CINCINNATI — In a 5-2 Wednesday afternoon vote, City Council passed a motion proposing a quid pro quo with FC Cincinnati: If the soccer team will provide “safe, quality, affordable housing” to West End residents in danger of displacement from two now FC-owned apartment buildings, the city will grant a requested zoning change for a separate team-owned property.
The two buildings at the center of the standoff — 1559 Central Avenue and 421 Wade Street — neighbor the team’s $200 million Major League Soccer stadium project, which broke ground in one of Cincinnati’s historically poorest neighborhoods Dec. 18, 2018. Tenants of both began receiving warnings at the start of the new year: They would be out by April 30 or they would be evicted.
The motion passed Wednesday instead requires that FC Cincinnati convert the Central Avenue space into affordable housing for tenants of both buildings who would otherwise be displaced.
Among them are 99-year-old Mary Frances Page, whose family said her healthcare needs made finding a new living space complicated, and Crystal Lane, who said she was pressured into signing paperwork agreeing to move after the team’s purchase.
"It's horrible," Lane said in a Monday evening meeting between West End residents and team representatives. "You're letting the city know you don't care. You do not care."
Councilmembers P.G Sittenfeld, Wendell Young, Tamaya Dennard, Greg Landsman and David Mann all voted in favor of the motion. Councilmembers Jeff Pastor and Amy Murray voted against it.
An FC Cincinnati spokesperson said later Wednesday night the team was reviewing the council's proposal, and president Jeff Berding would likely give a public statement Thursday.