The year 2003 saw progress in dealing with the problem of abandoned buildings in the city of Cincinnati. The creation of a housing docket in Hamilton County Municipal Court gave city officials a new tool for making property owners comply with orders to keep unoccupied or dilapidated buildings safe.
Of 20 buildings featured in "Blight of the Week" in 2003, five were the subject of appearances before Judge Guy Guckenberger, who presides over the new housing docket. Fines and probation are usually the sentences handed down. Sometimes the housing docket works. For example, Navneet Sachdev, among the defendants to face Guckenberger, owns several dilapidated properties. On Nov. 15 he completed the necessary repairs to obtain a vacant building maintenance license for 2438 W. McMicken.
But legal liability doesn't always translate into actual improvements. The first building featured in CityBeat as a Blight of the Week (see issue of March 7-13, 2002) was 1828 Elm St. The property is part of the now defunct Findlay Market Housing Initiative One. Husband-and-wife architecture team Scheer&Scheer Development LTD bought eight buildings from the city of Cincinnati under an agreement that they would repair the buildings and sell them for $115,000 to $345,000. The couple failed to honor the entire $1.1 million dollar contract and are now the subject of a police investigation.
Maintaining an old building is costly and time consuming whether it's do-it-yourself or hiring a contractor. Many property owners learn the hard way that more is involved than making a few repairs, then selling a building for a large profit.
But some property owners find a way to turn blight into beauty. Urban Suites LLC purchased 1111 Broadway St. in a severely deteriorated condition. Today noticeable change is underway to turn the building into living spaces.
The owners of two properties featured in "Blight of the Week" this year still haven't been located; both are believed to be deceased. But at least since Oct. 15 the house at 2594 Ring Place has been secure, according to the city's Department of Buildings and Inspections. The whereabouts of Germaine Britton, owner of at 1442 State Ave., are still unknown; the property now has condemnation orders.