Neighbors 'sickened' by plan for Hyde Park home

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Michael Tombragel. WCPO regrets the error.

CINCINNATI -- Dave Caudill used to see a "for sale" sign and think, "Oh, gee, it looks like we're going to get some new neighbors."

But things have changed in Hyde Park since Caudill raised his children there. Now he sees a property's for sale and thinks, "I sure hope a developer didn't buy that and intend to tear it down."

Neighbors in Hyde Park say an investor has bought a house that's stood on Grace Avenue for more than 100 years, and plans to tear it down to build a duplex in its place. A 100-year-old oak tree on the property was already cut down. 

The property owner is a local Realtor who owns dozens of properties in the area, including many duplexes. He didn't return a reporter's calls. But a demolition request for the Grace Avenue home was voided by the city last month.

Neighbors said the city's 15-year tax abatement program incentivizes building new homes instead of maintaining old ones. Hyde Park has the second highest number of residential tax abatements in Cincinnati, according to city data.

"This 15-year abatement was created to encourage builders to build in stressed neighborhoods, and it's having the opposite affect in Hyde Park," neighbor Michael Tombragel said.

In a written statement, Mayor John Cranley said he's "outraged by the continued destruction of historic homes in our neighborhoods."

"I am extremely concerned about the negative impact this has on the character of historic neighborhoods," he said. "I will be proposing solutions next week at Planning Commission and I encourage concerned residents to attend at 9 a.m. on Friday, May 18."

In the meantime, neighbors are counting down and wondering who's next.

"Let's face it, if these old neighborhoods disappear, the city is losing a big part of what makes it unique," Caudill said.

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