Building collapses in the West End

Aftermath of West End building collapse (VIDEO)
Published: Aug. 25, 2014 at 6:43 PM EDT
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WEST END, OH (FOX19) - A building in the West End partially collapsed Monday morning.

It was reported around 10 a.m. Monday at the corner of W. Liberty and John streets. The Cincinnati Fire Department confirmed on Twitter the building had been vacant.

A construction crew was working in the building at the time of the collapse and were all accounted for, officials said. Residents of adjoining buildings were also evacuated.

Cincinnati police said West Liberty Street would remain closed for several hours while demolition crews worked to clear the scene.

The building is one of 2,222 buildings deemed uninhabitable, according to the City of Cincinnati.

Ed Cunningham, Cincinnati's Division Manager of Property Maintenance and Code Enforcement Division, said a building permit expired on the property last April.

Cunningham describes the "uninhabitable" as buildings typically not up to code with structural problems and are unsafe to live in.

The top five neighborhoods with the most buildings deemed uninhabitable include East Price (270), Over-the-Rhine (244), Northside (174) West End (126) and Walnut Hills (123).

There are several reasons why buildings become uninhabitable, such as the recent amount of foreclosures due to the housing crisis.

According to Cunningham, it comes down to economics.

"If it is profitable to buy them and own them and repair them then you are going to have people doing that," he said. "If it's not, and there are more candidates for rehab then the amount of people who are willing to do it, then you are going to have some abandonment."

Cunningham expects the number of uninhabitable buildings to change soon in Over-the-Rhine, where development is taking over like wild fire.

According to city records, there were about 500 more buildings deemed uninhabitable in 2013 in the city of Cincinnati. The Moving Ohio Forward Grant allowed for these buildings to be demolished.

However, Cunningham said it's difficult to keep the number of uninhabitable buildings under 2,000 because so many buildings continue to not meet standards.

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