Greenfield’s Empty Downtown, Is There Hope?

It is very hard for me to walk down Jefferson Street and not question the fate of several of its three-story buildings. This is especially true of those on the north side between the post office and Washington Street. There little evidence that any attention has been given to basic maintenance and it’s not hard to imagine interior conditions subjected to neglected roofs and broken windows. The upper floors of several buildings are little more than pigeon lofts.

Larry 'n NassauWhen Richard Sapienza was living in Greenfield he often spoke of developing these buildings into affordable housing units. On the surface the idea has merit but if you dig just a little you quickly realize the enormous costs involved. The expense of making them accessible for the handicapped and elderly would be above what most local investors could afford, let alone all the other renovation work that would be required.

But, this is the kind of thing that is happening everyday in the Over the Rhine district of Cincinnati. I just read about a five-story OTR building on Republic Street that is being turned into fourteen apartments ranging from one to three bedrooms with commercial space on the ground floor. Total cost is three million with funding assistance coming from state and federal tax breaks.

Is something similar possible in Greenfield? I don’t have a clue other than I know it would require a huge effort, a talented and motivated organization pushing it forward, and investors with the pockets and willingness to take the risks.

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