There are some new developments in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati that are in need of some information. It has been long known that Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) is preparing to convert the vacant Rothenberg Preparatory Academy at the Main Street, McMicken Street and East Clifton Avenue intersection into a functioning school once again,and had originally proposed demolishing 142, 146, 154 and 158 East McMicken for a parking lot and playground space. The Over-the-Rhine Foundation voiced strong disagreement with the plan, calling the demolition of four structurally sound buildings, one of which is an occupied private residence, unnecessary.
The Foundation stated that CPS has had a history of tearing down properties, especially in Over-the-Rhine, when it was not necessary, and that the proposal was an extension of that. Elaborating further, the Foundation located a vacant parcel of land across the street that could serve as a parking lot, and motioned that the playground could be constructed within the bounds of the existing school property.
The city later filed criminal charges against CPS for failing to stabilize the empty buildings. The case was later dismissed after CPS agreed to donate the 154 and 158 East McMicken to 3CDC.
In November, however, CPS submitted an engineering report to the city, stating that 142 East McMicken was in “imminent danger of collapse,” stating that the city’s lead building inspector approved an emergency demolition order after a walk-through.
On Sunday, December 5, Casey Klemm, an Over-the-Rhine resident, spotted two notices tacked onto the 142 and 146 East McMicken properties, that they will be demolished on December 16. 142 East McMicken is owned by the City of Cincinnati Board of Education, and was purchased in June 2008 — although it had some interesting swaps before that which date to 2000. 146 East McMicken, a private residence owned by Hopper Leva, has a 30-year Tax Increment Financing abatement that began in 2003. It may have been sold since the record was last updated.
Two structurally sound buildings that could be demolished. For a parking lot? Playground?
- Update 4: 142 East McMicken was demolished.
- Update 3, December 8, 4:25 PM: CPS outlined the agreement to demolish 142 East McMicken in these meeting notes.
- Update 2, December 8, 3:40 PM: CPS purchased 142 East McMicken in June 2008 with plans to demolish it to make way for a new access area for emergency vehicles. The building, as CPS noted, was “dangerously close” to the school. A Main Street business owner, Kevin Pape, said he would purchase the building from CPS and rehabilitate it.As of 3:40 PM, workers could be seen taking down the roof of 142 East McMicken. Questions remain: Was federal funding used to demolish the building as part of the school project? Was a Section 106 review completed?
- Update 1, December 8, 11:10 AM: An emergency meeting, held by the Over-the-Rhine Foundation, was held at Iris BookCafe at 10 PM regarding 142 East McMicken. According to the Foundation, if 142 East McMicken is demolished, the neighborhood will have lost about 50% of its historical stock, and as a result, the National Register of Historic Places designation could be removed — erasing much needed federal funding. Demolition crews have arrived on site of 142 East McMicken.It seems that the buildings could make way for easier truck loading access to the school.