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Cincinnati City Council approves zoning changes for Evanston development

Hoffman School in Evanston
Nick Swartsell
Hoffman School in Evanston

Cincinnati City Council Wednesday approved key zoning changes that will allow a 240-unit housing development in Evanston to move forward.

The project by Kingsley + Co. will include two, four-story buildings, parking lots and greenspace on the current site of the Hoffman School Building on Victory Parkway. The 102-year-old school will be demolished to make way for the project.

That — and concerns about density, affordability and parking — caused some living in Evanston to oppose the project.

"We've all said how we would not like this development project in our backyards," Evanston resident Debra Jones told council before the vote. "There's not enough space, but it appears no one is listening."

RELATED: Cincinnati City Council pauses zoning approvals for Evanston development after pushback

Hoffman no longer serves as a school, but former owner Christ Temple Full Baptist Church currently occupies the property. The church's Rev. Peterson Mingo, a well-known community activist, supports Kingsley's efforts to demolish it and build housing.

Kingsley + Co. says the development will be named The Mingo in his honor.

Kinglsey's founder, Chinedum Ndukwe, says renovating the current building into housing simply doesn't work financially and that it's in very poor shape. The developer has adjusted its plans somewhat to respond to neighborhood concerns, dropping the building height from five stories to four, reducing units from 300 to 240 and increasing parking and greenspace. Other concerns, however, about the building and affordability remain.

Councilmember Anna Albi cited the latter as a reason she voted against the zoning change.

RELATED: Cincinnati City Council rejects historic designation for Evanston's Hoffman School

"This proposed development before us is intended to be 90% market rate housing," she said. "For a family of four, that would mean a six-figure income. For the remaining 10% of units, they're still going to be priced as workforce housing. For a family of four, that's $75,000. That's not low-income."

Councilmember Reggie Harris, who voted for the zoning change, said residents' desires weren't consistent. It's generally not possible to decrease the density of a development and also make it more affordable, he said. He also said Evanston lost more than 350 units of housing between 2010 and 2020 and recently saw one of the city's largest jumps in property values.

"It's feeling the impacts of the housing shortage worse than any other community," he said. "If Evanston continues to grow and doesn't build more housing, it will continue to grow increasingly more unaffordable for those who don't already own a home there."

An earlier version of this story mistakenly summarized a comment by Councilmember Harris about density and affordability.

Nick has reported from a nuclear waste facility in the deserts of New Mexico, the White House press pool, a canoe on the Mill Creek, and even his desk one time.