Monday, February 16, 2009

City Council Gives Private Property Owner Free Roof

$300,000 grant has no strings attached (oh my goodness)

COAST challenges legality with taxpayer demand letter

In one of its most brazen wastes of taxpayer monies ever, Cincinnati City Council on Wednesday voted to give $300,000 to a private property owner to replace the roof on an abandoned Mt. Auburn Apartment complex. The City has no development agreement with the owner, and the owner has no plans, financing or prospects for developing the property any time in the near future. Read the Council ordinance here.

Cincinnati City Council has voted to pay for a new $300,000 roof on these abandoned apartment buildings in Mt. Auburn that are owned by a private for-profit developer. There are no promises, prospects or financing to assure it will be developed further.

Cincinnati City Council has degenerated from wasting tax money on foolish public projects,” said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd, “to wasting tax monies on pet projects of preferred private for-profit property owners. What possible public interest would exist to waste money on this project is unfathomable. That our elected leaders fail to understand the difference between public projects and private, for-profit development is stunning.

COAST believes the expenditure is not just unwise, but flat-out illegal. Ohio law requires that tax dollars be spent for a proper public purpose. Improving private property owned by a for-profit developer can never be a public purpose, unless a contractual agreement outlines an exchange of equal value. Absent that, the expenditure is illegal. On Monday, COAST will send a letter to the City Solicitor demanding that he act to prevent that illegal expenditure, and if he fails to act, COAST will initiate a taxpayer suit on the matter to recover the public's funds.

All 7 parcels are listed on Cincinnati’s Abandoned/Vacant Building Maintenance List and have been ordered vacated due to unsafe conditions. Utilities were shutoff in 2002, violations began piling up in 2004, and Criminal complaints have been underway in Cincinnati Municipal court since May 2007 for failure to comply with Orders; arrest warrants were issued in May 2008.

The Auditor lists the value of the real properties (dubiously) at $1.4 million, but they are mortgaged for $1.6 million, and are all in foreclosure. The developer owes another $214,000 in unpaid property taxes and other debts which will also be assessed to the property. Even if this were legal, it simply flushes more money down a endless rathole.

All members of Council voted in favor of the illegal misspending except for Council members Chris Bortz (352-3255) and Leslie Ghiz (352-3344). Please call them to thank them for doing the right thing. And call the other members who voted for this and ask them what in the hell they were thinking.

2008-02-16 2:30PM Councilmember Jeff Berding reports that he has voted against all Glencoe appropriations, and would have voted against this one too if he wasn't away on his honeymoon. COAST apologizes for the error and wishes Mr. & Mrs. Berding a long and happy marriage.

Here are the parcels, values, tax deliquencies, and code violations that make up this project:

Parcel ID


Mkt Value

Taxes Owed

Record #







* Yellow South

WSLIC Foreclosure I






* Pink East

WSLIC Foreclosure III & V








* Brick Boarded Up North

WSLIC Foreclosure IV






Brick South

WSLIC Foreclosure A1

Prop Tax Foreclosure







* Pink/Blue North

WSLIC Foreclosure II

5/3 Foreclosure












Surface Parking Lot

WSLIC Foreclosure II

5/3 Foreclosure















* Surface Parking Lot

WSLIC Foreclosure II

5/3 Foreclosure




*Tax Lien Certificate Pending

Here's a timeline of project activity with links to source documents:
2009-02-17 NAACP: City unfair to Glencoe developer
2009-02-17 Enquirer: Critics warn city, intended gift is illegal
2009-02-16 Cinti Beacon-City Council Gives Property Owner Free Roof
2009-02-16 Bldg Cinti Blog-Glencoe funding will be used for stabilization
City Council to spend $300,000 to repair Inwood’s Property
2009-02-09 Bldg Cinti Blog-
Glencoe Developers Need Bldg Stabilization Money
2009-01-09 Bus Courier-
Cincinnati realty firm seeks to raze historic buildings for Christ Hospital
2008-10-25 AbandonedOnline-
History by Sherman Cahal
2008-10-06 Bldg Cinti Blog-
City Approves $300k for Glencoe-Auburn Improvements
2008-09-17 Bldg Cinti Blog-
Motion to jumpstart stalled Inwood Village project adopted, but questions remain
2008-06-06 5/3 Bank sues for
foreclosure. Case A 0805447
2008-06-00 DAAP/Fein-
Glencoe Place History Study
Hamilton County sues for foreclosure for unpaid taxes. Case A 0802334
2008-02-12 City sues Inwood for $1920.50. Case
2007-12-24 Bldg Cinti Blog-
ODOD changes status on Glencoe-Auburn
2007-11-21 Urban OH Blog-
Misc Discussions & Photos from late 2007
2007-09-26 Bldg Cinti Blog-
Inwood Village project seeking preservation tax credits
2007-05-24 Inwood charged criminally. $10,000 capias. Case
2007-05-10 Inwood charged criminally. $10,000 capias. Case
2005-10-17 City -
Finance Committee Denies Van Der Haer Smitherman wants update
2005-07-15 Auto Owners Ins. sues for garnishment of $3958.91. Case
2005-05-30 Bus Courier-
Mount Auburn condo deal up for City Council vote
2005-04-11 5/3 Bank
mortgages 3 parcels for $270,000.
2005-03-24 City Letter-
City Spends Millions on Glencoe
2005-03-15 WSLIC
sues for foreclosure. Case A 0502253
2005-03-01 Pauline Van Der Haer
purchases Fleming Rd estate.
2004-12-16 Cohen, Todd, Kite & Stanford
mortgage for $250,000 (pg 41).
2004-12-09 Clinton Springs, Ltd
mortgages for $25,000 (Pg 41).
2004-09-24 Bus Courier-
Inwood condo project on the outs with City Manager
2004-04-16 Bus Courier-
Historic Row House to be reborn as condos
2004-01-26 Enquirer Article–
Glencoe ‘Hole’ now historic
2003-05-28 WSLIC corrects property description and
extends maturity (Pg 68)
2002-10-18 WSLIC
mortgages all parcels for $1.1 million.
2000-01-16 Enquirer Article-
Remaking Sycamore Hill


  1. Unless there are details missing from your description of this situation....IT IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!!! What the hell is going on in our City - will we never grow up???

  2. Good job Jason...I'm so glad that COAST is here working as the only watch dog to stiffel these criminals. It is a fact that a corrupt government cannot be trusted.

    COAST serves as a last line of defense.

    Thanks to all of our COAST activists.

  3. This Glencoe Project has been handled by city hall in a consistent pattern over the years that reflects the hypocrisy and selective treatment given the "friends" of the city hall bureaucracy.

    It started back in the sixties as Carl Westmoreland's project to gain wealth and power using taxpayer's moneys. Carl is the one that brought the "slave barn" at great expense to the freedom museum. It seems to go on and on. The city keeps pouring money into projects hoping that they won't be considered racists. The first project made no sense and Glencoe has been like a sponge with the taxpayer's monies.
    Why does the city put old men in jail for not being able to repair their properties to the nth degree and then when it comes to a "friend" of city hall, the city comes to the rescue with our monies?

    This project will never be viable given the racial climate and the mentality of Cincinnati. It is a project that has outlived its usefulness and it could be gilded in gold and still fail. Why can't those smart people at city hall see that?

    Given this latest action only shows the level of contempt that city hall has for the citizens of Cincinnati. What arrogance!

  4. I'll say one thing, this is one heck of a collection of information/data on the site.

  5. The facts are the city has an interest in these properties, a tax interest. These are historic properties that are worth both saving and devbeloping as market rate units. Lets say the developer tanks. Who winds up with the responsibility for these properties? The city. Spending 300K now is certainly smarter than spending much more to demo them in the future. Not to mention the tax revenue that these units will generate once rehabbed for decades to come.New roofs=higher assesments=more tax dollars coming in. Nice to see the city using common sense for a change in my opinion. Sometimes a narrow view is conterproductive?

  6. This has got to be one of the most irresponsible media releases ever from COAST.

    Seriously you guys, you claim this to be a "Free roof", however the city ordinance that was passed only grants the money (which is already slated for local upgrades to sidewalks, lighting, etc...) to be used to keep the buildings from falling down and becoming a public hazard.

    The city laws are pretty clear on this, it is the city's responsibility to preserve public safety and also to preserve historic buildings.

    You missed a good chance to really stick it to the developers who've been lagging on this project (bad economy and all?) and instead call it a "gift" from the city with the expressed intent to convince people they are being fleeced, when in fact the city would be violating public safety laws on the books to take no action.

    This is no "gift" and you are not a legitimate organization anymore. You are merely a gaggle of lying hacks.

    I'll gladly accept the city spending $300,000 so that surrounding property owners, businesses and their patronage are not adversely affected by these crumbling buildings. It is also a heck of a lot cheaper than demolition, at this point.

    Would COAST prefer that these buildings become foreclosed, abandoned, and then adversely affect others?

    The choice of action on these buildings has been: 1) Raze them, 2) Minimally preserve them, or 3) do nothing. The city chose #2, because the other two choices have a history of ending up being much more costly than option #2. No option is "free" in this case.

    Likely, this "roof" will have to be replaced again when development efforts start. It is hardly going to be a real "roof", but rather a means to secure the buildings against further erosion and to prevent them from collapse, which would then become a huge mess that is the city's responsibility to clean up.

    But instead how about if you just stick it to the city for being proactive on this matter? I mean that makes sense, it is an opportunity for COAST to get attention, right?

  7. Coleman and Wilham obviously haven't a clue about these situations. They don't know anything about the costs involved nor do they have any building or construction experience. They have no clue as to what the city has been doing in similar circumstances with regard to the demolition of buildings. They have no knowledge of the history of these buildings and the many restoration efforts since 1960. I would doubt that they have ever visited Glencoe Place. They are typical in that they buy hook, line and sinker the evaluation of incompentent and biased city inspectors.

    There may be an argument that the city should preserve some buildings and I had even advocated such a policy over thirty years ago to preserve buildings in the Over the Rhine before the had deteriorated to a point of no return and I advocated a lien for the actual costs but all of this fell on deaf ears at city hall. So why do they start now and without a plan, process or standards?

    Ironically, Glencoe Place would not have been an area or the type of buildings that I would have recommended preserving because of its location and its features are not conducive to contemporary living demands.

    Wilham and Coleman obviously don't know the economics involved with these buildings. These building are boarded up and they actually present no imminent public safety issues except for those that some city hall people pretend to exist for political and bureaucratic reasons.

  8. Dieter, I have walked around Glencoe place, and I don't think that they are special (to me), but they are obviously special to others. If I want people to respect what I care about, then I need to respect what they care about too. I only works two ways, not one.

    That said, how do you think that your solution is going to be cheaper? Right now, even though the developers are backed up in taxes, they are still publicly building a debt with the city that will be collected at some point in the future. This is better (for the city's purse) than spending a gob of money to demolish the site and then having it generate no revenue whatsoever. From the looks of the tax bills, the site has, over the course of its time, generated more than that $300,000 in tax revenue (of which the $290k-some has not been paid yet).

    The amazing thing that I think you aren't realizing is that both you and COAST seem to think that if the site is not addressed, then it will just go away. Or, if it gets demolished that there is some sort of magical building fairy that goes around demolishing abandoned buildings for free and cleaning up the sites.

    What kind of brain dead logic is that?

    Please tell me what the city should do in this situation, if you guys are so well informed on the issue.

  9. Coleman!

    The chronology that follows the article has a lot of links to information I had and apparently you did not view and it confirms my position.

    First and foremost is that the project doesn't make sense anymore and especially at this time.

    The demolition costs are approximately the amount that the city is giving away.

    Unless Christ Hospital wants the property enough, there will be no taxes received because the property will have a negative value considering demolition and all of the legal work involved. In any case, the city will get nothing back directly or indirectly if the property goes through all of the standard foreclosure steps. The final foreclosure step sells the property not subject to accumulated real estate taxes.

    The developer is a corporation and is liable only to the extent of assets. And why do you imply that it is all of the developer's fault. The developer is only playing the game set up bu government.

    If Cincinnati, Inc. loses or gets nothing, it is as it deserves. It is incompetent. On one of the blogs they have a birds-eye view of the area. Go beyond the Glencoe Hole and see how many buildings have been demolished. While many of those building could have been saved the city found it simpler to just tear them down rather than offering an environment of cooperation and demand.

    Hope that Christ Hospital needs the property or let the city bid on it at one of the auctions and increase the size of Inwood Park.


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