Morning News: Library holds session on potential building sale; councilmembers propose more money for Avondale tied to major hospital expansion; CPD begins testing Shotspotter technology

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is holding a public forum today to discuss the possible closure and sale of its downtown location’s north building.

The downtown branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County - PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The downtown branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Good morning all. Here’s some news today.

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Board of Directors is holding a public forum today to discuss the possible closure and sale of its downtown location’s north building. The Board approved that proposal earlier this month, but it’s drawn ire from some local groups. About two dozen protesters are attending the meeting this morning to ask the library not to sell the building. The plan, first reported in this morning news blog last year, would move the services currently offered in the north building — including the children’s library and maker space — in the library’s south building. The library would explore the possible sale of the north building with the help of the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation. The building appraises at around $8 million. The library paid more than $7 million for the land occupied by the north building and more than $30 million for construction of that building and a renovation of its neighboring south building in 1997.

• Will Avondale get more investment from one of its major institutions as a result of a planned half-billion-dollar expansion effort? Some City Councilmembers say the neighborhood should. Councilmembers Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young yesterday introduced a motion in Council’s neighborhoods committee that would ask Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to pony up 5 percent of the development value of a proposed 10-story patient tower, helipad and 1,100-car parking garage expansion toward housing and other improvements in Avondale over the next ten years. The motion would also require the city to plow the $500,000 it gets from selling city-owned land as part of the project, as well as ask Children’s to commit to improving health outcomes in Avondale by 10 percent over the next decade. The hospital’s plan will require demolition of some housing in the neighborhood and the relocation of a half-dozen families, as well as the re-routing of Erkenbrecher Street. Children’s has pledged about $11 million toward housing in the area, but the Council motion would up that to between $27.5 and $32 million depending on the final costs of the tower. Council will vote Wednesday on the motion, which is attached to a zoning change needed to allow the development to move forward.

• The Cincinnati Police Department has begun testing Shotspotter, an audio system that tracks gunshots and reports them directly to police, in Avondale. The system can be used to find the exact location of those gunshots and dispatch police to the scene within minutes. Several other cities currently use the technology, though its effectiveness is controversial.

• The city is working to evict two companies that manage a once-busy downtown office and retail building at Fifth and Elm Street. City officials say Convention Place Mall is a blight on the surrounding area, which includes Duke Energy Convention Center. They also say that the companies controlling the building, CBD Investments and RSJJ Investments, are behind to the tune of more than $1 million on property taxes. The city officials site broken glass and empty storefronts among their complaints about the property’s appearance, and recently closed a pedestrian walkway leading to Convention Place, saying it was unsafe due to corrosion.

• Just two weeks after a motorist was shot and killed on I-75 near downtown Cincinnati, more reports are coming in that someone is shooting at drivers on I-74 with firearms and in Mount Healthy with pellet guns. It’s unclear if these traffic shooting incidents are related, and police aren’t saying whether anyone has been injured in the recent incidents. So, uh, stay safe out there driving in the wild, wild west of our region’s interstates, cowboys.

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