Thursday, March 11, 2004

City moves ahead on townhomes

By Travis Gettys
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Dot Murphy (left) chats Wednesday with Marie Freimuth on Lake Street in Bellevue. Residents are upset about a proposed development.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/PATRICK REDDY
Dot Murphy lost her home once to redevelopment, and now she could lose her parking.

City Council voted 5-0 Wednesday to approve a $3 million housing development despite objections by some neighbors.

Bora Development of Cincinnati plans to build two sets of three townhouses on Lake Street and another set of three on nearby Ross Avenue, said City Administrator Donald Martin. Each of the nine units is expected to sell for at least $300,000, Martin said.

Murphy, whose home on Eden Avenue is now a parking lot for Buckhead Mountain Grill because of riverfront redevelopment, is concerned about changes to her current neighborhood.

Some residents have been parking on the city's vacant lot, where the townhouses are planned, because of limited on-street parking.

"This is just an alley," she said. "Traffic is going to be murder, because most everybody has two cars now."

Homeowners also worry the development will deflate property values in the neighborhood, designated a historic preservation district.

"I feel this action would be stealing from us a view and a sense of character in the neighborhood that was a sole reason for moving here," said Alex Breyer, who purchased his home late last year.

Some neighbors were caught off guard by the development, including Murphy, who learned of the plan only after workers demolished a nearby house March 1.

The house, a four-family apartment on Ross Avenue, had been the site of many police calls, Murphy said.

"You couldn't sit outside in your back yard because of all the cussing and the fighting," she said.

But Bellevue officials Feb. 11 reached a conditional agreement to sell the 0.6-acre lot on Ross Avenue, which the city purchased in 1994, to Bora Development for $35,000, Martin said.

The city made the Lake Street property available only after Bora Development agreed to purchase the Ross Avenue lot, which Martin said was blighted and no longer retained any historical significance.

Neighbors complained that the city hadn't done enough to inform them about the development, but Martin said the law was followed.

He said developers volunteered to go door-to-door to advertise five upcoming meetings on the proposal.


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