Friday, July 19, 2013

St. Leger, scene of crime and violence, makes way for St. Ambrose

On Wednesday morning, the community of Evanston celebrated new beginnings with the demolition of the St. Leger Apartments, a property that has long been a symbol of crime, violence, and hopelessness in the neighborhood.

In its place will rise the St. Ambrose Apartments, a 26-unit combination of affordable townhouses and flats being developed by the Model Group.

Completion of the LEED-certified project is scheduled for next summer.

"Today’s demolition is a huge step toward our vision of growing Evanston into thriving, healthy community once again," said Anzora Adkins, president of the Evanston Community Council.

Built in 1905 at the and containing 81 units, the St. Leger Apartments were located at the highly visible Five Points intersection, an area that is steadily undergoing transformation with new and rehabilitated housing units.

"It is a wonderful thing to see a neighborhood come back together and be transformed block-by-block, literally, this morning," said Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls. "So as we stand here, in front of the St. Leger, a place that has been a scene for way too long of crime and violence, and disorder in the community, we have a lot of people to thank."

The community has been working on the project for more than three years, and the Model Group acquired the property one year ago.

"It took us a long time, but we're here," said Bobby Maly, chief operating officer and principal of the Model Group, which recently developed the 24-unit Woodburn Pointe senior apartment development in the Five Points area. "We've been fortunate to be part of a lot of revitalization efforts in a lot of communities, but we have not met a lot of Ms. Adkinses. We have a special place and some special people here."

City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. said that the neighborhood's residents – especially the children – need to see possibility and opportunity.

"We have a City in transition," he said. "We have a City that has challenges in the neighborhoods. And we have bloodshed that is being spilled unnecessarily. And if you want to change conditions in the neighborhood, then you have to change the environment. That's what taking this building down represents."

The demolition is being funded with $500,000 from Moving Ohio Forward, a statewide program to demolish blighted buildings to make way for reinvestment.

Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune attended the ceremony on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners.

He pointed out that while quarrels between the City and County get a lot of press, cooperation, which is the norm, often does not.

"What is good for Evanston and what is good for the City of Cincinnati is good for Hamilton County," Portune said.

The new development is named after St. Ambrose, the patron saint of learning, in honor of Evanston's reputation as "the educating community".

To qualify for an apartment in the new development, renters must make no more than 60 percent of the area median income.

Photos provided

Previous reading on BC:
St. Leger apartment redevelopment advances (5/28/13)
Planning Commission Friday: IDCs, Music Hall, St. Leger Apartments (4/4/13)
Loan, property sale aid two affordable housing projects (6/25/12)
Model Group wins LEED tax exemptions for Elberon, Woodburn Pointe (3/21/11)
Cincinnati supports tax credits for Evanston rental project (3/18/09)