Tuesday, February 1, 2011

OTR Foundation creates legal defense fund

Following the adoption by Cincinnati City Council of a motion directing the City to make changes recommended by the Historic Building Loss Task Force, the Over-the-Rhine Foundation (OTRF) has created a mechanism to further insure that its neighborhood's buildings are saved.

OTRF has created the Over-the-Rhine Legal Defense Fund to raise resources to protect at-risk buildings from demolition and to assist their owners in transferring them to interested owners who will maintain and rehabilitate them.

The hope is that the neighborhood can avoid another fight like the one that occurred over Cincinnati Public Schools' (CPS) demolition of 142 E McMicken Street, in which the Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation, Merchants on Main, and other supporters had to rush to raise funding to file a last-minute injunction and restraining order.

OTRF wants to move the 28 properties on the City's At-Risk Historic Structures list off of the list by year's end. The fund is one aspect of its "anti-demolition" plan, which it rolled out last week.

W. Kevin Pape, president of archaeological and historic preservation consulting firm Gray & Pape, Inc., has offered a $2,000 challenge grant for the first $2,000 raised by the fund.

"We are committed to preserving and celebrating Cincinnati’s heritage and encourage everyone who supports the revitalization of Over-the-Rhine to contribute to the Over-the-Rhine Legal Defense Fund," Pape said in a media release.

Donations to the Over-the-Rhine Legal Defense Fund can be made on the OTRF website.

More OTR development?

Also in Over-the-Rhine, City Council is considering a two-phased pilot loan program that would redevelop six properties around Findlay Market into market-rate single-family housing.

If successful, that program could be expanded City-wide.

Joe Gorman, community organizer with the Camp Washington Community Board, would like to see the program tried in his neighborhood. Since 1975, the board has bought, renovated, and sold over 40 single-family homes.

"The Camp Washington Community Board has a model track record working with the City," he said. "We have successfully used the nuisance property abatement process twelve times and have provided direction for several other neighborhood development corporations, including OTR Foundation."

Previous reading on BC:
Endangered Cincinnati buildings now easier to find (1/25/11)
City committee to consider task force recommendations on historic buildings (1/17/11)
CPA program to highlight strategy for saving endangered building stock (8/4/10)
Dohoney: Most OTRF preservation recommendations 'probably unfeasible' (8/5/09)
Receivership 101 shows ways to get blighted properties into hands of responsible owners (7/28/09)