Cincinnati Brain Drain: Neil Clingerman

For those of you who don’t already know, over the last 10 to 20 years a large part of one of Cincinnati’s most historic neighborhoods has been lost. Back when I was in college, around 2005 or so, block after block of old houses were destroyed around the University of Cincinnati in order to develop new housing for students and young professionals. One of the hardest hit areas was Corryville, where literally about every other morning I’d be woken up by the high pitched sounds of construction equipment tearing through layer after layer of solidly built brick.

At that point in time Cincinnati was at a low point: the riots were still fresh in everyone’s memory, crime was way up, many cool places had shutdown due to “slowed business” and anyone who was young was jaded about what Cincinnati had to offer to those of us not enamored of living the suburban lifestyle.

These demolitions are what made me the most bitter about the city. When I was a kid, I lived in Warren County, and visited both Dayton and Cincinnati with my parents. Dayton was never a draw for me – it kind of felt just like many other older towns I also visited, like Columbus, or Indianapolis.

Cincinnati was different. I loved the city; it felt like a visualization of how a “big city” was always presented as in popular media, with its many densely built brick townhouses and apartments, and it felt like the place I could go to escape the overly manicured, sterile and cold humdrum of suburbia.

When presented with an option of what university I wanted to go to, part of my decision was based upon living in Cincinnati because of its character and urbanity. These demolitions took away that character and replaced it with something I could find in the suburb I grew up in. As a result I wanted very badly to leave and I did in 2007 after graduating. I felt as though Cincinnati had no future as it was throwing away its best asset, its built environment.

In talking with people down in Cincinnati about the city, over and over again I got the same opinion; “This place sucks”, “Cincinnati is no fun”, “This place doesn’t have anything to offer me as a young person”. When I presented to people how beautiful the architecture was they’d respond with a shrug. One person I knew even proposed turning OTR into a giant parking lot.

All of this negativity made me feel like I was powerless to make a difference against the march of redevelopment that was being lead by developers like Uptown Properties to turn Corryville from a classy but somewhat run down urban neighborhood, into a suburban-like wasteland of student apartment complexes and the occasional “fast casual restaurant”.

Fast forward a few years later. I’ve traveled to almost all of the great cities in the US, and now live in one of them; Chicago. While Chicago is great, I kept wanting to find a neighborhood that was like a restored Over-the-Rhine or Corryville. While there are places that come close, nothing really has the classic grandeur of those neighborhoods in Cincinnati. Traveling to the East Coast was a different story. I was met with large areas in famous cities like Boston and New York City that felt like larger and more lively versions of what I left behind in southwest Ohio.

Recently I decided use to Google StreetView to see how many US cities actually had the kind of built form and character Cincinnati had. Upon doing this, I found a lot more “Indianapolises” than “Cincinnatis”. I came to the conclusion that almost all the other cities that had Cincinnati’s level of urban character were nationally known places; Savannah, Charleston, New Orleans, Boston, San Francisco, and parts of Brooklyn.

I found out that Cincinnati was in the same league as major tourist destinations that drew tourists and residents alike to them for their beautiful old buildings. The question I began to ask was, why is Cincinnati not part of the party? Why is Cincinnati not thought of in the national consciousness at least at the level of Savannah as a place to go to be immersed in an old beautiful urban environment?

I felt that the answer was that Cincinnatians don’t care enough about their amazing assets to really use then to their full potential, and that the nonchalant way that Corryville was being demolished block by block was a symptom of one of the city’s biggest ills.

More recently, I’ve noticed an increased awareness and interest in Cincinnati’s history. With this increased awareness I took a few tours of OTR when I was in town, and realized just how important Cincinnati was in its heyday. This renewed interest in Cincinnati’s history, combined with a growing preservationist movement, made me passionate to work towards righting the wrongs that were committed against my old neighborhood in Cincinnati – Corryville.

It is up to city council, the city manager, and the mayor to fix the regulations currently in place that allow our historic buildings to be torn down at such an alarming rate. Ensuring that these wrongs that are being committed against the urban assets that could make Cincinnati a nationally known city, be stopped dead in their tracks.

If you show your support towards preservation and against demolitions, Cincinnati would be in a far better position to sell itself as one of the most beautiful places in the Midwest. If developers like Uptown Properties continue to get their way, Cincinnati will be a fading memory, a once grand proud city, dying away, slowly being turned into a wasteland of failed projects and failed dreams- a place that is no longer unique or culturally significant on a national scale.

Last weekend, I was talking with friends about how our generation handles civic duty. In this discussion, I brought up the activism I’ve been working on for preservation in Cincinnati. A waitress in her 20s or early 30s, paused and asked me to provide more detail. She then told me that she used to live in Cincinnati and was shocked anyone down there actually believed in how amazing the city’s built environment was and how it could be used to the city’s advantage.

She had felt that the attitude in Cincinnati was one of destroying it all, and was afraid that rumors she had heard of Over-the-Rhine being completely demolished would come true. She finally felt that if the city and its citizens actually cared about what made Cincinnati great, then maybe people like me and her wouldn’t be chased away from it. It was an interesting random encounter I had up in Chicago that made an excellent point. Cincinnati is losing population, enough people don’t like living there that they want to leave. The question that should be asked instead is what can Cincinnati do to make itself draw people again? The answer lies in part in preservation of its best asset: its historic architecture.

Here I am in Chicago. I could very easily not care about Cincinnati anymore as I don’t live there. Yet, Cincinnati is so unique as a city that it should do everything in its power to preserve that uniqueness. This uniqueness makes it not only an issue of local significance but of national significance too, as neglect of its high quality old buildings will cause this country to lose one of its greatest treasures.

The city council meeting earlier this week was exactly about this kind of issue. It’s about preserving the beauty of Cincinnati so that everyone in this country can enjoy it and consider living in it, and so that people who live in and around Cincinnati can be proud of it’s grand old buildings like the ones slated for demolition in Corryville as a hallmark feature of their great city.

Neil Clingerman is a 27-year-old IT professional working in the Financial Industry who lives in Chicago, but never fully took his heart away from Cincinnati. He was born and raised in southwest Ohio, and moved to Chicago after graduating from college in 2007 at the University of Cincinnati with a BBA in Information Systems. He describes himself as someone who is passionate about many different subjects including history, cities, politics and culture.

  • Michael Rivera

    I really appreciated reading this article. I, too, live in Chicago after having studied architecture at DAAP and I agree completely with you. Even though I no longer live there, I feel the “pull” to come back and visit every year, in part, because of the unique character that Cincinnati’s urban environment has. It truly has preserved it’s historic character for the most part and I’m excited to finally see that OTR is aggressively being restored. It would be nice to see that same enthusiasm spread to other neighborhoods such as Corryville. Cincinnatians should really be proud of what they have, something the ‘Indianapolises’ and ‘Columbuses’ don’t.

  • Bbrown

    Interesting that I would read this article because I was just sitting here thinking about Cincinnati’s self-esteem problem. I grew up on the westside of cincy, but now live in Columbus. I left because I couldn’t take the omnipresent apathy and the desire to stand still any more. It was dragging me down with it. I see the city as I see some of my patients, depressed with low self-esteem. With this comes the self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. If one can’t recognize or accept their own qualities, they can’t get get better because it kills ambition and does not allow self acceptance. These people often require others to help them appreciate everything they have to give to others and the world around them. To eradicate this illness, dedicated people will have to help these residents realize and appreciate what their city truly has to offer them and the world.

    I left Cincinnati 3 years ago to be a community organizer and activist in Columbus. After I completed my obligation, I went back to school and will be graduating this June. Constantly, I find myself toiling over whether I want to return home to all my family,friends, and the city I love, or move to a dense and progressive city. Why would I want to return to a place where I have to fight every day for the things that would benefit the city around me when I can move to a city that already embraces it? I am ambivalent at the moment, but the activist in me may be starting to win. The desire to be an advocate for my city is growing. The community of advocates in Cincinnati like this website are growing stronger, and I follow it daily. I’m starting to think I would like to be a part of this effort, and it may be a key part of my future. If I can’t fight for my hometown, family, and friends, then who or what am I truly willing to fight for? Cincinnati may soon be getting another resident and advocate, but my final decision is yet to be made.

    Sorry for the long post, but I thought I would share my story and insight.

  • Nathan Wessel

    Bbrown-I have heard stories similar to yours quite often. It’s a difficult decision to make! Personally, my activist side is winning too 🙂

    I took a trip to Buffalo about a year ago, and nearly fell in love with the place in just a day. The city is objectively much worse off than Cincinnati, but the culture there was just so different. I could absolutely feel people banding together to hold the place steady and make it better. One could almost see the city lovingly held together with scotch tape and chewing gum.

    As for Cincinnati, I have had a handful of friends tell me I have changed the way they see he city. Dragging your friends downtown on the bus really can make a difference! How can we scale that up? That seems to be the challenge. The architecture is the (relatively) easy part. A simple(if only!) change to the zoning code could allow people to build new in ways that are respectful to the old. We would not have to cling so desperately to the old, if what was new was worth anything. That’s what really kills me about the new buildings in Corryville: It’s not that the old buildings were so great, but that the new ones are just a bunch of car oriented crap that fakes a traditional architecture at a 2x scale.

  • Zack

    Bbrown: I agree with your internal struggle to live in a place where every day is a battle to defend/preserve/utilize what small portion is there, or move somewhere where the residents appreciate and encourage it to the fullest.

    General: I don’t think Columbus is a good peer-city other than geography. Cincinnati had 500,000 residents when Cbus was still farm fields at OSU’s campus 3 miles north of downtown. It has always been “newer”. And it works for them. They have embraced German Village fwiw. maybe to a fault.

    It does beg the question (and actually the Coreyville situation makes MORE sense than OTR) as to what to save for residential. Being hypocritical and using GV as a peer situation, those old homes are comparable size and stature of current homes. The OTR residential is full of tenament and low-to-middle class residents in the 1850’s, let alone today. So unless each place can be architecture-ally redesigned, they become more apts. Not a bad thing, but far from unique.

    The reluctant progress before the market crash obviously hurt. It is a glimmer of hope to see the Banks and even Vine and Main make some moves when most of the country is still struggling to get its feet.

    While it stinks to see the buildings go, will improved housing, thus more student residents, thus more coffee shops, pubs, food options, foot traffic, etc… ultimately be BETTER for the remaining homes? Its cannibalistic, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

  • Nathan Wessel

    Zack- I don’t think it will be better to have more students in that kind of housing. I’m usually the last person to stick my foot in the mud and scream “stop!” but this is bad development. It is doing long term damage to the neighborhood.

    More people would likely be better for the structural integrity of the few remaining old homes, but if the whole area around them has gone, is that a gain?

  • @Zack, I disagree with your assessment. What Uptown Properties did to Corryville will not be beneficial to the neighborhood. New student housing runs between $750-$950 per month per resident for two bedroom apartments. Currently, the homes that being used as student housing costs about $300 per month. With the huge budget cuts in university funding by Governor Kasich, you can only imagine that tuition will increase (though it is capped at 3.5% per year I believe) and make the expensive housing built for students not even feasible. Also, I’m not really sure what you mean by OTR not being unique…

    To everyone: if you really want to make a difference, go to neighborhood associations and community councils to voice your opinion. This was one thing we failed to do when trying to save that block in Corryville. We did not attend the meetings and so we didn’t know about it until it was almost too late. If you truly care about preservation, we all need to start being more involved in the community. I urge each and every preservationist in the city to attend as many of their community council meetings as possible. Become a member (They are usually about $5/year) and voice your opinion.

    Also, it is so much more rewarding to see change you cause! Why go to a city where what you are passionate about does not have a big debate? Stay in/return to Cincinnati to truly make a difference!

    And Jeff Berding sucks.

  • Great discussion, ya’all. It’s hard sometimes to be an active Cincinnati supporter as a young person, but it’s really heartening to see that more and more people are coming around.

    Either way – whether you got fed up and left, or are doing everything you can to stick it out- we want to hear your story. It’s time the res of Cincinnati (especially the leaders) hear OUR stories and remember them as they work to shape future policy.

  • A couple posts ago someone “duly noted” that I was a downtown “property owner” like it was a bad thing.
    One other thing people can do is put their money where their mouth is and invest in their community. Thats when real change will take place. I know thats not possible for students and recent grads but its another key for real change.

  • Neil Clingerman

    “We would not have to cling so desperately to the old, if what was new was worth anything. That’s what really kills me about the new buildings in Corryville: It’s not that the old buildings were so great, but that the new ones are just a bunch of car oriented crap that fakes a traditional architecture at a 2x scale.”

    This is exactly why I don’t complain as much about Chicago as I do about Cincinnati. In Chicago there were quite a few teardowns, some of them should have never happened IMO. But instead of cheap looking vinyl sided apartments that don’t get it, we are getting a mix of apartments/condos that feel urban. Instead of vinyl its a mix of cinderblocks (on the side) and brick facades. Some of them look stunning, and an out of towner could confuse it easily as an old building. Not all of them are classic designs, but enough are good that I don’t feel as sad when small old workers cottages are torn down and replaced by them.

    I think at the very least, the developers in Cincy need to be educated. Someone needs to get a collection of good examples of new condo/apartment construction in Chicago, and let them know how to adapt it to Cincinnati’s vernacular. These places are cost effective or else they wouldn’t be built in Chicago, unless there is some economic variable I’m not taking into consideration. It could really help things out – particularly when the construction is infill 🙂

  • Zack

    @Nathan Wessel: No i agree that the larger older homes in Coreyville do need saved. But its tough to decide what stays and what goes. Unfortunately I dont think its feasible for all to stay. As Neil pointed out, there is a happy medium of modern contemporary construction options (im pretty sure i know the style your talking about).

    @ Ryan L: I sympathize with the student and rising costs, but its a part of college. 30 years ago everyone ate mayonnaise sandwiches and beer was $0.10. Today people demand a chipotle and even Natty will run you $13. The $300 rent will become a thing for locations further from campus. Especially considering its right across the street from campus.

    AS for OTR Unique comment; I meant that it seems like alot of the refurbs are similar in their setup, design, detail, etc. And that makes sense because they were all constructed around the same time. Thats any neighborhood in America. I wish the Banks would have been more unique in its architecture, but the location will let them get away with status quo.

  • Neil Clingerman

    “@ Ryan L: I sympathize with the student and rising costs, but its a part of college. 30 years ago everyone ate mayonnaise sandwiches and beer was $0.10. Today people demand a chipotle and even Natty will run you $13. The $300 rent will become a thing for locations further from campus. Especially considering its right across the street from campus.”

    The difference with rising tuitions versus rising costs of Sandwiches and beer is that these rise due to inflation. In the case of college tuition it is rising faster than inflation. As a result peoples incomes are not keeping up with the rising rates.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if an affect of this is students moving into Avondale, Camp Washington and Northside for cheaper apartments.

  • Don T

    I recently rehabbed a 120 year old, 3 family around UC. I love the building and choose it because of its structural integrity. They don’t build buildings like that anymore. But here is the bottom line, I bought the building for $135,000 and put $125,000 into the rehab. I have roughly $260,000 invested. The building appraised for $180,000. I know some of this has to do with the current real estate market but the cost of fixing up these old buildings is not justified. I agree that it ruins the neighborhood “fabric” but from a business stand point it doesn’t make sense. It’s cost effective to bulldoze and build new with higher denisty. The problem with property around UC and some areas in OTR is the initial cost of the property. I know Roxanne Qualls and the city are working on some new program where the city buys the buildings, stabilizes them and then works with a future home owners to rehab it. I applaud the program but they need to figure out a way for individuals like myself to do the same without loosing their butts financially.

  • Neil Clingerman

    Don: Interesting perspective. ^-Ultimately the problem here is property values. As a thought experiment, if the city and its stakeholders (the chamber of commerce and other related groups) would market itself to out of towners more as an untapped historic architectural paradise, where you could find a 9-5 job as well if you need one (the region having so many fortune 500 companies), would this raise property values?

    Of course other issues like crime and schools (both of which have had some results) need to be tackled as well. If the city is safer more people are willing to move in. NYC had massive crime crackdowns before people wanted to move back.

    Ultimately the issue is demand, and how would someone be able to generate enough demand for Cincy’s architecture so that prices will go up due to market realities? Marketing I think is part of it, but I’m interested in possible solutions. I really hope for instance on the marketing front that Touring Cicninnati is successful in attracting out-of-towners which would increase demand.

  • Zachary Schunn

    Three things I love about Cincinnati: history (of which architecture is a major part), art, and music. Find a city of comparable size that has even half as much of these 3 items as Cincinnati. I don’t think you can.

    Also, this may sound ignorant, but… is there precedent for an ordinance requiring all buildings before, say, 1920 to be preserved unless they are excepted as “blight”? I know a lot of attention has been given to buildings in OTR, largely thanks to the National Register, and that tax credits help sway developers in many instances. But, shouldn’t we pursue something a little more aggressive outside the National Register for areas like Corryville, Avondale, Northside, or Walnut Hills? Shouldn’t ALL historic buildings be considered as significantly contributing to the history of neighborhoods such as these?

    Also, people need to stop using the money argument. It is the rare occasion that demolition and new construction is less costly than renovation. Unless significant portions of the structure need re-built, it’s simply less material and less labor.

  • Don T

    Zachary,

    I think to some degree you are correct. The structural cost is insignificant compared to the finish cost. But in an area like UC the key is density. You buy a couple 2 families, knock them down and put in an 8 unit building you get great ROI. That is what Uptown is doing. If it wasn’t a good investment for them I’m sure they wouldn’t do it.

    I think the main issue is location. If I would have done what I did in, lets says Hyde Park, assuming the same initial cost of the building I would have turned a nice profit. Around UC almost everything is treated like a business. The value of the property is grossly exaggerated due to the rent that can be collected from students. I think it would be hard to change this. But OTR is another story. As Neil suggests, if you could turn the area into a draw for urban professionals and increase property values then the investment makes sense. The trick is to get people to buy into it initially and get it going. The first adopters will have to have faith that their investment will pay off in the future and also lots of cash because the banks won’t touch it if the investment exceeds the appraised value.

    Like I said, I love these old buildings. I want another one and I am looking in OTR as a home and rental. But when I read some of these articles and comments I think people loose perspective on what drives the investment which is money. Love for old, historic buildings isn’t enough.

  • Bbrown

    Uptown is a huge area for employment in the city. I think if somehow certain areas could be marketed for the employees of the area, it could see property values rise.

  • UC gives professors some incentives to live within walking distance to campus and not buy a parking pass. I’m not sure what incentives there are, but they do that. I don’t know if they do that for all faculty or just professors though.

  • adam

    The problem I have with the ‘not economically worth it to save the old’ argument is that it is short-sited. That argument works on a time-frame applicable to a developer’s 30 year ROI, not a city’s 100-300 year ‘historic’ time-frame.

    Those ‘good investment’ vinyl boxes will not hold their value a day after they cease to be perceived as new. The newness is the only value they carry. The fact that we can even discuss these old properties as being worth saving after 120+ years speaks to just how valuable these things are. Once stabilized, they will only continue to appreciate as they become more and more rare and exceptional compared to their bland replacements.

    I fully, fully understand no developer that hopes to stay in business can operate on a 100-300 year time frame, and I don’t know how exactly to make the economics work, but we are selling out our future for our present. There is very real value being destroyed in many cases.

    Let me also say I’m not a teetotaler when it comes to not tearing down some old buildings. There are plenty of things around that were shacks or even modest/common when they were built, and are acceptable or desirable to raze (a few of the Euclid buildings included).

  • Zachary Schunn

    @Don T:

    I’ll concede to you on those points. One still has to consider higher construction costs, but when the land is quite possibly more valuable than the buildings themselves (at least in that market), you’re right that increased density increases the ROI on the land and thus on the investment as a whole. I hadn’t fully considered that.

    I am still pessimistic about their ability to rent properties in this area. Right on Jefferson or in UPA, sure, but several blocks from campus? Then again, McMillan Manor has filled up, so maybe I just don’t understand the power or ignorance of daddy’s credit card.

    Finally, as I said don’t underestimate the real estate bust. I have been considering trying to buy a property in Corryville or Mt. Auburn (though it’s just an exploration at this point), and I am amazed at the change in prices. From what I’ve seen, most places have lost 50-60% of their value since 2005 or 2006. Blame the national fall in home prices combined with a great number of foreclosures in the area.

  • Zack

    Dont really see the need to cut on people who dont want to live in an old house run by borderline slumlords (“dont understand the power or ignorance of daddys credit card”).

    My wife raised an interesting point in that UC is a major commuter campus. Maybe the research has shown that those commuters would rather have something a bit newer than live in an old home. 6 years ago these things sprouted up with no point. Much more difficult to throw up an apt complex without strong belief it can make $

  • Neil Clingerman

    Bbrown: there is a development that was aimed at hospital workers, setson square – it’s kind of q hideous building but probably the best infil there.

    On that note it amazes me how difficult it is for those developers to get Italianate. Setson square is designed pseudo historic, but the design is glaringly different than the rest of the neighborhood in a bombastically bad way…

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    Exactly — when you watch a period movie, the set designers get Italianate exactly right, yet today’s architects can’t get it done. It’s such a simple style, but they totally fuck it up every single time.

  • The facts are that as more property is restored, values rise. Ive worked in turnaround neighborhoods where ave property values went from 20K to 250K in 4 years. It just take a ‘core’ of restoration, coupled with good marketing and PR and the perceived “value” of being someplace unique and property values are on the way up. Cincinnati has not learned the value of historic preservation as an economic developments tool and that is an ‘educational process” for city officials set in their ways.

    But it must happen or PLAN B, preservationists run , and take over, the direction of the city council. It has been done before in other cities!

  • Neil Clingerman

    Jake: I don’t know how many times I’ve said exactly what your saying.

    Below is an album I put together showing the kinds of infill that was built in Wicker Park Chicago over the last 10 years and contrasting it to Cincinnati around the university. Not all of what’s being built in Chicago is good, but its mostly light years beyond Cincinnati.

    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2435055&id=21405087&l=31fdf25206

  • Zack

    @Paul Willham:

    How many of these gigantic neighborhood turnarounds happened before 2004? Not denying your claim, just curious how much is related to the “boom”.

  • @TBoondoggle: The program details can be found at: http://www.uc.edu/hr/benefits/walk_to_work.html

  • Zachary Schunn

    I don’t think the problem is that architects “can’t get” Italianate. In fact, I’d be willing to bet a lot of architects are just as frustrated as anyone else.

    The issue is that no one cares to get a style right. The developers don’t care, because they want to save money. They value-engineer the architects’ designs until they look like crap. And the people living there don’t care. There’s a general attitude in Cincinnati of “if it’s brick, it looks historic.” Which is stupid, because the detailing is at least as important as the brick. Besides, even the “historic” brick look is fake, because since it’s a veneer there are no header rows. There are other ways to tell, too, of course, but that one’s probably the most obvious.

    The real estate brokers and assessors don’t care, either. But worst of all, the policy-makers don’t care. And at this point, they may be the only ones who can forcefully change the attitudes of everyone else.

  • luvcincy

    Nice discussions but there are people who want low utilities or are handicapped and cannot live in an older building or who want something different than all of you. The freedoms we all enjoy is the freedom of choice. What is wrong with having both. There are many fine neighborhoods in the country that share new and old. I appreciate both and the need for both. Uptown was here in Corryville before most of you were born. When there were daily shootings,abundance of drugs and prostitution on lots of corners. Do not think you should just sweep in 25 years later after a brave founder of Uptown and now try to “save the neighborhood”

    Uptown has restored about 90 structures in Corryville alone and over 250 in the city as a whole. Currently they are involved in 7 in Corryville alone.

    Remember there is room for everyone. Rich and poor, new and old,modern and traditional. That what makes the world go around. Since when is it your way or the highway?

  • Luv,

    I agree with you and totally appreciate the restoration work that Uptown has done. The problem with the Euclid Avenue demolition lies in the fact that there are so many other spaces in the Corryville area ripe for the taking – either with empty lots or dilapidated buildings – that would be great for infill – why would they destroy these particular buildings? Maybe it makes business sense, but in terms of preservation it is a step backward.

  • luvcincy

    Jenn,

    There are other spaces you are correct. There is a strong desire to put bodies on short vine. in the 80’s Short vine was “the place to go” more than Mt Adams or downtown. Resturants, bars, laudramats etc. The community thru an urban renewal and charrette process determined that without bodies on Vine the retaill and street as a whole will continue to fail. The plan calls for 1060 new housing units by both infill and redevelopment to help make that happen.

    Drive down Bellevue and Eden and you will see the finest streets and structures in Corryville. We need residents here so we can keep our great business district. Part of it is being restored and part is going to be rebuilt new. Uptown is keeping 8 of the original 15 houses on that block and restored 18 E. Daniels as well.

  • Zachary Schunn

    @luvcincy:

    Freedom of choice in properties is a good concept, in vague terms.

    But what Uptown is doing is HURTING that freedom of choice, not helping it.

    I’ll offer this question: have you ever heard a historic preservationist advocate the demolition of modern structures because it didn’t fit what some renters wanted?

    If Uptown wanted to build on an empty lot, it’d be one thing. You’re right, both choices should be available. But by destroying 7 beautiful, historic buildings, Uptown is advocating destroying one of those choices.

  • Zachary Schunn

    What will make Corryville great again will be a variety of older structures and newer buildings. Why can’t we create the new without destroying the old?

  • luvcincy

    where around the university is there vacant land that is available for redevelopment or for that matter to put the homes on Euclid. We have people who want to move them but there is no land.

  • Please contact Danny Klingler with OTR ADOPT – danny@otradopt.com – he will be able to help with relocating.

  • Neil Clingerman

    @luvcincy:

    I won’t deny that uptown has done some great work for the neighborhood in terms of restoration and getting people to come back in. I also agree that some people need/prefer new buildings, but what bugs me is a lack of respect for Cincinnati’s history. I also know the neighborhood’s reputation, its a little rough and since the developers stepped in their has been improvement. I wonder what really killed off the entertainment district in the 80s on short vine? It was my understanding the university effectively redlined the area from the mid 1980s until the late 1990s, recommending that students didn’t rent from that side of campus.

    At the very least these developers (not just uptown) should build buildings that look a bit more like what was torn down. I provided a link to a Facebook album above, I urge you to take a look at the kinds of infill buildings they are building in Chicago. If you can’t access the link, let me know, and I’ll provide it on another page. The buildings which I cite as better infill have to be economically viable, its not like they are completely copying the old style which in today’s environment with increased labor and material costs would be unfeasible. Why can’t uptown build this kind of infill? What are the economic realities that prevent this? Are their creative solutions to make this happen?

  • Zachary Schunn

    @luvcincy:

    North end of Eden Avenue. Not sure who owns it though. That’s just to name one location.

    Also, there are properties that are much closer to the term “blight” than these 7. There are many early-1900’s cookie-cutter homes in the area, many of which landlords have let go to waste.

  • luvcincy

    North end Of eden belongs to the non profit who developed Stetson.Unfortunately, nothing has been done with it. I think Uptown Rentals has restored some landmark buildings like “the Auburndale” at the corner of Auburn and McMillan and “the Majestic” and the carew mansion @ 145 W. McMillan. They did build a new office on University that is modern but has won awards because of its infil and architecture. They are good folks and know them well. I love cincinnati as do you guys and the owner of Uptown is passoinate about the fabric of the city.

  • The discussion here is great, but as with all historic preservation arguments I say that an economic or productive use must be found. It’s easy to say that Developer X or Developer Y should preserve historic structures, but it’s another to find economic use for them that makes the bottom line work.

    I do not agree with this development due to the fact that there is vacant land and underutilized structures nearby that could be targeted for infill development instead of these extraordinarily beautiful and economically productive ones. But the reality remains that if we want Cincinnati’s historic neighborhoods to remain intact, then we need to drive the economics in a way that makes them desirable once again.

    In Charleston and Savannah this is easy because they are such small towns they have no historic competition for their primary historic districts. In Cincinnati, Charleston and Savannah’s historic areas would be absorbed by Over-the-Rhine alone and not even factor in Newport, Covington, Mt. Auburn, Walnut Hills, East Price Hill, West Price Hill, Clifton, Clifton Heights, Corryville, Avondale, West End, Northside, East End, Mt. Adams, Columbia Tusculum or the other dozens historic neighborhoods that exist in Cincinnati.

    So in my mind the question isn’t about whether we should preserve these historic neighborhoods, but how. I think it would be much more beneficial to figure out the answer to that question than to focus on the city’s list of blighted historic structures and groan over the popular demolition of the month to oppose.

  • Paul Willham

    Zack, unlike other suburban neighborhoods, historic neighborhood typically work on a different dynamic that “simple greed”. People buy Old houses out of a love and need to preserve them. Money is , usually secondary. I started restoring in neighborhoods in 1985 and Ive been involved in turnaround of several neighborhood in several states.

    I’ve been able to get about a million in private dollar preservation investment going in my neighborhood (Knox Hill) in Cincinati, with more restorations starting this year. We have been able to work with city officiakls to take out some non contributing structures (Irish Cliffs) and by throwing everything we can think of at the city, From a federal HUD complaint as it relates to the city’s improper use of 106 process. Agressive documentation of the history of the architecture and our planned establishment of a nation historic district, coupled with the fact we are prepared to go to federal court if necessary, demos have slowed to a crawl and people are interested in restoring here. Almost every weekend I am showing our neighborhood to someone (often from out of state) who sees the potential.

    A lot of foreclosed property is now in “preservation minded’ hands and we are beginning to see property values rise again (albeit slowly) IN SPITE of a bad real estate market. I dont see the downturn of the real estate market as bad thing. In fact the ‘slumlords’ are out of the picture, really good property that has been ‘tied up’ for years is now available and at really good prices. This means many who wanted to restore an old house, now can. In fact this Saturday I am doing a workshop called Old house/New owner which is geared at this new generation of preservationists at the Hauck House in conjunction with CPA.

    Couple of years ago I was just this ‘preservation activist” from Indianapolis who was an “irritant” to the city. The Gamble House fight, Groups like OTR Adopt, Westwood Concern, No more demoes, OTR Matters and others have created a groundswell of ” New Preservationists” who are expecting more ALL over this city.

    In the end the future of Cincinnati as a historic destination will be driven by marketing. Done right this city could bring in Millions of dollars in Heritage tourism, create small business opportunity, provide thousands of employement opportunities and ultimatly build a stonger property tax base. And maybe get some to return to Cincinnati who left. It just requires some vision followed by doing what other cities have done before us.

  • Joe

    Why has Corryville all of the sudden become the popular place to build new student housing? The Probasco area would be a more suitable area and its architectural quality is not as high as Corryville and it is not as built up. There are many areas on the west side of campus that would not take out historically significant structures and provide the housing that a growing student population needs.

  • queenofthewest

    @luvcincy:

    According to Cincy Preservation Association, Uptown originally offered to donate lots on which to move the Euclid bldgs, but subsequently withdrew that offer.

    @Randy Simes:

    Agree with you and others who point out that the economics must be there for preservation to work. The problem with the Euclid Ave. bldgs of course is that they are perfectly capable of being economically viable. There are 17 buildings in Corryville that have been “ordered vacant” or “condemned” by the city, and could thus perhaps be viewed as “too far gone”. NONE of these buildings are on Euclid. The Euclid buildings require a few repairs but nothing that isn’t done on a daily basis all across the city by other historic building owners.

  • Michelle

    This is very true about developers trying to get things on a better note. Different property management companies, like Gaslight Property, are hoping that they can bring some of the “Downtown Life” into Clifton. They want Clifton to be not only a better place, but a safer place.