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City's FC Cincinnati housing proposal 'is outside the law,' Berding says

Posted at 4:23 PM, Apr 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-26 01:38:16-04

CINCINNATI — The West End residents being displaced by a new $200 million soccer stadium cannot stay in their now-team-owned apartment buildings long-term, but FC Cincinnati's general manager and president Jeff Berding said Thursday that the team is "working to support folks."

Berding, who once promised during a WCPO interview that the team would not take anyone's home, also alleged City Council's request that the team provide "safe, quality, affordable housing" to displaced residents "is outside the law" during a news conference.

"It's certainly going to delay the project," he added later. "There are financial consequences to that and legal consequences to that that in all parties' interests would be best avoided."

Council voted 5-2 Wednesday to pass a motion proposing a deal with FC Cincinnati: The city will grant requested zoning changes for team-owned substreets if the team ensures people losing their apartments to the future stadium have a place to live. The motion suggests that place be 1559 Central Avenue, one of two buildings whose residents began receiving orders to leave after FC Cincinnati purchased them in late December.

The other, 421 Wade Street, is home to a 99-year-old woman whose family first brought the displacement issue to public attention.

"I didn't even know that there were tenants up in those buildings," Berding claimed during the news conference.

He said residents of both buildings will still be required to leave by April 30, but the team will assist with relocation and plans to meet with residents as soon as Friday.

"We are not Section 8 landlords," Berding said. "We are a soccer team, and we're building a stadium."

Crystal Lane, one of the residents, said she still doesn't know where she and her four children will live.

"They have not even contacted us until yesterday, after they knew about the (City Council) motion," she said.

Lane said the uncertainty is a "horrible" feeling.

"They want something, and they don't care how they go about getting it," she said.