3CDC to partner with city to save at-risk historic church in Over-the-Rhine

Those familiar with Over-the-Rhine know that the historic church located at 15th and Race Streets has seen better days.  Over the past two years the vacant church has been badly damaged by separate wind and lightening storms which have put the structure into a vulnerable situation.

The structure's roof is bowing such that it's severely at-risk for the upcoming winter and the snow it usually brings.  As a result, the City of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) have partnered to stabilize the structure in the coming weeks.

"Ideally we would like to save all of the buildings in Over-The-Rhine," said Christy Samad, Communications Assistant, 3CDC.  "Although the church is further north than our current developments we noticed it was deteriorating quickly and we had to go in and save it."

The partnership will include $300,000 from the City, and another $400-450,000 from 3CDC depending on final cost estimates.  Officials hope to start stabilization work in the coming weeks so that the structure is secure long before the threatening winter months approach.

The structure is located on the northern edge of $70 million worth of development currently taking place on or nearby this stretch of Race Street.  Those developments will eventually include 200 housing units, 63,000 square feet of commercial space, and 300 parking spaces which should all be completed by February 2011.  Along Race Street itself, 3CDC owns or controls a total of 33 buildings from Central Parkway to Liberty Street.

"I believe this is the third oldest church in Cincinnati, and its importance to the fabric of OTR can't be overstated," said Danny Klingler, Director, OTR ADOPT.  "It has a really massive presence at the corner of Race and 15th, and anchors a very highly intact stretch of historic buildings.  The building has a kind of noble presence that has to be experienced up close, and I am very relieved to hear it will be saved."

Once stabilized, the building will need an adaptive reuse plan in place before the development corporation proceeds on any redevelopment.  The challenge with this structure is the difficulty of reuse.  Consequently, 3CDC is asking the public to submit their ideas on how to reuse the 100-plus year-old church structure to Christy Samad at [email protected].

"We are trying to figure out what should be done with the structure, and we're also looking to find old pictures of the churches steeples before they were destroyed so that we can accurately restore them.  We really want to preserve its historic feel and maintain this important piece of OTR's historic architecture."

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
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