Berding Responds To Displacement Claims Due To West End Stadium
Representatives with FC Cincinnati are planning meetings either Friday or Monday with tenants who are being asked to move out of apartments now owned by the team on Wade Street and Central Avenue in the West End.
General Manager Jeff Berding told reporters Thursday those residents will not be able to stay in those buildings even though that's what they have said they want to do.
"We're a Major League Soccer team, we're building a new stadium, we're not residential property managers," Berding said. "Which is why we had the prior owner, Mr. Burger, temporarily continue to serve as the property manager while we worked with the residents in these couple of properties."
Berding said the buildings owner began getting offers from speculators and approached FCC about buying them. Berding said the team made the purchases to control the type of development that will happen next to the stadium.
Berding said the land where those buildings sit is not needed for the actual stadium project and the residents in those buildings will be given extra time to find new housing. But he said there are not specific development plans for those sites.
Berding has been criticized for earlier statements saying no one would be displaced by the stadium project. He said those comments reflected the original stadium footprint and not necessarily those properties obtained after the project started.
"We don't have all the development plans situated," Berding said. "Right now, we're focused on building our stadium. I will say in the short-term, we're certainly looking for opportunities to add parking, we're looking for opportunities to add ADA (accessible) parking, this is right out the backdoor of the stadium."
The team does need City Council approval on a zoning change that doesn't involve the buildings on Wade Street and Central Avenue.
But a council majority approved a motion Wednesday asking the team allow residents in the Wade Street building to relocate to the Central Avenue location. It appears that same council majority will reject the zoning change unless that solution or an alternate proposal is adopted.
"And I have to say I'm troubled that a governmental body would refuse to vote on zoning until significant commitments are made on properties that are not a part of the vote," Berding said.
Berding said without the zone change stadium construction will be delayed.
Many nearby residents attended a public meeting on the zoning change Monday night complaining about losing their housing.
Late Tuesday, some West End residents released a letter they sent to FC Cincinnati General Manager Jeff Berding demanding to meet with him about the issue. "We are committed to only meeting with FCC or any of their partners as a group, we will not be split up," the letter said.