Anna Louise Inn will learn if judge will allow renovations

CINCINNATI - Some call it a fight between David and Goliath.

The Anna Louise Inn versus corporate giant Western and Southern Financial Group.

Western and Southern wants to stop a major renovation project at the downtown inn in hopes of one day taking over the land for commercial use.

The company is asking a judge to stop the renovations at the Anna Louise Inn.

A judge is set to rule on that lawsuit tomorrow, but before he does a group of religious leaders are planning to gather on the Hamilton County Courthouse steps to pray in support of the inn.

Pat Hampton has worked at the inn for two years cleaning rooms for the residents.

She has an even closer connection after her mother moved there to get a fresh start in life.

"I know if I didn't have nowhere to stay, I'd be right down here," Hampton said as she cleaned one of the rooms in the inn that has been around since 1909.

The Anna Louise Inn is looking for a fresh start itself.

The inn offers transitional and permanent low-cost living space for women who have lost their homes or who are looking to leave a life on the streets.

Construction crews spent Tuesday reviewing the $12 million renovation project Union Bethel, the parent company of Anna Louise, had hoped to start this summer.

"We were hoping to have already been started on the project by now, so we're delayed in that process but we anticipate continuing here shortly. We won't make up all the time, but we're going to make up some of it," explained Nick Zimmerman of Model Construction.

If Western and Southern Financial Group has its way, the renovation project will never get off the ground.

The company has tried in the past to purchase the land on Lytle street adjacent from the Taft Museum.

Several religious leaders believe western and southern is playing bully by trying to stop the inn's efforts for their own economic gain.

"We have to say this is not right. This isn't good for Cincinnati. This isn't good for anyone involved in this and truly people of faith are concerned not just about the Anna Louise Inn, but about the soul of the city," said the pastor of Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church, Susan Bryan.

In a statement, Western and Southern said it believed there was a win-win for all parties involved.

"As we said all along, we are committed to supporting a win-win outcome for all parties in which the mission of all continues at a new facility designed to meet their residents', at significantly less expense to taxpayers, while raising tax revenue for the city of Cincinnati through ongoing development of Lytle Park."

Several members of the religious community are planning to gather for a prayer vigil at the Hamilton County Courthouse steps at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Judge Norbert Nadel is expected to rule on the lawsuit to stop the renovations at 11 a.m.

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