Curly tales of the city


Where Was Charlie?
City Councilman Jim Tarbell is 2-for-2 in defeating low-income housing projects. Last week, Tarbell shot down a request for support from owners of the Fort Washington Hotel.

The Fort Washington, built in 1887, houses about 100 low-income residents. The hotel needs at least $500,000 in repairs to meet city building codes; a full rehab is expected to cost more than $4 million.

Owners sought a letter of support to apply for state tax credits for the rehab. But the rehab plan includes a $2 million city contribution, prompting Tarbell to criticize the owners for not taking care of the building in recent years. He also said a private developer could do the job for far less and hotel owners were threatening evictions to get money from the city.

"This is a fraud that's being perpetrated on every one of us," Tarbell said.

Councilmembers Paul Booth, John Cranley, Alicia Reece and Minette Cooper supported the measure; but Mayor Charlie Luken was absent, and the resulting 4-4 tie killed the request.

A livid David Little, spokesman for Save the Fort Washington Inc., said after the meeting the vote will likely delay rehab another year, which really could lead to evictions.

Little, who has known Tarbell for 25 years, said the councilman seems to have developed a hatred for poor people.

In June, Tarbell led an effort, initially successful, to deny funding for a ReStoc project in Over-the-Rhine.

All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt
Want to help Cincinnati's bid for the 2012 Olympics? Head to Paul Brown Stadium at 3 p.m. April 7. Cincinnati 2012 seeks "a diverse cross-section of Greater Cincinnatians" for its new brochure and publicity materials. Only smart-asses will show up with buttons denouncing Issue 3.

Participants get a Cincinnati 2012 T-shirt — probably more than the city gets from the U.S. Olympic Committee for its bid.

Remember the ballyhoo over the parking garage Hamilton County built on Sycamore Street to serve county workers during the day and Over-the-Rhine bar patrons at night? The ground-floor retail space has remained empty all this time.

The county might finally be close to leasing the space, thanks to a little maneuvering in Columbus.

Turns out the state forbids county governments from entering into long-term leases with property the county owns — to keep counties from becoming money-grubbing landlords when they should be money-grubbing civil servants, we suppose. County officials, however, helped change that law at the end of 2000, and now they're able to offer the 3,700-square-foot space for a five- or 10-year lease. Look for a restaurant or retail store.

The Hamilton County Democratic Party has named Melanie Bates its new executive director. Bates succeeds Carla Walker, new finance director for the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus.

The Hills Are Alive
With Opening Day just around the corner, baseball fans are buzzing about the Reds' new grass field and views of Mount Adams over the stadium's outfield fence. Sound familiar? Sound like Broadway Commons?

The alternative site for the new Reds stadium, of course, was shot down by the county commissioners, by team officials, by local corporate leaders and, ultimately, by voters. Broadway Commons' main attraction — besides being a magnet for economic revitalization in northeast downtown and Over-the-Rhine — was the spectacular views of Mount Adams it afforded over the outfield walls.

The hill views were poohed-poohed by the Powers That Be, who gushed instead over the river views offered by a riverfront stadium. These same folks are now commenting, wow, Mount Adams actually looks sort of neat out there over centerfield.

If chosen instead, Broadway Commons would be opening for business Monday, offering the Reds at least two additional years of revenue boosts that likely would allow them to lock up Pokey Reese, Sean Casey, Danny Graves and others with long-term contracts. In real life, the team's crossing its fingers the talent will still be around when the riverfront ballpark opens in 2003.

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