Glencoe-Auburn Place, located in the Mt. Auburn neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio, was a large collection of abandoned nineteenth-century row houses characterized by their single-colored pastel façades and a gothic-inspired hotel. As the city’s first suburb, Glencoe-Auburn Place contained six row house complexes and the Glencoe-Auburn Hotel.1 All of the properties were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in January 2004.2
The majority of the structures within Glencoe-Auburn were constructed between 1884 and 1891 by Jethrow Mitchell,1 although city tax records list the building dates from 1870 to 1875. The site was given the nickname “Little Bethlehem” as it resided within the shadow of Christ Hospital.
But by the 1960s, Glencoe-Auburn had become predominately lower-income and was referred to as “The Hole,” owing to its location a deep valley and along a steep incline.1 The properties had deteriorated and were in unsatisfactory condition. In 1964, residents of “The Hole” staged Cincinnati’s first rent strike.1
The Glencoe Place Redevelopment Project, a wholesale renovation of Glencoe-Auburn from 1975 to 1976, reduced the number of residential units from 250/500 to 99. New sidewalks, street lamps, courtyards and playgrounds were installed.1 Each unit received new linoleum and carpeting, appliances, fixtures and drywall, along with new electrical wiring and plumbing. All were brought up to modern fire code standards.
The locale, now dubbed Glencoe Apartments,16 received several local, state and national awards for revitalization, and the 1988 The Bicentennial Guide to Greater Cincinnati noted that the redevelopment had been a success.10
During the 1990s, Glencoe-Auburn once again declined. Many of the units had been neglected and crime had spiked, leading to a high vacancy rate within. The remaining renters were evicted in 2002 and the buildings were boarded up and secured.1
In early 2002, Pauline Van der Haer of Dorian Development proposed the rehabilitation of 84 units at Glencoe-Auburn into mixed-income housing at what was then called Inwood Gardens.18 Van der Haer purchased the property in October 2002 16 for $18 million.1 2 7 Van der Haer proposed the conversion of the rowhouses into 68 four-story townhomes and one-level flats with construction scheduled to begin in May 2004.2
Christ Hospital provided easements to the development, which would allow the construction of a three-level parking structure and the conversion of Glencoe Place into a cul-de-sac.2 The hospital had also agreed to partner on some beautification projects. The parking structure would contain a pool on the top deck, while the remainder of the project would consist of several miniature parks, sculptures and fountains. Each 2,100 to 2,500 square-foot townhome would include hardwood floors, exposed brick walls and cutaways between floors. The flats would contain 1,300 square-feet and have an open floor plan, a gallery wall, fireplace and expansive windows.5 The former hotel would contain five units of both townhouse and flats with an average of 1,835 square-feet.
The first phase of Inwood Village would consist of 31 units and be complete by spring 2005, with prices scaling from $185,000 to $295,000.2 An additional 23 units in the second phase would be completed within 26 months and 14 units in the third phase within 36 months. A ten-year tax abatement for up to $235,000 would be made available to the buyers.
But Van der Haer voiced her frustrations with the Cincinnati’s “arbitrary funding process” in September 2004, and proposed that Inwood Place be reconfigured into 84 mixed-income apartments financed by low-income housing tax credits.3 Van der Haer requested $3.9 million from the city for the project; the city countered with $1.4 million.
City Manager Valerie Lemmie stated that the original subsidy request resulted in a 23% profit margin for the Van der Haer, and that private financing for Inwood Place had only been obtained for 31 units.3 Van der Haer contended that the profit margin was 13% and that the per-unit subsidy of $57,000 was less than five other housing projects the city subsidized in the last several years.
In May 2005, Van der Haer received $1.5 million in forgivable loans and a commitment of $1.1 million in public infrastructure improvements from the city.4 7 14 The project at that point had been scaled down to 15 one-story flats and 45 townhomes of up to 2,500 square-feet. Some amenities, such as the swimming pool, were eliminated and the parking deck had been reduced by one story.4 The contact with the city required Dorian to invest at least $605,000 in Inwood Place, secure a $5.5 million construction loan from LaSalle Bank by September and complete the project’s 23-unit first phase by October 2006.4 The project’s funding of $16,932,026 was derived from the Dorian Development equity, LaSalle Bank and the city.5
A model unit was partially completed in September, although no further work was conducted on the site.4 Van der Haer requested that the city restructure the project, in addition to not executing the development agreement signed only four months prior.14 In May 2006, the city withdrew its contract and reprogrammed the infrastructure funding, citing that Van der Haer failed to receive commitment from a bank, that she wanted to spend all of the city money on infrastructure improvements before one unit was completed, several outstanding liens, the high level of per-unit city subsidy and a lack of builders identified.18
In June, Van der Haer requested a $5.4 million subsidy for what she projected to be a $19.7 million project.14 In addition to covering the project’s estimated construction costs, she requested the city fund a 57-space parking garage at $28,000 per space. In response, the city offered to increase the subsidy to cover all increased construction costs.
In September 2007, Van der Haer sought Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits to fund Inwood Place, which had risen in cost to $20.5 million.6 The tax credits, which were distributed by the Ohio Development of Development (ODOD), were equal to 25% of the owner’s qualifying rehabilitation expenditures. ODOD determined $16 million of the project cost were eligible for tax credits. But the tax credits were ultimately rejected as Van der Haer had submitted insufficient information.7 The city soon cut ties to the Inwood Village project.
“You refused to sign the development agreement, failed to comply with the City’s request for documentation of private financing commitment, and rejected as insufficient the City’s previous offer with no explanation as to how what you had previously described as insufficient is now satisfactory. Your current financial need, as set forth in response to this offer, exceeds the City’s capacity or willingness to supply.”
-Michael Cervay, Cincinnati Director of the City’s Department of Community Development and Planning 7
Van der Haer presented a revised proposal in March 2008 that would require $7.1 million in private financing, $6 million from individual builders and $5.4 million from the city under a rebranded Glencoe Hotel and Condominiums project.7 In September, city Council member Roxanne Qualls filed a motion to spur on construction of the stalled development, but there were reservations expressed about the incomplete proposal. The motion filed would direct the city to negotiate $5.1 million in subsidy and author a development agreement with Van der Haer for the project. It would pend with the passage of an ordinance for $300,000 in pre-development funding.
The agreement called for Dorian to complete public improvements to the concrete courtyards, and to rehabilitate the building envelopes.7 The shells of the units would then be sold to individual builders who would rehabilitate each unit to prospective buyers’ specifications. The revamped project would create 54 condominiums and 14 rental units. The rental units would be located in the hotel.7
On October 5, 2008, the Cincinnati City Council approved an ordinance creating a new $300,000 capital improvement program account for the development.8 Funds would be derived from a surplus in the Neighborhood Market Rate Housing 2007 account, which would only be used for public improvements. The redevelopment was awarded $3.9 million in Ohio Historic Preservation tax credits on October 16, and was one of 48 recipients around the state.9 Funding was derived from the state’s $1.6 billion economic stimulus package passed by the Ohio state Senate earlier in May.
Van der Haer unveiled the project during Mt. Auburn’s Row House Revival in September 2008, and wanted the project completed by 2011.8
In February 2009, the city agreed to give Van der Haer $300,000 to stabilize several buildings after a wind storm damaged roofs, dislodged bricks and among other issues.18 Work began nine months later and was completed in January. Even then, the city’s inspectors noted that the repairs were not enough to satisfy the numerous code violation orders filed against her.
Van der Haer received a letter from Christ Hospital on May 7, 2010, which outlined their proposal to expand its adjoining hospital campus and invest more than $300 million and create 200 permanent jobs.12 The project would include a 1,000-vehicle parking garage and new centers for women’s oncology and musculoskeletal disorders. The hospital outlined terms under which it was prepared to purchase her property. Christ had confirmed earlier in February that it was exploring options for growth in Mount Auburn.
Details of the redevelopment plan were disclosed after Van der Haer filed suit on June 21 against the city for $15.5 million.12 18 In the suit, Van der Haer alleged that the city failed to honor contracts to subsidize Inwood Village and that Christ Hospital was trying to purchase her development at “a fire sale price.” The lawsuit detailed an April 8 meeting between Christ Hospital’s chief operating officer, Victor DiPilla, city officials and Van der Haer where she first learned of the development proposal. The hospital offered $1.25 million for Glencoe-Auburn; Van der Haer wanted $7.7 million. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed.17
In January 2011, Christ Hospital hired Skidmore, Owings & Merrill of Chicago to help plan the expansion.13
Van der Haer filed suit against Christ Hospital for more than $28 million in damages on April 14, alleging that the hospital was tortious, deliberate, intentional and malicious with her plans to build Inwood Village and later Glencoe Hotel and Condominiums.11 In addition, she sought $10 million in punitive damages from the hospital and more than $7 million from the city. In the suit, Van der Haer stated that the hospital sabotaged her deal with the city for Inwood Village.
Eagle Realty Group, a unit of Western & Southern Financial Group, foreclosed on Van der Haer holdings and they went to sheriff’s sale in mid-April.17 On October 25, Van der Haer sold the Glencoe-Auburn properties to Leroy Glen Investment LLC, a subsidiary of Eagle Realty Group .16 Leroy Glen is a play upon Leroy Court and Glencoe Place, two streets that are within Glencoe-Auburn.
A demolition permit filed on December 20, 2012 and was issued on March 13, 2013.15 Work to raze the buildings began on March 18.