Address: 109 Mulberry St., Over-the-Rhine
Owner: John and Kathy Van Styn
Purchase Date: February 1981
Current Property Value: $25,800
Year Built: 1865
Gross Area: 1,650 square feet
Comments: John Van Styn's building has a back deck with a panoramic view of Over-the-Rhine, but it also has a broken window at the sidewalk level and an overturned couch and garbage strewn about the front room. A trail of garbage covers the steps to the basement as well.
The city cited Van Styn for the open window March 27, and the city and Van Styn are suing each other over the city's 2001 requirement that he get a vacant building maintenance license, according to Dave Edwards, inspections supervisor in the Cincinnati Department of Buildings and Inspections.
Van Styn, who lives a few doors away, says other Mulberry residents have asked him to do something with the property.
But Van Styn says as long as he's following the law, he can do what he wants.
Van Styn says the window probably wasn't broken until April 5, although a reporter noticed it two days earlier.
Van Styn says he believes there might be a market for the building in the distant future, if gas prices increase and the neighborhood gets better police protection. Until then, he says he has the right to hold on to the building and keep it vacant.
"As far as I'm concerned, as long as I obey the law, I can let them sit there," he says. "People that sit on property are not bad people."
Van Styn says he understands the concern police officers, firefighters and others have for vacant buildings. He tries to keep his building secure, but says you can't keep out someone determined to get in.
"It's just not a perfect world," Van Styn says. "You do your best."
Van Styn says he doesn't believe he is under any obligation to fix or sell his buildings because some of his neighbors have improved theirs.
"I don't owe my neighbors squat," he says.
He also doesn't believe in using city money to rehab housing.
"I think it's a waste of taxpayer money to fix up a house," Van Styn says.
BLIGHT OF THE WEEK is an effort to highlight the problem of abandoned buildings — and who's responsible for them.