Wednesday, April 3, 2013

English Woods neighbors have redevelopment ideas

Xavier University's Community Building Institute and the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) have been working with residents and business owners in the neighborhoods surrounding the former English Woods public housing complex since mid-2012, and they have developed some key ideas for its redevelopment.

Built in 1942 to house families of military personnel and containing 717 units in 82 buildings, the complex officially closed in fall 2005 after CMHA estimated it would cost $92 million to repair major electrical, structural, and plumbing problems. At the time of its closure, fewer than 100 residents occupied the complex.

The last of the complex's buildings was razed in November 2011, when the management and maintenance building was torn down.

New life was promised earlier that year, when CMHA received a $201,844 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to examine the future of the 60-acre site.

As a result of the grant, English Woods is no longer regarded as an island unto itself, but part of the broader communities of North and South Fairmount.

Among the neighborhood's desires are:

  • Targeted housing rehabilitation and infill, not necessarily on the English Woods site but in the surrounding neighborhoods;
  • New housing built to the west of Sutter View, largely single-family and available to people of a mix of incomes;
  • A transition away from housing along portions of Beekman Street, creating a hillside greenway along the eastern edge of the community; and
  • A potential university connection, with possible live/learn spaces and a university incubator that could be located at English Woods.
Additionally, the stakeholders desired diversity in age, background, and incomes; community involvement and inclusion in its affairs – with a true "neighborhood center"; multiple housing options; cleanliness and safety; employment and educational opportunities; appreciation of its history of architecture, natural assets, and urban form; walkability; and access to fresh food and healthy lifestyles.

Better north-south street connections, such as extending Trevor Place or extending a new street from Sutter Avenue to Pulte Street, were also suggested.

The ten Choice Neighborhoods partners also include the City of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Police Department, and various educational- and job-related non-profits.

CMHA survey

Also, CMHA is conducting a survey to gauge public awareness of its programs and meetings and the public's opinion of the affordable housing and service provider.

The anonymous 16-question survey, which takes approximately 10 minutes to complete, also asks if CMHA is an asset to the County and if it works effectively with your local community.

It also asks for your ZIP code and age.

Previous reading on BC:
Mount Healthy hears details of 40-unit project for people with disabilities (1/17/13)
Hamilton County housing survey finds multiple challenges, suggests rehabilitation (12/20/12)
City West money to aid $25M YMCA redevelopment (10/8/12)
Survey to gauge Hamilton County's emerging housing needs (6/18/12)
'Heart' of English Woods razed (12/1/08)