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1600 Main St., Over-the-Rhine

By Doug Trapp · December 19th, 2002 · Blight of the Week
Doug Trapp

Address: 1600 Main St., Over-the-Rhine

Owner: R/B Studio Ltd.

Value: $37,100

Year Built: 1860

Comments: The city of Cincinnati uses both incentives and penalties to get property owners moving, sometimes simultaneously.

The city is pursuing a $2,000 fine because R/B Studios hasn't met the 13 requirements to obtain a vacant building maintenance license, according to Dave Edwards, inspections supervisor in the Department of Buildings and Inspections.

This is the second fine pursued by the city; the owners earlier paid a $500 fine, Edwards says.

However, R/B Studios was recently awarded a loan of about $660,000 in the city's housing round for this and five other buildings. This means a rehab could begin as early as January, according to Vernon Rader, one of the partners in the company.

Rader, a painter and retired Procter & Gamble art director, and Mark Bernhardt, a photographer, had studios downtown. But both lived in a home on Prospect Hill in Over-the-Rhine and wanted to work closer to their home. About three years ago they bought this building, which mostly fronts Liberty Street. Then they bought the building just north of 1600 Main.

Today the partnership owns these and four other adjacent buildings on both sides of Main just north of Liberty Street. What was once only going to be a studio is now the "Liberty Main" project, a $2 million rehab producing 18 apartments and six commercial spaces, Rader says.

Another one-third of the funding is from the Cincinnati Development Fund's Urban Living Fund and the rest is private dollars.

The partners began the project two years ago, but a riot, environmental surveys and other paperwork and a steady number of broken windows haven't helped.

"It's taken that long to get through the paperwork on this stuff," Rader says. "I've cancelled two trips to Europe because of it."

Urban Sites Properties, the neighborhood's largest private developer, is handling the rehab.

BLIGHT OF THE WEEK is an effort to highlight the problem of abandoned buildings -- and who's responsible for them.



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