Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Revised condo design gets OK

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

EAST PRICE HILL - Reversing a decision, a city architect has approved the design of a $20 million condominium project in East Price Hill.

Architect Robert H. Richardson's decision, released Monday, said the plans were "much improved" from the project's earlier design, which was "out of balance" with its hilltop surroundings.

Opponents said they would appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals and "all the way through the courts."

"This city needs development, but not at the expense of destroying the hillside district of Price Hill," said Mary Croft, a part-time resident. "The city of Cincinnati is going to destroy a natural resource it can't get back, in exchange for a short-term gain."

Croft has led the fight against the development, saying it's too big for the hillside.

She's joined by some other notables. Pizza magnate Buddy LaRosa lives nearby, as does former Hamilton County Commissioner Norman A. Murdock. Frank Hollister, president of the East Price Hill Improvement Association, and Eric Russo, director of the Hillside Trust, have also voiced objections.

"I'm very, very surprised at the opposition we've had to this development. I really am," said Craig Hilsinger, the developer. But he said the controversy over the project was actually helping to drum up interest in the tax-abated units, which will sell for $300,000 to $450,000.

With a waiting list for downtown condominiums and Price Hill's short distance to downtown, Hilsinger said, he will market the units to young professionals and empty nesters.

After the city rejected his first plan, Hilsinger made some design changes to make the building fit better into the hillside. He also added a unit, making it a 56-unit building. With the support of Mayor Charlie Luken, he asked the city to reconsider.

E-mail gkorte@enquirer.com

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