Business Development News

Groundbreaking for $14M Anna Louise Inn Ends Prolonged Battle with W&S

Construction work began on the new $14 million Anna Louise Inn two weeks ago. The start of work marks the beginning of the final chapter in what has been a long, divisive battle for the 184-year-old social service agency against one of the city’s corporate giants.

Between 2010 and 2013 Western & Southern Financial Group, whose headquarters is located adjacent to Lytle Park and the existing home of Anna Louise Inn, fought the renovation of the agency’s 105-year-old home that was originally donated to them by the Charles P. Taft family in 1909.

What had started as an innocent project where the owners, Cincinnati Union Bethel, were awarded $10 million to renovate their facility, turned into an ugly battle with allegations of government misconduct and corporate bullying.

In the end, the corporation working to amass an entire district of property around Lytle Park won. Instead of renovating their long-time home, the Anna Louise Inn was forced to accept a relocation deal after the prolonged legal battle drained the organization’s finances.

The new Mt. Auburn facility will accomplish the goals of the original renovation plans. A new four-story structure will rise at 2401 Reading Road, where a historic streetcar barn previously stood, and include 85 apartments for single women looking for support. Cincinnati Union Bethel officials also say that the 1.2-acre site will include community space, private garden, computer lab and some office space for their administrators.

The project is being financial aided by an $850,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati and a $9.7 million financing package from U.S. Bank.

While the project is anticipated to open in early 2015, there is no word yet as to what Western & Southern will do with the building left behind by the Anna Louise Inn, but executives have previously suggested it could house the center city’s next posh hotel or luxury condominiums.

Community leaders and project officials avoided the controversial history at the groundbreaking, but the uncomfortable back story hung over the event like a thick layer of Beijing’s omnipresent smog.

“It makes no difference where Anna Louise Inn is located,” implored City Councilman Wendell Young (D). “If we applaud nothing else, let’s applaud their history, let’s applaud their work, let’s applaud their commitment, and let’s thank god we will always have Anna Louise Inn.”

News Politics Transportation

What would moving Hamilton County BOE mean for those without cars?

Unsurprisingly, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) has sided with his fellow Republicans in Hamilton County and cleared the way for Hamilton County’s Board of Election offices to move from Downtown to Mt. Airy. The ruling came as a result of the Hamilton County BOE’s deadlocked vote on the matter, which went along party lines.

Such a move will not happen for several years, but when it does it will make Hamilton County the only urban county in Ohio without its election offices located in its downtown.

Democrats seem to fear that the move will make early voting more difficult for the tens of thousands of residents who do not own a car. Republicans, on the other hand, seem giddy with the prospect of the new site being surrounded by an abundance of “free” surface parking options.

So what would the move mean for those living without a car in Hamilton County? In short, it would make voting a lot more difficult – especially for those in the eastern part of the county. It would also mean that the elections office and lone early voting location for Hamilton County would be moving further away from the population center and where most people work.

Those coming from the transit center at Anderson Towne Centre would see a four-hour round-trip, if they made all of their transfers seamlessly and nothing ran behind schedule. Those in the center city, the most densely populated area in the county, would need to block out several hours to account for the two-hour round-trip journey from Government Square.

If you are trying to get to the new Mt. Airy location from the Glenway Crossing Transit Center, Uptown Transit District or Kenwood Towne Center, your travel time would largely remain unchanged. That is if those people lived within a close walk to those transit centers like those near Government Square. The reality is that each of those three areas are much less walkable and would take considerable time accessing on their own right, thus adding significantly more time to the journey.

Cincinnati Population Density Cincinnati Employment Density

Should Greg Hartmann (R), Chris Monzel (R) and Alex Triantafilou (R) move forward with this it will in fact make the elections office and lone early voting location more accessible for those with cars in the western and northern parts of Hamilton County. It would also, however, make it less accessible for those with cars in the central and eastern parts of the county, and also worse for those without a car at all.

What is troublesome is that those with a car have access to the existing site. Yes, they may have to pay to park, but that is a minor inconvenience that absolutely must be weighed against creating hours-long journeys for those without a car.

The burden would be shifted to those who already have the least in our community. We hope Hartmann, Monzel and Triantafilou realize this would be morally wrong and decide to keep non-back office and early voting operations of the Hamilton County Board of Elections downtown.