Thursday, June 14, 2001

Neglected buildings targeted

Westwood eyesores concern neighbors

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A number of abandoned and deteriorating apartment buildings in the Bracken Woods Lane area of Westwood could end up being bulldozed or redeveloped, if a Cincinnati City Council majority has its way.

        Mayor Charlie Luken and six other council members have asked the city administration to conduct a “blight study” of the nearly two dozen apartment buildings in the vicinity of Bracken Woods Lane and Gobel Avenue.

        Mr. Luken said Wednesday this would be the first step toward the city seizing the buildings by eminent domain and either demolishing them or finding a developer who would rehabilitate them.

        “The blight study would be pretty much a formality that we have to do,” Mr. Luken said Wednesday, standing in front of one of the abandoned, partially boarded-up buildings with council members Jim Tarbell and Pat DeWine.

        Some of the buildings still have occupants but many are empty, said Barry Wood, president of the Westwood Civic Association, which asked council to act to either restore the buildings or have them demolished.

        “They are not only an eyesore, but we're convinced they attract criminal activity to the neighborhood,” Mr. Wood said.

        Neighborhood leaders, Mr Wood said, have had difficulty establishing exactly who owns the buildings, saying ownership apparently changes hands frequently.

        The city's building and inspections department has issued numerous citations for safety and structural problems, but little has been done to fix the properties, Mr. Wood said.

        Mr. Luken said the “blight study” - which would look at crime, infrastructure, and physical conditions of the buildings - would probably take about two months.


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