Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Crosley — and Camp Washington — at a crossroads

If you’ve spent any time in Cincinnati, you know the hulking white building with the tower on top that rises just west of I-75. In a city of architectural gems, the Crosley Building in Camp Washington stands out for its size and its neglect. 

What might not be apparent gazing at the crumbling building is that a significant amount of history took place there. This podcast is the story of how a now-empty building helped change the world, and how the fate of the neighborhood around it is tied up in its construction, its boom years, its decline – and efforts to resurrect it.

Nick Swartsell

Present-day Camp Washington is a big mixture of everything that makes Cincinnati what it is — apartments and single-family homes with long-tenured residents; rehabbed spaces with new faces moving in; new coffeeshops and gallery spaces popping up; long-established industry and lingering vacant buildings. But what will the neighborhood's future be, and what role will the enormous Crosley Building play in it?

TWG Vice President for Tax Credit Development Ryan Kelly talks about the Indiana-based developer's current efforts to redevelop the Crosley Building into apartments and gallery space — a huge undertaking with big potential, but also a lot of risk.

"We got buy-in from the neighborhood of what things they would like to see — trying to provide affordable housing to people that need it is a big piece," he says.

The idea of "affordable housing" can have a stigma to it, but Kelly pushes back on what's come to be known as NIMBY-ism — "Not In My Backyard."

"What we see with affordable housing projects is that it spurs development," he says. "So not only does it fix this property, it's the things that go on after that. ... Once people see an investment of $100 million to an eyesore, things get turned around and more development comes."

"Where I live right now, I know two people — there's 1,200 residents."
Bob Story

Meanwhile, those who remember Camp Washington from decades past long for its sense of community. As we interviewed past resident Bob Story outside of his former home in Camp Washington, he showed us pictures of the house when he lived there and reminisced about the neighborhood. (See some of the images Story talks about by clicking the image at top.)

"One of the things I want people to remember about Camp Washington was the loyalty of everyone in the neighborhood," Story says. "We weren't a rich community, but we had richness in friendship, richness in helping one another. If you needed help, you didn't have to ask."

He later adds, "Where I live right now, I know two people — there's 1,200 residents. I know two."

The fate of the Crosley building is still up in the air as TWG works on its plans for rehabilitation. In the meantime, it sits empty, as does Bob Story’s former house next door. Houses around Camp Washington have been selling, however, even as fears about a real estate slowdown and recession mount. The neighborhood appears to be on the start of a rebound — but the future is very much unwritten.

Listen to Crosley at the Crossroads by subscribing your favorite podcast platforms.

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.