Saturday, July 24, 2004

'At-risk' school permit rejected

By Kevin Aldridge
Enquirer staff writer

COLLEGE HILL - A charter school for "at-risk" youth and dropouts might not be moving into the vacant CVS Pharmacy site at Hamilton Avenue and North Bend Road.

The Cincinnati Planning Commission Friday rejected a request for building permits from White Hat Management Inc., an Akron-based company that operates elementary schools and alternative high schools throughout Ohio. The permits would have allowed the company to convert the former drugstore into a charter school.

City planners said the proposed school wasn't consistent with the neighborhood's plan for a residential/office/retail development.

White Hat's lease agreement with CVS property owner Tom Hammonds was contingent on the developer's ability to obtain the proper permits. White Hat, which already operates two schools in Cincinnati, is searching for a new location.

"We have another victory in College Hill," said Karen Dudley, a College Hill resident and activist. "This is another great day for our community."

The planning commission's ruling helped College Hill residents avoid a serious blow to their efforts to revitalize the intersection, where three of the four corners are vacant.

Residents had a similar scare earlier this year when Don Shuller, owner of Shuller's Wigwam Restaurant wanted to sell his property to a developer wanting to build a gas station at the intersection.

Neighborhood leaders thwarted the sale by extending a development control district around the intersection.

The city has agreed to give the College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation money for a down payment to purchase the Shuller property. The money comes from $3.8 million the city earmarked for redevelopment projects in College Hill.



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