Cincinnati's Board of Housing Appeals gives 3CDC 90 days to work on rotting buildings

Developer says stabilization work is underway

CINCINNATI - The Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. just got a 90-day reprieve in order to work on three rotting buildings in historic Over-the-Rhine.

The city-appointed Board of Housing Appeals voted Wednesday to re-open three cases related to old buildings that 3CDC owns. 3CDC will appear again before the board in three months.

The Board of Housing Appeals on May 1 accused 3CDC of demolition by neglect related to a boarded up house at 1321 Republic St. Demolition by neglect is when a property owner lets a vacant building decay until it becomes unsafe and could require emergency demolition. It’s a first-degree misdemeanor in Cincinnati.

Wednesday's vote was the third time t he board accused 3CDC of neglecting its property, as WCPO Digital reported last month. The board took similar action earlier this year related to 3CDC properties at 1323 Republic St. and 1408 Vine St.

After WCPO Digital published a story on the issue, however, a spokeswoman for 3CDC said the nonprofit developer planned to save the building s in question.

“Our intent is to save every building that we can,” Chad Munitz, 3CDC’s executive vice president for asset and capital management, told the board Thursday. “We have a pretty good track record of accomplishing that.”

3CDC: Work on Buildings Has Begun

Munitz went on to tell the board the steps 3CDC is taking to save the properties the organization had been accused of neglecting.

He said the structure at 1408 Vine St. already has been stabilized and is secure and weather-tight.

3CDC also is getting architectural and engineering drawings finalized for the two buildings on Republic Street. It   expects to submit documents to the city for a permit the week of June 10, Munitz said. The organization hired a contractor to clear out both buildings to get a better idea of how much work each one needed, he said.

Board of Housing Appeals Chairman Mike Morgan said he hopes much of the stabilization work will be complete by the time 3CDC returns to the board in three months to explain its plans for the buildings.

The board on May 1 voted to order the city to collect past-due vacant building fees from 3CDC for the property at 1321 Republic St., an amount that could total as much as $24,500.

But the board voted Thursday to delay that order for 90 days until 3CDC’s next appearance before the group.

“I would far prefer to see the money go into the work on the properties,” Morgan said during the meeting. “But we want to make sure it does occur.”

Work Will Be Costly

The cost to save the buildings is expected to be substantial.

Munitz told the board it would likely cost more than $100,000 just to stabilize one of the structures on Republic Street.

3CDC also has hired an engineer and architect to create a plan to repair an expanding hole in the rear wall of a building at 1416 Elm St., Ed Cunningham, manager of the city’s maintenance code enforcement division, told WCPO Digital.

The problem with that building was brought to light by attorney Tim Mara, whose house is across an alley from the structure.

The nonprofit developer has spent nearly $30 million over the past nine years to land bank historic buildings in Over-the-Rhine, a 3CDC spokeswoman has said.

3CDC owns 176 properties in Over-the-Rhine through its OTR Holdings LLC and another 23 through its OTR Predevelopment LLC, according to Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes’ office.

The organization has restored, or is in the process of restoring, 107 historic buildings.

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