Thursday, July 20, 2000

Hamilton buildings restored

Architectural team to pick a method

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — There could be three new striking bodies downtown in the future, but the faces will look pretty much the same.

        An architectural team selected by Hamilton officials to restore three buildings on High Street is considering which of two approaches will best maintain the historical facades on each structure. One is to reuse the existing buildings, the other is to demolish the buildings and build behind the facades.

        “Retaining the actual existing building is what we would prefer,” said James Boerke, director of Hamilton's planning department. “And that's because they have substantial historical character in the inside.”

        The city is negotiating a development agreement with FMS Architects and Concorde Capital, based in Columbus, to rehab the buildings in the central business district known as the Mercantile Block.

        City officials bought the three-story Italianate buildings at 228, 232 and 236 High St. last year. Vice Mayor Tom Nye, a self-described preservationist, said the city paid lawyer Harry Wilks $575,000 for the structures. They had been scheduled for demolition before the city intervened.

        How much it will cost to restore the buildings, the exact usage or the time frame of the project have not been determined, Mr. Boerke said.

        The city eventually would sell the properties to the developer for restoration.


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