Victorian House on Frankfort Avenue - December 2009 (BS File Photo)
Victorian House on Frankfort Avenue - December 2009 (BS File Photo)
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Just when I thought the system was going to demonstrate its lack of teeth once again, a Judge has ordered Frank Faris, owner of Genny’s Diner, to give away a Victorian house he let dilapidate on Frankfort Avenue. Faris now has until April 1 to find someone willing to take the property for free and fix up the once beautiful home.

Broken Sidewalk broke the news about an ultimatum issued for the house last year when Faris was ordered to either sell the house, make appropriate repairs, or go to jail. He had posted a “For Sale” sign but couldn’t find a buyer by the court deadline of January 25. Instead of sending Faris to jail in January, a judge issued a deadline extension to allow Faris to sell the house to the city. That deadline expired March 1 with no deal.

You can check out a timeline of events that led up to yesterday’s court decision on the last article and check out a series of photographs detailing the 19th century structure’s decay over the last ten years.

Faris purchased the Queen Anne style house in 2001 for $100,000 and had planned to raze the structure for a few parking spaces. He waited years before attempting to tear the house down, and the Clifton neighborhood had subsequently been declared a Local Landmark District with new rules against the demolition.

The house has suffered over the past nine years battling the elements and two fires. It still could be restored if the right party is found willing to take on the project and perhaps the free price tag will be just enough to get this one going. We’ll see if these teeth have any bite to them at the next hearing April 1.

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Branden Klayko


  1. Faris’ lawyer was quoted somewhere saying it would cots $200,000 to fix up the house, but I would guess that’s a fairly conservative number. If someone does take on the project and wants to convert it to commercial use, it could me more affordable to just fix up the outside (i.e. siding and windows, etc.) and redo the first floor. The second floor can always be finished later.

    I would think, though, that the free price tag could make a renovation at a couple hundred thousand to be feasible if someone is willing to take the project on.

  2. If there are no takers, even at the attractive bargain price of $0, does that in some sense vindicate Faris in wanting to tear it down (even though it wouldn’t be much comfort to him in jail, where he’ll presumably be if he can’t give it away)?

    $200,000 or more to get it in shape for business is a hefty, probably prohibitive price tag for a “youth hostel” or another of the types of small businesses in that area. Maybe it should be torn down.

  3. i doubt it vindicates faris, talkfan, since the house was in good condition when he bought it and – under his watch – has been encouraged to fall apart, burn, etc.

  4. Wouldn’t it have been easier just to take proactive measures to keep the building from degrading to this extent?

    I realize there was a fire at one point, but from an uninformed eye at least, it seems that very little was done to prevent weather and other destructive elements from rendering this property practically worthless. It may be easier to argue that the building may be better off torn down, but that argument would not have been so strong just a few years back, and perhaps that was the point of letting it go like this in the first place.

  5. Who’s going to want a house, even for free, that will require all that work when the city is basically promising jail time, or a complete and total loss in your investment if it is not brought up to their standards? Sounds like the city needs to give him what he paid for it and renovate it themselves, or drop this nonsense.

  6. the issue isn’t that it hasn’t been brought up to their standards, aaron. it’s WILLFUL and INTENTIONAL neglect. just like your comment is a willful and intentional mis-representation of the situation.

  7. Thanks for being a jerk. You really make the internet a nice place to be. I hate seeing a nice place go to waste just as much as the next but why pick on this one?

    I mean, no one from the local government is telling my neighbor they have to clean up their yard after someone drove into a wooden fence and all of the little pieces of wood are laying all over by our main street, months after it happened… and every other house in the neighborhood is nice and tidy.

  8. Why pick on this one? Because the owner destroyed a piece of history and a contributing structure today for Frankfort Ave.

  9. Call me libertarian… I just don’t think it’s the govt’s job to tell someone what to do, unless he signed something when he bought it that said he’ll keep it the way the local authorities want it to be kept.

    If they want it, they should buy it from him. Waste of tax dollars? let the voters decide.

  10. It is government’s job to enforce laws prohibiting someone from DESTROYING a piece of historic real estate. Can we agree on that?

  11. Eh. Nothing against it really. I just dont like the idea of forcing him to GIVE AWAY the property, regardless of his ability to repair or maintain it. the land is worth something, even without the house.

  12. Based on his actions, or inactions, for the better part of the last decade, no one is forcing him into anything…finally though they are holding him accountable.

  13. The Genny’s diner building is UGLY and DIRTY. I would suggest that Mr. Faris remodel/expand this building and then relocate his restaurant here. The current no sidewalk, no landscaping s#*thole of a restaurant is a black eye on the Frankfort avenue streetscape.

  14. As a pragmatic preservationist, even I admit it’s difficult to sort all this out and take a hard stand. Through one prism, it’s obvious the building should be torn down, but through another one, tearing it down would be a travesty and would vindicate Faris’ gross mistreatment of the property. The only position I could seem to muster is essentially what we’ve ended up with — that Faris should sell the building for dirt-cheap or nothing to somebody willing to take on the challenge of rehabilitating the building.

    I would especially like to take note of the myriad comments in the C-J article about this, where we’re seeing a lot of anonymous ones screaming about the constitutional property rights that Faris possesses. So, basically, Faris theoretically has the 100% right to do *anything* to his property, including total degradation over a decade, while everyone in the neighborhood has zero rights to have a say about it, and while the rule of law has no controlling authority. This is absolutely a misinterpretation of the U.S. Constitution, and the abject ignorance behind this lame argument is rather alarming. Where is this strange argument coming from, and who/what misinformed all these people, not a one who uses their real name to stand behind such nonsensical positions. Of course, many of them would label me a Marxist or Communist for standing up for all stakeholders’ rights and for the rule of law — that’s how crazy these people seem to be.

  15. If Mr. Faris were to relocate his restaurant into the remodeled (using historical tax credits) victorian building, he should then be allowed to demolish his current building and put in a proper parking lot with landscaping. This little stretch of bars/restaurant could support an expanded 2-level, more bar like, genny’s diner. I for one would give this restaurant/bar more business if it were located in a grand building instead of the current dump. Probably too late, but this would have been the ideal and pragmatic solution to the problem.

  16. @Aaron Anderson
    “Thanks for being a jerk. You really make the internet a nice place to be.”

    The internets is scary! Dude everyone is an arsehole on the internet get used to it or unplug your router. Getting grumpy just proves you’re a noob.

    @Steve Magruder

    I agree with you from a strictly constitutional standpoint, but the constitution also allows local governments to govern themselves to an extent. So if they have a cut and dry law regarding historic properties, then that is that and IMO the courts decision is fully constitutional.

    And finally
    @ Mr. Faris (who I wish would comment, please please please)
    AHA! Serves you right butthead

  17. Is anyone gonna get bent out o shape about the mansion that’s gonna get razed by some rich guy in Indian Hills area?It dates back to 1898 or thereabouts.Can anyone name me a restaurant or bar that existed BEFORE Frank Faris opened his diner? Besides the KFC that closed because they thought the neighborhood was in decline and dangerous.