27 August 2009


A few weeks ago, the Cincinnati Business Courier had an article highlighting the demolition by neglect that one property owner, Gale Smith has been conducting at the corner of Elm and Liberty. Here is a picture of 1703 Elm Street, one of his remaining buildings:

This got me thinking about the 1500 block of Elm, where I once lived. I used to see another a block south of this every day. It was vacant, but still a good quality building. I always liked it and always wondered why it was vacant. I heard that the owner was named Karkadoulias, and that he/she was the same person who had produced this sculpture that is now at Sawyer Point Park:

Anyway, the building I lived near was 1527 Elm. I later found out that the Karkadoulias' bought the building in 1979! Heck, Gale Smith only bought his six years ago.

So this is what that once beautiful building looks like after 30 years of neglect and vacancy:

The rear:

When I first noticed this building, it had windows with glass, and a good roof. The metal roof blew off last September, and has not been repaired yet:

Mercene Karkadoulias owns a few buildings in Over the Rhine (and in other neighborhoods), all bought decades ago for a pitance and most vacant and deteriorating. Here is another one, 1733 Vine:

The City of Cincinnati barricades these buildings and puts the expense on the tax bill:

And another one she owns, recently had a shooting on the doorstep.

I really don't mean to pick on this one owner, but unfortunately this kind of situation is all too common. From what I understand, Mercene Karkadoulias has some extenuating circumstances in her life. But when you look into all these cases of vacant buildings and slumlords, they all have extenuating circumstances of some kind. I met one man who owned several buildings who was quite paranoid and not mentally stable, but he was somehow able to buy some vacant buildings and drive them into the ground. Now he owns some vacant lots with tax liens. Some lack the technical skills or just have no idea where to start. But for whatever reason they don't want to sell. We, the community, should not allow this to happen.

Whatever the circumstances, there is no excuse on earth for owning a building for 30 years and letting it deteriorate to the point of collapse. Even if it was not a historic building in a significant historic district, would you want this building as your neighbor? Either fix it up or sell it to someone who can.

To top it all off, Ms. Karkadoulias recently put For Sale signs some buildings. The asking price for 1527 Elm? $95,000, firm. Mind-boggling.


Quimbob said...

Do people just wake up and decide to be slumlords ? Did I miss a late night infomercial ?
Maybe the city should launch an investigation into the mental stability of these folks.
I'm not seeing 1523 Elm on the auditor's site.

CityKin said...

^typo corrected, 1527 Elm.

Quimbob said...

^ That's appraised at about $40k.

John Schneider said...

I think his name is actually "Gayle Smith."

CityKin said...

^I just corrected a lot of typos. Did this one pretty late at night.

Dave said...

Karkadoulias....sounds Greek to me.

Anonymous said...

Add 400 Forest Avenue in Avondale to your list. This was a functioning property, well maintained until the current owner bought it in 2005(?) The couple by doing nothing since then is creating a disaster out of what could and should be one of the most important, impressive and historic buildings in that area. It sits empty, windows missing, major amount of roof tiles missing, they have been forced to board up the ground floor openings. They must live far away and can't get to the place to check on it... wrong, they live NEXT DOOR! If you complain, the city shows up with a backhoe.

Anonymous said...

It seems like adverse possession in Ohio takes 21 years. That is ridiculous. If it were more like five then things like this would be less likely to happen. People not suited to take on the responsibility of owning property if there were actual explicit responsibilities and reasonable enforcement.


Anonymous said...

This sir was some one I was very close to. She was perfectly mentally stable... you do not need to say this without getting to know her, this got me very agitated. Yes, Karkadoulias is Greek. But I do not appreciate you saying this and would like you to change it. Thank you. And I hope you do realize she died recently. Also, she owned many buildings, we had a program for special needs adults and she was not young and it was very hard for her to get around to all the buildings, she was a very extraordinary woman.