Thursday, March 23, 2006

Living in the City of Cincinnati

We live in the city of Cincinnati for a reason. We like the city life. We do not want to support urban sprawl.

Sure, if we lived in the suburbs, we would have a bigger, newer home, with a nice yard. We would send our kids to good public schools. We would have a much lower crime rate in our neighborhood- but we don't. We live in the city of Cincinnati because we like, and believe in the city lifestyle. We like the diversity of people in the city. My husband and I both believe so much time is wasted by commuting, so we choose to live where my husband has a bus option, or a 7 minute drive to work. We also try to use our car as little as possible. Living in the city of Cincinnati, we can walk to the post office, the bank, the grocery store, the movies, and so much more. So why would the city that claims to want people to stay in the city do things that only make families want to leave the city?

We live in a section of Cincinnati called Clifton. Clifton is the University of Cincinnati neighborhood with lots of old historic homes and character. People that live in Clifton LOVE this area, it's funky and friendly. We don't have any chain stores, with the exception of CVS. Sure, we might have a surplus of Indian restaurants, but we really do have a unique retail area.

But we have a problem these days...A developer named Jack Brand has come along to make a big change. At the end of our street, only a few houses away, he has purchased four homes in effort to demolish them, and build an eight story high-rise. This high-rise will have 40 apartment/condos, office space, store fronts, and God forbid, my biggest fear, fast food. The girls and I have been working with other neighbors to petition the neighbors, to put a halt to the project. With this development, zoning codes will have to be changed, so our residential section, will soon be zoned for business.

So with Cincinnati "trying" so hard to keep people living in the city, why are they pushing us away? Wouldn't it be safer to live in the burbs, where we know nothing will change. We won't have any risks like what we are facing now. Is Cincinnati turning into the next Detroit? If we don't do something to stop the zoning changes, we will have a vacant city that our Mayor Mallory speaks about. Everyone will be living in the suburbs, and eventually, all will be working there too.

Save our city- zoning codes were created for a reason. Let's keep it that way, Jack Brand. Do the right thing, think about your city, not your personal profits.


Anonymous said...

Although you seem very upset for your own reasons, maybe look for one silver lining. Instead of thinking about the 40 condos, look at the opportunity it has to bring in 40 new neighbors that probably share your love for Clifton.

Jayne Martin Dressing said...

Dear Anonymous,
I think you are missing Stuntmom's point: If 40 new people want to move into Clifton, that's great. There is no shortage of housing in the city; there's a lot of affordable rental and home ownership opportunities. But who wants to invest in a neighborhood, start a family, put down roots, and support the neighborhood public school if your safe street is turned into a parking lot? What's next, the woods across the street? How long until these developers take the walking trails and green space away to build brand new buildings and fast food restaurants? Why can't we take care of what we have, instead of contstantly tearing down and rebuilding? Stuntmom-keep up the good fight. And why don't you publish Jack Brand's contact information so we can all give him a piece of our minds.

Spud1 said...

At one time, the area of Clifton was likely a forest, and the people that used to hunt there for sustenance likely decried the housing developments that were planned. Yes, those houses that you live in were not always there.

It is likely that the Univerisity of Cincinnati has also bought and razed houses as it expanded, and will continue to do so.

Development is not necessarily a bad thing - just uncontrolled development is. Most recent college grads, the single mom, or regular working folks cannot afford to purchase a home in your neighborhood, but a one bedroom condo might be their entry into real estate - a starter home, if you will.

One must understand development to both know how to fight it, and work with it. Boiled down to its essence, it is about numbers. A project will go forward as long as their is a monetary gain to be made. It is understandable that a developer will try to maximize her/his profit, but this does not mean that they are inflexible. The project can be reduced in scale (and often is) and still meet financial projections.

It is in the City's interest for such development to occur, but it is also part of the City's charter that the citizens are provided an environment that sustains them. It is important to cultivate advocates within the political structure, and if you haven't done so already, you are at a disadvantage. It would be rare indeed that no one else in the city has not faced thhe same situation as you, and so you should seek them out and learn.

Regarding Detroit, and I can speak to this with some authority, your comparison is to the suburbs and exurbs, not the city itself. If you think about it, if you really want to stop sprawl, then this sort of dense, urban development should be embraced, not fought. Land outside Cincinnati is much less expensive than intown, and the legal challenges fewer as well.

Rather than fight the project outright, much better, in my mind, is to influence the final product. While I am not a supporter of fast food, it's not like there is not any in your neighborhood (UDF and Skyline Chili). Storefonts and office space are a positive mix use, which is exactly the opposite of the sterile suburbs of endless housing that is deplored. Parking? Yes parking is always a difficulty these days, and it might be that the City Codes is requiring too much. In any case, teh building itself can be used - what is important is that the building line be placed on the sidewalk (like on Ludlow), with off-street parking in back, out of site. You could force inclusion of a couple of subsidized units, or units dedicated to elderly residents. You can use this project to have a positive, social impact.

I would recommend that all of you in the neghborhood get together, agree on some major concerns, appoint one or two spokesman, and arrange a meeting with Mr. Brand. I assure you that he, and demand on that, will be willing to meet with you. Ask that his architect be included. They know that it is better to head off opposition beforehand than face it down the road.


Jer (Mr. StuntBec)

StuntBec said...

Appoint one or two spokespeople (not spokesMAN, Mr. StuntBec.

I like the Mr. StuntBec part!

Anonymous said...

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