Potential Corryville demolition up for Livable Communities hearing

An entire city block of historic architecture is up for rezoning and demolition, and will be debated at a City Council Livable Communities hearing this afternoon at City Hall.

Student housing conglomerate Uptown Properties has proposed a new 72-unit student housing project in the Corryville neighborhood, located on the east side of University of Cincinnati’s campus. This comes on the heels of the 120-unit 65 West student apartment complex being constructed on the former Friar’s Club location at the corner of Ohio and McMillan Streets in Clifton Heights. At first glance, the proposal seems feasible, but in order for the project to be completed, the block of 7 historic properties on Euclid Avenue would be razed to the ground.

Many community members and preservationists feel that removing the structures would be a short sighted move for a city that is so rapidly losing its historic urban fabric due to demolishing buildings instead of restoring them. The Corryville neighborhood has lost over half its housing stock to expansions from the local hospitals and the University of Cincinnati.

Danny Klingler, director of preservationist organization OTR A.D.O.P.T., sees no benefit to destroying the properties. “It’s one thing to do blight removal with properties that are condemned or ordered to be vacant, or have problems with lead,” Klingler said. “We have over 250 buildings in OTR that are like that. With these [buildings on Euclid,] though, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them – you could go live in them right now, they are beautiful on the inside. You wipe them out and you lose something that makes Cincinnati unique. Not only that, but you replace it with cookie-cutter Uptown Rental properties that are less affordable.”

The current buildings are single family homes all built around the same time during the late 19th century in a Victorian style. According to residents, the block is one of the most beautiful and well preserved examples of Victorian architecture in the community. Uptown Properties has a history of converting historic buildings into student housing, yet its more recent projects have a bland, “value-engineered” look to them.

Neil Clingerman, a recent University of Cincinnati grad and former Cincinnati resident, has helped to virtually lead the charge in bringing attention to the potential demolitions.

“I used to live in Cincinnati, but after so many demolitions of historic structures, I felt it had no future,” explained Clingerman. “As a young guy looking to enter the professional world I wanted to be in a place that was alive and was willing to support the urban lifestyle I was looking for. As a result, I left Cincinnati after graduation, and moved to Chicago where I live in a neighborhood that approximates Corryville in era and style, and on top of this is full of activity and is a part of the city that is growing. Corryville can do the same, but it has to realize just how wonderful the buildings it has are, and how this can be used as a catalyst to promote population growth beyond transient students.”

Experts have estimated the new construction could cost potential renters up to twice as much for rent costs, which will drive out low income and student renters who are already struggling with tuition costs. The PLAN Cincinnati Housing Market Study document that current Council members should be familiar with outlines the situation for renters in the area: “The city’s renters experienced a loss of purchasing power during the past decade, as the median rent rose while their incomes declined. In addition, the city lost 7,847 assisted units (vouchers and public housing properties) between 2000 and 2010, making very affordable rentals even more difficult to find.” This information makes tearing down good buildings in order to build more expensive ones with less character hard to justify.

“Corryville has seen a large destruction of its historic building stock for decades. No longer can we accept these demolitions in this distinct neighborhood,” said Charles Marxen, Sustainability Advocate and student at the University of Cincinnati. “This block of Euclid Avenue is one of the most intact streets in the neighborhood, and its loss would provide little hope for buildings enduring the same struggle in the future. Uptown is a very unique area that cannot be recreated. Replacing it with what Uptown Rental Properties is proposing would be a devastating loss to the city’s rich history.”

The Livable Communities committee of City Council will be meeting today in the council chambers of City Hall at 801 Plum Street in room 300. The meeting is from 2pm-5pm, but the item is second on the agenda and will more than likely be addressed around 2.30 pm.

Community members are encouraging those interested to show their support by attending the meeting or writing an email in support of saving the properties to City Council members.

Euclid Avenue photograph provided by Danny Klingler.

  • I urge everyone to send an email to the members of the Livable Communities Committee today before the hearing at 2:00. The more voices that are heard the more likely they are to deny Uptown Properties their request.

    These are the email addresses of each council member on the committee (everyone but Leslie Ghiz): roxanne.qualls@cincinnati-oh.gov, laure.quinlivan@cincinnati-oh.gov, jeff.berding@cincinnati-oh.gov, chris.bortz@cincinnati-oh.gov, cecil.thomas@cincinnati-oh.gov, amy.murray@cincinnati-oh.gov, charlie.winburn@cincinnati-oh.gov, wendell.young@cincinnati-oh.gov

  • Would cuts in state spending on education make this new housing investment a good idea?

  • Neil Clingerman

    Also, if you can, please attend the Livable Cities Committee meeting today at 2pm in City hall.

    Address listed below:

    City Hall, 801 Plum Street – Council Chambers

  • Zachary Schunn

    This area of Cincinnati seems to be gaining growing interest from developers, and has a lot of potential for growth and improvement over the next 5-10 years. The growing student base at UC, the planned streetcar line, and the desires of many to “clean up” the neighborhood all make it prime for development.

    This is NOT a bad thing. As Mr. Klingler said, when buildings reach the point of condemnation, removing urban blight and replacing it with something usable by the community is a valuable goal.

    BUT, demolishing perfectly beautiful buildings to replace them with bland multi-resident units not only helps destroy the historic architectural charm of the neighborhood, it makes absolutely no business sense. Wouldn’t building on the vacant/condemned lots nearby come at lower costs, both financial and cultural? Further, why remove low-rent, high-demand single family housing units in favor of higher rent properties that–given the economic hardships of students–will be a lot less likely to lease at a profit?

    Wow. The bad news for this city just seems to keep getting worse.

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    I was at a party at one of these last year. The interior was in good shape, so anyone contending that these are blighted just wants to make money.

    But don’t blame the developers — it’s the easy student loans and parents who give their kids credit cards who are causing this college apartment complex boom nationwide. When I was a kid, everyone knew college was the time when you lived in a dump, but now college students live like kings.

  • Neil Clingerman

    “BUT, demolishing perfectly beautiful buildings to replace them with bland multi-resident units not only helps destroy the historic architectural charm of the neighborhood, it makes absolutely no business sense. Wouldn’t building on the vacant/condemned lots nearby come at lower costs, both financial and cultural? Further, why remove low-rent, high-demand single family housing units in favor of higher rent properties that–given the economic hardships of students–will be a lot less likely to lease at a profit?”

    This happened all over the neighborhood, which is why I’ve been pushing for some kind of opposition. What’s going on is criminal and it doesn’t make good sense in the long term for the health of the city.

    The good news is that the Cincinnati Preservation Association is behind it as well as other preservationist groups. Lets all wish them the best of luck right now as they are in the meeting that will help determine the fate of this neighborhood.

  • Neil Clingerman

    voted 4-2 to send zone change recommendation for Corryville student housing project on to City Council tomorrow.

    Please send an email to all council members expressing your displeasure at the decision that was made today and include Leslie Ghiz, Mark Mallroy (mayor) and Milton Dohoney (city manager) in on the email. Below is a revised list:

    roxanne.qualls@cincinnati-oh.gov, laure.quinlivan@cincinnati-oh.gov, jeff.berding@cincinnati-oh.gov, chris.bortz@cincinnati-oh.gov, cecil.thomas@cincinnati-oh.gov, amy.murray@cincinnati-oh.gov, charlie.winburn@cincinnati-oh.gov, wendell.young@cincinnati-oh.gov,
    mayor.mallory@cincinnati-oh.gov, citymanager@cincinnati-oh.gov, leslie.ghiz@cincinnati-oh.gov

  • Any word on what happened?

  • Neil Clingerman

    The Committee voted to move this forward to the city council at large. Please write the council at large to voice your opinion regarding this.

  • Jackie Campbell Brumley

    As a resident/owner of an historic home in Corryville, I am really troubled by the selection of this particular block for demolition. There are certainly other parts of Corryville that could be used for a development than tearing down these beautiful old houses. I agree with the sentiments that other new buildings are seemingly built on the cheap with little attention to design and fitting in with the neighboring architecture. I will be writing to Council on this one. Thanks for the heads-up.

  • Neil Clingerman

    Write as quickly as possible as the council meeting is in an hour. Even if its late still voice your displeasure at their decision, let them know this has to stop.

  • Neil Clingerman

    Jennie, if you are interested in what’s going on in Corryville regarding demos and any more plans that might be against the interest of the community and how to help out. Please send a message to SaveCorryville@gmail.com – let me know your contact and I’ll see how i can help.

    Part of the problem here is that the Corryville Community council approved all of this in the first place. The council is real estate interests and not the community, more voices from the community are needed to put a stop to this.