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City to decide whether to approve plans to convert North Avondale mansion into transitional home

Rupel House Still.jpg
Posted at 7:52 PM, May 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-23 19:52:13-04

CINCINNATI — The City of Cincinnati is preparing to announce its decision on whether to approve the sale of a distressed property in North Avondale. If approved, the property would go to an organization serving young mothers.

The Rupel House on Reading Road is currently owned by The Port. The Port has been planning to sell the house to the Rosemary’s Babies Company so the organization can turn it into transitional housing for young mothers.

"The idea is to get them out on their own without government support,” said Elaine Bobbey, a board member of the organization. “We want them to be self-sustainable. We want them to have a job. We want them to have training, and to be able to support themselves."

Rosemary’s Babies argues its vision for the house will bring it to productive use by providing housing and services to young mothers in need. However, opponents who live in the area argue that their vision is not in line with the community’s master plan. Those detractors say they want to reuse the house in a way that will have more commercial purposes.

Sarah Koucky, the president of the North Avondale Neighborhood Association, is one of the opponents of the idea of the transitional house. She said residents outlined plans for that area that conflict with having support housing at the property. Koucky also said she and other opponents feel there could be an even better use of the house that is more relevant to the needs of North Avondale. Koucky said she and other opponents are frustrated the city and The Port haven’t be been more forthcoming about their activities in repurposing the house.

“The city has not been transparent," Koucky said. "So we don’t know, we’ve been trying to ask. Tell us what’s going on, we want to know so we can have an open discussion in our neighborhood.”

The Port issued a statement in response to the complaints saying:

"The Port has been fully supportive of Rosemary's Babies mission and intentions with the historic Rupel House property in North Avondale. After a thorough underwriting process, we gave a six-month deadline to verify construction, financials and business sustainability. Those requirements were met, and we wish Rosemary all the very best moving forward."

The city is expected to announce its decision on whether to support the sale of the house to Rosemary’s Babies by the end of Monday.

Monique John covers gentrification for WCPO 9. She is part of our Report For America donor-supported journalism program. Read more about RFA here.

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