The city of Cincinnati is weighing legal action against an out-of-town developer that owns nine vacant and decaying buildings in the heart of Over-the-Rhine.
Washington, D.C.-based 2414 Morgan Development LLC has quickly become the “worst” owner of multiple, vacant properties in the historic neighborhood, Cincinnati building inspector Mike Fehn said.
“The part that hurts is they appear to have the money to do the job,” Fehn told WCPO. “They just for some reason are choosing not to do it.”
That job entails stabilizing nine rotting buildings in Over-the-Rhine and a tenth in Avondale, each of which has a multi-year history of building code violations that have rendered half the structures “dangerous and unsafe,” according to city inspection records.
These buildings aren’t just eyesores.
One on East McMicken has a fire escape attached to bricks that are so damaged Fehn said he’s worried “the whole front of the building will collapse.” A building on Findlay Street has floors so rotten they “can’t support the weight of a human being,” he said. And a building on Walnut Street hasn’t had a roof since 2008, resulting in severe water damage to its floors, stairs and walls.
Neighborhood advocates and homeowners worry such advanced decay spread across so many buildings will slow development in Over-the-Rhine, a historic neighborhood undergoing a redevelopment renaissance and an influx of new residents.
“It’s a real struggle,” said Steve Hampton, executive director of the Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. He owns property near the building on East McMicken. “It makes it harder for people to see the vision of what the neighborhood can be. It certainly attracts crime, and it just looks bad.”
For his part, 2414 Morgan Development owner Nigel Parkinson pledged his company would restore the buildings and return them to productive use.
“We know what we’ve gotten into,” Parkinson told WCPO, adding that his company intends to present a redevelopment plan for the buildings in the coming weeks.
“This is not something which we take lightly because it’s our reputation and our name and so forth,” he said. “We’re going to make the city proud.”
Insiders can read more about the history of these buildings, the city's code enforcement efforts and options and how neighborhood advocates would like to see the city handle such cases.