Downtown’s Windisch Building Endangered, Historic Conservation Board Demolition Hearing on November 19th, 3:00 PM, 805 Central Avenue, Suite 500.

Twelve years ago, the Windisch Building at 819 Elm Street came close to being torn down for new condos. Now the present owners have proposed to demolish it and construct a modern five-story glass building in its place.  Occupying a prominent corner lot, the 1879 Italianate building features a stone storefront, arched windows and bracketed cornice. It was owned for many years by Conrad Windisch of the Windisch Mulhauser Brewery, and later housed restaurants, a grocery and an Izzy Kadetz deli. The building is a contributing property in the Ninth Street local and national historic districts, so demolition and new construction would have to be approved by the Historic Conservation Board.

Purchased by the present owners in 2014, the Windisch Building has been vacant and has been allowed to deteriorate for many years. A search of City permit records, which include activity from 2010 forward, did not show any applications for the repair work at the property.

To grant a Certificate of Appropriateness allowing demolition the HCB will need to determine that the property meets one of three criteria identified the guidelines:

DEMOLITION
Demolition regulations for designated property in Cincinnati are contained in the city’s Historic
Conservation Legislation. Generally, demolition of existing buildings is permitted if one of the following
conditions exist:
a. Demolition has been ordered by the Director of Buildings A Inspections for the public safety
because of an unsafe or dangerous condition which constitutes an emergency.
b. The owner can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Historic Conservation Board that the
structure cannot be reused nor can a reasonable economic return be gained from the use of all or
part of the building proposed for demolition.
c. The demolition request is for an inappropriate addition or for a non-significant portion of a
building and the demolition will not adversely affect those parts of the building which are
significant as determined by the HCB.

 

In this case, it appears that the owner will attempt to demonstrate that the structure cannot be reused nor can a reasonable economic return be gained from use of all or part of the structure.  The revitalization of OTR and Downtown have clearly established that historic structures can be rehabilitated for a reasonable economic return.  This will be an important test case to see if our historic conservation ordinance continues to provide the the strong protection of historic buildings intended by the city council members and the mayors who have adopted and improved the ordinance over many years.

Located on the corner of 9th and Elm, the Windisch Building serves an important anchoring role for other historic resources.  The November 19th, 2018 meeting of the Cincinnati Historic Conservation Board will include an application for demolition of this building.  Please plan on attending if you would like to help save this significant historic building.  CPA will be updating this site as the effort to save it develops.    It would be a tragedy to lose such an early surviving example of 1870’s architecture in downtown Cincinnati.  Demand for housing and retail space is strong and buildings in much worse condition have been successfully rehabilitated.  You can see the HCB Guidelines for the Ninth Local Historic by clicking here or by scrolling to the bottom of this page. Please consider a donation to help fund this effort.

The building was the home of Izzy’s Deli until 1996.

The well-preserved main facade retains original stone storefronts.

The building not only has almost all of the elements identified as defining the Italianate Style in Cincinnati, it has exceptional examples of many of the elements.  They have remained in good condition even as other parts of the structure have been neglected.

From the Ninth Street Guidelines:

ITALIANATE (1860-1890)
• Vertical proportions
• Projecting cornice supported by brackets
• Windows with square or arched openings
• Elaborate molding above and around openings
• Usually 212 Windows
• Raised first floor
• Painted brick or unpainted stone facades
• Flat or shed roof

Please consider joining CPA or making a donation to help fund this effort by CLICKING HERE!

819 Elm extends an historic streetscape.  This view looking north on Ninth Street from Eighth Street shows how the buildings contribute to the character to the street.

 

The intricate bracketed-metal cornice with lunette windows and dentils wraps around two façades and is in good condition.

 

Arched windows feature stone hoodmolds and keystones.  The elaborate, original Italianate cornice wraps the corner making it one of the few surviving examples of how corner buildings dealt with their special conditions.  Cincinnati it very fortunate to have this 1879 work of architecture.  Join the effort to save it.  There will be more information on how to help posted here so check back in.

Link to a PDF of the Ninth Street Historic District Guidelines