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Some OTR Residents Raise Concerns Over Liberty & Elm Project Now Before Council

Community leaders gathered at the corner of Liberty and Elm in Over-the-Rhine on Tuesday to voice their displeasure on a development project that's up for a vote in Cincinnati City Council on Wednesday.

The project would create more than 200 market-rate apartment units, nearly 200 covered parking spaces, and 11,000-square feet of commercial space.

The project caused division when Over-the-Rhine residents raised concerns about the height of the building, the project's design, and the possible lack of affordable housing.

Maurice Wagoner is the president of the Over-the-Rhine Community Council. Wagoner said Mayor John Cranley and City Council refuse to see how important affordable housing is to people, specifically those affected by the pandemic.

"We want development, equitable development, and a better community, but not at the expense of the marginalized," Wagoner said.

Sheila Quarles has lived in Over-the-Rhine for 12 years and she says every time a development comes into the neighborhood, lower income people get less from the projects each time.

"Every time they develop something and the taxes go up for people that they think the renters pay for, and in a minute, I'm not going to be able to afford in a neighborhood that I've come to love," Quarles said.

Joele Newman of the Peaslee Neighborhood Center brought up issues concerning community engagement on the project.

"Our city should not be apt to do business with a developer that refuses to meet with the concerned residents and stakeholders around the real life impact their project will bring to this neighborhood," Newman said. "And our city should not be apt to invest our taxpayer dollars into a project that does not make our communities more integrated and more accessible to all."

The estimated capital investment of the project is more than $78 million. The city will place a TIF financing exemption on the project that will last for 30 years.

The city's Economic Growth and Zoning Committee will vote on the project Wednesday.

Courtesy of Ted Leavitt:

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Cory Sharber / WVXU