Saturday, June 15, 2013

Run 52: Fay Apartments

You won’t find a gateway sign that says “Fay Apartments”.  As part of a just-completed $36 million renovation, Fay Apartments has been renamed “The Villages at Roll Hill.”  We struggled with this when creating our list of alphabetical runs—what is the neighborhood’s current, technical name?  In the end, we used Wikipedia’s list of 52 neighborhoods, which still has this one listed as “Fay Apartments.”   

Situated atop the wooded Roll Hill on Cincinnati’s west side, the small neighborhood built in the 1960s has 703 units of affordable housing, a community center, a church, and a school. This satellite image from 2011 clearly demonstrates the neighborhood boundaries while showing off the surrounding woods: 
We started our run in the parking lot of Roll Hill Academy, a public school that serves most of the children who live in the renovated townhomes. When I was finishing my master’s degree, I visited the principal of Roll Hill who was kind enough to talk to me about the relationship between housing and education, which was the focus of my capstone project.  I remember that fall day was gray and drizzly and I was struck by how pretty the trees looked on the hillside.  Today, the weather for our run could not have been more perfect—sixty degrees and bright blue skies:

Leaving Roll Hill Academy, we turned on President Drive and passed the little white church:

Turning into The Villages at Roll Hill, the community center is on the left.  There are roses planted out front and basketball courts out back.  

The news about the neighborhood is changing.  A few years ago, the news stories about Fay Apartments made the neighborhood seem unwelcoming.  Reporters came to Fay to cover crime, mostly.  But lately, the Villages at Roll Hill has been in the news for winning a major award from the National Community Development Association and for seeking Silver LEED certification. 
The streets were quiet this morning and we saw just a handful of people:  a little boy playing in his yard while his mom looked on, a few people sitting on their porches, and an older man jogging.  The streets and sidewalks were very clean and many of the apartments had flowers in planters.

On City View Drive, we jogged up to the edge of the hill to see the view:


Leaving the apartment complex, we ran downhill Baltimore towards Montana.  There we saw this red pipe, or is it some kind of pump?  A meter?

When I worked in the affordable housing program at my last job, I would take new staff on a driving tour of Fay Apartments to talk about the history of subsidized housing and neighborhood design.  But it wasn’t until today—when I got out of my car for this run—that I understood the how the open concept can provide a feeling of security.  And there is plenty of well-kept green space.  Together, these things made running in a relatively unfamiliar place feel comfortable. 

View the full route with mile markers here:


  1. Though an open concept might provide some sense of security for some, this may not work for all residents. Some feel more secure in communities with fences and gated access, this may also add some privacy for them.

    I think that neighborhood around Roll Hill looks safe. Nice run you had there!