Monday, March 10, 2008

1502 Vine fast-tracked for demolition

Photos courtesy of Margo Warminski, Cincinnati Preservation Association (CLICK)

Barricades announce the pending demolition of the Meiners Flats building at (BIRD'S EYE) in Over-the-Rhine.

The City has ordered an emergency demolition of the five-and-a-half-story building after a roof collapse late last week.

Bricks, cornice and barricading also have been falling off of the building onto the sidewalk below.

The structure was built in the late 19th century as an investment by the Meiner family to advertise their skills as stonemasons, and features an intricately carved sandstone facade.

The current owners, Eldon Sundberg and Big Dog Properties, , have done nothing with the building since acquiring it in 2004.

Several reuse projects have fallen through, and it has been vacant for over 20 years.

A prospective buyer has shown some interest in the property, but has made no commitments.



Ryan Detzel said...

Nice blog too.


CityKin said...

What a shame.

5chw4r7z said...

It is a shame, its definately not the worst looking building, I like the facade.

Matt Hunter Ross said...

Another example of the "tear-down" mentality in Cincinnati. Don't get me wrong, I love this city, but why not at least salvage the facade? Covington has done it, and where I just moved from, Savannah (the king city of preservation) does it everyday. It may cost more, but it would definitely retain more value than completely new construction.

Anyway, great post Kevin.

Kevin LeMaster said...

Thanks, Ryan and Matt.

This building has had a pending demolition permit since January 2007. I have no idea why it was delayed, but it must be in pretty rough shape for them to be jumping on this now.

There was a meeting there today with the building owner, a demolition contractor and some City inspectors. I would expect to see some pretty quick action.

I wish they would save the facade, too. But I don't think there are any plans for the site. Who would pay for the work? Where would the facade be stored? How could this work be done quickly enough that the building doesn't fall and kill someone? These are all questions with very difficult answers.

Dan said...

Yep, a total shame. I agree that somehow saving the facade would be great but agree that the pieces to do that do not seem to be in place.

What about a policy that if you own a building and if it gets so bad that it has to be torn down, we can tear down your personal residence too. (I'm kidding of course)

Kevin LeMaster said...

"What about a policy that if you own a building and if it gets so bad that it has to be torn down, we can tear down your personal residence too."

I like it! :D

Matt Hunter Ross said...

I don't know, maybe I'm still in the Savannah mindset, but why wouldn't the city want to preserve things like this? Savannah places severe restrictions on "tear-downs", and equally on restorations.

The most recent project in downtown, the restoration of Ellis Square, in Savannah can be seen here:

A building near the "Savannah Morning News" building was completely torn down except for the facade, where the facing was held up by steel supports while the rest of the bldg was being constructed.

This project also reminds me of 3CDC's recent proposal to put parking beneath Washington Park.

I know that we have "the largest collection of Italianate architecture" in the country, and it's tough to save everything, but why not get strict with deadbeat owners of this history?

Matt Hunter Ross said...

Sorry, full web link here:

Anonymous said...

I would be 10 to 1 that the owner and maybe prior owners actually caused the neglect that this building has suffered. Wouldn't be the first owner that has punched holes in the roof, rammed the structure walls with bulldozers, and punched out all the windows in order to speed up the process.

Welcome to Cincinnati ! Our greatest asset is our historic architecture and we don't even know it.

vudutu said...

Good comments, I talked to Tarbell about this one, Is there any push to try and save it? In the past I have bought stone from tear downs and I have some I did not use in our garden I am selling, I got the steple stone, some steps I used for benches and ornamental from the three churches they tore down near Gilbert in Walnut Hills a couple of years back. What I would like to see is a law that if a building does have to be torn down the stone has to be salvaged for reuse in the community. Kevin do you know who the contractor on this one is, I would like to salvage some stone from it if it can't be saved.

Kevin LeMaster said...

vudutu...I e-mailed you back about this. Let me know if you didn't get it and I'll re-send it.

Anonymous said...

I too would love to save all the cool buildings in OTR but notice something missing in all these type of stories. The historic designation actually has caused more buildings to be demolished than saved. How you ask? The commisions that rule over the historic districts have a strange socialististic God like power over property owners. They cannot just gut the interior and cleanup/repair the outside as they see fit. These boards have all types of arcane and frankly detrimental rules that make rehabbing most of these building completely fiscally unfeasable. If you ever visit the Washington Platform resteraunt at Court and Elm you will notice by the bathrooms a strange wall that goes up at a 45 degree angle. When the abandonded, decrepate building was being rehabbed for this resteraunt they wanted to use the upper floors. The Historic board told them they couldn't replace the stairs that were not usable for safety reasons. They told them they would have to have professions restorers repair the original stairs to their specifications. The cost of this was almost as much as the rest of the expense of the resteraunt. So they walled it in and cannot use the second floor as they had planned. This type of sheer stuburn stupidity is one of the main reasons so many planned projects to rehab OTR since the 60's have come to nothing. They need to be more selective and reasonable if many OTR buildings will be saved. There has to be a viable use for the buildings and doubling and tripling the costs to rehab because some people think it should be a certain way will never attract the money needed to save this (possibly) beautiful area.

Kevin LeMaster said...

It may be more difficult and more costly to renovate these buildings, but so?

The people who bought this building bought it in 2004. They own many buildings, and reside in Hyde Park. You don't think they know OTR is a historic district?

What business did they have buying this building for $19,000 in 2004 and then not doing a thing with it?

Why do they own 8 properties in OTR, some of which are in disrepair?

My best guess is that they never had a real plan to rehab it, ever. It seems that your theory left speculators and slumlords out of the equation.

Anonymous said...

Regarding a comment toward the top, about saving the facade of this building and "where would the facade be stored?".
The majority of facades I have seen saved remained intact with bracing and I beams supporting them. They were not dismantled and re-built later. It was being done in Washington DC twenty-five years ago and Charlotte, NC twenty years ago. It is an option to keep in mind for any applicable building.
I am so glad the building in this article is still standing, a sign of intelligence.

I've often wondered why it is so difficult to save facades in OTR. It is only the front of a building and usually not all that wide. It is one side rather than all four that is decorative. Can you imagine if all these buildings were free-standing when they were built with at least three/ four well designed sides - added expence. Maybe that is why all the facades are so interesting - because they could put all their effort into the front only without the expense of three other decorative sides. Hopefully the new infill builders will keep that in mind. It is only the front, make it worthy.

Kevin LeMaster said...

^ True. You can see an example at the Kaufman Building at 1721-1727 Vine. That is largely just a facade now.

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