Thursday, November 02, 2000

Main streets 'endangered'

It's an issue nationwide

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — The issue of drugstore chains razing historic buildings and erecting stores on main streets nationwide is on the agenda of this week's National Preservation Conference 2000 in Los Angeles.

        The matter is important in Hamilton. Property owners and merchants are scurrying to implement zoning changes for a portion of Main Street. They want to make it difficult for a developer to raze six buildings, including the historic Burg's Building, and build a chain pharmacy and parking lot. City officials think CVS is eyeing the property, but the drugstore has declined to comment.

        “Chain drugstores are recognizing the value of locating in American's downtowns, but in too many cases, it is coming at the expense of a community's heritage,” said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which is hosting the conference. “While we welcome reinvestment in downtown communities, we cannot support the destruction of entire blocks of historic buildings in the process.”

        In 1999, the Washington, D.C.-based organization placed main streets nationwide on America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list.

        Dave Loeffler, president of the Dayton Lane Historic District, is helping the Main Street Area Association fight off the “cookie-cutter” drugstores. He contacted the trust to see what help or guidance it can lend the association.

        “We want to save the buildings. We don't want them destroyed,” he said. “By getting the National Trust involved, hopefully ... the developer might back away. If they don't and we still lose these buildings, bringing it up on a national level will maybe save some buildings in a similar town somewhere else either in the state or the country.”

        Main Street property owners plan to meet today to discuss their concerns about the local district.


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