| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Pinterest RSS Feed

Development News

1938 Articles | Page: | Show All

Pet Wants caters to four-legged friends at Findlay Market

Michele Hobbs and Amanda Broughton may be the proprietors of Pet Wants, a new pet-needs store now open at Findlay Market in Stand 218, but there are quite a few more people who might feel a sense of ownership in the operation, too.

"There's Joe Thoman of JT Architects. This guy does a CAD drawing of what our store could look like using their wood. Kate Schmidt basically designed these [shelving] units for us. We've had friends offer to paint murals. The guys down at Underdog Wood have agreed to cut and preassemble everything. I have no explanation for it but they say do good things and good things will happen to you. It's just good people doing good things. It's as basic as that."

In a venture that truly has a barn-raising feel to it, Hobbs and Broughton are looking to provide for an element of the downtown community that has helped them so much already: downtown pet owners and the animals they love. "I live downtown and some of the challenges are, we shop Findlay Market every week but have to drive five, ten miles to pick up cat litter or dog food," Hobbs explains. "And it's inconvenient. Findlay Market has the shoppers and everyone's going there to buy their own foods. To me it was a perfect fit."

Beginning with the location, everything about the business is stamped with local flavor -- figuratively and literally.

"We have a complete line of nutritionally balanced foods made in Ohio," Hobbs says. "It's made once a month so it's very fresh.  There aren't any places you're going to find fresher food and keep the money in Ohio.  All of it." There are even products for sale specific to the neighborhood.

"We partnered with local butchers at Findlay Market to make in-house pet jerky."

In an interesting wrinkle, Pet Wants is also throwing a proverbial bone to those who want to shop what Hobbs proudly describes as a locally-sourced, future-friendly business, but who might live outside the Findlay Market area.  By offering a weekly subscription service for fifteen dollars that includes free delivery within five miles of the Market, Hobbs will serve pet owners -- with a twist.  Deliveries will be handled by area cab drivers waiting through the slow midday hours, bolstering their revenue stream and harnessing a latent resource.

"There are cabbies lined up at 3pm with nothing to do," she says. "I'm going to keep these cabbies busy instead of sitting there idling."

In addition to the unique products and services, Hobbs said she and Broughton wanted to make the space one-of-a-kind, as well, from the salvaged and reconstituted wood from Underdog Wood, to an antique penny-pony ride out front.  Pet Wants is clearly hungry to innovate, and Hobbs seems almost overcome by how hungry a diverse community of people and talents has been to help realize each new idea.

"I would lay in bed and think, Oh my god, this is really happening the way I envisioned it. I'm amazed."

You can follow Pet Wants on Twitter.

Writer: Jeremy Mosher
Photography by Tiffani Fisher

NKAPC develops plan to preserve and transform Linden Gateway District

When the City of Covington updated its Comprehensive Plan in 2006 it became clear that a specific vision was needed for the 12th Street corridor. Poised for a widening project that is now underway and facing the addition of the new St. Elizabeth medical facility, the importance of updating such a plan became even more evident.

"In 2007 we started to study the larger area and developed some recommendations along the 12th Street corridor," explained Andy Videkovich, Project Manager and Principal Planner with the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission (NKAPC).

Covington's City Commission appointed a Steering Committee in the summer of 2009 to work with NKAPC to explore and implement the new land use recommendations developed in the Linden Gateway Small Area Study.  The result was the creation of a new zoning district called the Linden Gateway District (LGD).

The hope is to maintain a pedestrian friendly, mixed-use corridor that is compatible with adjacent residential neighborhoods - one that compliments the area's design guidelines and is consistent with the land use and transportation goals and objectives set out for the Linden Gateway District.

"The 12th Street project has been in the works for some time and people have been excited about the possibilities for the area as a result of the project," Videkovich said.  "But people were also concerned how new development and investment would work with the surrounding historic neighborhood."

To address this, the NKAPC and Steering Committee worked with neighborhood stakeholders to  develop the LGD regulations that, when complete, will function similarly to form-based codes being developed elsewhere throughout the region.

The regulating plan will be the first of its kind in Kenton County and will include the overall LGD zoning district made up of 5 sub-districts.  According to Videkovich, this approach will ensure that any new development or investment maintains compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood.

Officials say that the new guidelines are currently working their way through the approval process.  After going to the City Commission, then to the Kenton County Planning Commission, the guidelines will return to the Covington City Commission for formal adoption sometime this fall.  Those interested in giving feedback on the proposed regulations can do so by contacting Andy Videkovich at avidekovich@nkapc.org or by calling (859) 331-8980.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Tiffani Fisher
Rendering Provided
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy

Cincinnati firm thrives by doing complex building projects including Music Hall renovation

It's not often that you hear about a firm looking to find the most challenging projects possible, but that is exactly what Cincinnati-based THP Limited does.  The architecture and engineering firm not only prefers those types of projects, but they thrive on them earning industry awards for major projects like The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge in Covington.

"The Ascent was a very unique and complex building, and one of the things we worked on from the beginning is whether or not the building would lean," explained Shayne Manning, Project Manager & Principal-in-Charge on The Ascent project.  "What we did was lean the columns to follow the skin of the building which has resulted in every floor being different within."

The leaning columns found within The Ascent differ from another prominent Cincinnati project THP was involved with on the University of Cincinnati's campus.  At the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies, the columns are vertical and the walls bend - leaving a gap in between the columns and the building's skin - something not seen as being desirable for a high-end residential condo building.

The shape of The Ascent also challenged THP as they worked with the winds found within the Ohio River Valley.  The firm had to conduct wind tunnel studies on the free-form building design to ensure its stability during unpredictable weather events.

The result of the free-form building design is a dramatic roof that slopes from the 11th Floor of the building to its pinnacle.  The 34-degree slope ascends vertically 160 feet and allows for nine penthouse terraces that bisect the roof.

The work was not only challenging for THP, but rewarding as well.  The firm picked up the Grand Award for Engineering Excellence from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) in 2009, and another award in the category of Residential Buildings from the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (CSRI) in March 2010.

"The inherently flexible properties of reinforced concrete enables professionals to express their unique vision in building and bridge projects," stated Bob Risser, CRSI President.  "The CRSI Design Awards program recognizes designers for their creativity in using this great material."

THP has recently been tapped for the $100 million Music Hall renovation project in historic Over-the-Rhine and plans to begin its initial survey work in July 2010, with an expectation of approximately two years worth of work before completion.  THP will be working with Cincinnati-based GBBN Architects and New York-based Polsheck Partnership Architects which worked on the renovation of New York City's Carnegie Hall.

"These awards and these projects are very much a source of pride because we like to be involved with complex structures," Manning concluded.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy

Cincinnati Food Truck Alliance pushing new policies surrounding industry

When Cafe de Wheels first started its food truck operations in December 2009 there wasn't much to know.  Owner Thomas Acito was left to negotiate locations for his truck throughout downtown Cincinnati during its busy and crowded lunch hours.  Since that time Senor Roy's Taco Patrol and Gold Star Chili's 'Chilimobile' have joined the fold, and Taco Azul will be entering in the food truck scene later this summer.

The ambiguity of public policy surrounding food truck vending in Cincinnati has been the primary focus of the newly formed Cincinnati Food Truck Alliance headed up by Cafe de Wheels' Acito and supported, in part, by Taco Azul's Gary Sims.

"I have read nothing yet that seems to clearly state where you can and can not operate," Sims explained.  "There have even been cases where the police have been involved and even they didn't seem to know."

Last week,City Council member Laure Quinlivan proposed three city-owned "mobile food vendor" locations throughout downtown Cincinnati that would help further accommodate the growing popularity of food trucks within Cincinnati's crowded city center.  Presently food trucks are not allowed to park on the streets in downtown Cincinnati during busy lunch hours.  As a result, Cafe de Wheels and Senor Roys are often found on the periphery of downtown Cincinnati where they can park on private property.

"I want to increase the vitality of our street life and spread activity from Fountain Square to other parts of downtown," Quinlivan stated. "I think giving mobile food vendors a few key areas to do business will help accomplish that. This is also an avenue for talented chefs to start a small business."

The three locations proposed by Quinlivan would support between 10 to 20 mobile food truck vendors depending on configuration and size, and would be located so that they would not compete with existing restaurants.  To secure a spot, vendors would have to get a permit from the City and could then set up operations at the foot of the Purple People Bridge, the City-owned parking lot at 6th and Race streets, or on Court Street a half-block east of Vine Street.  Permits would cost between $400 to $800 depending upon the size of the food truck.

"The pricing is very fair compared with what is being charged at private lots, and we still have the right to go to any private lot of our choice," Sims stated.  "We will learn as we go, but as long as City Council is willing to adjust it will be good, and as far as I'm concerned it's a good pilot program."

The plan was well received by most in attendance at the meeting last week, with most in attendance encouraging Councilmembers to come up with policies that bring more food trucks to Cincinnati's center city.

Cincinnati's existing and future food trucks are best tracked online either through their Twitter accounts, or by checking their respective websites and Facebook pages.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy

Traditional Vietnamese cuisine comes to Over-the-Rhine

Findlay Market is poised for yet another new tenant, but this one will be slightly different from the new bakery and pet store that have recently opened up shop in Ohio's oldest public market.  Pho Lang Thang is expected to open mid-July 2010 and will feature authentic Vietnamese food served in a quick, dine-in restaurant that seats about 35 people.

Located in the former Paula's Cafe on the north side of the market house in between the Internet Cafe and Madison's, Pho Lang Thang will transform the 1,200 square-foot space over the next month thanks to a three-way partnership between two brothers and a friend who all have deep roots to Vietnam.

"We are trying to stay true to Vietnamese culture including the way the food is prepared," explained Duy Nguyen.  "All of our recipes are a fusion between our families' recipes and our own unique style."

Nguyen explained that the name Pho Lang Thang helps explain the ethos behind the new restaurant with "Pho" being the national dish, and "Lang Thang" meaning 'to wander.'

"Lang Thang is part of a saying that our parents would always yell at us meaning, 'From night till day, all you do is wander.'  It's not a nice saying by any means - it is really saying we have no direction in life and all we do is party and wander the Earth," owner David Le said.  "But we are re-empowering the word and using it to describe someone with more of a free spirit who is passionate about life and doing what they love."

The three partners are all residents of Over-the-Rhine and excited about the new restaurant's location in their neighborhood, and the opportunities that it presents.

"Findlay Market is a great place for culinary businesses to get started because of all the support there, and we thought the people shopping at Findlay Market would be most open to trying authentic Vietnamese food," Nguyen explained.  Nguyen also said that they intend to buy as much of their food from Findlay Market vendors as possible.

Pho Lang Thang will be open from 9am to 6pm during Findlay Market daily operations, but Nguyen stated that they intend to stay open later at least one evening each week.  Entree items will cost between $4 to $8 and feature the staple Pho dish - a beef soup with rice noodles that makes for great comfort food and evidently serves as a great hangover cure.

Also on the menu will be a Vietnamese sandwich called Banh Mi that Nguyen said has been growing in popularity on the East Coast and features a choice of meat, pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro, cucumbers and jalapenos on a special French bread baguette.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy
Photography by Tiffani Fisher

SRI Entertainment Group makes moves in Blue Ash, Mt. Adams

For downtown Cincinnati residents Jameson Stewart and Tomas Englert the journey from bar-back to bar-producer was a relatively quick one.

Stewart, a classically trained musician, and Englert, an artist with an architecture degree, worked together as bar backs at Blackfinn when it opened on 7th St. in early 2008.  Last week, the two men opened a nightclub called Bar Sapphire within Apsara restaurant in Blue Ash. The club offers V.I.P. bottle service, late night sushi and a stage for live music.

"It's a level of service that Blue Ash hasn't quite seen yet, something that you would find more typically downtown," Stewart said.

The bar is the first major project produced by Stewart and Englert's consulting business, SRI entertainment, they founded earlier this year. The group works almost exclusively with the owner of The Celestial, Mt. Adams Fish House, Teak and Apsara restaurants developing new bar concepts, events and promotions.

Stewart, who tends more to the business side of the partnership, grew up in California and moved to Cincinnati after graduating from Indiana University with a degree in Music. He moved here for a girl, fell in love with the city, and stayed after things didn't work out with the girl. He was most recently a partner in Cold Turkey, a restaurant that opened and closed downtown in 2009.
Englert, who focuses more on the creative and aesthetic half of the operation, grew up in suburban Cincinnati and began painting several years ago after he abandoned the architecture profession. Until recently, he was a bartender at FB's.

Last weekend, Englert showed a group of paintings at the Creative Gallery on Main Street that bluntly explore masculine and feminine concepts in a graphic, cubist style. At the opening for his show, his exuberance for the new venture with Stewart was matched only by the pulsing dance music played by a DJ in the gallery.

"We can always consult, but the ultimate goal is to have our own spots," Englert said. "We want to be the creators of them, you know  - 'brought to you by the SRI group'  - and whether we get there in six months, a year or two years, it'll happen."

For now, managing Bar Sapphire, which is open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and pumping new life into bars like The Celestial's Incline Lounge will be a full time job for the two men. This month will see the kickoff of the Incline's "Summer in the City," a new jazz happy hour on Thursday evenings. Englert said he hopes the shows will attract more young professionals and new patrons to the bar.

Writer: Henry Sweets
Photography by Scott Beseler

Jean Robert's Table to open this summer after brief delay

After much anticipation, famed chef Jean-Robert de Cavel plans to open his new family-style French bistro in downtown Cincinnati later this summer.  Jean-Robert's Table will be the chef's reemergence onto the Cincinnati dining scene after a falling out with the Wade family who partnered with de Cavel on his previous restaurant ventures.

The new restaurant is located in the space formerly occupied by Buddakan at 713 Vine Street (map).  What is different about this restaurant from de Cavel's previous ventures is that it is 100 percent in his control.

"I'm looking forward to having Jean-Robert back in the restaurant business doing what he loves to do, and that's cook," said Jason Price who will wear many hats at Jean-Robert's Table.  "It will be great to get the past behind everybody, and I am really happy that I get to be doing this with Jean-Robert."

The new restaurant is expected to seat about 80 to 90 people between the dining area and bar.  The team decided to push back the opening from June 1st to the later date due to some structural issues that de Cavel and the building owner wanted to address prior to opening.

"The space is in great proximity to Fountain Square and lots of businesses, there is plenty of parking available nearby, and other than the structural issues being addressed, the rest of the place was pretty much turn key," explained Price.

Jean-Robert's Table will be open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, and will also be open on Saturday nights.  Prices says that guests will be able to expect a very affordable, casual French bistro atmosphere that will be quite different from the feel of Pigall's, one of de Cavel's storied restaurants.

The new restaurant is expected to employ around 30 full and part-time employees.  More details surrounding the menu, prices and any opening celebrations are expected to be worked out as the time nears, but those interested can stay connected through the Facebook page for Jean-Robert's Table or by following the restaurant on Twitter @jrtable.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy

ArtWorks' summer job program to bring art, music and focus to Cincinnati youth

Each summer for the past 15 years ArtWorks has put young people in Cincinnati to work by creating public artwork throughout the city.  The Summer Jobs Program includes a variety of efforts, but is more often known for its MuralWorks program that will have installed 34 murals throughout the region in more than two dozen neighborhoods by the end of this summer.

"In 2007, Mayor Mallory asked ArtWorks to do at least one mural in each of the 52 city neighborhoods," said Tamara Harkavy, Director, ArtWorks.  "We're trying to do the unexpected and push ourselves to create art that makes people ask questions and engage in dialogue."

The existing murals around town are currently seen by an estimated 153 million motorists each year - a number that is expected to exceed 200 million annually following the completion of six new murals this summer.  The new murals will be installed in Sayler Park, North Fairmount, Westwood, Over-the-Rhine, Covington, and the East End and will impact five new neighborhoods on the Mayor's original checklist.

"Many of these kids come back as teaching staff after they initially participate in the program," explained Harkavy.  "We love that they grow up with us and take their own path, and we're really excited because of the opportunities for the kids.

MuralWorks' reach goes beyond the hundreds of millions that are exposed to them each year, and has been recognized nationally.  Sources state that ArtWorks' MuralWorks program is poised to receive a "huge national award" in the coming weeks.

In addition to creating six new murals and employing 75 kids between the ages of 14 and 18 years old in addition to 20 staff members over the course of the summer, the Summer Jobs Program will also assist in the painting of pianos used for the "Play Me, I'm Yours" piano installation later this summer. "Play Me" will place pianos around the city in public places for use.

The Summer Jobs program will also partner with the Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM) and the American Sign Museum (ASM) to paint on the walls of CAM's Ambulatory.  Part of The American Road project, the Ambulatory will feature landscape paintings complimented by sign installations by ASM directing museum visitors to the painting.  Harkavay also says that the summer program will once again paint backdrops for traveling shows for the Children's Theatre of Cincinnati.

"To my knowledge, what we're doing at the Cincinnati Art Museum has never been done before," said Harkavy in reference to painting directly inside the museum.

According to Harkavy, ArtWorks interviewed 385 kids and was only able to hire 75 due to current economic conditions.  You can support the program and ArtWorks' efforts by making a donation online or by mailing a check made out to "ArtWorks" at 20 East Central Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45202.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy

Senator Kearney upset over lack of Third Frontier funds for Cincinnati startups

The Ohio Department of Development awarded more than $11 million in Pre-Seed Fund Initiative and Entrepreneurial Signature Program funds to six Ohio-based projects on May 26th.  The funding is intended to give new start-up technology companies access to "early-stage capital" so that they can develop new products and technologies.

The funding announcement comes on the heels of a voter-approved $700 million bond issue this past May that over the course of Third Frontier's 10-year, $1.4 billion program is expected to attract billions in private investment.  However, the issue one Ohio state senator has with the $11 million in start-up funds is that none of it was awarded to Cincinnati-area companies.

"Cincinnati has great entrepreneurs and hard-working, creative business people. They deserve support too," said Senator Eric H. Kearney (D-Avondale).  "It's unfortunate that Cincinnati was overlooked, but I will continue to fight for Cincinnati's small businesses."

Kearney pointed out that Cleveland received approximately 88 percent of the total funding awarded, with the remaining $1.3 million going to the Columbus region.

"It seems that the Cleveland area always gets the most funding, and that's not fair to Cincinnatians," Kearney stated.  "Our area might not apply as well as we should, and we might have to do a better job at that, but Cincinnati is still a major market and we should get some of those resources."

Senator Kearney's office previously fought for the Cincinnati developers when they felt they were left out of the Ohio State Historic Preservation Tax Credit process.  Following his office's actions, a second round of funding was released that included many Cincinnati-area projects like the ongoing phase of Gateway Quarter developments in Over-the-Rhine led by the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC).

Senator Kearney concluded by saying he wants the Greater Cincinnati area to get more Third Frontier dollars, and is encouraging those interested to contact him by email at SD09@maild.sen.state.oh.us, or by mail at "Senate Building, 1 Capital Square, Ground Floor, Columbus, OH 43215."

"It's important that I hear from my constituents so that I can take what I get to the Third Frontier Commission and the Governor's Office and let them know that people in Cincinnati are upset about this."

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy

West Side Preservation Summit to be held on June 5th

The Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA) will host the first-ever West Side Preservation Summit on Saturday, June 5 from 10am to 4pm.  The summit is being sponsored by Comey & Shepherd Realtors, City Office and will gather West Side stakeholders to discuss the use of historic preservation as a revitalization tool among other things.

"Often under-appreciated and overlooked, the West Side has strong neighborhoods, wonderful building stock, wooded hillsides and river views," described Margo Warminski, CPA Preservation Director.  "Unfortunately some West Side neighborhoods are struggling with population loss, disinvestment, vacant buildings, foreclosures and demolitions."

Preservationists cite many historic assets in Cincinnati's western neighborhoods including the Anderson Ferry, Knox Hill Historic District, Incline District in Price Hill, Sayler Park Indian Statue, and the Boldface Park Shelterhouse among others.  Another prominent historic landmark in the area - the James N. Gamble House in Westwood - has recently been embroiled in controversy as preservationists and community leaders battle to have the structure saved from the wrecking ball.

"If you look at vacant and condemned buildings list, or you look at the public nuisance hearings you'll see West Side building after West Side building," Warminski said.  "Buildings are being knocked down left and right on the west side of the city, and many of them could probably be reused and many probably even have historical importance.  We need to look at how to solve this issue."

Facing the aforementioned challenges in a tough economy while preserving the best of Cincinnati's western neighborhoods is what event organizers hope will be the focus of the summit.  Summit discussions will serve as the beginning of an ongoing dialogue about West Side preservation issues.

According to event organizers, the daylong summit will focus morning sessions on the challenges facing West Side communities, while the afternoon sessions will look at potential solutions.  The following six topics will provide the basis of these discussions:
  • Code Enforcement, Hazard Abatement & Demolitions
  • Balancing Preservation & Demolition in Westwood
  • Historic designation: Perception vs. Reality
  • Learnign From Other Cities: Best Practices for Preservation Legislation
  • Jewels of the West Side: Lesser-Known Historic Treasures
  • A Plan for Preservation & Receivership
Several speakers have been confirmed to help lead these discussions including representatives from the City of Cincinnati's Community Development Department, the Metropolitan Sewer District and several community leaders.

"This is not intended to be something where we just talk to people.  We want to hear the concerns from people on the West Side so that we can hopefully address them going forward," Warminski said.

The West Side Preservation Summit is free to anyone interested, but space is limited at the Westwood Branch Library (map).  As a result, reservations are required and can be made by contacting CPA at (513) 721-4506 or info@cincinnatipreservation.org.  Those unable to attend will be able to receive a summary of the presentations after the event by contacting CPA.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Tiffani Fisher
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy

Cincinnati to begin Phase 1 of Mt. Lookout Square enhancements

The City of Cincinnati will begin work on the first phase of enhancements to Mt. Lookout Square on Monday, June 7.  Construction, expected to last throughout the summer with an anticipated completion date in October 2010, will create approximately 11 jobs.  The completed project will eventually total around $1.2 million of investment

Crews from R A Miller Construction will execute the $664,574 first phase of the project that includes the installation of new curbs, sidewalks, brick pavers, streetlights and tree replacement on the southern half of Mt. Lookout Square.  Project officials state that the traffic signal at the south intersection of Linwood and Delta will be rebuilt along with the mid-block crosswalk at the parking island.  New electrical outlets will also be installed in the parking island that will now make future street festivals or holiday lighting possible.

"The difficult part of this project is maintaining pedestrian access to the wide variety of shops there," explained Dave Krusling, PE with Cincinnati's Department of Transportation & Engineering.

Krusling went on to say that access will be maintained though thanks to R A Miller's experience in these types of projects including recent streetscaping work along Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine, Woodburn Avenue in East Walnut Hill, and Colerain Avenue in Camp Washington.

Last August, the Mt. Lookout Community Development Corporation (MLCDC) announced their plans for the neighborhood business district that they had felt become "somewhat worn" over the years and needed attention.

The two-phased approach the MLCDC outlined focuses on improving the square's appearance while also improving vehicle flow and parking.  Included in the proposed changes designed by Vivian Llambi & Associates was the removal of parking from the center of Mt. Lookout Square in favor of a site design similar to what is found at nearby Hyde Park Square.

Construction work on this first-phase of enhancements will make driving conditions more difficult through the area, so project officials request that motorists use alternative routes if possible.  The second phase of work will be dependent on the availability of funding, and is expected to have a similar price tag.

The removal of parking on Mt. Lookout Square will be contingent upon the availability of replacement parking nearby, and is not included in the price tag or time table for the two-phased Mt. Lookout Square enhancement project.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Tiffani Fisher
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy

Local women planting the seeds for a successful Cincinnati Riverfront Park

In 2007, Helen Heekin and Debbie Oliver formed The Women's Committee of Cincinnati Riverfront Park after they became trustees on the Cincinnati Parks Foundation Board.  Their initial goal was to organize a group of 100 women and collectively raise $100,000 for the new 45-acre riverfront park.  Within the first year, though, they signed up 450 women from around the area and raised $450,000.  Now this group is looking to continue their efforts with the creation of the Twig Project.

Organizers say that the Twig Project is a response to numerous requests from individuals, groups and organizations throughout the Cincinnati area that were looking for ways to support the private fundraising efforts currently underway for the Cincinnati Riverfront Park.  Cathy Caldemeyer and Dianne Rosenberg joined efforts with Heekin and Oliver to outline the new project for the more than 500 people in attendance at the recent "Hats Off Luncheon" fundraising event hosted by the Women's Committee.

"We have over 45-acres of previously wasted space that are being transformed right before our eyes into an outstanding new destination park for this region," Heekin exclaimed. "Now, with the construction of the park moving along so quickly, people are seeing even more clearly what a precious commodity this really is - while knowing that most cities do not have this kind of opportunity."

The new effort works with groups establishing special Twig projects that are essentially activities to generate proceeds intended for the Cincinnati Riverfront Park.  The first project is a cookbook written and published by the Cincinnati Town & Country Garden Club.  Get Fresh: Simple, Savory and Successful Recipes is on sale throughout the city at various retail locations and at the Krohn Conservatory's Gift Shop. 100% of the book's sales is being donated to the park.

The CRP has been funded through a variety of local, state and federal money, but is also contingent upon a significant private fundraising campaign.

Organizers believe that the Twig projects will help to create an even greater grassroots level of support for the CRP while engaging others that might not otherwise have been involved.  Since the Women's Committee formed in 2007 they have raised nearly $1 million.

"The full potential of the park can only be accomplished through meaningful citizen involvement," said Heekin. "While the park is being built with a blend of federal, state and local dollars, private donations are imperative if the park is to be constructed with all of the dynamic features that will transform the former wasted space into a park worthy of becoming a true destination park."

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy

World Peace gets a makeover in Clifton

"Mark was at the juice bar drinking wheat grass and I thought - Healthy Person.  I need to talk to him," Anna Ferguson remembers. One smoothie later, she and Mark Stroud became business partners making 'World Peace' their occupation. 

Anna dreamed of opening a yoga studio and vegan restaurant that embodied yoga philosophy. She and her new partner found a space in the gaslight district and began holding yoga classes and study groups.   

"The World Peace Diet study groups are almost like a support group - people can come and feel like they're not such a freak!"  she says. Mark adds, "Or they can come and be with other freaks."

The study group, which meets every other Monday and includes a bounteous vegan potluck combined with a discussion of The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle, is home to even more non-vegans than vegans.  The conversation is non-judgmental, with World Peace at its very core from sound to taste.  The community that is formed in the study groups, the potlucks, and the yoga classes is exactly what Anna and Mark feel is raising the collective consciousness of not just the studio, but the city itself. 

"We want to involve entire families.  That's why we have prenatal, postnatal, and children's yoga, as well as adult yoga, because nothing gets done without the support of others around you," Anna says. 

That sense of community has become both their business model for World Peace Yoga and Motion and a practical strategy for accomplishing their current renovations.  Mark and Anna have created an environment of giving and gratitude, and as they give to their students, the students are willing to give back to the studio by helping with construction and planning the opening.  Renovating with eco-friendly materials like recycled blue jean insulation, cork flooring with non-toxic cashew based sealer, and non-toxic vegan floor glue, the studio is unique in its intention to make everything friendly toward our bodies and toward the earth as well. 

"What I'm most excited about is having a space to practice yoga that is indoors and emulates a natural outdoor setting," Anna says. 

 The renovations will include two studios in the upstairs and a vegan restaurant downstairs with everything from spicy field greens salad with vegetable and herb cheese, to sushi, pizza, enchiladas, and lemon cheesecake - all vegan.  The classes will include yoga for every age, and vegan cooking classes as well. 

"Our dream is creating a spiritual Urban Village, a place to retreat within the city to connect with nature, recharge and get grounded in spirituality," Anna says.  In addition to the studio and restaurant, the 'Village' would include a juice bar, environmentally and ethically conscious retail, live music and more. 

As Anna and Mark renovated the space, they rediscovered their own teachings which are the pillars of the studio.  "What we teach as a practical way toward world peace is mindfulness.  We mindfully chose only non-toxic, vegan materials, even if it was a big price difference. We use every opportunity to give back to the earth," Mark says.

For more info on the June Grand Opening of the newly eco-renovated World Peace Yoga and Motion Studio and the future World Peace Jubilee Restaurant, visit here.

Writer: Alison Vodnoy
Photography by Scott Beseler

RoHo gallery reopens in Over-the-Rhine

When RoHo Photo gallery re-opens in Over-the-Rhine this Friday, Michael Skaggs will bring a do-it-yourself arts concept full circle.

The gallery has moved from a downtown 4th St. location to a larger space in Over-the-Rhine that will accommodate bigger crowds and link RoHo to the Final Friday gallery-walk circuit. The move will also bring RoHo back to the neighborhood where it was born.

"In the seventies in New York City people went into old loft warehouse spaces in SoHo and held Jazz concerts," Skaggs said. "So in the eighties I decided to have jazz concerts in a loft in Over-the-Rhine, and I called it RoHo."

Skaggs eventually stopped hosting concerts and moved to New York City. When he returned to Cincinnati in 2000, he opened RoHo photo gallery on Central Avenue, which then became RoHo Photo and Framing in Bellevue, KY. The galleries featured mostly local artists' work, but they didn't work financially, he said.

To solve that problem Skaggs fashioned an innovative, low-risk business plan and opened the latest format of RoHo photo downtown a year ago.

RoHo offers cash prizes ($1750 total per show) to photographers who enter their works as a digital file. The images are juried by Skaggs and partner William Spangler, or by guest jurors. The two directors then print and frame the best 31 entries for the show, pay the prize money and host an opening reception. RoHo artists don't have to pay for printing and framing of their work, and if their work is selected to be hung then it will also be for sale in the gallery. The top three photos win a cash prize.

With about 100 entries at $50 apiece for each show, RoHo brings in more than enough money to cover their costs. The fees also pay for an open bar and hors de ouvres by chef Miranda Leurck. This week's opening features live Jazz by Brian Cashwell.

Anything Goes," a wide range of photographs from professional and amateur photographers from nine foreign countries and 25 states will open in the downstairs gallery. A solo show of local photographer Matthew Andrews' work will hang in the upstairs gallery, and jewelry by Elaine York McGue will also be on display.

RoHo photo is located at 209 Woodward St. Loft G. "Anything Goes" will be open from 6 to 10 p.m. on this Final Friday.

Writer: Henry Sweets

Cincinnati Planning Commission considers reduced parking requirements along streetcar line

A proposed revision of the City of Cincinnati's Zoning Code would add an allowable reduction of parking for residential buildings located within approximately two blocks of a streetcar stop.  Presently, the City's Zoning Code has similar reduced parking options for properties with close proximity to public parking facilities, housing for the elderly and persons with disabilities, and on development sites with multiple uses.

The proposal would allow for the Director of Buildings & Inspections to grant a 50% reduction in the number of required parking spaces for any "permanent residential" use located within 800 feet of a streetcar stop.  For residential buildings where a 50% reduction equates to less than five required spaces, no spaces will need to be provided.

The proposal comes just as the Cincinnati Streetcar project has secured $86.5 million of the total $128 million needed to complete a modern system running from Cincinnati's riverfront through its center city and to nearby Uptown neighborhoods.  City leaders are still banking on significant federal money to close the financing gap and make the project a reality.

In February, Cincinnati leaders learned that they had missed out on the first round of TIGER funds in part due to the lack of complimentary zoning policies - policies such as the proposed parking reduction amendment that would encourage mixed-use and transit-oriented development along the proposed route.  Beyond the proposal's impact on the Cincinnati Streetcar project, preservationists are encouraged by what it could mean for historic neighborhoods like Over-the-Rhine.

"In general, parking is the enemy of historic preservation because developers of historic properties are required to provide a lot of off-street parking," explained Danny Klingler, Director, OTR ADOPT.  "This leads to demolition of other buildings to make room for surface parking lots.  So we end up de-densifying our urban communities so that we can park cars, instead of walking and using public transit."

The zoning amendment must go before the City Administration, then back to Planning Commission and eventually on to the full City Council before becoming reality.  Supporters of the amendment hope to have the proposed changes in put before City Council later this year.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy
1938 Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts