gentrification

West End school’s slated renovation sparks memories of neighborhood’s history of gentrification

CINCINNATI — Golan Marom may not be from the West End, but he said feels a connection to the buildings in the neighborhood anyway.

“The architecture and the history of that area, I think, is really, really wonderful,” Marom, the CEO and founder of Zada Development, said. “I think that it’s unique in that it just has its own character to it.”

The developer from New York is fixated on redeveloping the Heberle Elementary School building on Freeman Avenue, a vacant property he acquired about two years ago. Built in 1929, the school has been closed since 2007 because of its poor condition and students’ declining enrollment. Some in the neighborhood say the building has been languishing over time, as evidenced by its cracked and boarded up windows and the weeds springing up from the pavement in its front yard. In 2018, it was reported that a part of the building’s facade fell, sending bricks into the street.

Still, despite the extensive repairs that will have to be made to the building, Marom is enamored with Heberle’s charm. His vision is to rehabilitate it into a set of lofts, specifically for artists and recent college grads, as well as commercial space. He said he wants to serve the local community and create a living space that is welcoming to young people.

“What I think that the community’s lacking is not necessarily affordable housing, but maybe something, you know, a step above that,” Marom said. “You know, so housing that’s unassisted but that’s at a price point that people that are starting their lives, you know, can feel comfortable in.”

Marom’s plans are a steep departure from the original plans to redevelop Heberle. He said there were once plans to turn the school into a luxury housing space within a larger

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