City Councilmember Jeff Pasto, at podium, and City Manager Harry Black, at right, announced the Neighborhood Enhancement Program kickoff in Avondale. Photo by Casey Weldon
By Rocky Mertz
City Councilmember Jeff Pastor and City Manager Harry Black joined an overflow crowd of Avondale residents and community partners on Blair Avenue on March 1 to kick off the longest and largest Neighborhood Enhancement Program (NEP) in history.
Normally a 90-day blitz, this NEP will run for eight months, from March 1 to October 31. During that time a team of City departments, residents and partner agencies will come together for numerous beautification efforts, crimefighting initiatives, and neighborhood support projects.
One thing that will make this NEP unique is the overall size. The Avondale NEP – the 25th in program history – will cover more than 1 square mile of the neighborhood, which equates to nearly 1,800 parcels of land. That area consists of more than 1,200 buildings and accounts for more than 3,400 housing units.
“This morning I kicked off the Neighborhood Enhancement Program for 2018. Avondale is alive and a destination for the future,” said Councilmember Pastor who chairs the Neighborhoods committee. “We are a proud partner with Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation and the Avondale Community Council to increase home ownership. What began today will lead the way for even better tomorrows for the residents in Avondale.”
“This initiative offers the City a unique opportunity to provide resources and support to residents who want to make a true, meaningful and lasting difference in their neighborhood,” added City Manager Harry Black. “Nothing happens overnight. It is going to take a lot of time to get where we want to be. But based on the energy we see here today and the buy-in we’ve already received from the community, we’re very excited about the direction we’re headed.”
This NEP will follow the success of last year’s Westwood/East Westwood NEP, quite literally, by following the path of the ongoing PIVOT initiative. The Cincinnati Police Department is using the place-based violence reduction strategy to focus on three target areas inside the Avondale NEP zone.
The highlight of Thursday’s event was the demolition of a decade-old “community nuisance” property at 3420 Hallwood Place, a former apartment building with a history of housing drug activity and violent crime.
“I am very excited to finally see this eyesore removed. Hopefully this will make Blair Avenue a better place to live,” said Jeffrey Ison, one of several longtime Blair Avenue homeowners in attendance.
It is important to note that none of this would be possible without the continued support of various partners.
In particular the Hamilton County Land Reutilization Corporation and Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority have spent many hours and resources supporting the NEP effort in Avondale.
“The Redevelopment Authority and Landbank are excited to work with the City, Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation, Avondale Community Council and other community partners to support the Avondale NEP,” said Jessica Powell, vice president of the Hamilton County Land Reutilization Corporation.
“The Landbank acquired the blighted apartment building on Hallwood and was able to demolish it today in partnership with the City using our state demolition funds. We are excited to have provided such a tangible accomplishment for the start of this important process. We look forward to finding ways to use the tools of the Landbank and GCRA throughout the Avondale NEP process and beyond.”
Other elements of the NEP will be revealed over the next few months, including cleanup and volunteer opportunities, as well as several signature projects that will address specific requests made by a stakeholder group of residents.
Additional information about the Avondale NEP and the Neighborhood Enhancement Program in general are available at http://bit.ly/2HSrgvB
Avondale NEP partner organizations are Avondale Community Council, Avondale Community Development Corporation, Hamilton County Land Reutilization Corporation, Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, American Red Cross, UC Center for Community Engagement, BB&T Bank, US Bank, PNC Bank, Huntington Bank, First Financial Bank, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, The Home Ownership Center of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors, People Working Cooperatively Inc., Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency, Habitat for Humanity, Community Police Partnering Center, Neyer Properties, Terrex Development and Construction, Messer Construction, Kulkarni Properties, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, UC Health, Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio, Uptown Consortium and Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors
Cincinnati Community ToolBank
The Community Builders