By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer
LINCOLN HEIGHTS - By a 6-0 vote Monday night, Village Council cleared the first hurdle for a $14.1 million plan to revitalize a blighted area along the Steffen Avenue corridor.
The area runs from Interstate 75 on the east to Wayne Avenue on the west between Byrd and Simmons streets.
The revitalization plan is part of an urban renewal proposal developed by village officials and residents working through the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) to initiate residential and commercial development.
The urban renewal proposal was adopted by council in 2001.
The revitalization calls for developing a town square in the corridor with 46 townhouses - 26 three-bedroom and 20 two-bedroom units - at a cost of $6.1 million.
Another segment calls for developing 46 more townhouses at a cost of $8 million.
A new building would be constructed to house the Lincoln Heights Elementary School, a YMCA and other potential recreational and cultural facilities.
The plan calls for realigning Mangham Drive and developing a new boulevard, linking Lincoln Heights directly to Glendale-Milford Road.
Other amenities would include a new neighborhood park, street trees and lighting.
"This is a first step," said Councilwoman Janeatte Shamel. "The next step is to find the money to implement the plan."
Kinzelman Kline Gossman urban planners of Cincinnati was hired five months ago to do a study as a follow-up to the village's urban renewal plan.
The KKG study indicated that many residents left the village because they could not find decent housing and other goods and services. It showed that 70 percent of the housing in the corridor is more than 30 years old.
Acting Village Manager Cheryl Meadows said council's action was a milestone in the urban renewal package.
"I have spent the last two weeks preparing to get the legislation in place in order to move on the plan," Meadows said. "Council also approved turning over our $200,000 brownfield grant to CIC to start clearing land for development.
"We have a blueprint now. If this is ever going to get done in Lincoln Heights, now is the time."
The village is still reviewing applicants for the job of development officer, who will be in charge of implementing the revitalization plan, Meadows said.
Ed Jackson, chairman of the CIC board, was upbeat about the direction of the project as CIC begins to tap funding sources. Options include federal, state and county programs and grants.
"For the most part, it is finding the money and executing the plan," Jackson said.
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