Tuesday, August 24, 1999

Bus station demolition in hands of county judge


Hamilton landmark may come down

BY JANICE MORSE
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[stadium]
Preservationists are in court trying to save Hamilton's old bus station. City officials say it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make it structurally sound.
(Michael Snyder photo)
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        HAMILTON — After a group of preservationists objected to the demolition of a city-owned building, a judge temporarily blocked the city from tearing down the former bus station at 40 High St.

        While preservationists see the building as an important piece of Hamilton's past that is to be treasured, city officials — some of whom agree the building is historically significant — say the cost of repairing its major structural defects is too high.

        “As a flaming preservationist — which I've been called — I'd love to save every building. But we don't have an unlimited budget, and you have to pick your battles,” Mayor Tom Nye said. He said an assessor told the city it would cost $200,000 to meet “amenable standards” and another estimate showed it would cost around $600,000 to meet “historical significance standards.”

        Both sides are expected to appear today in Butler County Common Pleas Court, where Judge Keith Spaeth will consider whether to extend the temporary restraining order issued Friday by Judge Matthew J. Crehan. Judge Crehan is busy with an obscenity trial, so the demolition case was reas signed to Judge Spaeth.

        The building, known as the Nash Building or Public Utilities Building, “is either on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places,” and city officials planned to begin demolition on Monday, Attorney Michael S. Conese said in a motion filed on behalf of Citizens for Historic and Preservation Services (CHAPS), which works to preserve historic buildings.

        CHAPS member Nancy Tryloff, who also is a board member of Historic Hamilton Inc., said the small white building was constructed around 1931 and is a good example of the “Art Moderne” style. “This is just a little gem of a building, and it would be perfect (to house) a visitors bureau,” she said.

        The building was a bus station until about the 1950s, when law offices occupied it, she said. The city's utilities offices were there for nearly a decade, but vacated the premises Saturday and moved to the Robinson-Schwenn building down the street. That historic building, a former opera house, is undergoing a costly renovation.

        Hillary Miller, acting city law director, said she was researching the issue and couldn't comment.

        Mr. Nye said the city bought the building in 1991 with the intent of eventually razing it, so he was “somewhat surprised” by CHAPS' court action.

       



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