Morning News: Councilman Young recovering after heart trouble; Deaconess development gets city tax abatement

City Council voted to give a student housing development on the property of Deaconess Hospital a 15-year LEED tax abatement, despite opposition to the project by CUF Community Council.

Sep 14, 2017 at 11:35 am

A proposed new development across from University of Cincinnati's campus would build 350 units of student housing.
A proposed new development across from University of Cincinnati's campus would build 350 units of student housing.

Good morning, all. Here’s the news today.

Councilman Wendell Young is in the hospital after experiencing sudden heart issues last week. His family said yesterday he’s expected to make a full recovery from an acute aortic dissection, a potentially fatal condition. Young is running for re-election to Council, where he’s served since he was appointed to fill a seat vacated by Laketa Cole in 2010.

• A huge student housing development right across the street from University of Cincinnati’s campus will get a 15-year LEED tax abatement, Cincinnati City Council voted yesterday. The 350-unit residential project by Trinitas, which runs student housing in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois and Indiana, is on the property of Deaconess Hospital. It's part of a planned three-stage development that will eventually include more than 1,000 units of housing. Councilman Chris Seelbach and Vice Mayor David Mann voted against the project, pointing to opposition from CUF Community Council — the neighborhood group representing the area — and what they say is a lack of community engagement around the development plans.

The city of Cincinnati’s director economic and community development is leaving his post, according to a memo released yesterday by City Manager Harry Black. Oscar Bedolla will wrap up his three years with the city Oct. 6, after which he’ll return to his former employer in the private sector, a financial and governance group in Chicago called KPMG.

• Did you somehow forget that Cincinnati has German heritage? If so, no worries. You’re about to have more reminders. City leaders and descendants of German immigrants who came to Cincinnati, along with a representative from Germany, will gather today for the renaming of 10 city streets back to their original Germanic names. The names of those streets were changed during World War I, when anti-German hysteria was at a fever pitch. The names of three will be changed back to the original monikers, including Yukon (originally Hanover) and Stonewall (originally Hamburg) in Over-the-Rhine. Seven others will get signage denoting the original names, but the newer names will also stay. Among them is Republic Street in OTR, which was called Bremen Street until 1918. The signage will go up after Council votes to make it official next week.

• Who do Cincinnati’s business elite want you to vote for? The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber yesterday released a “scorecard” for business-friendly city council candidates. The Chamber says the scorecard doesn’t represent official endorsements — though incidentally, there are nine candidates who received the business group’s top rating. The candidates whose positions are “highly aligned” with the group that represents Cincinnati’s largest businesses are incumbents Amy Murray, Christopher Smitherman, P.G. Sittenfeld and David Mann and challengers Greg Landsman, Tamie Sullivan, Tamaya Dennard, Seth Maney and Henry Frondorf. Incumbents Wendell Young and Chirs Seelbach, as well as challengers Derek Bauman, Jeff Pastor, Lesley Jones and Manuel Foggie are “somewhat aligned” with the Chamber, while Laure Quinlivan, Brian Garry, Michelle Dillingham, Kelli Prather, Tonya Dumas and Erica Black-Johnson are “marginally aligned” with the Chamber’s priorities.

• Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune says a vote by the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s board of trustees to close and potentially sell the north building of its downtown campus is “disturbing” because it did not involve any public input. Portune claimed commissioners did not know about the Library’s plan before the trustee’s June vote, which came after a facilities plan by a committee of the board recommended the closure and possible sale of the building last October. CityBeat reported on that plan here. Opponents of the plan, including groups like Democratic Socialists of America, Socialist Alternative and the Library Defense Network have protested the privatization of the building, pointing out that the facility and land it occupies cost roughly $40 million when it was constructed in the mid-1990s but has been appraised by CBRE for only $8.5 million now. Critics of the deal point out potential conflicts of interest in that scenario — CBRE Vice President Michael Moran, who has touted the potential sale and redevelopment of the building, is the son of Library board secretary William Moran, who has supported the sale. The elder Moran is also active with the Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation, which the Library has contracted to help with a potential sale of the north building to developers.

• Finally, Hamilton County Commissioners say they want the county to stop paying to house inmates at Butler County's jail. But Sheriff Jim Neil says the situation, which costs roughly $3,300 a day in public money, is unavoidable due to overcrowding at the Hamilton County jail, which is built to house 1,200 inmates but which has had as many as 1,600 as recently as June. After he was admonished by the Ohio Supreme Court last year for releasing inmates early, Neil says he has little other choice but to ship inmates north to the jail run by controversial Butler County Sheriff Rick Jones, who says he "feels sorry for residents of Hamilton County" and doesn't see the situation ending soon. Commissioners say they're working with judges to release non-violent offenders early and explore alternate sentencing. A question worth further reporting — how many inmates in the county's overcrowded jail are there for non-violent offenses like minor drug charges?