The historic board offers the go-ahead for the Liberty and Elm OTR undertaking

Cincinnati’s Historic Conservation Board gave the go-ahead for a luxury apartment complex on Liberty and Elm Streets in Over-the-Rhine in a 3-2 vote over objections from some historic neighborhood residents.

The main objections to Freeport Row development during a hearing on Monday centered on the building’s 5-story height, which is lower than first suggested in 2016, and the building’s balconies, which have been criticized for being too suburban.

That was why Tim Voss, Herb Weiss and Tom Sunderman were there. Allison McKenzie and Pamela Smith-Dobbins were against the project. Board member Bob Zielasko has withdrawn and not voted. Ean Siemer was absent from the hearing held about Zoom pandemic security measures.

The board’s discussion took place privately, which is legally permissible. When the board members returned to the public part of the meeting, the vote was taken without explanation.

In an employee report from the city’s nature conservation office, it was recommended that the apartment complex be continued as it complies with the new building guidelines for the historic district.

The project was assessed, among other things, on the basis of the building height, the materials and the distance from the street.

The project was scrutinized by some in the neighborhood earlier this year when the Cincinnati City Council approved tax incentives for the project. Today’s vote is not the final step, however. A second vote by the planning committee and a final vote by the city council for approval is then required.

Cincinnati City Council approved roughly $ 20 million in tax incentives for the $ 80 million mixed-use project in a 5-4 vote on Feb. 3.

The project is a residential building with 300 residential units, a commercial area of ​​15,000 square meters, a parking garage with 200 parking spaces, a pool, a roof terrace and other amenities, which are to be built on a largely vacant lot as well as on Liberty and Elm streets.

Neighborhood groups and community activists called for affordable housing to be included in the project, but an alternative last-minute plan that did so found insufficient support.