Hamilton residents hope to save house in Main Street business district

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Stunning aerial view of downtown Hamilton

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A building on Main Street in Hamilton is getting some love, but it may need a lot more to prevent it from being razed to make way for a new apartment complex with at least 50 units.

Eight people recently sent emails to Hamilton City Council, urging the city to preserve the elegant double residence at 310 Main St., which along the rapidly transforming Main Street business corridor.

“It is a striking building right along the main drag and many people see it every day,” wrote Cynthia DeVine. “When they see this building they get a little taste of the Bavarian history in the city. I love looking at this building from the drive-thru of True West. Please know there are many, many, people in this city who would love to see this building stand for many more years.”

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Hamilton residents hope to save attractive house in Main Street business district but developers want to tear it down to make way for apartments. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Hamilton residents hope to save attractive house in Main Street business district but developers want to tear it down to make way for apartments. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Combined ShapeCaption
Hamilton residents hope to save attractive house in Main Street business district but developers want to tear it down to make way for apartments. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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Carrie O’Neal appreciates the fact Hamilton has placed an emphasis on preserving its rich architectural heritage, she wrote, adding, “I‘d hate to see us turn our backs on the value of preservation and history ... . I think it will diminish the charm of Main Street and reduce property values.”

Jim Cohen, who developed The Marcum apartments, restaurants and other retail spaces downtown across the street from the Marriott and Marcum Park, hopes to create an apartment complex in the vacant property next door, while also likely using the space occupied by the residence.

“If they tore that building down, they’d be throwing a good building away,” said Margo Warminski, preservation director for the Cincinnati Preservation Association, who described its architecture as Tudor Revival, with Craftsman influences.

City Manager Joshua Smith called the double residence “a very awesome-looking structure.” He said he believed it was built in 1911 and designed by the same architect who designed his home in the city’s Rossville Historic District.

“For 4-½ years, the CORE Fund has tried to sell that property, to no luck,” Smith said. “The cost of renovation has been the primary barrier.”

While Smith would like to see the building preserved, there are challenges, he told council members. Among them, an apartment complex on either side of it you would remove sunlight from windows on the east and west sides of the building, he said.

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If a four-story apartment complex rises to the west of the building, “the ability to sell it as a residential structure probably has completely gone away,” Smith said. But perhaps it can be preserved for use as a restaurant, wine bar or offices, he said.

“I did talk to the architect and the developer (last Wednesday) about some of the comments our city clerk has received on this,” he said. “They weren’t overly excited about looking at options, but I did press them to come up with some options.”

He’s hopeful prior to the next council meeting they’ll have an alternate Plan B or C to consider.

Smith agreed with the letter-writers that buildings like it are “what make Hamilton, Ohio, unique, versus most of the areas in Butler County, and frankly, southwest Ohio."

“I’m certainly in favor of saving it, if we can find a path forward on the apartment complex,” he said.

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Smith noted city staff has pushed developers to build more residences on Main Street because it is tough for Main Street shops or restaurants to survive without more foot traffic.

Cohen told the Journal-News there is no final engineering for the proposed complex, which he agreed would help local shop owners. Cohen agreed he would see if the building at 310 Main St. could be saved.

“wWhile it’s a beautiful building, to some extent, it’s obsolete. It’s functionally obsolete,” Cohen said. “It’s not what people want today. It would take a tremendous amount of money to modernize that building.”

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