Monday, January 21, 2002

Luken may yank funds for Vine St. developer

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hopes for a Vine Street renaissance won't work as long as the nonprofit housing developer that owns 11 properties on the street remains an obstacle to development, said Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken.

        Two weeks into his Vine Street project, Mr. Luken said he's come to one conclusion:

        ReStoc needs to be part of the solution.

        “Their record is awful,” he said. “If they cannot produce — or can't do what they said they would do — pulling their funding is something we should do.”

        ReStoc — the Race Street Tenant Organization Cooperative — is a 24-year-old nonprofit housing developer that seeks “development without displacement.”

        Critics accuse ReStoc of stockpiling old buildings — often at taxpayer expense — simply to prevent “gentrification,” the influx of middle- to upper-income residents.

        But ReStoc coordinator Jennifer Summers said city leaders are scapegoating the organization for much deeper problems.

        “I'm sure the mayor is aware that there are multiple reasons for the disinvestment in Over-the-Rhine,” she said.

        “At ReStoc, our goal is to see a neighborhood that is developed and upgraded. Our residents want to see that more than anyone. They just want to still be here after it's occurred.”

        Mr. Luken said ReStoc has reneged on a 2000 deal that sent $770,000 in city money to ReStoc in exchange for ReStoc's agreement to sell a Vine Street building to a private developer and turn seven other buildings into low-income housing.

        “It's a year or a year and a half later, and nothing has happened,” he said.

        Ms. Summers said she, too, is frustrated by the pace of progress, but said few developers in Over-the-Rhine are moving faster than ReStoc is.

        She said ReStoc's development record includes the Recovery Hotel at 1225 Vine St., completed in 1995, and Buddy's Place at 1300 Vine St., finished in 1999.

        “I don't know what to say, except that we're doing it, and no one wants it to move faster than we do,” she said.

        “But we are fought politically on every single project we do. There's 36 vacant buildings on that street. There should be room for everyone.”

Mayor wants Vine St. coordinator

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