Monday, February 2, 2004

Bond Hill housing backed

By Maggie Downs
The Cincinnati Enquirer

BOND HILL - Community members, church leaders and city council members gathered Sunday at Allen Temple AME Church to support redevelopment of Huntington Meadows.

The "Villages of Daybreak" project is led by the two largest African-American churches in Bond Hill.

Allen Temple AME and Tryed Stone Missionary Baptist Church plan to bulldoze the 1,200 empty apartment units and redevelop the 60-acre site, which is 25 percent of the housing stock in the neighborhood.

Prices for the single-family homes and attached condominiums will start at $125,000.

"Whenever crime happens in this neighborhood, people always ask, 'Where are the churches?' Well, this is stepping up to the plate," said Fanon Rucker of Roselawn, a member of Allen Temple. "Churches are where we build a community, give our money, foster ideas. What better place than a church to have an idea like this move forward?"

The development will cost $51 million. The Allen Temple-Tryed Stone Development Company is requesting $13.7 million from the city.

Council member Laketa Cole was impressed with the number of people who came out to support and learn more about the project.

"This isn't just the pastors and the council members who support this. It's everyone here today," she said, gesturing to the crowd of more than 200. "We want to rebuild not just houses. We're rebuilding the community."

The event gained momentum with each speaker. By the time council member Sam Malone compared the project to Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, the room was lively with shouts of, "Yes!" and "Amen!"

"I'm tired of dreaming; I'm about vision," Malone said, as the audience stood and clapped enthusiastically.

The 51-year-old property, once the city's largest privately owned apartment complex, has been vacant for a year. Originally known as Swifton Village, it has a history of mostly unsuccessful out-of-town owners.

"It would not be tolerated in any other community in this city," said Vice Mayor Alicia Reece. "Put some boarded up building in Hyde Park and see how quickly council jumps on it."

Developers hope the project would also bring new life to the nearby Jordan Crossing shopping center, owned by the Allen Temple Foundation.

"There's only one direction this community is going, and that's up," said Rev. Donald Jordan of Allen Temple.

The rally ended with a prayer.

For more information

Council member Laketa Cole is running a community meeting and information session about the Huntington Meadows redevelopment project at 6 p.m. today at the Bond Hill Recreation Center, 1501 Elizabeth Place.



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