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FC Cincinnati says it didn't know buying West End apartment building would displace 99-year-old

Posted at 10:49 PM, Apr 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-08 23:35:43-04

Editor's note: WCPO reported Friday that the purchase was a byproduct of the FC Cincinnati stadium project but not one in which the team was directly involved. Further investigation revealed it was. Friday's story has been appropriately updated.

CINCINNATI — FC Cincinnati officials said they plan to slam the brakes on removing tenants from a Wade Street apartment building after learning their purchase of it threatened to displace a 99-year-old woman who had lived in the West End for decades.

Mary Frances Page will not be forced to leave until she has a new place to stay, team director of community development Mark Mallory said Monday.

“We just want to make sure that our impact is not negative, that our impact is a net positive on people, institutions, culture and lifestyle, and that’s where we are in this situation,” he said.

Page learned in February her building had been sold and she would be expected to leave by the end of April. Page, who is largely dependent on the care of aides, can’t move on her own, and her relatives can’t move her anywhere but a first-floor apartment that would be easy for medical personnel to access in an emergency. Even just 10 stairs could become an insurmountable challenge, her niece said Friday.

RELATED: 99-year-old woman being forced to leave her West End apartment building

WCPO could not confirm at the time of that interview that the building had been purchased by FC Cincinnati, which is building its permanent Major League Soccer stadium across the street — only that it had been sold and, per two letters Page received, its residents were told they could not remain past the end of April.

Mallory confirmed Monday the team was the buyer.

“The owner of the Wade Street property had been getting approached by several perspective buyers, speculators,” he said. “He thought it might make sense to reach out to FC because of the proximity of the site to the stadium sound. He felt that FC might be in a better position to make a smooth transition if that was necessary.”

At the time, he said, they didn’t know Page lived there. He promised the team will focus on ensuring she and the other senior residents have new places to live before they move forward.

By Monday night, however, Page’s family said they still hadn’t heard anything from FC Cincinnati.