4203 Kirby Ave., Northside

Address: 4203 Kirby Ave., NorthsideOwner: Duke and Long Distributing Co.Value: $130,000Year Built: 1979Comments: If there ever were a formula for instant blight, this closed "Ever

Aug 1, 2002 at 2:06 pm
Doug Trapp

Address: 4203 Kirby Ave., Northside

Owner: Duke and Long Distributing Co.

Value: $130,000

Year Built: 1979

Comments: If there ever were a formula for instant blight, this closed "Everyday" convenience store is it. Just take some absentee ownership, add a generous helping of bankruptcy, a little time and neglect and — voila! — blight.

This store wasn't much to look at even when it was open. Now instead of selling cold pop, beer and chips, it's becoming an abandoned car lot; so far there are two abandoned vehicles. Although the weeds and litter on the property haven't overcome it — yet — the Cincinnati Health Department issued a citation for each problem July 24; they're posted on the plywood-covered front door.

This used to be a Circle K convenience store until Circle K Stores Inc. sold it in 1999 to Duke and Long Distributing Co. of Paducah, Ky., for $365,800, according to the Hamilton County Auditor's Web site — nearly three times the taxable value. Duke and Long also bought the store at 1129 Woodlawn Ave., Price Hill, from Circle K at in 1999 for $274,000, just $13,000 above its taxable value.

Duke and Long, founded in 1959, had been a gasoline retailer, but a late 1990s buying spree turned it into the country's 48th largest convenience store owner by 2000, according to Convenience Store News.

Too quickly, apparently. Months after the Austin, Texas-based Devon Corp. bought Duke and Long in 2000, Duke and Long filed for bankruptcy, which led it to close 62 of its 250 stores, according to Convenience Store News.

Duke and Long has sold some of its 250 stores, according to recent reports in the Paducah Sun. But the future of the two Cincinnati stores is unclear. Attempts to reach the Delaware-based attorney handling Duke and Long's bankruptcy were unsuccessful.

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