217 E. Clifton Ave.

Address: 217 E. Clifton Ave.,Over-the-RhineOwner: The Bank of New YorkValue: $23,800Year Built: 1830Comments: This small building next to Rothenberg Elementary School needs cleaning in

Sep 12, 2002 at 2:06 pm
Doug Trapp

217 E. Clifton Ave., Over-the-Rhine

Address: 217 E. Clifton Ave.,Over-the-Rhine

Owner: The Bank of New York

Value: $23,800

Year Built: 1830

Comments: This small building next to Rothenberg Elementary School needs cleaning in more than one way.

Shingles hang from the roof like a bad comb-over, weeds are gaining ground and beer cans, a shopping cart and other trash are strewn about the side and front yards.

But the building's biggest problem has been with its title. In 1999 Melton Cox sold the building, even though his relatives had a claim because of a "life estate." Cox's relatives didn't sign off on the sale.

Another sale transferred the building to Kenneth Jones, who also went by the name Mark Johnson, according to Mary Burke, business manager of the Over-the-Rhine Housing Network.

The Housing Network tried to buy the building but withdrew because of title problems. The Bank of New York picked it up in a sheriff's sale, Burke says.

A "for sale" sign lists a number for a cell phone. A man who answered the number declined to identify himself but said he is trying to buy the building from the Bank of New York in order to re-sell it.

"It's just taken time to get a clear title," the man said. "That's the biggest problem."

The Cincinnati Department of Buildings and Inspections has issued a condemnation order. But the building is in a national historic district and can't easily be razed.

"Unfortunately we can't tear it down until the building is actually to a point of imminent danger of collapse," says Dave Edwards, inspections supervisor.

BLIGHT OF THE WEEK is an effort to highlight the problem of abandoned buildings — and who's responsible for them.