Thursday, January 24, 2002

Council finally closes housing deal with ReStoc

8 buildings to be redeveloped

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        An Over-the-Rhine housing group has finally closed a deal with the city of Cincinnati that will allow eight vacant buildings on Vine Street to be redeveloped.

        ReStoc, a nonprofit developer of low-income housing, has agreed to sell a building at 1214 Vine St. to the Cincinnati Development Fund for market-rate housing for $164,000.

        Under a 2000 agreement with the city, that sale frees up $770,000 in city money to develop seven other buildings owned by ReStoc.

        The city's Department of Neighborhood Development and Housing agreed to pay the $770,000 last week. That was before Mayor Charlie Luken criticized ReStoc's development record Saturday, and threatened to pull its funding.

        At least one member of City Council is furious with the deal, saying the city should have backed out after ReStoc failed to meet deadlines under the 2000 agreement.

        “Here you have the mayor outlining his Vine Street project. And what this shows is you have a bureaucracy that is opposed to it and is actively trying to sabotage it,” said Councilman Pat DeWine. “One of the reasons Over-the- Rhine is the way it is is because of a city policy to keep it that way over the last 30 years.”

        Council voted last October to limit the use of federal block-grant money for low-income housing. The so-called “housing impaction” ordinance forbids using the money for new low-income units in neighborhoods already saturated with subsidized housing.

        Peg Moertl, the city's development director, said the city had already committed to the ReStoc deal, and ReStoc was moving forward in good faith.

        “I'm charged with getting housing done. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this agreement, and once ReStoc honored its commitments, we were honor-bound to go forward,” she said.

        The deal is historic for ReStoc, the Race Street Tenant Organization Cooperative, which had never before allowed one of its buildings to be sold for market-rate housing.

        “We have come so far with achieving a major housing development on Vine,” ReStoc coordinator Jennifer Summers said in a written statement. “It would be detrimental to stop this progress now. We want to be part of a revitalization that includes everyone.”

        ReStoc said it plans to start work on its seven units in March.


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