Thursday, June 17, 2004

English Woods repairs possible, if not too costly

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

ENGLISH WOODS - After losing the fight to demolish English Woods, the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority is now reconsidering whether to renovate more than 700 units at the World War II-era apartment complex.

The housing authority's five-member board of commissioners has asked for an independent appraisal of what it would cost to rehab units in the oldest section of the public housing complex. The agency had previously estimated that it would cost as much as $130,000 a unit for repairs.

English Woods tenants, who hired their own engineers to assess the complex, estimated costs at $17,000 a unit.

"We don't want to raise false hopes," said Don Driehaus, a city-appointed member of the housing authority's board. "None of it will happen if the cost is truly that high."

The agency has been under considerable public pressure for Cincinnati City Council, state lawmakers and neighborhood activists, who oppose demolition.

In October, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rejected a plan to raze the project and build single-family homes.

Driehaus said the housing authority would need to determine if renovations are financially feasible. He said the housing authority would likely need funding from the city, state and federal government if it decided to go forward with a renovation plan.

Cincinnati City Council passed a resolution Wednesday calling for federal audit to assess how the housing authority spent millions of federal dollars on repairs and improvements at English Woods.

Driehaus said housing authority officials would meet with English Woods tenants at 5:30 p.m. today at the complex to further discuss the situation.


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