of Walnut and Fourteenth Streets:



East side of Hukon Mfg, 11 E. Fourteenth Street:


I was told that Hukon Manufacturing made spherical globes from flat pieces of metal.


11 e 14th Street Facade



aexlrd.jpg  14 Mercer, west side

14 or 28 Mercer.  The rest of the north side of Mercer has already been demolished.



14 or 28 Mercer Street - Entry



Walnut Street (taken from vacant lot where north Mercer Street buildings have been demolished)

aexmhc.jpg Rear of 1333-49


15, 19, 23 Mercer



23 Mercer taken from Rooney Alley



Rooney alley looking south



Corner of Rooney and Hart alley (not a safe place to hang out): 



The School owns this:



1324 Vine (I’d hate to see this great example of late 20th century fast food design be lost)



1314 Vine, last used as Venus Nightclub:



Strange building in middle of block, accessed only by alleys.  This building is in very bad condition.  I am not sure if this is part of the school plan.  I think not, because I think they are stopping at Hart alley.







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I think the new school will be great for that part of the neighborhood. I just wish they could stop short of razing those 8 buildings on Walnut, though. That will be a major hit to the historic appearance of the street. Sure, there's a lot of loitering and god knows what else going on in and around those buildings now, but it's pretty short-sighted to just tear them down. Much of the area between Vine and Walnut, between 14th and Mercer, for example, has been cleared in years past, and the buildings that remain are in pretty bad shape and already divorced from their historic context (see the above pictures). Why not build the school in a footprint like this (outlined in red)?



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Jimmy, thanks a lot for the pics.  Incidentally, the green building -- the most nondescript of them all -- was built in 1851 and use to house the German Herwegh singing society.



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Important announcement for all of you Urban Ohioans:


As 3cdc and CPS continue with their plans for substantial demolition in OTR, including the Mercer Commons site, the OTR Committee for Preservation is holding an informational, coalition building meeting this Wednesday at  5:30 at Memorial Hall.  Anyone and everyone who has a stake in what's happening is encouraged to attend.  We are advocating for:


- transparent, democratic decision making processes (not the underhanded stuff that's been going on)

- the economic best interests of the neighborhood, which means preserving the very buildings that give OTR its economic value

- the aesthetic best interests of the neighborhood, which again mean preservation of the built fabric

- fiscal accountability on the part of the school board and any other public or quasi-public agencies operating in OTR (which means not spending $15 million on a new school building that, if current enrollment trends hold, could be defunct 5 years from now)


I hope that Grasscat, Maximillian, Jimmy, Atlas, Last Don, and any of you others that have expressed interest in this issue will be able to make the meeting.  Perhaps we can form a small contingent to come and represent Urban Ohio?  Anyway, I sincerely hope to see some of you there.  Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.  5:30 this Wednesday the 17th at Memorial Hall on Elm Street.

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I will be there.  I like that little green building alot.  It is clear that it is older than the rest. 


The crux of the problem is the school board image of what a new school needs.  They pretty much want all new, lots of parking, big playground, bus loading area (not on street), non-operable windows etc..  They are thinking from a security and parking mentality.  Rules like this make bad buildings.  It would be one thing if CPS was to build a cool building in place of the demolished ones, but we are much more likely to see a suburban prototype plopped down in the middle of OTR.  That is one of the problems with the current Washington Park Elementary school.  But at least that one is on a park, in which that typology makes some sense.


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Just a quick question.  Do you have CPS's ear?  I mean, what is the likelihood that CPS will listen to the concerns aired at this meeting?


I just wondered because I'm not that familiar with the OTR preservation group's influence.

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We're starting to get CPS's ear.  We have been in contact with board members and the director of the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission.  But we have not made a concerted effort yet to air our concerns and get CPS's attention.  That's really what this meeting is the beginning of...we're trying to build as big a coalition as possible, and then FORCE them, through the power of an organized angry mass of citizens, to listen.  Strength in numbers is what we're after -- indeed it's probably our only hope -- and it starts tonight.


So I can't guarantee you that anything dramatic is going to happen tonight as far as CPS scrapping their plans.  But I CAN tell you that the meeting will be a stepping stone in building a movement, and that the movement will lead to a fight.


Hope you can make it!!

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I'll let you know when I get a second...but for now, does anyone know where in this forum Nick Spencer made his post about supporting the demolition at Mercer Commons?

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Is SCPA tearing down the existing buildings on block where it is relocating?  If so add another half dozen to the body count.  I'm extremely skeptical that everything they want to do couldn't be done on the existing vacant land, since these buildings occupy no more than 10% of the block. 


Also, we must ask what specifically the SCPA has to gain by relocating within eyesight of Music Hall.  Its new on-site facilities will surely be an improvement, but why does the school have to relocate in Over-The-Rhine at all, and why can't the specific new facilities it wants be built on the large lawn immediately north of the existing school?  As someone who has been invovled with the arts my entire life, proximity of musicians to artists to actors to architects to film students rarely leads to collaborations or anything that wouldn't have happened if people didn't have casual contact under the same roof. 


Also, I am sick of the self-congratulation arts organizations shower on themselves.  The altruistic image that has been constructed around Eric Kunzel is completely phoney -- I know for a fact that he hits on his young male students, invites them over to his house, etc., and has been doing so for decades. 




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The answer to your first question is yes, the existing buildings at the new SCPA site will be torn down.  Now the question is, will 3CDC/SCPA be able to arrange for the transfer of the three properties on the NW corner, given that they are owned by the drop-in center.  To my knowledge, this transfer is not a done deal...and without it, the SCPA school cannot be built -- well it COULD be built of course if they were innovative and found a way to integrate the buildings, but I'm pretty sure they want to occupy the WHOLE site.

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It is a given that CPS wants an entire block for a new school.  In my opinion, It shows lack of innovation, but if that is what they want, I am sure they could get it by emminent domain.  Schools ARE a public purpose. 

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We池e hoping you, your neighbors, and friends will attend a very important meeting of the Cincinnati Board of Education.


THIS Monday, Aug 22

7:00 pm

Education Center

2651 Burnet Avenue

Phone: 363-0040


Each person is allowed to speak for up to 3 minutes. If you don稚 wish to speak, your presence will provide needed support by just showing up.


In a nutshell, here are some of the concerns facing our community:


1 

Sale of SCPA for commercial development

* the sale and consequent loss of our community痴 greenspace

* preservation of the historic SCPA Building

* hasty, ad hoc commercial development detrimental to our community

* not ALL notions of economic development align with community development


2 

Rothenberg School should be renovated ・FIRST

* this neighborhood school is a community asset; an historic treasure

* renovating Rothenberg will cost far less than new construction

* this school is our communities・opportunity WRIT LARGE: to become a beautiful school campus not only for k-8 students but also as an adult learning center (an evening, weekend, and summer campus); and, a place for community meetings of all sorts. A Rothenberg School Campus would be a place of pride for everyone who lives nearby.



Constructing a new Washington Park School is wasteful; a financial boondoggle

* Declining school enrollment doesn稚 justify building a new school

* the proposed site requires demolition of 22 historic buildings, mostly residential

* the land acquisition costs (plus demolition and environmental cleanup) are exorbitant: between $4-8M

* most likely, if a new school is built, then Rothenberg will never be renovated

* this site is a dangerous place for students and staff (near Vine Street)


撤olice said the Vine Street corridor from Central Parkway to Green Street

has reported the most violent and drug crimes this year, based on service

calls.・Publication date: 06-10-2005





No community input; no community planning

* the short list is too long for this email!


You can help change these misguided policies and plans.

Please come to this meeting, speak up; be there.


Thank You!




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Pendleton Neighborhood Council  Press Release



Ty Provosty


Vice President



Cathy Degi


Lisa Cameron


Marvin Butts

Elaine Coffy

Joe Deluco

Chuck Downton

Meredith Downton

Marge Hammelrath

Smith Hammelrath

Brenda Tarbell


August 18, 2005


Subject: The Pendleton/Over-the-Rhine community group’s response to: Cincinnati Public Schools’ eminent plan for the demolition of twenty-two historic buildings in Over-the-Rhine; and Cincinnati Public Schools’ eminent plan to sell off surplus school buildings and the adjoining grounds for commercial development before December 31, 2005.


Dear Members of the Cincinnati Press,

A large coalition of community groups, residents and homeowners, (including neighborhood councils), that were participants in the Over-the-Rhine Comprehensive Plan approved by City Council in 2002, are strongly urging reconsideration of several Cincinnati Public School planned relocations, closings and real estate transactions. The group, following considerable research and assessment of current plans, is questioning whether the intentions are the best plans for children of the city, Over-the-Rhine and Pendleton and the best efficiency of tax dollar expenditures by Cincinnati Public Schools.


The group, which has been frustrated and even stonewalled by Cincinnati Public Schools, 3CDC and other agencies in numerous attempted information inquiries is urging community input and transparency to both the planning process and transactions. The group is urging a temporary ceasing of any school property sales, including the SCPA building, its adjacent green space parcel, the Washington Park School building and the Vine Street Elementary site. We also strongly urge a re-examination of the Washington Park elementary school planning on the Mercer Commons site at 14th and Walnut streets and reconsideration of remodeling and reuse of the Rothenberg School as a first priority for providing a quality elementary educational facility in the downtown basin. We feel it is imperative that these plans be re-examined, reconsidered and reprioritized with meaningful and significant community input including the stakeholders in these communities: the parents of the school children; residents; homeowners; and established community groups.

The group also seeks understanding of why 3CDC was charged with providing a site for the new Washington Park school, why 3CDC urged

a rushed 30-day decision process in choosing the currently planned site, and why these decisions were made without any significant involvement of community stakeholders. We request a thorough examination of the transactions undertaken as a result of this process.

This group plans to attend Monday afternoon's Cincinnati Public Schools board meeting to continue discussions with the school board and urge adoption of our positions by the board.



Ty Provosty, President

Pendleton Community Council

P . O . B o x 1 4 3 5 8 , C i n c i n n a t i , O h i o 4 5 2 5 0 - 0 3 5 8

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Good luck with your efforts, I live three hours away and so can't really get involved.  This is incredibly shady and I'm in disbelief that the local media hasn't blown the roof off whatever is going on. 

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the meeting last night at the school board went really well...a lot of us got up and spoke, and each speaker received plenty of applause.  to my surprise, the board seemed genuinely interested and concerned with what we had to say.  so we'll see what happens next.


my only complaint is that today's enquirer article (http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050823/NEWS0102/508230332/1058/news01) written on the subject failed to address the issue of WPES and demolition at Mercer Commons, and spoke only to the issue of CPS selling its school buildings to commercial developers...this despite the fact that almost everyone who got up and spoke on the issue talked about demolition of 22 historic buildings.

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Kudo's to this weeks citybeat! I emailed them and told them about the meeting and I'm sure others did  too! They reported on it in this weeks issue.  City Beat is the only news source I have seen so far to mention anything about the demolition of 22 buildings and OTR's residents disaproval. It also mentioned that Justin Jeffre and Jim Tarbell were there :clap:

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^ Here's the article you were talking about:



Taking Undue Advantage in OTR?

Edited By Stephanie Dunlap


Many Over-the-Rhine community members have been ticked off since 3CDC swooped in a year ago and scuttled the 2002 Over-the-Rhine Comprehensive Plan they'd spent four years hashing out for their neighborhood. 3CDC, of course, is the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation, the private, nonprofit development entity that local corporate leaders formed in 2003 to jump-start redevelopment in Over-the-Rhine, Fountain Square and the Banks.




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THIS Sunday, August 28

6 pm

Topic: Fountain Square & Washington Park


Special Guests

Steve Leeper - President, 3CDC

Bobby Maly - Model Group / Washington Park Community Partners



About City Talk Radio

City Talk Radio promotes current events, issues, and city living. Each week, special guests are featured to talk about happenings in and around the areas of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The show focuses on attracting more people to live, work and play in the urban core of Greater Cincinnati. City Talk Radio is a live call-in show and if you have any questions or comments during the show you can give us a call at 513.749.1530.


You can also listen live on the internet... click here <http://www.wcky.com/streaming.html>

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At the beginning of this month, OTR Holdings (3CDC) snapped up the following properties for about $345,000 each.  So, if there's any doubt that 3CDC is buying up OTR properties in bulk....:


1324 Republic (vacant land)

1410 Republic (vacant land)

1415 Republic (warehouse)

1420 Republic (vacant land)

1425 Republic (vacant land)

1506 Republic (warehouse)

1517 Republic (vacant land)

1531 Republic (three-family dwelling)

1533 Republic (two-family dwelling)

1535 Republic (single-family dwelling)

1539-1541 Republic (vacant land/parking lot)

1429 Elm (warehouse)

1547 Elm (vacant land)

1536 Race (vacant land)

1538 Race (laundry)

1540 Race (vacant land)

Also, here's a better rendering of the SCPA from the Cole + Russell website:



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Just a clarification.  I am pretty sure the purchase was 345K for several, if not all of the properties listed.  Plus, I think they have actually bought more than the addresses listed.  The real question is: what do they plan on doing with these?  Housing?  Demolition?



That rendering may look OK, but it is nothing compared to the beautiful building they are selling.  Also, keep in mind that this site is one whole block between Central Parkway and Washington Park.  It is a prime urban site, that has so much possibility.  I can picture a design that extends a vista from downtown through to the park, or extends the park into the school grounds.



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Thanks for the clarification, JimmySkinner.  I was going by what was listed in the newspaper and on the auditor's site.


Looking at the list, it's almost entirely vacant lots.  The warehouses are in bad shape.  Only one out of the three buildings that are housing are attractive, the other two being completely rundown.  They may not be salvageable.


Haynesm007...I noticed that too.  The list of their properties is five pages when you do an owner search.  I'm not so sure I like the idea of having one gargantuan stakeholder in OTR, which is where we're heading.  I'd like to know more about their plans to put my mind at ease.



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