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Cincinnati: Northside: American Can Factory Lofts

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Noooo...from the 4/19/05 Enquirer:

 

 

Walgreens worries Northside

Some say plan doesn't fit neighborhood

By Joe Wessels

Enquirer contributor

 

NORTHSIDE - Walgreen Co. has agreed to buy a 1.2-acre site at Hamilton Avenue and Blue Rock Street at the former Myron G. Johnson & Son Co. lumberyard.

 

But Northside business owners are objecting to the plan, saying a suburban-style set-back building with parking in front would take away from the urban flow of small storefronts along Hamilton Avenue.

 

Walgreen plans to build a 14,000-square-foot store at a cost of $2 million to $4 million, said Steve Hemberger, a partner at downtown-based Anchor Properties LLC, which is representing Walgreen.

 

Pending planning commission approval, Hemberger said Monday that he expected construction would start in late summer and finish by next spring.

 

The site and store would be modeled after another Walgreens location at Montgomery Road and Sherman Avenue in Norwood.

 

But community leaders would rather see a mixed-use development with retail on the street level and residential units above.

 

"The historic district is a very important part of this neighborhood," said Robert Sala, president of the Northside Business Association and an architect with an office in the neighborhood. "It's important to the character."

 

The historic district's boundaries are Spring Grove Avenue near the foot of the Ludlow viaduct running north on Hamilton Avenue until just above Chase Avenue.

 

The lumberyard, at the site since 1946, is selling the property because it has moved to a larger site in Queensgate.

 

A land-use plan created this month by the Northside Community Council, a volunteer group, calls for the site to have "local establishments instead of a franchise" and for a "well-run business" designed and sited to complement the neighborhood.

 

Sala said he isn't convinced that the proposed Walgreens would accomplish the community's goals.

 

Officials from Anchor and Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreen are scheduled to give a presentation on the project at a May 2 Northside Business Association meeting.

 

"If we can come up with a plan that fits, we will look at it," Hemberger said. "But the plan we have now we think works well for the site. It keeps visibility lines to the contiguous corners open."

 

He said it was unlikely the project would include a residential component. "I think it's (the current) a plan that works well for Walgreens and works well for the community," he said.

 

 

Family business

 

Rick Schaeper, owner of Schaeper's Pharmacy Inc. at Hamilton and Chase avenues, has run his business since 1985, when he and his father bought it from another family. The location has been a pharmacy since 1901.

 

While Schaeper expects a Walgreens just three blocks away would hurt his business somewhat, he isn't concerned about the long-term consequences.

 

"Obviously, I'd rather not see them come," the 44-year-old Schaeper said. "Our business will change some. We'll adjust."

 

Going back 35 years, seven independent drugstores used to compete in Northside. Schaeper is the only one left.

 

Diversification - filling handmade compound prescription orders, for example - has kept Schaeper's pharmacy open. Big chains simply don't offer the service.

 

Schaeper said his front-of-store business, such as soft drinks and greeting cards, might suffer. "I think the independent (pharmacies) that are left are doing very, very well," he said.

 

 

'I don't see how it helps'

 

Other business owners in the area think that the proposed Walgreens could be a mixed blessing. Concerns center on an out-of-town corporation opening in a community-centered business district, said Darren Blase, owner of Shake-It Records on Hamilton.

 

His brother, Jim Blase and co-owner of the record shop, isn't sure.

 

"I don't see how it helps the community," Jim Blase said. "I haven't made up my mind."

 

E-mail joe@joewessels.net

 

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050419/BIZ01/504190340/1076/rss01

 

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Boo!

 

This is unrelated, but I wonder if any of you are economist-types who could explain the idea behind the strategy of Walgreens, which from what I've noticed seems to be to build new stores as close as possible to major competitors, in particular CVS (I don't know if CVS does that too, since around here their stores are usually already in place).  What's the benefit to that?

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Boo!

 

This is unrelated, but I wonder if any of you are economist-types who could explain the idea behind the strategy of Walgreens, which from what I've noticed seems to be to build new stores as close as possible to major competitors, in particular CVS (I don't know if CVS does that too, since around here their stores are usually already in place). What's the benefit to that?

 

Those are the good intersections.

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This sucks for Northside, who's only "chain" type business is the grotesque free-standing KFC/Taco Bell.

 

While the lumber company was a bad use of the property and had no business being in the middle of a business district, this is not an improvement.

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Yeah! More Walgreens!  They make such a high quality architectural statement with their buildings.  Sure to enhance any neighborhood.  You lucky Northsiders, you!  I hope they have a drive-thru and plenty of parking.  Sweet.

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The funny thing is that there's no mention of it on their message boards.  Then again, it's not very active--one woman has more than 50% of the posts. 

 

I'll be interested to see what happens down there, since the neighborhood seems to be a hotbed of grassroots activism.

 

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From WCPO, 5/25/05:

 

 

Store Owners Opposing New Walgreens

Reported by: 9News

Web produced by: Mark Sickmiller

Photographed by: 9News

5/25/2005 5:47:35 PM

 

The prospect of a large chain drug store coming to Cincinnati's Northside is bringing together the owners of existing small stores.

 

Many store fronts on Hamilton Avenue are sporting signs saying they are owner-operated businesses.

 

It's part of an informal campaign to beef up business for Northside stores.

 

Merchants hope to stop plans to build a new large Walgreens where a lumber company used to be.

 

Several hundred petitions opposing the Walgreens have also been collected.

 

Walgreens' headquarters had no comment on plans to build a Northside store.

 

http://www.wcpo.com/news/2005/local/05/25/walgreens.html

 

 

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ya know, as anti-chain as i've always been, i think i'd consider myself one of the "as long as it fits the neighborhood" gang.

 

with progress often comes chains and as long as the two can successfully coexist and feed off of each other, then i suppose it may not be so bad.

 

not my final opinion on the matter btw.  we'll see how this unfolds.

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What really pisses me off bout this as an ex-Chicagoan is that Walgreens got its start as a chain of corner drugstores in Chicago....at busy streetcorners....so their heritage is actually VERY urban....

 

 

Also, if y'all remember,  I ran a pix thread about how these suburban drug stores are screwing up urban streetscapes in Dayton

 

 

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here's the latest...

 

To all Northsiders,

 

Next  Monday, June 6, 2005, a representative from Wallgreens is scheduled to be at the Northside Business Meeting  at the Presbyterian church, starting at 6:30 p.m.

 

As you’ve probably heard, Wallgreens has put a bid in to Purchase the lot

where Myron Johnson lumber was - the corner of  Hamilton and Blue rock, across from Hoffner Park.

 

Taylor and I started a campaign to support  small and owner operated

businesses in Northside, not only to highlite this issue to try to keep it from happening, but also to let people know that if small business in Northside is not supported by it’s own residents, then corporations like Wallgreens will come in, and fill up the neighborhood doing business here without the concern, or caring , or passion that the people who own the small businesses have - many of which, as we do,  both work and live in the neighborhood.

 

We don’t necessarily have anything against chain stores, but we don’t feel a Wallgreens is necessary here, or will bring people in to Northside, at least

not any further up Hamilton Avenue. I looked up Wallgreen stores in the phone book, and there  are 15-20 stores within a 5-10 minute drive from here, so what would make this location so special.

 

The fact that is close by, making it walkable, doesn’t really wash. People

won’t walk there. They will get in a car and drive, as there will be a parking

lot ,  most likley a drive up pharmacy, so  many peole “coming” into the

neighboorhood, won’t even need to get out of their cars. The UDF and the two fast food  “drive ups”  are testaments of that.

 

There is practically nothing that Wallgreens sells not availiable in this

community, or in an existing store close by. Also, some of what they sell - at least in regards to us- is all the major brands  of so called  “professional” hair care products, which have been illegally diverted and sold to these stores by distributors trying to make a buck. The product we sell cannot be gotten anywhere in a store. They also sell C.D.’s , ect. etc., etc.

 

I was told by a client the other day, that  money  spent in a small business

circulates in a community seven times, where as money spent in a corporate store, circulates one time. Small business supports owners and their families, where as corporate big business supports the corporation, who are not involved in or care about the betterment of the neighborhood. We are constantly calling the UDF head office in Norwood to complain about trash, and they have one of the employees making minimum wage go out to clean it up, as with the KFC and the white Castle. Why would Wallgreens be any different.

 

In the article that was in City Beat last week, at lot was left out about

alternatives for that space, which would be so much better suited to Northside, but there is always the money issue that is so difficult to compete with a Corporation. What a creative team with money could do for our community!  Hope to see people there Monday.

 

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I hate these chain drugstores.  The old commercial strip that houses my favorite pub is being torn down for one of them.

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Hey UrbanNut,

 

You might be familiar with this letter (on Northside.net) From Robert Sala (president of the NBA) to Steven J. Hemberger of Anchor Properties.  It was CC'd to the mayor, the city manager, and all members of city council, as well as a few other officials in both City Hall and in the Northside business community.

 

I'll post it here:

 


May 9, 2005

 

Steven J. Hemberger

Anchor Properties

30 W. Third Street, 6th floor

Cincinnati, Ohio 45202-3559

 

Dear Steven J. Hemberger:

 

I’m writing to you on behalf of the Northside Business Association (NBA) regarding your proposed development of a Walgreens on the Myron Johnson site. It is the express hope of the NBA that we can work with your firm to ensure that this development provides optimal benefits to both your client and our community.

 

As evidenced by your interest in the Myron Johnson site, you must share with us the view that Northside has a very positive future. To insure that future, we feel that it is necessary to maintain and promote the historic character of the Hamilton Avenue Business District (NBD). The Northside NBD Historic District and the associated conservation guidelines were instituted for that purpose. As the Myron Johnson site is part of Northside’s historic district, we request that you follow the guidelines both in “spirit and letter” in the design and implementation of your project.

 

The Myron Johnson site is not only located at an important intersection in the heart of our Historic District, the site also offers a rich historical context in its own right. The former Masonic Lodge, an historic landmark designed by Samuel Hannaford, and a 19th century four-story apartment building are neighboring structures. The historic railroad station located on the site is another 19th century Italianate structure and the American Can Building forms a prominent backdrop to the east.

 

There is a pressing need for both additional retail and related commercial activity in the business district as well as market rate housing, both new and renovated. The concurrent availability of both the Myron Johnson and adjacent American Can Building sites offers Northside a rare opportunity to build a multiple story mixed-use development, which could have an enormously positive impact on the neighborhood and the city for decades to come.

 

We are aware that the Myron Johnson site, rich in historical context as it may be, will have its share of latent problems and no doubt trade-offs will have to be made to reconcile them. However, we feel that it is essential that the important elements of not only the Myron Johnson site, but of the neighboring American Can site be incorporated into a comprehensive development that embraces the historic character of the neighborhood. We are optimistic that by working with us, the city and developers of the American Can Building, you will achieve the most mutually beneficial outcome.

 

To this end, we hope that you will continue to involve the NBA and other neighborhood organizations as you plan for your development. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss this matter in greater depth or if you would like to schedule a time to present your project to the NBA’s membership.

 

Sincerely,

Robert Sala

President: NBA

4046 Hamilton Avenue

Cincinnati, OH 45223

(513)-651-9898

sala@fuse.net

 

Cc:

Richard Johnson, Owner: Myron Johnson Lumber Company

Skip Forwood, Conservator: City of Cincinnati

Tom Jackson, Development Officer: City of Cincinnati

Paul Green, President: Northside Community Council

Steve Bloomfield, Prospective Developer: American Can Building

 

Charlie Luken, Mayor: City of Cincinnati

Valerie Lemmie, City Manager: City of Cincinnati

 

Council Members: City of Cincinnati

Alicia Reece, Y. Laketa Cole, John Cranley, David Crowley,

Chris Monzel, Pat DeWine, Sam Malone, David Pepper,

Christopher Smitherman, James R. Tarbell

 

http://www.northside.net/nba/pdf/Walgreensletter.pdf

 

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I haven't completely read this thread.  But two inner-ring suburbs in Cleveland have been successful in forcing Walgreens into designing responsible drug stores.  The Lakewood Walgreens is a two story traditional-looking storefront with the parking hidden in the back.  I'll  try to post a picture someday.  Berea has been able to force the developer to do something similar, but I haven't seen it.

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I just drove past a Walgreen's at Front and Bagley in Berea tonight - it's where the UDF used to be.  There's parking between the street and the building, but that was there when it was a UDF.  It did blend in with the neighborhood better than the UDF did, though - it's all brick on the outside, actually fit in quite nicely.  If they did something like this in Northside, with parking around the back, I wouldn't have any objections to it.

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Yeah, I would think they could somehow make a small parking lot off of Blue Rock St., which is fully accessible from Spring Grove and also from Hamilton.

 

I was intrigued by the idea in that letter of making a mixed-use development with some of the older buildings, including American Can.  That would be too cool.

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From the 6/8/05 Enquirer:

 

 

Northside condo plan unveiled

Adjacent Walgreens up in air

By Joe Wessels

Enquirer contributor

 

NORTHSIDE - The former American Can building would be turned into condos under a plan unveiled during a Northside Business Association meeting held so residents could discuss concerns about a Walgreens proposed on an adjacent property.

 

Developers Bloomfield Interests want to convert the former 114,000-square-foot machine tool manufacturing facility at the corner of Fergus Street and Spring Grove Avenue into living space.

 

Plans show parking behind the proposed drug store with a park-like feature and green space, including a large circular fountain, behind the Walgreens and on the south side of the American Can building.

 

Members of the Northside Business Association invited representatives from downtown-based Anchor Properties LLC, which represents Walgreens, to their meeting Monday night to share the site drawing and answer questions about the site. Walgreens would like to build on the site of the former Myron G. Johnson & Son Co. lumber yard. The lumber yard, which had been at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Blue Rock since 1946, moved to Queensgate earlier this year.

 

Residents who either do not want the Walgreens or do not want it to sit back from the street voiced strong opinions at the meeting.

 

Many complained the project would not adhere to the community's historic district plan.

 

About 40 people were at the meeting at the Northside Presbyterian Church. Votes were taken on two separate motions. One was to work with the developers and sign an agreement about how to proceed, leaving the option open for the drug store to be set back. The other motion simply said the building must comply with the historic district plan and come up to the sidewalk. The latter motion passed.

 

"I think a lot of people were interested in the motion (to work with developers) because they thought Walgreens would eventually overpower the city," said Robert Sala, Northside Business Association president. "That's the wrong attitude."

 

Developers and those concerned with Northside's development are at odds over whether following the historic guidelines is feasible. Some believe not working with Walgreens would force the drug store to abandon the project and have a domino effect on the redevelopment of the American Can building.

 

Michele Laumer of Carey Laumer Commercial Realty Inc., which is representing the buyer of the American Can building, Bloomfield Interests, said having the Walgreens would neither hurt nor help Bloomfield's plans to convert the former factory.

 

She said Bloomfield Interests has the property under contract but has not gone for planning commission approval or finalized details such as financing and number of units.

 

Todd Kinskey, a Northside resident and planner with the Hamilton County Planning Department, said not co-operating with Walgreens could lead to something less desirable ending up at the spot.

 

"Someone could open a towing lot, and we couldn't do a thing," said Kinskey, who said the property is already zoned for manufacturing.

 

The plan goes next Monday before the city Historic Preservation Board. No decision will be made at the meeting, but both sides will present their proposals and concerns, Sala said.

 

Anchor Properties said its studies show a Walgreens built along the street is not good for business. If parking cannot be in front of the store, Walgreens will not build it, said Steve Hemberger, a partner at Anchor Properties.

 

Richard Johnson, owner of the former lumber yard lot, fears that if the proposed drug store were moved toward the street, it could block the view of a former office building on the lumber yard site and hurt its marketability.

 

Laumer, however, said that sale is nearly complete and would not be threatened.

 

That three-story office building is about 30 days away from a sale to a developer who wants to put a retail operation on the first floor with offices above, she said.

 

E-mail joe@joewessels.net

 

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050608/BIZ01/506080318/1076/rss01

 

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I'm a little confused...the location we've been talking about is on Hamilton at Blue Rock...the location this article starts talking about is over off Spring Grove (btw, way cool on converting the factory to residential - that's a scary looking place right now, but a really convenient location).  So was the Spring Grove proposal just another option to be considered?  It seemed like the rest of the article talked about the Hamilton/Blue Rock location...I'm perplexed...

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It would all fall within this general area.  Without a site plan, it's kind of hard to visualize. 

 

I always thought that they should (if they have to) put the parking on the inside of the block.  It could be accessible from Blue Rock.

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Ah, I see - I hadn't realized it was two ends of the same city block - I always approached that block from two different sides (I used to play organ around a couple places in Northside and would tool around after the services).  I recognize the connection now - thank you thank you!

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Considering how long the site has been a lumber yard, I kinda don't see what all the fuss is about.

Walgreens, no matter how it is designed, could bring some much needed life to the area.

Currently, thre is a big gap on both sides of Hamilton between the northern & southern part of the business district for pedestrians. A retail business will help to alleviate this & help connect the 2 ends.

I agree it is not ideal.

And it is worth pressuring them to try to conform with the area's look.

My biggest concern is that Walgreens will just bail after about 2 years.

 

Mark

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I came across the Northside Business Association's meeting minutes from June 6th and thought I'd share excerpts of some of the things that haven't been reported so far:

 

 

THE WALGREENS DISCUSSION: JUNE 6TH MEMBERSIP MEETING

 

...

 

On May 23rd, Anchor submitted the current site plan to the Historic Conservation Board for a preliminary design review. That review will take place on June 13th. (I haven't been able to get to those minutes yet.)

 

...

 

Essentially, Anchor plans to build a 14,820 SF, one-story Walgreens with parking for 48 cars on approximately 1.5 acres bordered by Hamilton Avenue and Blue Rock Street.

 

The building is set back approximately 140 feet from the sidewalk on Hamilton Avenue and approximately 20 feet from the sidewalk on Blue Rock. The Walgreens entrance, as proposed, is located at the southwest corner of the building facing Hamilton. Implying that storefront type windows will occur on the two facades facing Hamilton and Blue Rock. See Exhibit “B”

 

The parking lot containing 37 of the 48 parking spaces is located in front of the building. This main parking lot is set back form sidewalk along Hamilton by a 35’ wide swath of landscaping and possibly a berm, to help screen the lot.

 

A one-lane drive is located between the south façade of the building and Blue Rock to allow cars entering on Hamilton Avenue to circulate around the building to the south to obtain driver’s side orientation to the “drive-by pharmacy window located on the east façade facing the American Can building.

 

A two-lane, two-way drive off Hamilton from the existing curb cut extends the entire length of the site along the northern boundary. This entrance and drive serves as the main vehicular entrance to the parking lot for customers and provides service access for trucks to off-load at the docks located on the north façade of the Walgreen’s building.

 

The main pedestrian sidewalk, off Hamilton Avenue, runs parallel to the access drive along the northern edge of the property. Pedestrians are lead east approximately 140’ to a cross walk, crossing the service drive in the vicinity of the first loading dock, and then south 100’ to the entrance of the store.

 

The original site plan presented by Anchor is represented by Exhibit “A”. In concept, it is more similar to the Norwood site plan where the building is not only brought up to the sidewalk along Montgomery Road, it is built up against the adjacent older buildings to extend the massing of the block.

 

Given the fact that it would be unlikely to obtain a curb cut any closer to the intersection of Hamilton and Blue Rock, the building is shown pulled back approximately 50’ to allow access and parking. In discussions with the city’s historic conservation staff, the developer was informed of the historic district design guidelines, which require new buildings to be built to the sidewalk. It was also suggested that the developer meet with the prospective developers of the American Building, to coordinate site-planning efforts with the potential American Can project. The idea of coordinating the development of both sites is also stated in our Land Use Plan. Following Anchors discussions with the American Can development team, Steve Hemberger of Anchor properties informed me that they would not make the May 2nd NBA meeting because of the time needed to revise their initial site plan along the lines of the current plan, which he briefly explain during our phone conversation.

 

At the May 2nd NBA meeting, members of the American Can team characterized the forthcoming revised site plan as complementing the American Can development by providing a “Boulevard” like drive from Hamilton back to, and opening up views of, the American Can Building. And by locating Walgreens farther back and closer to Blue Rock, the site would open up and allow views of and more space around Myron Johnson’s existing office building. See Exhibit “C”

 

At the May 19th meeting, when the new plan was presented, some of those attending felt that the plan was an improvement over the first site plan, and that it would help bring about the development of the American Can project.

 

The following concerns were raised about the current site plan.

  • 1. The proposed “Boulevard” had become a service drive to facilitate the loading dock functions on the windowless north façade.
  • 2. The character and function of the pedestrian walk is put into question, as shown running behind the cars parked at the existing office building, and through the loading docks and service area at the back of the Walgreens store.
  • 3. The American Can development team has not been able to reach price agreement with Richard Johnson on purchasing the balance of the Myron Johnson lumber yard property, which includes the office building, the large storage building and outdoor storage area (the old bowling alley) at the corner of Knowlton and Langland, and some vacant lots on the north side of Knowlton Street. See Exhibit “D”
  • 4. The possibility that the storage building and its outdoor area could remain an industrial use coupled with the proposed access service drive, raises serious doubt that the intended residential and commercial character of the overall development as proposed can ever be realized.

 

Overall Concerns and Issues.

  • 5. The parking lot as proposed is not the desired or best use of a site in the historic district. The historic district was established in the early 1980’s after developments like White Castle, The Colonel, UDF, and even the lingo lot began to eat away at the district. The is in place not only to conserve the existing buildings but ensure that the 19th century village form is adopted in principle for new construction in and effecting the district.
  • 6. In the current site plan, the Walgreens building is located just beyond the historic district line but the parking lot is in the district. Under the current zoning, a variance will be required to build a retail facility greater than 10,000 SF. Since the property is “wholly or partly” in the Historic District, the Conservation Board will be the hearing body for the required variance. Conservation Board will expect the neighborhood to weigh-in with comments and positions. See Exhibits B, C & D
  • 7. The Northside Comprehensive Plan adopted by the Northside Business Association and by the Community Council recommends changing the underlying zoning to a pedestrian oriented zone, which would require new structures to build up to the sidewalks and would also disallow drive-thru windows.

 

Motions:

  • 1. The NBA can move to approve the current site plan with conditions, such as a Planned Development Agreement between the city, owner and the developer, that would ensure the appropriate land use for all pieces of the Myron Johnson property or,
  • 2. The NBA can move to have Anchor Properties abandon their curtain concept for one that complies with historic district guidelines and moves the building to the sidewalk on Hamilton Avenue and possibly Blue Rock also, and relocates the parking accordingly.

 

...

 

The first motion brought forth, #2 above, was to reject Anchor's current plan and send a letter to the historic board urging them to enforce the historic guide lines positioning the building in front and parking in back.

  • Bruce Demske made the motion, George DiLorenzo second it.
  • Membership vote: 7 yea, 5 nay, 4 abstained.
  • Non-Membership vote. 5 yea, 1 nay, o abstained.

 

The second motion brought forth, #1 above, was to work with Anchor and Richard Johnson to get the best possible development with parking in the front and the building in the back.

  • Don Beimesche made the motion, Dan Doran second it.
  • Membership vote: 5 yea, 5 nay, 4 abstained.
  • Non-Members: 5 yea, 2 nay, 1 abstained.

 

http://www.northside.net/nba/pdf/NBAmeetingWalgreens060605.pdf

 

Exhibit A:

nsidewgreensexa8zf.jpg

 

Exhibit B:

nsidewgreensexb4ru.jpg

 

Exhibit C:

nsidewgreensexc4td.jpg

 

Exhibit D:

nsidewgreensexd7zs.jpg

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The parking lot as proposed is not the desired or best use of a site in the historic district.

 

Talk about understatement...

 

So there aren't any plans on the table that put the building up on the street and the parking behind it, though Motion #2 passed - "...to reject Anchor's current plan and send a letter to the historic board urging them to enforce the historic guide lines positioning the building in front and parking in back."  But the really confusing thing was that it seemed to me like Motion #1 passed as well, if non-member votes count, and that one said, "to work with Anchor and Richard Johnson to get the best possible development with parking in the front and the building in the back."  So I don't quite understand what the actual next step is...

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American Can site target of two can-do developers

Northside building to house apartments, office, retail

Laura Baverman

Staff Reporter

 

 

Steve Bloomfield and Ken Schon don't turn their heads at those old blighted eyesores in Cincinnati's urban communities. In the dilapidated industrial buildings, they see opportunity.

 

A year ago, the co-owners of Bloomfield, Schon and Partners completed a renovation of the Historic Ford Factory in Walnut Hills, now fully occupied. And their latest find is the American Can building, located at the corner of Spring Grove Avenue and Blue Rock Road in Northside.

 

The 180,000-square-foot, five-story building was built in 1921 to house the American Can Co., once the nation's largest aluminum can manufacturer. Until it was closed in the 1950s, the factory built the machines that built the cans.

 

But besides a short occupancy by Cleveland Wrecking in the 1960s, the building has sat mostly vacant, with only 20 percent of the space occupied by machine and sheet metal shops and artists.

 

Bloomfield and Schon's plans call for a $12 million renovation of the building, including retail or office space on the bottom level and market-rate loft apartments on the upper floors.

 

"We're excited about Northside. The business district is coming on strong. There are a lot of people buying houses, and when the park system finishes its master plan, we think there will be a lot of ties to other communities," said Bloomfield, who before partnering with Schon developed apartments and office buildings in Northern Kentucky.

 

He also has early interest from several tenants for the bottom level and expects he'll market the apartments to Cincinnati State and University of Cincinnati students looking for new housing close to campus.

 

The project did pose several challenges to the pair -- the costly acquisition of the land and the cleanup necessary to improve the site from its brownfield classification.

 

For that, the duo relied on the city of Cincinnati's community development office, which this week presented a check for $500,000 to get the project started.

 

"The biggest problem they saw was carrying the cost to acquire it, get it cleaned up and market it. It was too expensive," said Bill Fischer, director of community development for the city. "We said, 'What if we pay for the acquisition and redevelopment cost through a loan and you pay us back?'"

 

Bloomfield and Schon also applied for grant money through the Clean Ohio Fund and expect to hear early next year about that additional source. Fortunately, environmental costs are lower than expected, projected at $800,000.

 

But perhaps the most important aspect of the project is its expected impact on a community that has suffered.

 

While Northside has lost 1,000 residents over the last decade, it currently is experiencing a resurgence of small, locally owned businesses and younger people attracted to the low cost of living.

 

"What we need in this community is additional people. We need to make up for lost populations," said Bob Sala, president of the Northside Business Association. "What Northside and all urban neighborhoods need is a sustainable population. This will add a bit of market-rate housing."

 

Sala believes the American Can project will spark the development of additional housing projects and spur the work of rehabbers already active in the community.

 

"We are on the move and I think as values rise and the neighborhood is perceived as less vulnerable, we will be better all around," said Sala.

 

 

http://cincinnati.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/stories/2005/10/03/story5.html

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This will be great when it's done, because it's such a horrible eyesore now.  I was thinking about the parts of Northside that are still struggling and not seeing a lot of investment.  The southeast part of the neighborhood comes to mind immediately.

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Zoning dispute brewing over Northside Walgreens

Dan Monk

 

Everybody loves it when bureaucrats think outside the box. Unless, of course, we don't like what they're thinking.

 

In this case, the box is a 15,000-square-foot retail shell that Anchor Properties wants to build for Walgreens in Northside. The new store would be on the site of the Myron G. Johnson & Son Lumber Co., which has been vacant since the family-owned firm left Northside for Queensgate last year.

 

Neighborhood activists have lobbied for a mixed-use development at the site. Condos, boutique office and storefront retail is their idea of a good project. With that kind of thinking out there, you can hardly blame Anchor for wanting to avoid a zoning hearing. Yet, that's what the rules seemed to require.

 

"In a manufacturing district, retail sales are limited to no more than 10,000 square feet," said Bill Langevin, the city's director of buildings and inspections.

 

So, an Anchor consultant wrote Langevin, arguing the new store's photo shop wasn't retail, but "personal services." The pharmacy was dubbed a medical services clinic.

 

After reclassifying parts of the store, the consultant concluded the new Walgreens would have only 9,941 square feet of retail space.

 

You know what? Langevin bought it.

 

"In my mind, it's a mixed-use building," he said.

 

Langevin dispatched a Sept. 14 letter saying the project was in "substantial compliance" with the zoning code, with no changes and no hearing necessary.

 

Neighborhood leaders are appealing the decision.

 

"We think it's a distortion of the intent of the building code," said Robert Sala, a Northside architect.

 

The dispute is scheduled for a Nov. 21 hearing at Cincinnati's zoning board of appeals

 

http://cincinnati.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/stories/2005/10/24/tidbits1.html

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Here's a crude map of what the developers (DBA American Can Building LLC) have purchased so far with their check from the city.  There are only maybe 5 properties that are surrounded by the purchases.  You can see them as the "notches" on Mad Anthony St. and on Spring Grove Ave.

 

The Myron Johnson property (Walgreens?) is just to the left of the outline between it and Hoffner Park.  You can also see how close this will be to the rehabbed Moline Ct. homes.

 

These are the properties:

Blue Rock St.: 1513, 1515, 1517, 1519, 1521 (incl. 1521-1527)

Fergus St: 4010, 4020 (also property that fronts on Knowlton at 1435)

Mad Anthony St.: 4109, 4111, 4115, 4117 (incl. 4117-4123), 4131, 4135, 4137

Spring Grove Ave.: 4101 (factory property itself), 4127, 4133, 4135, 4137

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