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Summit Park in Blue Ash to get tristate's first bike park


Plans were unveiled for the area’s first bike park at Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance’s annual meeting at the end of March. Located in Blue Ash’s newly opened 130-acre, $75 million Summit Park, the area will be a training course for mountain bikers of all ages and skill levels.
 
The first phase of Summit Park opened in August with an open-ended playground, lawn, a quarter-mile trail, restrooms and community meeting spaces. A large stage is slated for completion in May and will be the site of Buckle Up Music Festival in 2016 and the annual Taste of Blue Ash.
 
Phase 2 is to be ready in the fall and will include a 17,000-square-foot community building with an indoor and outdoor glass canopy and plaza as well as a 4,000-square-foot space for Brown Dog Cafe, which is currently located nearby at 5893 Pfeiffer Road.
 
The bike park, which was suggested by Blue Ash residents during the rewrite of the city’s parks and recreation master plan, would cost about $1 million to construct and would include a cyclocross training area, a skills station and a pavilion where spectators can sit and watch bicyclists.
 
The City of Blue Ash paid about $15,000 for a conceptual plan for the bike park, and the Parks and Recreation department will apply for grants for the bulk of the project’s funding.
 
Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance is a grassroots cycling group that promotes and maintains more than 60 miles of mountain bike trails in Ohio and Northern Kentucky, including trails at Caesar Creek State Park, Devou Park, East Fork State Park, England Idlewild, Harbin Park, Hueston Woods State Park, Landen Deerfield Park, Mitchell Memorial Forest, Terrell Park and Tower Park.
 

Cincinnati Development Fund adds nonprofit loan program to redevelopment efforts


The Cincinnati Development Fund (CDF) recently unveiled its nonprofit facilities and equipment loan program designed to help nonprofits obtain affordable long-term loans in order to renovate, maintain and improve existing facilities. The program is made possible through a partnership with IFF and a $1.4 million grant from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation.
 
“The program enables nonprofits to continue to invest in their core missions while also meeting critical facilities and equipment needs,” says Debbie Koo, loan officer for CDF.
 
Loan amounts in the nonprofit loan program can range from $50,000 to more than $1.5 million, providing flexible capital for nonprofits that might not be able to get financing through traditional lenders. An appraisal isn’t required, and CDF can advance up to 95 percent of the project cost.
 
Nonprofits can use the loans for capital projects (acquisition, construction, renovation, leasehold improvements or refinancing); maintenance and improvements (roof repair, new windows, ADA code repairs or HVAC); and capitalized equipment purchases (computer hardware/software, furnishings, medical equipment or service-oriented vehicles).
 
To date, CDF has made loans to Findlay Market for its new incubator kitchen and to Kennedy Heights Art Center. With interest growing in the new program, several other projects are currently in the works.
 
“CDF is focused on revitalizing neighborhoods, which includes providing support for the people who live and work in those communities,” Koo says. “With this program, we are able to expand our reach beyond residential and mixed-use developments to include nonprofit facilities and equipment.

“If we can help improve a nonprofit’s cash flow by providing low-interest, long-term financing, that leaves them more money to invest in their missions. If more nonprofits own their own real estate, they can build equity and strengthen their balance sheets.”
 

Northside organization working to provide more single-family housing


Cincinnati Northside Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation recently changed its name to Northsiders Engaged in Sustainable Transformation to more accurately reflect the organization’s goal to develop single-family homes in the neighborhood. To date, CNCURC/NEST has created 17 single-family houses, including new ones at 4118 Lakeman St. and 1726 Hanfield St.
 
“Research indicates that homeowners have greater investment in their property and are more likely to maintain and stay in their homes,” says Stefanie Sunderland, executive director of CNCURC/NEST. “Homeowners will potentially become more involved in the community and support the local economy by patronizing local businesses.”
 
A healthy neighborhood should provide housing for all, including rental units, so CNCURC/NEST focuses on single-family houses that were built by members of the community but time, disinvestment and abandonment have left them in disrepair. Many of the houses CNCURC/NEST has reclaimed were slated for demolition.
 
CNCURC/NEST acquired the house at 4118 Lakeman, which was built in 1873, from Bill Dorward and his sister, Deborah. Meanwhile, 1726 Hanfield, which was built in 1921, is the first building CNCURC/NEST has acquired through the Port of Greater Cincinnati.
 
Construction began on both houses last spring and will be completed in the next few weeks. The house on Hanfield has already been sold, and the one on Lakeman is still for sale.
 
Both houses were redeveloped creatively and for use of space, with an emphasis on preservation and restoration. CNCURC/NEST also focuses on duplicating historic architecture and features as well as energy efficiency.
 
The 1,243-square-foot house on Lakeman now has a new front porch, woodwork, windows and doors as well as matching gables on the second-story addition. The 1,071-square-foot Hanfield house has a visitable first floor and was designed to be an accessible unit.
 
Over the next month or so, CNCURC/NEST will break ground on two new-construction houses at 4135-37 Witler St. and 1720-22 Hanfield as part of the Blockwatch 45223 Homeownership Project. Three sources of funding are required to complete the project, including NSP funding through the City of Cincinnati, a revolving construction loan from the Cincinnati Development Fund and general funds from CNCURC/NEST.
 
Sunderland says they’re also waiting to hear if their NOFA application for gap financing for the development of five single-family houses for the Fergus Street Homeownership Project has been approved. This project includes the rehab of four single-family houses, three of which are currently owned by and land-banked with the Port Authority, as well as one new construction on a lot owned by CNCURC/NEST. 
 

Deeper Roots movement expands to include coffee shop in Oakley


Members of the Deeper Roots Coffee team have been involved in various aspects of coffee for the past decade. They started a coffee roasterie in Mt. Healthy four years ago and have been supplying coffee to local restaurants and cafés, and on April 1 they opened their own coffee shop in Oakley.  
 
“I think every barista and coffee person dreams of having a coffee shop,” says Jon Lewis, head of customer engagement for Deeper Roots and manager of the shop. “It’s an expression of how you work with coffee, and it’s the end of a very long journey of where coffee comes from.”
 
Deeper Roots’ owners feel that a lot is owed to the people who produce the coffee they roast and then sell. The roasterie blossomed from a development project in Guatemala — Deeper Roots Development — that works to improve the communities of small coffee farmers.
 
“We take for granted where coffee comes from,” Lewis says. “The history of coffee isn’t so great in terms of world trade and how the haves and have nots start to separate out. But with Deeper Roots, we have the opportunity to pull the two together.”
 
Deeper Roots sees the 750-square-foot café at 3056 Madison Road as more than just a behind-the-scenes environment, where the baristas don’t just push buttons on machines. Not all coffee is created equal, and the baristas will be available to teach customers the differences between the different types of coffee as well as how best to enjoy it.
 
The menu features about 12 different types of coffee that come from the company’s roasterie, including a handful of single-origin coffees and seasonal house blends. Deeper Roots also has iced coffee on tap and coffee on nitro tap, which is carbonated coffee that pours much like a Guinness with a creamy head.

There’s also a small food menu that includes croissants, toast with a variety of toppings and spreads and cookies, all sourced from local providers.
 
“Oakley represents a vibrant community, and everyone recognizes it as such,” Lewis says. “Coffee bars like this will flourish there, as it would anywhere that people want to gather around food or beverage.”
 
Deeper Roots café is open from 6:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
 

"Everyday kind of place" featuring Southern comfort food comes to O'Bryonville


Margaret Ranalli, owner of Enoteca Emilia, opened her second restaurant in O’Bryonville, Son of a Preacher Man, on Feb. 7. The property at 3009 O’Bryon St. features a menu of Southern comfort food and a bar menu with a plethora of bourbon.
 
The 2,500-square-foot restaurant is in the space that was formerly Eat Well Café & Takeaway, whose owner, Renee Schuler, maintains a limited interest in Son of a Preacher Man and helped develop the fried chicken recipe.

Renovations included back-of-house plumbing and kitchen equipment as well as retro light fixtures, vintage wallpaper and a bar in front.
 
Ranalli landed on the Southern restaurant concept after extensive travels in the South. She’s always used music as a reference for Son of a Preacher Man.
 
“When I think of the South, I think of Memphis and Nashville and the musicality of those cities,” Ranalli says.
 
The name stems from the 1968 Dusty Springfield song “Son of a Preacher Man,” and at one point Ranalli had a number of employees who were sons of preachers. So the concept stuck.
 
The menu’s staples are traditional fried chicken and biscuits. But there’s also a bourbon BBQ meatloaf, low-country shrimp and grits and sandwiches served on biscuits. The bar menu has already expanded since opening, featuring about 25 rotating bourbons and 12 bourbon cocktails.
 
Son of a Preacher Man also offers takeout. Ranalli says she wanted to focus on the physical restaurant space as well as carryout in order to be an all-around neighborhood place.  
 
“I wanted to bring more casual food and a fun bar scene to the neighborhood,” she says. “People are always looking for an everyday kind of place with good food.”
 
After Easter, Son of a Preacher Man will be opening at 11 a.m. for lunch seven days a week.
 

3CDC plans more housing and retail for OTR


Over the next two years, new construction and redevelopment of a number of existing buildings will yield more than 60 new living units and 37,500 square feet of retail along Race Street between 15th and Liberty streets. This will be one of 3CDC’s largest projects in Over-the-Rhine, second only to Mercer Commons.
 
The 2.2-acre development will be built in seven different phases and be residential-based, making it a bit different from the bar and restaurant scene 3CDC developed on Vine Street.
 
Phase 1: A new three-story building along Race Street will contain 17 units and 4,500 square feet of retail. The one- and two-bedroom apartments will be between 1,000-1,300 square feet, and the retail spaces will be split between two or three businesses. Construction is slated to begin in July, with completion next summer.
 
Phase 2: A one- to two-story commercial addition at 1505 Race will yield four condos on the upper floors.  

Phase 3: Originally 3CDC envisioned a parking garage within the block, but the newest plans include a surface parking lot with 34 spaces behind the development, with an entrance from 15th Street.
 
Phase 4: There will also be 10 or 11 townhomes with private parking plus four condos in the 1500 block of Pleasant Street. These will be geared more toward families and will be mostly new construction.
 
Phase 5: On Race Street, a historic rehab will yield 27 affordable housing units and 7,000 square feet of commercial space. Model Group and Cornerstone Renter Equity are partners on this portion of the development and will be applying for low-income housing tax credits as well as historic tax credits.
 
Phases 6 & 7: The empty lot on Liberty between Pleasant and Race will be spruced up as surface parking for now and could host new development in the future. The vacant Elm Industries space on Race will also be renovated into 22,000 square feet of commercial space.
 

April 19 Beyond the Curb event to highlight NKy's urban core


Northern Kentucky’s river cities of Bellevue, Covington, Dayton, Ludlow and Newport are experiencing urban revival as new residents, businesses and visitors flock there, creating a need for more urban residences and creative workplaces.
 
Jeanne Schroer, president and CEO of The Catalytic Fund, wants to help accelerate the momentum of that urban renaissance.

“There is more to be done, but so much progress has been made,” she says. “It’s time for residents throughout the Greater Cincinnati region to visit Northern Kentucky’s urban cities and see the revitalized and new places to live, to work and to visit.”
 
On April 19 The Catalytic Fund is hosting “Beyond the Curb,” a one-day event with self-guided urban-living tours of 12 properties in Covington to highlight the city’s bicentennial, COV200. Beyond the Curb moves to Newport in late September, and eventually The Catalytic Fund plans to have events in all five of their target area cities.
 
“There have been historic home tours in the past in Covington, Newport and Over-the-Rhine, but as far as we know this event is the first of its kind, an urban living tour for the region,” says Tara Ford of The Catalytic Fund.
 
Beyond the Curb provides people from all over the region the chance to see what urban living is all about as well as introduce them to the uniqueness of each city and the amenities it provides. In order to appeal to everyone, the event will feature a mix of property types and price points.
 
“This is a rare opportunity to go ‘beyond the curb’ into 12 very different residential, mixed-use and co-working environments and surrounding amenities,” Ford says.
 
Featured Covington neighborhoods include:

• Historic Licking Riverside/Roebling Point: Roebling Row, 240 Greenup St.; The Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge, 1 Roebling Way; and Boone Block, 402-422 Scott Blvd.

• Pike Street Corridor: Braxton Brewing Company, 27 W. Seventh St.; Mutual Building, 629 Madison Ave.; Pike Star, 112 W. Pike St.; Market Lofts, 209-211 W. Pike St.; 220 Pike St.; and Pulse Lofts, 832-842 Banklick St.

• MainStrasse Village: The Firehouse, 827 Main St.; 422 W. Seventh St.; and Platform 53, 503 W. Sixth St.
 
Free parking will be available along the tour route, and there will be event-day coupons from local businesses and a raffle. To purchase tickets ($15 early bird, $20 day-of), visit www.beyondthecurb.eventbrite.com. Day-of registration is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. April 19 at Braxton Brewing, and Beyond the Curb begins at 4 p.m.
 
“For those not yet acquainted with Northern Kentucky’s urban assets, we believe you’ll like what you see,” Ford says.
 

Historic MainStrasse buildings to see new life


Thanks to Model Group and Welcome House, 13 buildings in Covington's MainStrasse Village will undergo historic renovations.
 
Renovations will be done in two phases, with the first phase slated for completion by the end of next year. The project was awarded about $700,000 in federal low-income housing tax credits through the Kentucky Housing Corporation, and that money will be applied to 801 and 803 Main St.; 710-712 Greer Ave.; and 257, 301 and 315 W. Seventh St.
 
All properties are residential, except 801 Main, which will remain a commercial space.
 
The remaining five buildings will receive additional tax credits in 2016. The entire project will also be eligible for historic tax credits, as the Model Group is planning full historic renovations of each building. When the project is complete, the current number of low-income housing rentals will be reduced from 53 to 41 to allow for larger living spaces.
 
The Welcome House, a Covington-based social services agency, wants to develop more affordable housing opportunities for single parents. And Model Group is aiming to make low-income housing indistinguishable from market-rate apartments.
 
Construction will begin on the project as soon as the tax credits are closed on in early December. The Welcome House is already overseeing the properties, though.  
 

Price Hill Will receives grant for neighborhood revitalization efforts


Price Hill Will received a grant from Wells Fargo March 18 through the NeighborhoodLIFT program to help expand its revitalization efforts in the Cedar Grove area of West Price Hill.
 
The $500,000 grant will help support Price Hill Will’s Buy-Improve-Sell program, which purchases homes in the neighborhood, rehabilitates them and then sells them to prospective homebuyers.
 
Apart from the grant, Price Hill Will has invested more than $15 million over the past eight years to rehab residential properties. A significant portion of this amount, $3.5 million, has gone to rehabbing 30 homes in the Cedar Grove area.  
 
Price Hill Will recently rehabilitated 45 single-family houses in Price Hill as well as removed a long-vacant mixed-use building that sat on a key neighborhood corner.
 
The NeighborhoodLIFT program, which was established last fall, is a $5.2 million local effort to help provide 235 eligible homebuyers with $15,000 in downpayment assistance grants. Wells Fargo is collaborating with the City of Cincinnati, Home Ownership Center of Greater Cincinnati and NeighborhoodWorks America on the program.
 
To date, 26 homeowners have received the grant, with a number of prospective homebuyers in the process of receiving the grant and completing a homebuyer education program with the Home Ownership Center.
 

Revisiting recently opened and still-to-come restaurants


Over the past several months, the Soapbox Development News section has covered a large number of restaurants and breweries planning to open all over the region. We thought it was time to provide updates on these new businesses as well as when you can hope to visit those that aren’t quite ready to launch yet. (Links go to our original Development News coverage of each business.)
 
Arcade Legacy
3929 Spring Grove Ave., Northside
The bar and vintage arcade concept plans to open its doors in April.
 
Braxton Brewing
27 W. Seventh St., Covington
The grand opening is at 5 p.m. March 27. There will be four beers on tap, including their flagship Storm Golden Cream Ale and Juniper Hoppy Wheat Ale. Neltner Small Batch will reveal their largest indoor installation, two local bands will be playing, and guests will be able to tour the brewery.
 
Brezel
6 W. 14th St., OTR
The Columbus-based pretzel shop opened its second location in September, offering everything from your traditional salted pretzel to more unique, seasonal creations. Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday & Wednesday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
 
E+O Kitchen
3520 Edwards Road, Hyde Park
The Asian restaurant, opening in the former Dancing Wasabi space, doesn’t have a grand opening timeline.
 
The Gruff
129 E. Second St., Covington
The grocer, deli and brick oven pizza restaurant opened on Jan. 14. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday & Saturday.
 
Krueger’s Tavern
1211 Vine St., OTR
The owners of the Bakersfield and The Eagle opened the American-style restaurant, which is known for its house-made sausages and 100 cans of beer, in December. Hours: 4 p.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday & Saturday.
 
Macaron Bar
1206 Main St., OTR
The city's only bakery dedicated to macarons opened Dec. 12. Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
 
O Pie O
DeSales Corner, Walnut Hills
The sweet and savory pie shop is shooting to open in May. Until then, their pies are available each weekend at Findlay Market.
 
Off the Vine
1218 Vine St., OTR
The cold-pressed juice bar opened Nov. 17, offering to-go juices and take-home cleanses. Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends.
 
Revolution Rotisserie & Bar
1106 Race St., OTR
Featuring free range chicken and all-American sides, the restaurant opened March 2. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday & Saturday.
 
Tap & Screw Brewery
5060 Crookshank Road, Westwood
The Westside restaurant changed its name, revamped its menu and added a brewery, reopening Dec. 19. Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 a.m. Monday-Sunday.
 
Tillie’s Lounge
4042 Hamilton Ave., Northside
The turn-of-the-century bar’s grand opening is set for March 19. Hours: 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday-Sunday.
 
World Cup
4023 Hamilton Ave., Northside
Owner Alex Kuhns is working with new partners on his sports-themed international restaurant. He plans to open by the end of the year, but an exact date remains up in the air.
 
Zinomobile
The food truck that will serve dishes from the former Cincinnati favorite Zino’s is still finalizing locations where it will serve and could possibly open a brick-and-mortar space, too.
 

93-year-old Baker Hunt Center undergoing expansion, renovation


By next year’s “Twilight in the Gardens” event, the 93-year-old Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center will have undergone a $2.5 million expansion and renovation. The plans were presented to the City of Covington’s design review board in late February but haven’t been put before the board for approval yet.
 
The Baker Hunt was founded in 1922 by Margaretta Baker Hunt, a Covington arts, education and religious activist. The adjacent Scudder mansion is also part of the property and once belonged to Baker Hunt’s niece, Kate Scudder. A 1920s auditorium and studio space round out the 3.5-acre campus.

The Baker Hunt offers arts and cultural classes for children and adults, serving about 2,700 students in the Tristate each year. Classes include painting, drawing, photography, ceramics, quilting, language, dance and yoga for all ages and skill levels.
 
All four existing buildings on the Baker Hunt property will be renovated, and there will be some new construction as well. A ramp and elevator will be added in order to make the main building more accessible, and a new front entrance will allow the Baker Hunt to be more accessible from Greenup Street.
 
New structures will be added around the campus as well as a modern glass-walled “functional sculpture” that will serve as a space for various activities.
 
Along with the physical renovations, the Baker Hunt is also improving its curriculum and adding more teachers.
 
GBBN Architects will be heading up the renovation. Some of the necessary funding is already in place, and the Baker Hunt plans fundraising activities for the rest.

"Twilight in the Gardens" is a yearly celebration of art, food and music and is held in the gardens on the Baker Hunt property in the fall. Stay tuned to Baker Hunt's website for event details, including date, time and participating restaurants.
 

New brewery focusing on dark beers coming to Northern Kentucky


When Eric Bosler moved to Bellevue about 15 years ago, he missed the Colorado beer scene he knew and loved from his childhood. So he and fellow homebrewer Ron Sanders decided it was time to start their own brewery.
 
Bosler has worked in a number of local bars and restaurants over the years, and Sanders has a sales and marketing background. The pair liked the idea of a neighborhood brewery.

"I live in Bellevue, currently work at Virgil's Cafe and see a need here and in Northern Kentucky for such a place," Bosler says. "We want it to be welcoming to all types of people and give Bellevue somewhere to walk to and get a good pint."
 
Darkness Brewing will focus on dark beer — stouts, porters and browns — because Bosler and Sanders love dark beer. There will be some surprises, too, like a dark beer that tastes like a light beer. Bosler and Sanders plan to start with five or six styles for in-house sales only, with featured guest taps as well. Darkness will also offer lighter options, like a wheat or an IPA, in order to broaden their appeal.
 
The brewery will be in a 4,200-square-foot industrial-style space that was originally a car lot and showroom at 224 Fairfield Ave. The front part of the building will be the public taproom, and Bosler and Sanders will brew in the back. The taproom will offer to-go growlers, and there will be games and an outdoor space.
 
The interior will have an open, industrial feel with exposed rafters and duct work, as well as a stage for live music. There won’t be a food menu, but customers can bring in food from local restaurants.
 
Bosler and Sanders will be starting a Kickstarter campaign in the next few months to help them raise the remaining funds needed to open Darkness Brewing in September.
 

Gabriel's Place seeks grant support for Avondale community health initiatives


Gabriel’s Place recently applied for a $25,000 grant from Convergys in order to further its community health initiatives in Avondale. Convergys' Corporate Social Responsibility program centers around issues that impact the community, such as workforce development and skills training, health and wellness, housing, transportation, financial literacy, child care and food security.

"We were introduced to Gabriel's Place during our United Way Service Day," says Karen Ryan, Convergys' director of government and community affairs. "We admired their commitment to not only feeding their neighbors but also their desire to educate and provide for others."

Avondale is considered a food desert, which means that there is no fresh food retailer or grocery store in the neighborhood. Instead, there are lots of fast food restaurants, corner stores and mini-marts. Residents in food deserts generally have poor health outcomes, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and preterm births.
 
Gabriel’s Place served over 8,000 plated meals in 2014 through its Share a Meal program. On Tuesdays, the community comes together for a donation-based, restaurant-style meal designed by a chef and prepared at Gabriel’s Place using fresh ingredients. Volunteer nurses are also on hand to perform health screenings during the meal.
 
There’s also a Thanksgiving Share a Meal event called ThankFALL, which served over 250 people in 2014. The meal is locally sourced and focuses on food and health education.
 
Share a Meal is designed to help start conversations about food, health and heritage. It helps people make healthier choices, and facilitates skills-based learning in the kitchen so Avondale residents can learn to cook and share skills while preparing a weekly meal together. Yes, Gabriel’s Place is always looking for volunteers to help prepare and serve at Share a Meal events.
 
Gabriel’s Place also hosts a weekly farmers market on Thursdays at 4-6 p.m. The majority of the fresh produce sold at the market is grown in the organization’s garden or provided by Pic’s Produce and ranges from $.25 to $2. The farmers market is the only fresh food retailer currently in Avondale.
 
In conjunction with the farmers market, there are plans to offer interactive cooking demonstrations featuring seasonal ingredients. Residents will have the chance to cook alongside a chef, taste-test snacks and take recipes home.
 
Gabriel’s Place also offers two cooking classes. The first is the Jr. Chef Institute, a free eight-week summer culinary education program that's open to high school students who have a passion for food or an interest in pursuing a career in the culinary arts. The program creates a pipeline to the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State and helps prepare kids for jobs in the food industry.

The other cooking class, which is still in the works, will be an eight-week skills-based class that features a basic cooking curriculum designed by Gabriel’s Place. This class will not only teaches the basics but also designed to focus on different aspects of cooking, including healthy meals and meals on a budget.
 
There are also plans to partner with the Hirsch Recreation Center to host dinner theater vignettes with neighborhood performers to showcase Avondale's talent as well as connect residents in a new way.
 

Walnut Hills aims for better overall community health with gardens, events


Childhood obesity, and obesity in general, is a growing problem in Walnut Hills. In order to help combat the problem, Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation (WHRF) partnered with numerous organizations to develop a number of community health and wellness initiatives.
 
When Betty Waite was brought on full-time as the organization's CFO, she wanted to organize a community garden in the neighborhood. Over the past year she's helped activate two large community gardens and has two more planned for 2015.
 
The two existing community gardens were designed primarily to provide food for the Open Door Pantry at the Church of the Advent and Walnut Hills Food Kitchen, and there are two community members who have personal plots.
 
“The main purpose is to grow things for the hungry and to build the community around this common goal,” Waite says.
 
The Concord Street Community Garden has room for a total of 75 raised beds — there are currently 25 raised beds in the garden, and Waite says this year they will add 25 more. Volunteers grow everything from peppers and tomatoes to herbs and a variety of greens, including kale and collards. The garden also has two beehives, and viney plants like beans and cucumbers grow up the existing barbed wire topped fence.
 
Volunteers are trying to upcycle whenever possible — they built a retention pond from used tires found during a neighborhood cleanup, and the seven compost bins were built from pallets. A patio was constructed from bricks gathered from neighborhood demolition sites, and this year there are plans to construct a small greenhouse from used windows.
 
Last year, a total of 2,000 volunteer hours were logged in the community gardens. Volunteers come from groups all over the neighborhood, including the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission, which organized a group of 10 children to take a class at the Civic Garden Center and then volunteer 16 hours a week for eight weeks in the community gardens; Elevate Walnut Hills; GO Cincinnati; and Keep Cincinnati Beautiful.
 
In 2015, Waite hopes to plant an urban orchard in one of the number of vacant lots in the neighborhood, which will help supply fresh fruit. She also plans to construct a children’s garden across the street from Frederick Douglass School, made possible by a $1,500 grant from the Community Leaders Institute.
 
Another gardening effort is coming in the form of edible landscaping in two pots in Walnut Hills’ business district. Waite says sweet potatoes, sweet peppers and rainbow Swiss chard will be planted in the pots.
 
“We’re going to plant the edibles and see what happens,” she says. “We also plan to plant some edible landscaping in a few of the neighborhood parks and see how that works in an urban setting.”
 
Walnut Hills’ other healthy initiative is Health & Wellness Wednesdays, which began at the end of January. The weekly event is funded through Interact for Health’s Thriving Communities grant.
 
Health & Wellness Wednesdays begin at 4:30 p.m. at the Dilllard Building (719 E. McMillan) and include free know-your-numbers health screenings, yoga classes for beginners and intermediate levels, cooking and nutrition classes, Healing Touch and chair massages, and urban gardening classes. The programs are geared for those 13 years of age and older, and each night is capped off with an unwinding session, which includes citrus-infused water and red wine for those of age.
 
“Studies show that one glass of red wine is good for your health,” Waite says. “We’re trying to cover all bases.”
 
Vitality, which teaches the event’s yoga classes, also offers yoga teacher training. Classes are normally upwards of $3,000, but through the grant classes are only $50, and yogis are expected to volunteer 100 hours in and around Walnut Hills (many volunteer at the community gardens).
 
“We’re really planting the seeds of yoga, and hopefully when the yogis are officially trained they’ll have classes all over Walnut Hills,” Waite says.
 
When the weather gets better, the Findlay Market Farmstand will be part of Health & Wellness Wednesdays, and the Go Vibrant walking routes throughout the neighborhood will yield a walking group. WHRF also plans to partner with Queen City Bike for biking groups.
 
Waite says they’re challenging the Walnut Hills community to do one million minutes of exercise in three months — that’s just 549 people doing 20 minutes of exercise per day.

As a neighborhood, Walnut Hills has a number of other healthy initiatives coming in the next year, so stay tuned!
 

Steinhaus owners choose Newport for second restaurant


Detlef Koeppe and Marcus Repp, owners of Steinhaus Restaurant in Florence, are planning to open their second venture, Factory, next month in Newport. Factory pays homage to the steel mills of both Newport and Germany but with a modern spin.
 
Repp came to the Cincinnati area in 2008 after receiving his Master Chef certification and spending time cooking in Germany, Moscow and the Caribbean. Koeppe has lived in the area since the early ’80s.
 
“This is very exciting for us,” Repp says. “We’ve done German food and beer, but this is new terrain for us.”
 
Koeppe and Repp wanted to do something different from Steinhaus, which focuses on German cuisine. So with Factory they’re bringing in other European influences such as Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Although the menu isn't finalized yet, Repp says it will be more like a coffee shop and wine bar, with growlers of beer to go as well.  
 
The 2,400-square-foot space located in the newly constructed Monmouth Row apartment complex. Back in Germany, Koeppe worked in a steel mill, as did Repp’s grandfather, and the inside of the restaurant will be reminiscent of the cantinas in the steel mills where workers go to relax and eat.
 
Concrete countertops, exposed duct work and a concrete floor give the restaurant an industrial feel, which carries into the kitchen, where diners can watch the cooks prepare food.
 
“We were looking for an up-and-coming area with lots of revitalization, and Newport, Monmouth especially, is in a sleep, and we have to wake it up and bring it back to what it used to be,” Repp says. “Eventually, maybe Monmouth will be like a European street, where you can eat, drink and shop all within walking distance.”
 
Not only do Koeppe and Repp want to bring a new, fresh space to Newport, but they want to attract people who are going across the river to Cincinnati to stay in Northern Kentucky. Repp says future plans for Factory might include live music and art displays on the walls.
 
“We want it to be a meeting place, not just for young people but for everyone,” he says.
 
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