January 8, 2024
Dear Fort Wright Residents, Business Owners, and Interested Parties:
We have recently received some questions regarding the abandoned and dilapidated property located at 3385 Madison Pike. As a result, we would like to dispel misconceptions and ensure you have the latest facts and details about this longstanding problem property.
This property has changed hands several times in the last few years and continues to be privately owned and maintained. The City of Fort Wright is not now, nor has it ever been, one of the property owners. Sadly, this once grand property has sat vacant and neglected by previous owners for many years.
Unfortunately, this property has fallen into severe disrepair (see the photos provided by the current owner below) and is unsafe for habitation. Because it was abandoned and vacant, it has from time to time been a site for drug use, drug sales, and other crimes creating many safety concerns for our community and our emergency first responders. As a result of these safety concerns and the various property maintenance complaints we have received about the unsightly nature of the building and property, our Code Enforcement staff have issued numerous code violations and fined the various property owners to bring the property into compliance with our property maintenance standards.
Some years ago, local lawyer and former Fort Wright City Attorney Pete Summe operated his law firm at this site. Sadly, Pete passed away suddenly in 2012 and since his untimely passing, the property has been sold several times to various developers. This site was used for commercial purposes for many years prior to being abandoned and sits in a commercial zone. The property is not listed in any known historic registry and most recently was purchased by the JRCJ Real Estate Group. The current plan calls for it to be the future home of a Sonic Drive-In Restaurant. Previous plans by former site owners to develop various auto parts stores on the site stalled and were abandoned by the developers for unknown reasons.
This property, as well as much of the surrounding area, is zoned Highway Oriented Commercial (HOC). The HOC Zone allows for the development of individual retail and service businesses that are primarily oriented towards serving the traveling public or which require immediate access to a regional transportation system. The Sonic Drive-In Restaurant planned for development is a permitted use in this zone. The city has no legal authority to block this use and no legal authority to stop a private property owner from demolishing this unsafe and unsightly building to develop their property in accordance with our zoning code.
A demolition permit for the existing structure was approved by Planning and Development Services of Kenton County (PDSKC). All necessary zoning applications filed and reviewed related to this development to date are compliant with our zoning code which can be accessed here. While we anticipate further development activity to follow this year, the exact timing of the project is unknown to us currently.
We appreciate and we support our thriving business community as a significant amount of the revenue that makes critical city services possible is derived from our growing business community. As you can see in the screenshot from our most recent audit here, $3,480,041 (roughly 46%) of our revenue came from business related taxes and fees in fiscal year 2023. For those interested in more details, you can access all financial information including audits and our Financial Transparency portal here.
The addition of this new business will make effective use of this now problem site. It brings revenue, jobs, and new dining options to Fort Wright and the surrounding community. We would like to take this opportunity to welcome Sonic to our community and wish them much success at this location.
We would also like to remind everyone that this is private property, and the building is significantly dilapidated and unsafe to enter. We urge people to stay out of the building and off the property for their own safety.
We will increase police surveillance of the site to ensure the safety of the community until the building is demolished. Vandals, thieves, and trespassers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
City Council and I thank you for your interest in the Fort Wright community. 2024 is shaping up to be another wonderful year for the City and we hope that each of you have a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year!
Mayor, City of Fort Wright
To view the full photo gallery of images from inside 3385 Madison Pike, please click here.