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702 Ridgeway Ave.

By April L. Martin · February 11th, 2004 · Blight of the Week
702 Ridgeway Ave.
Jymi Bolden

702 Ridgeway Ave.

Address: 702 Ridgeway Ave., Avondale

Owner: D&N Properties LLC

Year Built: 1900

Value: $138,000

Comments: This 39-unit apartment building has sat vacant since late 2002. Several windows on the lower level are broken out and some of the plywood barricades have been damaged. Ed Pinkston, city of Cincinnati building inspector, is baffled as to why the owners haven't finished repairing the building.

"Work was progressing considerably well, then it just stopped dead in its tracks," he says.

"I don't know what happened."

Sean Darks, part owner of the building, says crime stopped work on the property.

"I was three-fourths of the way finished when people from the neighborhood stole 16 furnaces, stoves, refrigerators and rehab material," he says.

Darks and his partner Ben Moore, owner of Agent Technology, started researching surveillance camera systems to install in the neighborhood.

"We found a surveillance system that the United Kingdom uses and decided to adapt it to Cincinnati," Darks says.

The system is equipped for night vision and can rotate 360 degrees and zoom to survey an entire city block. The men decided that, in order for the cameras to be properly implemented, the community had to have a stake in the project.

"When you have a relationship with the property owners and neighbors who want the cameras and the police, instead of the system being government driven, it's community driven," Darks says.

The men formed CityWatcher.com, a Web site that monitors activity from several surveillance cameras in different neighborhoods in the city. From their homes, citizens can log onto the Web site, view images from video cameras and report any illegal activity to police. The villages of Lincoln Heights and Lockland will also receive CityWatcher.com surveillance systems as apart of the National Weed and Seed Program that aims to reduce crime, drug abuse and gang activity.

Darks and his partners are proud that their misfortune turned into a service for the community.

"All this started from me being robbed, and the spiral effect has been positive," Darks says.

He says he will resume repairs on 702 Ridgeway Ave. when the weather is warm.

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



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