Commission approves $53 million Over the Rhine project

The Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation is planning to give a three acre section of Over the Rhine a $53 million face lift.

"There will be 19 buildings that we are going to restore," said Stephen Leeper, President and CEO of 3CDC.

Buildings along Vine St, Mercer St. and Walnut St. will be restored and some new building will be constructed to house nearly 150 residential spaces, a 350 space parking garage and 17,000 square feet of commercial space.

"You can imagine that people will not only want to come downtown and visit downtown, but also they'll come down a 5 or 6 block area and be in the heart of Over the Rhine and it's one they are going to want to come to," said Leeper.

Leeper also says the project plays an important role in connecting Main St. and Vine St.

But preservation director of the Cincinnati Preservation Association, Margo Warminski, has a problem with the project.

"there are some serious issues," said Warminski.  "they are taking down two important historic buildings."

Warminski says they'll be taking down the building at 1314 Vine St. along with the building at 1329 Walnut St. She's most upset about the Walnut St. demolition.

"It's on a corner so it's highly visible, so it's not like a building that is buried in the middle of the block and it is also one of the older buildings in the neighborhood," said Warminski.  "It was built circa 1851, so it pre-dates the Civil War."

Warminski says she would have liked to see these historic buildings restored rather than torn down.

Leeper says he acknowledges those concerns but says tough decisions need to be made to move Over the Rhine forward.

"Last thing we want to do is lose the momentum," said Leeper. "This is a big whole in the neighborhood as we speak but I think when it's said and done it's something we'll all be proud of."

Construction for the project is set to begin in March on next year.

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