Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Clifton, developer talk over site plan

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CLIFTON - Neighbors and developer Jack Brand began this week trying to broker a compromise over what kind of new businesses could emerge on a key parcel in this Cincinnati community's business district.

Residents opposed Brand's request to the city last month for permission to build businesses with a drive-through where the Anderson, Baiter and Sahnd funeral home now operates on Clifton Avenue.

He withdrew his application last week in an attempt to work out a deal the neighbors will accept. On Monday, he met with about 80 residents who packed a Clifton Town Meeting neighborhood association session at the Annunciation Catholic Church Parish Center.

Brand told the neighbors he is open to their suggestions, but stressed that he doesn't think that redeveloping the existing building is economically viable. Whatever is built, he assured the crowd, will enhance the business district.

Another meeting is expected soon.

Brand said he has talked to several businesses, but some, including banks and Starbucks, will build only if there is a drive-through.

"We are not attached to a drive-through," he told residents, but later added, "Obviously I am not looking to do something here I will lose money on ... This has to make sense financially."

Neighbors quizzed Brand, a longtime Clifton resident, custom-home builder and commercial developer, for more than an hour. Many said they preferred small businesses to large, national chains.

This community of about 9,000 residents is known for its epic, six-year battle in the 1980s to block a Wendy's restaurant from opening in the old Esquire Theatre on Ludlow Avenue.

"The community has the right to choose what it wants here," Lisa Storie, owner of Sitwell's Coffee House on Ludlow, said Monday to a smattering of applause. "We have all put in a lot of time, money and energy into this battle and yet here we go again."


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