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Another Big FC Cincinnati Vote Looms For City Council

May 29, 2019

Cincinnati City Council could vote Thursday on a couple issues related to the FC Cincinnati stadium project in the West End.

One would vacate remaining portions of 15th Street and Nome Alley near the site so the team could use the rights-of-way to access a parking garage for the stadium. The other would allow those small pieces of land to be included in the project footprint, or planned development, already approved by the city earlier this year.  

Designer Greg Otis said the team made the change for parking garage access at the request of the city.  

"We have about 30 days of permitted construction that can be completed by the end of June, and then construction will halt," Otis said. "This request would allow us to maintain the construction schedule."

While council's Economic Growth and Zoning committee approved the items Wednesday, it's not clear there's a council majority willing to do the same.  

Some council members are concerned for tenants in two apartment buildings now owned by the team.  Those residents are being asked to voluntarily leave their homes by Friday or face eviction. Those buildings are located at 421 Wade Street and 1559 Central Avenue.  They are not part of the proposal before council Thursday, but they likely will be in the future.

The team had offered to let the tenants remain in their homes rent free through the end of October if they signed an agreement by May 31. That proposal would give each tenant $2,500 once they vacate and paid for their moving expenses.

John Schrider is an attorney for the Legal Aid Society, who's representing those tenants.

"Let's be clear: FC is sticking to its deadline, this artificial deadline, of May 31," Schrider said. "And they are threatening to evict the tenants instead of continuing to try to work towards a solution to this problem. It just isn't right."

The tenants and team representatives had a meeting last Friday, and the residents were hopeful a solution was coming together.  That plan would allow for new housing to be constructed for the tenants, and they would be able to stay in their current apartments until it was completed.  But the tenants said that offer was off the table at the start of this week.

The team has not commented on the most recent negotiations.

Kim Dillard's great aunt, 99-year-old Mary Page, lives in one of the units on Wade Street.  Dillard said the situation is stressful and she believes it's affecting Page's health.

"If it was done right from the beginning, to alert these residents that this was going to be happening, we wouldn't be here today," Dillard said. "The notice that was given by the landlord in February to say that the building was sold in January. And you have 70 days to move and most of the people are on a month-to-month income, and they're on Section 8. I found out that process does not work in 70 days."

In April, Council Members David Mann and P.G. Sittenfeld proposed FC Cincinnati move the tenants from Wade Street to available units in the Central Avenue building.

But FCC officials rejected that plan saying they're not landlords, and the team has other plans for the properties.  The buildings were originally in a zoning change request sent to the city, but were later removed because of some council members concerns for the tenants.

Mann and Sittenfeld along with Council Member Greg Landsman are the swing votes on the zoning issues.  All three need to vote yes in order for the changes to be adopted. If even one says no, there likely aren't five majority votes.  

Council Member Christopher Smitherman is not voting on the FCC issue because one of his family members owns a company doing work on the stadium project.