New owner promises upgrades at problem property in Sedamsville

Tassell: People shouldn't have to live like this
Posted at 6:00 AM, Jul 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-09 12:46:35-04

CINCINNATI - Help is on the way for one of Cincinnati’s worst places to live.

Cornerstone Redevelopment purchased the Eatondale apartments on Delhi Ave. in Sedamsville Thursday, quickly bringing a team of contractors to the site to address issues like pest control, litter, lighting and a clogged parking lot drain that leaves dirty, standing water after every rainfall.

Charles Tassell

“When we came out here last week, there were only three or four lights actually working on the outside,” said Cornerstone founder Charles Tassell. “People shouldn’t have to live like that. We want to make sure it’s better for them.”

Tassell notified tenants of the sale Thursday.

“It can’t get too much worse than this,” said Douglas Portis, an Eatondale resident since 2012. “I just want to move because they won’t fix the mold in my bathroom.”

Douglas Portis

Portis said he complained several times to city officials and the building’s former owner, The Community Builders. A property manager from TCB “came to my apartment, went in my bathroom and told me it was unlivable,” he said. “That was six months ago.”

RELATED: Eatondale was among the problem properties identified in a WCPO special report in November

Eatondale was one of 19 buildings purchased out of foreclosure in 2012 by TCB, a Boston-based nonprofit that won a $50 million federal grant to redevelop several Avondale properties that were part of the portfolio.

Built in 1972, the Eatondale complex had fallen into disrepair by the time TCB acquired it. Since then, it has been the subject of 15 complaints about mold, rodents and litter. It was the scene of two shootings in 2013 in which one man died and two others were injured.

The city of Cincinnati declared the property a chronic nuisance in 2014. TCB has been trying to sell it since then as part of a four-building package that included Kings Tower in Madisonville.

That’s where a 2015 fire claimed the life of Cincinnati fireman Daryl Gordon. TCB told WCPO last fall that fire restoration would cause the sale to be delayed by several months. Ultimately, Tassell said the Madisonville property was carved out of the deal. Cornerstone bought two properties on Delhi Ave. near River Road and a third on Paddock Road for a combined purchase price of $862,000.

Tassell is a Deer Park council member and lobbyist for the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Apartment Association. He said Cornerstone will invest “at least a couple hundred thousand” dollars to make basic repairs at the 44-unit Eatondale building and an adjacent 24-unit apartment property in the next few months.

The buildings are about 75 percent occupied.

"They'll start seeing changes next week, everything from pest control tomorrow to repairs on the walls, repairs on the floors, exterior landscaping in the next two weeks," Tassell said. "It’s not rocket science to pick up litter. Just get it done.”

Longer term, Tassell will explore multiple options for the property, including a conversion to senior housing and demolition to replace the complex with a new building.