wtf? #2 Board of Revision (1. E. 4rth St.)

wtf? is a series of posts dedicated to holding a spotlight on the mysterious and un-explainable decisions of the Hamilton County Board of Revision, currently composed of Auditor Dusty Rhodes (since 1990), County Commissioner Chris Monzel (since 2011) and Treasurer, Robert A. Goering (since 1992).  Both Mr. Rhodes and Monzel are up for re-election in November.

During the decade following Rhodes victory in the wake of the “Friends of Joe” scandal, the Board initially took a more conservative stance on Revision decisions.  But by 2003-2004 the attitude clearly changes and property valuations start to be chopped on the most expensive commercial properties in the Central Business District.  While the property tax rate charged to commercial owners appears to be higher than that of residential owners (88.192116 mills versus 76.508466), in fact our wealthiest property owners have been given a permanent tax cut without the public being aware of it.  This fact is confirmed by figures from Cincinnati Public Schools that show ten years ago residential and commercial property owners contributed 50%/50% to school funding.  In 2012 that ratio had shifted to 60% from individuals and 40% from commercial properties.

1 e. 4

Today we will look at 1 E. Fourth St., at the corner of Vine.  PNC Bank is the most visible tenant with a ground floor branch and I picked the building at random.

Owner:  One E. Fourth Inc., registered with Cleveland address

Built in 1967, Class B office, 273,996 finished square feet, ,437 acres

When the owner filed its first complaint with the Board of Revision on 3/19/2010, the building was valued at $24,022,400 and the board lowered the value to $19,250,000.

The second complaint was filed with the Board of Revision on 2/17/2012 and this time the board lowered the value to $9,800,000.

In two years, the value of this property located in the of heart of the business district, a block from Fountain Square, plummeted over 59%, and the amount of annual property tax collected went from around $625,000 to around  $300,000. The value of the property including land works out to $35.76 a square foot.  Average rent for commercial office space in the Central Business District in the first quarter of 2013 was $19.29 according to Colliers.  Sources in the real estate industry indicate no corresponding drop in actual market prices.

wtf? Hamilton County Board of Revision




6 thoughts on “wtf? #2 Board of Revision (1. E. 4rth St.)

    1. executivedreamer Post author

      It’s definitely getting interest, although not directly from the subjects I’m writing about. There are currently about 200 views a day (which is pretty good after a couple of months – there’s a lot of competition in the world for our attention) – and it’s an elite audience that includes the politically savvy, folks in the media and friends at City Hall. — I’m very hopeful we can improve the situation. The light of day consistently applied does wonders for accountability. — Thanks for reading.

    1. executivedreamer Post author

      The frightening part, Adolfo, is that this example is the norm. That’s why I had to turn it into a series as it is almost impossible to find a commercial property in the CBD that hasn’t had a big cut in valuation by the Board of Revision. Before it’s time to vote in November, I hope this becomes an issue.

  1. executivedreamer Post author

    If I do a wtf? post everyday, I suspect there’s enough material to last for years. Almost every single building downtown – and I mean that literally – is grossly undervalued or has been abated. But I will check Phase 1 at the Banks. I haven’t even started to look there. I wonder if there’s anyway to crowd source and quantify the research.


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