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Councilmember files motion to require affordable units in major housing developments

Posted at 1:03 PM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 13:03:49-05

CINCINNATI — Councilmember Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney on Wednesday filed a motion that would require major residential and mixed-use developments to include affordable housing units if they want city tax breaks.

Kearney filed the motion the same day her fellow councilmembers voted to greenlight a 300-unit apartment complex and retail space at the corner of Liberty and Elm streets in Over-the-Rhine — a $77 million project that, in its final version, included no concrete commitment to including affordable units.

Kearney and three fellow Democrats voted against it, but the plan passed with “yes” votes from Republicans Steve Goodin, Liz Keating and Betsy Sundermann, Democrat Chris Seelbach and independent Christopher Smitherman.

In a news release announcing her motion, Kearney said her plan would benefit neighborhoods and developers alike. Mandating affordable spaces in large-scale housing projects — those with 50 or more units — will help Cincinnatians remain in their neighborhoods and promote daily interactions among people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, she wrote.

Enshrining the requirement in city law will mean less guesswork for developers, who might otherwise — as was the case with the Liberty and Elm development — have their projects paused for renegotiation at the eleventh hour.

“This ordinance will have a positive effect on developers as it sets forth clear requirements in advance of the planning process. It is imperative that developers can plan, estimate costs, and accurately calculate their profit,” she wrote.

Her motion will go before a Council committee before moving to the full Council for a vote.