Columbia’s attorneys say the group needs time to respond to a report issued by Cincinnati Urban Conservator Beth Johnson, who was highly skeptical of their demolition application.
“The applicant has not provided credible evidence that they cannot reuse the building nor can reasonable economic return be gained from the use of all or part of the building proposed for demolition,” Johnson wrote in that report, released April 14.
The conservation board has the final vote on the demolition, however. The board set filing deadlines for various new documents in relation to the case for May 2, May 11 and May 18.
Attorney Sean Suder, who is representing the Cincinnati Preservation Association and the Cincinnati Preservation Collective in the opposition to the demolition, said those groups welcome the extra time and hope it will lead to a change of heart for Columbia and a deal to save the building.
would be a big change in direction for the developer. Attorneys for Columbia,
which is run by influential auto dealership magnates the Joseph family, say the
building is outdated, crumbling and dangerous.
The Historic Conservation Board had planned to vote today on whether the Josephs could tear the Dennison down, potentially to develop a new corporate campus for a Fortune 500 company, though no company has signed onto that plan yet.
Columbia's attorneys on Friday asked the Board to delay the vote in order to have
a hearing on the matter. Their request came the day after Johnson's recommendation not to OK Columbia's plan.
CityBeat reported on Friday’s request here, Thursday’s urban conservator recommendation here and details of documents showing that the Joseph family bought the building to block low-income housing from being developed here.
When I lived in Los Angeles, one of the most unforgettable events I attended was a screening of films by the 20th-century Russian animator Ladislaw Starewicz, who used insects in his amazingly inventive animated films. (He also used puppets.)
He placed the insects into various settings and then shot the stop-motion films frame by frame. A Jazz/New Music group called Tin Hat Trio played a live score to accompany the visuals.
Lo and behold, the Mini Microcinema on Tuesday (April 19) is presenting Starewicz’s films in the auditorium of Covington’s Carnegie. And there will be a live score played by Little Bang Theory, a group led by Detroit composer Frank Pahl. They play children’s instruments and toys.
There will be a reception starting at 6 p.m. and the performance gets underway at 7 p.m. It is free. This is the last event for the Mini during its residency at The Carnegie. It should be a rewarding one. For more information, please visit www.mini-cinema.org.
Situated on a hill overlooking a strip of Gilbert Avenue sits an old
house that stands out from its urban surroundings in Walnut Hills. Though it
may seem out of place against the backdrop of apartment buildings and
businesses, inside the house lies a story of being in the right place at the
right time, of discussion and of empathy and compassion.
2950 Gilbert Avenue is the last remaining building that was once part of the
Lane Theological Seminary. It is also the former home of Harriet Beecher Stowe,
author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Although
it is not where she wrote the novel that introduced Northerners to what slavery
is like in the South and increased tensions between the two regions, it is
where Stowe spent 18 years of her life.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin has been translated into more than 60 languages — second only
to the Bible. It is no wonder that visitors from as far away as Russia and
China have recently visited the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. In fact, Kelli
Higginson, the house’s only paid employee, says most visitors come from out of
“This house is unique because at one time it was the ground center for
discussion of slavery,” says volunteer John Douglass. Built in 1832, the house
was saved from demolition and purchased by the Ohio Historical Society in 1943.
It is still owned by the society today and is designated as a historic
Stowe lived in Cincinnati from her early 20s until 1859, one year before her
famous book was published. Her presence in Cincinnati had a lasting impact on
U.S. history and beyond, as Uncle Tom’s
Cabin is read in schools around the world. While living in the border town
allowed Stowe to see firsthand the desperation of slaves trying to escape to
freedom across the Ohio River, it was also here that Stowe was exposed to the
controversial debates going on at the seminary where her father, Dr. Lyman
Beecher, was president.
Students of the seminary debated about the issue of slavery in 1834 before it
became a hot topic throughout the rest of the U.S. Should slaves be
emancipated? If slaves were to be freed, where should they go? Some supported
sending freed slaves to Africa, while others thought they should be allowed to
stay in the U.S. Enrollment at the seminary dropped after the school’s board of
trustees dismissed these so-called “Lane Rebels.”
Living in Cincinnati also gave Stowe a stark look at the tension between the
anti-slavery movement and those opposed to it. During the Cincinnati riots of
1836, the press that printed The
Philanthropist, an abolitionist newspaper published by James Birney, was
twice destroyed and thrown into the Ohio River. This sparked Stowe to find her
own abolitionist voice and write her first remarks about slavery, in which she
defended free speech and denounced mob rule. Her work was published in her
brother Henry’s newspaper.
When the cholera epidemic swept through Cincinnati and Stowe’s one-year-old son
Samuel Charles died, the personal tragedy caused Stowe to empathize with slave
mothers who were often separated from their children. Her son’s death was the
catalyst that caused Stowe to begin writing Uncle
While it is a work of fiction, Stowe’s novel depicts what American slavery was
like at the time. Her visit to a Kentucky plantation allowed her to see how slaves
lived. However, many argued that the book’s depiction of slavery couldn’t be
accurate. Stowe responded with A Key to
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which provides factual evidence from her experience in
Cincinnati to defend her claims. (Copies of the key just arrived in the Stowe House’s
gift shop; Higginson says they were on backorder for six weeks).
The Ohio Historical Society plans to renovate the house this summer. The
renovations will restore the house to what it would have looked like when
Stowe’s family lived there. The house will also host Stowe’s 205th birthday
celebration (with cake and ice cream, of course) on June 14.
The Board had planned to vote today on a request to demolish
the Dennison Hotel building at 716 Main St., but attorneys for Columbia REI,
LLC, the development arm of the Joseph family, on Friday asked the Board to delay the vote in order to have
a hearing on the matter. Their request came the day after Conservation Board
staff recommended denying the demolition request for a variety of factors,
including evidence that the Joseph family has not attempted to sell or lease
the building to someone who would redevelop it, an engineering report that says
the building could still be used for residential purposes and documents showing
that the Joseph family purchased the property with the intention of demolishing
it for redevelopment. Such considerations are commonly undertaken by the Historic Conservation Board regarding buildings in a historic area like the Eastern Manufacturing and Warehouse District.
Of course, the city staff report, written by Urban Conservator Beth Johnson, will not ultimately decide the fate of the building, which was designed by noted architect Samuel Hannaford and still boasts a “ghost sign” noting its “105 rooms and 60 baths.” That would be the Historic Conservation Board itself, which is comprised of seven members, five of whom were recent appointments made on Mayor John Cranley's watch. The most controversial of the appointments is developer Shree Kulkarni, who in the past has butted heads with the very board on which he now sits — because he wanted to tear down historic buildings on Fifth Street to build a parking lot.
CityBeat reported on Friday’s request here, Thursday’s urban conservator recommendation here and details of documents showing that the Joseph family bought the building to block low-income housing from being developed.
One noteworthy player in all this is 3CDC, which purchased
the building in 2013 for $1.3 million then sold it to Columbia one month later
Preservationists hoping to save the building hosted a press conference on Friday. They expect a big crowd at today's meeting and what will likely be a contentious future hearing, should things go that far. The Save the Dennison Facebook page, which you can find here, has links to more background, including the following Cincinnati Enquirer article from 1987 when the Joseph family smashed up some other downtown buildings, leaving parking lots in their wake.
• Gov. John Kasich is busy on the presidential campaign trail
explaining his own unique versions of delegate math that could somehow lead to
a convoluted GOP convention awarding him the nomination, and sometimes he eats
pizza with a fork. Last week, Kasich said he wouldn’t be inclined to sign any
law banning conversion therapy aimed at un-gaying homosexuals and that he had
never heard of Leelah Alcorn.
• Last week, Kasich offered a tip for young women concerned with sexual assault: “Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol.”
• NPR today unveiled its “School Money” project, a collaboration with 20 member station reporters looking at education funding in public schools. Part 1 of the series considers academic spending per student, finding a stark difference in the academic resources at schools in low-income neighborhoods and those in more affluent parts of America’s cities.
The following is a snapshot of educational realities in public districts, according to NPR:
Ridge's two elementary campuses and one middle school sit along Chicago's southern edge. Roughly two-thirds of its students come from low-income families, and a third are learning English as a second language.
Here, one nurse commutes between three schools, and the two elementary schools share an art teacher and a music teacher. They spend the first half of the year at different schools, then, come January, box up their supplies and swap classrooms.
"We don't have a lot of the extra things that other districts may have, simply because we can't afford them," says Ridge Superintendent Kevin Russell.
One of those other districts sits less than an hour north, in Chicago's affluent suburbs, nestled into a warren of corporate offices: Rondout School, the only campus in Rondout District 72.
It has 22 teachers and 145 students, and spent $28,639 on each one of them.
What does that look like?
Class sizes in Rondout are small, and every student has an individualized learning plan. Nearly all teachers have a decade of experience and earn, on average, more than $90,000. Kids have at least one daily break for "mindful movement," and lunch is cooked on-site, including a daily vegetarian option.
inside the NPR project is the following line, which I feel like could use a bit
more explanation: "In Ohio, which is our best guess for
the state you’re currently in, the average district spends $12,018 per student, similar to the
nationwide average. You can explore further or search for a district by name
below." (Emphasis by NPR.)
Is Kai Rydssdal looking in your window right now? Are you sure?
Supreme Court today will consider President Obama’s executive action on
immigration. Obama’s legislation would grant temporary legal status to parents
of children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. A collection of
states, led by Texas, sued over the executive action, which Obama created in
response to the House’s inaction on a Senate-passed immigration reform bill.
• Ohio State Sen. Bill Seitz last week unveiled a new idea — require money up-front from anyone proposing longer voting hours. Judges at times allow polls to stay open past scheduled closing time. Seitz’s bill, which he says has nine co-sponsors, would also allow an immediate appeal of a judge granting longer hours.
• A local woman is going to appear on a new reality show. I don't know what it is, but you should watch it!
new study says being a reporter is the worst job… three years in a row.
• An octopus dipped out of an aquarium in New Zealand, got
into a drain pipe and squirmed out into the ocean toward freedom.
• The Reds return home tonight to host the Colorado Rockies after losing five of six on their road trip to Chicago and St. Louis. But don’t worry — Dan Straily is joining the rotation. Seriously, I think he’s a good baseball player.
• CityBeat reporters Nick Swartsell and Natalie Krebs will be around town today, Nick at the Historic Conservation Board meeting and Natalie at a City Hall presentation for the Violence Prevention Working Group. Follow them on Twitter: @nswartsell / @natalie_krebs.
The demolition request is on the board's upcoming Monday meeting agenda, but the developers have asked the board to table it and reschedule the vote.
That request comes after the city's Urban Conservator Beth Johnson issued a report yesterday that rejected the developer's claim thatit cannot reuse the building and that restoring or preserving the building with result in a negative financial return.
Historic preservation advocates and affordable housing activists both have rallied around the building, which was designed by noted Cincinnati architect Samuel Hannaford's firm and, until five years ago, contained 114 units of single-room occupancy affordable housing. The Cincinnati Preservation Collective, the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, City Councilman Chris Seelbach and others held a press conference today outside the building decrying attempts to tear it down and calling for more affordable housing in the central business district.
The Dennison was the last of more than 20 downtown buildings containing such housing. The building was slated for redevelopment by Model Group for 63 units of permanent supportive housing to be operated by The Talbert House in 2013. However, that project fell through and the building was purchased by Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation affiliate CBD Holdings for $1.3 million that year. 3CDC then sold the building to Columbia, owned by the influential Joseph Automotive Group family, for $740,000 a month later. In filings to the Historic Conservation Board, attorneys for the Joseph family have indicated they purchased the property at least in part out of concern that supportive housing would devalue other properties it holds in the area.
It is unclear when the vote on the building will be rescheduled. Preservation activist Derek Bauman called the request by Columbia "shenanigans" and wondered if the vote would be rescheduled for a less-convenient time.
Columbia says the building is decrepit and unsafe, and says it would like to use the land it occupies as part of a large-scale development that would provide office space for an as-yet-undetermined Fortune 500 company.
We’re closing in on the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 1616, and today is the Ides of April (that means the 15th of the month), so let’s start with several notes about the Bard.
Cincinnati Shakespeare’s production of Julius Caesar continues this weekend (it’s onstage through May 7). You might recall that the emperor’s assassination happened on the Ides of March. We’re a month late, but it’s worth noting since that historic event was the impetus for one of Shakespeare’s great plays of Roman history. Caesar is the focal point, but the play’s most interesting characters are Brutus, the morally conflicted conspirator, and the ambitious Marc Antony, who has his own designs on the throne. It’s also worth noting this production, since it will be followed in May by Shakespeare’s other Roman story, Antony and Cleopatra. Many of the actors playing key roles in Julius Caesar will return in the second production. It’s a rare pairing of these two works, made possible by Cincy Shakes depth of talent in its resident acting company. I wrote about this project in a recent Curtain Call column. Tickets: 513-381-2273.
If a history play isn’t enough, then you might want to
head to the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood where Cincy Shakes is continuing
its education initiative, Project 38 Festival, working with more
than 1,600 students at 45+ different area schools to bring each of
Shakespeare’s 38 plays to life in creative ways. The celebration is
already underway (performances continue through Monday) in Washington
Park and the Woodward Theatre (1404 Main St.) — 43 free performances in
all. Eighteen performances feature exclusively Shakespearean text, while
others interpret the plays with music, dance, filmmaking and visual
arts. One is even told with computer animation. For the festival’s full
schedule, go here.
Know Theatre opens Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson this weekend. The Cincinnati Playhouse recently presented Gunderson’s intriguing show, The Revolutionists, a fantasy set during the French Revolution. The show at Know is rooted in real events, too, focusing on a group of brilliant women hired by the Harvard Observatory to catalog the stars. Directed by Tamara Winters, the production features a cast of excellent local professionals — Maggie Lou Rader, Justin McCombs and Miranda McGee (from Cincy Shakes) and Annie Fitzpatrick and Miranda McGee (regularly seen at Ensemble Theatre). It’s a fascinating story as well as a chance to experience another work by an award-winning young playwright. Tickets: 513-300-5669.
New Edgecliff Theatre opened the final production of its 2015-2016 season this week, Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things.
It’s an emotional drama about relationships and love and what you can
believe. Performances are at The Hoffner Lodge (4120 Hamilton Ave.,
Northside). Read my recent column for more about NET’s search for a
home. For NET tickets here.
A production with young audiences in mind kicks off this weekend with the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s “Off the Hill” staging of The Garden of Rikki Tikki Tavi adapted from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book by playwright Y York. It’s about a fierce mongoose and his enemy the cobra Nag. The show, directed by the Playhouse’s new director of education, Daunielle Rasmussen, debuts at the theater on Saturday (10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.); tickets are $5 at the box office. The show then tours throughout Greater Cincinnati, starting Sunday at 2 p.m. at Cedar Village Retirement Community in Mason. Full schedule here.
Good morning all. Here’s the news today.
• A report released yesterday by the University of Cincinnati says that former UCPD chief Jason Goodrich pushed for aggressive traffic stops as a tactic for boxing out criminals from the neighborhoods around UC, then lied about that to investigators after the shooting death of unarmed black motorist Sam Dubose by UCPD officer Ray Tensing. Those enforcement techniques created what Goodrich reportedly called a “no fly zone,” which Dubose was in when he was pulled over for not having a front license plate in Mount Auburn. Goodrich and Major Timothy Thornton left UCPD in February. Tensing is scheduled to stand trial in Hamilton County Courts on murder and manslaughter charges in October.
• Cincinnati’s Urban Conservator Beth Johnson issued a report yesterday saying that developers seeking to tear down 716 Main Street, an 1892 structure built by the architecture firm of noted Cincinnati architect Samuel Hannaford, have not presented enough evidence to make their case. Owners Columbia REI, LLC — owned by powerful Cincinnati family the Josephs — have caused controversy with their request for permission to level the building, which sits in a historic district downtown. Johnson’s report notes that the owners seemed to have purchased the building with the intent to tear it down, and that there are other economically feasible uses for the structure that the owners didn’t consider. In documents Columbia filed with the Urban Conservation Board, which will decide the fate of the building Monday, the owners said they bought the building because they were concerned that planned permanent supportive housing there would decrease the value of other properties the group owns in the neighborhood. Columbia holds several parcels of land on the block, many of which also once held historic buildings. Columbia leveled some of those structures in the late 1980s, promising new buildings in their places, though today most of the parcels are parking lots. Columbia says it’s interested in using those plots, plus the Dennison’s, to build a headquarters for an as-yet-undetermined Fortune 500 company.
• Speaking of big developments, Clifton Heights may soon get a huge one. Developers M-G Securities, Nassau Investments and Clifton Heights Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. are proposing a $75 million project at Vine and McMillan Streets on a now-vacant plot of land just west of Vine and south of Calhoun Street. That development could include a 195-room extended-stay hotel, 130 apartments, 350-400 space underground parking garage and an outdoor community area. The developers are calling it a potential gateway to Uptown neighborhoods.
• Are you a believer? You’d better be if you want to work for Northern Kentucky’s upcoming Noah’s Ark-themed park Ark Encounter. Workers seeking to fill the 300-400 food service and other jobs at the park will have to sign a form professing their Christian faith, founder Ken Ham says. That’s controversial because the park has wrangled with the state of Kentucky over a tourism sales tax rebate worth up to $18 million. It looks as though the park may get to have its cake and eat it too, receiving that tax break while also stipulating religious beliefs for its employees.
• U.S. Sen. Rob Portman had a nice visit yesterday with President Barack Obama’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, but says he’s still not going to push for a confirmation hearing for him or vote for him if there was one. Portman said he was impressed with Garland, but that Obama should not be allowed to nominate a Supreme Court justice in “a very partisan year, and an election year.” That’s an echo of talking points from other Senate Republicans, including Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said he will not hold a vote on Garland. Democrats have hit the GOP hard on what they say is a highly unusual, obstructive maneuver. The court has been down a justice since conservative firebrand Antonin Scalia passed away earlier this year.
• So, yeah, Democrat presidential primary contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated last night, and as predicted in this spot yesterday, the gloves came off. There was shouting. There was tension. Memories of the cordiality of the first debate were nowhere in mind. As expected, Clinton lit into Sanders on gun control, his weakest topic among liberals. Sanders blasted Clinton on her relationship to Wall Street. You get the picture. This was the last scheduled debate for the two, giving both time to take a breather and work on some new material before the primary fight ends this summer. You can read more about the debate here.
I’m out. Laterrrr.
The city staff report, written by Urban Conservator Beth Johnson, refutes Dennison owners the Joseph family of the Joseph Auto Group's claim that they cannot reuse the building and that restoring or preserving the building with result in a negative financial return.
Some of the evidence the report cites is a lack of attempt by the owner to sell or lease the building to another buyer who might be able to restore or use the property; documents from the Joseph family that indicate it bought the property with the intention of demolishing it for redevelopment; and a structural engineering report that found the building could still be used for residential purposes after minor structural updates.
The family purchased the building located at 716-718 Main Street in 2013 in part to block plans to turn the building into affordable housing, according to documents the family's legal team submitted to the Historic Conservation Board.
Hey all. Hope your Memorial Day weekend was grand. Mine involved bicycles, friends from near and far, brunch, puppies, beers and big sales on outdoor gear. So, yeah, basically everything that’s good in life.
Sometimes, the news is about everything that’s not so good in life. You’ve almost certainly already heard about the tragic death of Harambe, the 17-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo who was shot and killed after a 4-year-old child ell into his pen. Harambe's death has made national and even international news. Zookeepers say it was necessary to shoot the gorilla because he had started dragging the child and because tranquilizers and other ways to neutralize him wouldn’t work fast enough. The incident has caused waves of controversy here in Cincinnati and around the country, because, apparently, that’s how we are now. Internet commenters have launched hateful, sometimes racially tinged attacks on the parents. They’ve blasted the zoo. They’ve even tracked down other people in Ohio with the mother’s name and harassed them. Harambe’s death is definitely a tragedy, but the really awful thing about this is how terrible people are.
• This weekend’s Taste of Cincinnati mostly went off without a hitch, but there were some troubling moments, including one in which a 15-year-old was arrested for firing a gun. No one was hurt in that incident, but it’s the kind of thing Councilwoman Yvette Simpson says shows that more work needs to be done engaging teens at the event, which is mostly adult focused. Last year, 19 teenagers were arrested at Taste, mostly for curfew infractions. This year, Simpson took to the streets around the festival with a dozen or so volunteers to engage teens downtown. Simpson says she’s pitched more formal youth engagement measures for the festival to the city’s chamber of commerce. Those ideas weren’t taken up this year, but the councilwoman and potential mayoral candidate has pledged to make them a reality next year.
• The last remaining health clinic providing abortions in the greater Cincinnati area will stay open another year, thanks to a last-minute variance to state rules granted by the Ohio Department of Health. Planned Parenthood, which runs the Elizabeth Campbell Medical Center in Mount Auburn, has been fighting with Ohio around recently instituted rules that require abortion providers to have admitting privileges with local hospitals. Those rules also prohibit publicly funded hospitals from entering into those agreements, which cost the Mount Auburn clinic its agreement with UC Hospital a few years ago. But clinics can apply for exceptions to the rule if they have physicians on staff with individual admitting privileges at local hospitals. Over the last few years, the Mount Auburn clinic has been applying for those variances, though ODH has been slow in granting them. The clinic’s position was made all the more tenuous by another new Ohio law that gives the health department just 90 days to approve a variance request before it is automatically denied. The new rules have cut the number of clinics in the state from 16 to nine.
• Ohio voters won’t be weighing in on a medical marijuana initiative that a national group had hoped to get on the November statewide ballot. The Marijuana Policy Project and its Ohio arm, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, on Saturday suspended their campaign for the ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana for medical reasons, just days after the Ohio legislature passed its own, stricter medical marijuana legislation. The group needed to gather more than 300,000 signatures by early July to make the November ballot. Ohioans for Medical Marijuana originally decried the effort by state lawmakers currently awaiting Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s approval, saying it didn’t go far enough. Another group called Grassroots Ohio is shooting for a more expansive legalization effort for the 2017 ballot.
• Finally, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman on Wednesday will unveil his first three television ads in his bid for reelection in Ohio. Those ads highlight Portman’s role in fighting the state’s heroin crisis are another salvo in the tight battle between Portman and former Ohio governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat looking to take the incumbent Republican’s seat. The race is seen as pivotal in Democrats’ efforts to take back the Senate, where they currently face a slight majority held by Republicans. Portman is seen as vulnerable in that quest, and, indeed, he and Strickland are running neck and neck here. Strickland has hit Portman on his refusal to grant a hearing to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland and for his endorsement of Donald Trump as the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee.
ART: PANG JEN AND BRUCE RILEY AT MILLER GALLERYKnown for his soft, bright oil paintings which have the look of pastels, Chinese-born American immigrant and artist Pang Jen’s romantic compositions will be on view at Miller Gallery in Hyde Park beginning Wednesday. Pang’s work often consists of still-lifes and landscapes, which include women and children as well as traditional Chinese boats, and Miller Gallery curators have juxtaposed Pang’s solo show with an exhibition of the equally colorful yet far more conceptual work of Chicago-based abstract artist Bruce Riley. Through June 25. Free. 2715 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, millergallery.com.
MUSIC: PURPLE REIGNS: A CELEBRATION OF THE MUSIC OF PRINCE
The shock of Prince’s sudden death last
month hasn’t waned, and tributes to the iconic musician continue to flow
(most recently, Madonna and Stevie Wonder paid tribute to him at the Billboard
Music Awards). This weekend, a local tribute featuring a diverse array
of artists will honor Prince’s huge contribution to the music world. The
event is hosted by Cincinnati-born Funk legend Bootsy Collins and his
wife Pepperminte Patti, with proceeds going to the Bootsy Collins
Foundation, an umbrella group for Collins’ many charitable undertakings
(from supporting music education to promoting oral health care). The
lineup includes artists who’ve worked with Prince (drummer John
Blackwell and bassist MonoNeon), local singer/songwriters like Jess Lamb
and Kelly Richey and Bootsy’s group, The Rubber Band, among others. 7 p.m. Saturday. $20. Bogart’s, 2621 Vine St., Corryville, bogarts.com.
SPORTS: FC CINCINNATI
After a handful of packed games, it appears that Cincinnati is ready to bleed orange and blue for our hometown futbol team, FC Cincinnati — 23,000-plus fans broke the United Soccer League attendance record at the club’s May 14 home game. Come cheer the boys on at the University of Cincinnati’s revamped Nippert Stadium as they take on the Harrisburg City Islanders. 7 p.m. Saturday. $20-$25; discounts for kids and students. Nippert Stadium, 2700 Bearcat Way, Clifton Heights, fccincinnati.com.
After a nearly four-hour meeting, Cincinnati's Historic Conservation Board adjourned this afternoon without voting on Columbia REI, LLC's application to tear down the historic Dennison building downtown at 716-718 Main St.
That application has caused controversy. Columbia, owned by the powerful Joseph family, says it would be too expensive to save the building and would like to build a headquarters for an as-yet unidentified Fortune 500 company on the site. But preservationists say the building, which was designed by the firm of noted architect Samuel Hannaford, is a vital part of downtown's urban fabric.
Representatives for Columbia and the Joseph family presented their case to five members of the seven-member board. The group called a number of experts they've hired while they've owned the building to give evidence they say shows the building can't be redeveloped in an economically feasible way due to its poor condition and structural attributes.
Most of the presentation restated the key points of this assertion in greater detail, but there was at least one new revelation: how the Cincinnati City Center Development Company, which purchased the building for $1.2 million and then sold it to Columbia for $740,000, recouped money on the deal. Representatives for the Joseph family say the group paid 3CDC further development costs after the initial sale, making up the missing money.
The meeting had its fair share of contention: Columbia's attorney Fran Barrett moved to have Cincinnati Urban Conservator Beth Johnson's testimony stricken from the proceedings. Barrett said that Johnson has shown "extreme prejudice and bias" and that the Josephs "have a stacked deck against us going in" to their demolition application.
Johnson last month wrote a report taking staunch issue with the Josephs' assertion that anything other than demolishing the building would present the company with an economic hardship, pointing out the building's sound structural condition and the fact that studies on the economic feasibility of redevelopment of the building didn't take into account historic state tax credits and other incentives.
Lance Brown, the executive vice president of Beck Consulting, which drew up the economic feasibility report, told the board that no normal type of use — apartments, condos, office space — was feasible for the Dennison. However, when pushed by the board, Brown admitted he wasn't specifically familiar with incentives like state Historic Preservation tax credits, LEED tax credits, or city grants and tax credits that could have made the project more feasible.
Multiple board members also took issue with Brown's use of the term "flophouse" to describe the Dennison's former life as a single room occupancy hotel. Brown cracked that he got his understanding of that term from "extensive research on Wikipedia and Google."
Board member Judith Spraul-Schmidt chided Brown for using the term, saying that such housing was designed to be "decent and safe."
The board will work with attorneys representing the Josephs and opponents of the demolition application to set the next hearing, at which those seeking to save the Dennison will make their case.
The plan would rehabilitate affordable housing at eight sites, many under contracts with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Currently, those sites house 302 units of housing, many of which city officials say are in substandard and neglected condition. The city money would go toward a $135 million effort by developers like Model Group and 3CDC to turn those sites into 304 units of high-quality affordable housing along with 212 market rate units at four of the sites.
Cranley, Vice Mayor David Mann, representatives from Over-the-Rhine Community Housing and developers Model Group and the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation unveiled the proposal today at a news conference outside 1525 Race St., which would see 25 units of affordable housing developed by Model along with 85 market rate units.
“We’re very excited to be here today to celebrate affordable housing and a diverse community in Over-the-Rhine,” said Over-the-Rhine Community Executive Director Mary Burke Rivers. “People who are working in our city, or retired, or veterans, can’t afford what the market provides for housing. It’s gotten very complicated, but at its core it’s a simple math problem. This money addresses that math problem.”
The developments are designed to help the slide in affordable housing the neighborhood has seen in the past decade, Cranley says. Since 2000, 73 percent of OTR’s lowest-cost housing units have left the neighborhood, according to a study by Xavier’s Community Building Institute. That's caused some displacement of residents.
“We’ve seen here in Over-the-Rhine an extraordinary renaissance that was unthinkable five or 10 years ago,” Cranley said at the news conference. “But I think we all believe it should not come at the expense of the people who have lived here a long time. There have always been HUD contracts that have been extended for 15 or 30 years to preserve affordable housing. But it’s not enough, and we’d like to do more. We want to adjust to changing circumstances. We want a healthy community that is mixed income. I think this is a tremendous opportunity to do that.”
Cranley says the financing is general fund money coming from the city’s sale of the Blue Ash Airport and refinancing of some streetcar expenses.
Model Group CEO Bobby Maly says affordable housing and economic development can go hand and hand.
“Investing in affordable housing can also be investing in economic development and revitalization. That means investing in high-quality affordable housing alongside, adjacent to, high-quality market rate housing. It also means investing in affordable housing next to high-investment community projects. Things like Washington Park and other public investments.”
A focus on mixed-income development is the very deliberate focus of the proposal, Mann says.
“It’s no accident that we’re here,” Mann said about the site of the news announcement, a series of empty buildings on Race Street. “Next door, new, market rate condos are being built. As I understand from (3CDC CEO) Mr. (Steve) Leeper, they’ll be $300,000 and up. Here, because of the affordable housing money that the budget will commit to Over-the-Rhine, there will be about 25 renovated units of affordable housing.”
Mann cited statistics that 50 percent of renters in Cincinnati pay more than 30 percent of their incomes for apartments, the threshold for affordability set by the federal government.
“We hope there are ways that the $2 million can be leveraged,” Mann said, to create more opportunities for affordable housing creation. The other $2 million will be dispersed to developers doing low-income housing projects in other parts of the city through an as-yet-to-be-determined process.
The plan would, in some cases, move affordable units to other buildings and create market rate or mixed-income developments in their place.
As and example: Among the sites involved in the OTR plan are the Jan and Senate Apartments, six buildings containing 101 units of subsidized housing, and the so-called Mercy portfolio, which includes 140 units in 18 buildings in OTR for people making less than 60 percent of the area median income — about $71,000 for a family of four. About 70 of those units are in bad shape, developers say, while another 70 need only minor work.
Developers say the Jan and Senate properties are in danger of losing their rental subsidies due to their poor condition and have begun managing the sites and moving tenants to other, nearby affordable units with the help of the Cincinnati Legal Aid Society ahead of rehab work. The HUD contracts held by the Jan and Senate buildings would then be transferred to a number of other affordable housing sites, 3CDC and Model Group say in an outline of their plan provided by city officials. About 45 units of housing at 60 percent of the area median income will stay at the Jan and Senate as part of a mixed-income development.
NEWSkyline: It’s Skyline’s first year at Taste, which seems weird, right? They’ll be serving Greek salads, along with 3-ways, coneys and chilitos, for people who really enjoy the challenge of trying to walk and eat at the same time.
BEST OF TASTE WINNERS (people sampled, voted and these won)
Good morning, Cincy! A lot is happening around the city so let's get straight to the headlines.
• An off-duty Cincinnati police officer fatally shot a man suspected of robbing a Madisonville bank yesterday afternoon. CPD Chief Eliot Isaac confirmed that the still-unnamed CPD officer fired two shots at 20-year-old Terry Frost in the Fifth Third bank off Madison Avenue shortly after 4 p.m. Frost reportedly claimed to have a gun during the robbery, then, after being shot, stumbled off into the woods behind the bank where he was found dead by CPD officers. Police still haven't said whether Frost had a gun or any other weapon. CPD is planning on holding a press conference this morning to reveal the name of the officer. This is the third fatal shooting by a CPD officer this year.
• Mayor John Cranley says he is not OK with the cuts to human services funding in City Manager Harry Black's proposed budget released last week. Cranley told The Enquirer he wants to bring back 82 percent of the $413,500 Black has proposed cutting, amounting to an 8.5 percent decrease. Under Cranley's proposal, human services funding would account for 1.9 percent of the budget. Black's budget dedicates $4 million to five different agencies with the majority of funds going to nonprofit United Way.
• Mayor Cranley appears to be a busy man at the moment. The mayor will also hold a press conference with Vice Mayor David Mann this morning at 10:30 a.m. in Over-The-Rhine to unveil the details of a $135 million initiative to upgrade and add low-income housing to the neighborhood. The effort reportedly will be led by 3CDC and Walnut Hills nonprofit The Model Group.
• The city is taking Mahogany's owner Liz Rogers to court. Rogers received a $300,000 loan from the city in 2012 to open the soul food restaurant, which went under in September 2014. Taxpayers have forgiven Rogers for two-thirds of the loan, but she is refusing to repay the $96,928 she still owes the city. Rogers missed her $800 loan payments in March and April, and the city filed suit on May 11. Vice Mayor Mann said the city was left with "no choice." She is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 1.
• A bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Ohio in a highly restrictive form is on its way to Gov. John Kasich's desk. The legislation passed the Senate last evening with a margin of just three votes. The bill would still prohibit growing and smoking the plant, but would allow it in a vapor form and would be available for doctors to prescribe to patients with a list of approved medical conditions. The Ohio Department of Commerce would oversee the growth, distribution and testing of the plant. Some Democrats expressed disapproval at the provision that allows employers to fire employees who tested positive for the drug — even if they have a prescription. If Gov. Kasich signs the bill into law, Ohio will become the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana.
Good morning all. Here’s what’s going on in the world today.
The city of Cincinnati has officially announced an opening date for the city’s streetcar. The transit project running through Over-the-Rhine and downtown will take its first passengers Sept. 9, beginning with an opening ceremony at some point mid-day. The project, which has been fraught with political battles and funding concerns, is being financed with increased parking revenues, advertising proceeds and other sources that aren’t part of the city’s general fund budget.
• Mayor John Cranley yesterday rolled out more of his proposals for the city’s budget, which involve some $30 million for neighborhood projects. He spoke at a news conference in Avondale about projects he’d like to see funded in that neighborhood under his proposed fiscal plan, including a renewed Avondale Towne Center with a Save-A-Lot grocery store. Avondale has been trying to get a full-service grocery store since Aldi left the neighborhood about eight years ago. The city would chip in about $2 million to get development started under Cranley’s plan. The mayor did acknowledge that neighborhood activists had hoped for a higher-scale store such as a Kroger but that the Save-A-Lot will be expected to stock fresh produce and other necessities. Cranley yesterday also announced he would provide $3.2 million for a new community development corporation in Bond Hill and Roselawn.
• Cranley is set to pitch another round of investments today in the city’s East Side neighborhoods. He’s also expected to announce that the city will purchase the land necessary to build the Wasson Way bike trail. That $11.8 million, 4.1-mile stretch of former railway is vital to the completion of the trail, which would pass through a number of East Side neighborhoods on its way to Uptown. If the city doesn’t purchase the land by the end of July, the price will jump by nearly $600,000. It’s unclear where the construction money for the project will come from. The city applied for a federal TIGER grant last year to help fund building costs for the bike trail but was turned down.
• Wait. Hold on. Do I agree on something with U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, the tea party crusader from Northern Kentucky? It would… kind of appear so. Massie owes the GOP $24,000 in “party dues,” i.e. money from his fundraising coffers the party expects in order to stay in its good graces. Massie has criticized the practice, which is also used to determine who gets which committee assignment in the House. Particular assignments have particular dollar amounts assigned to them, and the more influential the committee, the more money a House member is expected to kick in. Massie is slamming this system, saying it means the best fundraisers, not the best lawmakers, get oversized influence in the legislative process. In what may be the only example of partisan agreement between a tea party member and the rest of Congress, some Democrats agree with him. I also think it sounds pretty messed up.
• What policies will law enforcement officers and departments have to follow regarding body cameras across Ohio?
Good morning all. Lots to talk about today so let’s get to it!
The 13 children of Samuel DuBose will each receive more than $200,000 as part of a settlement between the family and the University of Cincinnati, a Hamilton County judge ruled yesterday. DuBose was shot and killed by UC police officer Ray Tensing July 19 last year. In addition to the money for his children, DuBose’s mother Audrey DuBose will receive $90,000, his six siblings will receive $32,000 each and his father Sam Johnson will receive $25,000, Judge Ralph Winlker announced yesterday. The settlement, which also includes other elements such as college tuition for DuBose’s children, resolves a civil suit against the university. Criminal proceedings are ongoing against former officer Tensing, who is charged with murder and manslaughter. He’s scheduled to stand trial on those charges in October.
• Cincinnati City Council members are requesting the recently completed audit of the region’s Metropolitan Sewer District ahead of the city's budget process, but City Manager Harry Black says they shouldn't rush. The audit, which resulted from revelations that MSD spent millions on contracts it didn’t properly put through a bidding process, is still with the city’s lawyers in a working draft form, Black says. But with work on the city’s budget looming, council members like Kevin Flynn and Chris Seelbach say the time is now to reveal the results of the audit. Things got testy when Council pushed for more information from the audit at yesterday’s budget and finance committee meeting, with Black resisting requests for that information and Seelbach accusing the city manager of giving him an eye roll. Oh snap.
• Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is at the White House today meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and state and local government officials as part of a discussion on gun violence. Sittenfeld made gun control a big part of his campaign when he was running for Senate against former Ohio governor Ted Strickland. Sittenfeld lost that race but has pledged to continue efforts to curtail shootings. He told WVXU he is there to learn more about strategies for curbing gun violence and that he doesn’t think the invite has anything to do with his former Senate campaign. President Barack Obama and VP Biden endorsed Strickland in that race.
• This is a weird article. Breaking news: The city has a lot of stairs. Some of them are crumbling. More breaking news: The city isn’t exactly rushing to pay to fix them. Thus concludes your breaking news update about something you probably already knew about. The steps are a big part of the city’s walking infrastructure (I take them every day). But they’ve been neglected since, well, probably since people started moving out of the city. The money it would take to fix them is also an infinitesimally small portion of the city’s budget at a time when Mayor John Cranley is discussing throwing $30 million to a few city neighborhoods.
• A federal judge has temporarily blocked an Ohio law that would strip $1.4 million in public money from Planned Parenthood in the state. That money goes to providing health screenings for low-income women, not to providing abortions. The temporary restraining order keeping Ohio from enforcing the law, which passed in February, comes as a larger court fight around the measure continues. You can read more about all of that in our story here.
• Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost yesterday announced the results of surprise headcounts at Ohio charter schools, saying at least some of the schools had very few or no students attending on the days of the unannounced visits. Yost said the extremely low attendance numbers at three charters in the state suggests they might be operating illegally as distance learning schools instead of the brick and mortar schools they’re certified to operate as. It’s the latest revelation in a bad stretch for the state’s charters, which have faced allegations of mismanagement and an Ohio Department of Education data rigging scandal that artificially inflated charter school performance by omitting some low-performing online schools. Yost visited 14 drop-out recovery schools around the state and found an average attendance of just 34 percent.
• The revelations, as well as other frustrations with the state’s public schools, had the auditor spitting hot fire at the ODE yesterday, calling it “among the worst, if not the worst-run agency in state government.” Yost cited poor charter school accountability and performance as well as a slow roll out for ODE’s new data management system as among the sources for his frustration with the agency.
• Finally, more presidential politics, because I know you need more of that in your life. Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in Ohio, according to the latest polls asking voters about the upcoming general election. But it’s not the blowout you might expect. Clinton’s up 44 percent to Trump’s 39 percent in the Buckeye State — less than her primary opponent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who bests Trump 48 percent to 39 percent in the CBS/YouGov poll. Voters have a pretty negative opinion of both candidates, however — 55 percent view Clinton negatively and 59 percent feel the same about Trump.
That’s it for me. See you tomorrow. Tweet or email in the meantime.