Incoming Mount Auburn housing developments draw concerns over dwindling green space from residents

Uptown Rental Properties in Mount Auburn.jpg
Posted at 7:23 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 19:23:47-04

CINCINNATI — Major housing developments coming to Mount Auburn have longtime residents frustrated about the green space they say they are losing. They are also worried about the influx of new residents coming in to the neighborhood because of these large housing developments.

Douglas Walton is one of several Mount Auburn residents who object to the incoming townhomes and apartments on Bigelow Street. The properties are being built by Camden Homes and Uptown Rental Properties, respectively.

Walton says before these housing developments came, Bigelow was a quiet, pleasant dead-end street with just a few single-family homes.

"Bigelow used to be one of the best dead-end streets in the city to walk on, which is why I used to walk on it all the time, because it was so nice," Walton said. "It had nice views and it had nice green space…It was just a nice, beautiful-looking dead end street."

However, since the developments came, residents complain that trees have been knocked down and the grass has been torn up. They say there is also less room to park.

Cora Blakey lives next door to the Uptown Rental Properties development. She isn't happy with her new view.

"It's been an eyesore,” Blakey said. “And I'm even more fearful that when it's done, it's going to become an even greater eyesore."

Walton, Blakey and another one of their neighbors, David Barnett, all voiced concerns about how big the developments are — particularly the Uptown Rental Properties apartments. That project is expected to have almost 200 units on land that once held just three single-family homes.

"[F]or us that have been here for a while, there's not really much of a benefit for us to have such a big project sitting right behind our homes,” Barnett said. “Especially when you take into account the amount of land they cleared out, the amount of trees they destroyed."

City Council member Meeka Owens is the chair of the city’s climate, environment and infrastructure committee. Owens acknowledges the residents' concerns, as losing green space can lead to a host of issues.

"It has not only health impacts on asthma, heart disease, diabetes, air quality, all of these pieces," Owens said. "But it also has economic impact when we're ruining neighborhoods, if you will, with infrastructure that may not be beneficial to everyone in that immediate area."

She also says rising temperatures is another risk of taking away greenery.

Uptown Rental Properties says it will create a walkway from Bigelow Street to Short Auburn and restore some of the greenery impacted in the construction.

"We've committed to improving that whole walkway to the extent that we can on our property," said Patrice Burke, the vice president of development for Uptown Rental Properties.

She also noted that the company is donating an acre of land to residents over on Walker Street as a conservation effort.

Camden Homes responded to complaints saying it plans to plant some trees on its site, and will try to preserve the trees already there.

A statement from the company’s owner and founder, Dutch Cambruzzi, reads in part:

"We had both informal and formal presentations to the Mount Auburn Community Council and community at large. Our plan was widely supported and approved by those entities…Bigelow Place is a gold LEED project incorporating all the elements put forth by that program including environmental sensitivity."

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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