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What's next for affordable housing in Over-the-Rhine?


Historically, Over-the-Rhine has been at the epicenter of Cincinnati’s housing boom; however, it can be argued that not enough of the neighborhood’s housing options are affordable. But 3CDC, Cornerstone Corporation for Shared Equity, Model Group and Over-the-Rhine Community Housing are working together to change that.
 
It’s estimated that 550 new apartments will be developed this year, with the majority designated as affordable housing. Developers are working to save 300 units of low-income and affordable housing that have been lost in recent years or are at risk of leaving the market, and a total of 12 new housing projects are also in the works that will add 50 more affordable units and 200 more market-rate apartments to the neighborhood.
 
In order for these projects to happen, 3CDC had to acquire the Section 8 Jan and Senate apartments, which include six separate buildings, from Community Builders. To complete the project, 3CDC needs to get 101 housing assistance payments — these are U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development subsidies — that are associated with the two buildings. Those subsidies will be donated back to the 12 projects that will create a mixture of low-income, affordable housing and market-rate units in different buildings.
 
Model Group and 3CDC also plan to acquire the Mercy Housing portfolio, which is a group of 18 buildings, or 140 units, scattered around OTR. The goal is to rehab half of the units that are in desperate need of repairs, and make basic renovations to the other half.
 
The Jan and Senate buildings, located at the northwest corner of 13th and Walnut streets, along with 216 W. 12th St., are vacant, and will be included in the housing overhaul.
 
The City of Cincinnati also recently passed an ordinance that will forgive four loans that are associated with the Mercy buildings, for a total of $2.2 million in loan forgiveness. The loans were federal housing funds that were passed through the City to the projects.
 
In partnership with McCormack Baron Salazar, developers are planning to build high-quality affordable housing that will ensure that there are options available to residents of all income levels. In total, 276 units will be available to those who earn less than 60 percent of the area median income; 71 units for those who earn less than 80 percent of the area median income; the remaining 200 units will be market-rate.
 

Another restaurant concept coming to Pendleton neighborhood this summer


This summer, a new restaurant concept is joining the 1200 block of West Broadway in Pendleton. Boomtown Biscuit Bar, which is slated to open in June, will specialize in traditional American fare that was favored by pioneer settlers.

Boomtown’s menu was designed by head chef Christian Gill, formerly of the Terrace Cafe at Cincinnati Art Museum.

“The story we’re trying to tell through food and beverage is the life of prospectors,” says owner PJ Neumann. “From waking up at a campground at the base of the mountain, making a breakfast in cast iron, and going up the mountain and coming back to pass the whiskey around.”

Neumann says Boomtown will be a biscuit bar by day and whiskey bar by night, with an extensive whiskey selection and specialty cocktail list. The menu is still being tweaked, but is so far slated to include Pick & Shovel (fork and knife) biscuit sandwiches, Prospector plates (entrées) and Sweet Fixins (pastries and desserts), as well as a selection of Sundries (sides).

The menu will also provide alternative options for people with dietary restrictions, including a gluten-free griddle cake that can be subbed for a biscuit, and a mushroom and truffle gravy for vegetarians.

“No one will categorize us as health food,” Neumann jokes of the comfort food menu, “but we are hyper-focused on food quality.” He says that the restaurant will develop purveyor partnerships with distributorships to source local ingredients such as micro-greens, lards for biscuits and other key ingredients.

Neumann, a 17-year food-and-beverage industry veteran, says that he’s been wanting to open a biscuit restaurant for years and has been on the hunt for the perfect property. He formerly worked at the nearby Nation Kitchen + Bar, which opened in Pendleton in 2015. That location is what inspired him to look at properties in the neighborhood.

“I’m really excited to be a part of the neighborhood," he says. "There are so many talented people there."

The restaurant is part of the Broadway Square project being developed by Model Group at the corner of East 12th and Broadway streets. The restaurant will occupy a 1,400-square-foot space, with seating capacity for about 70 patrons. It will open at 7 a.m., offering breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week.

For updates on the project and its official launch date, keep an eye on its website, or follow @boomtownbiscuitbar on Instagram and Twitter.
 

Midwest Sustainability Summit helps start dialogue in Cincinnati and beyond


On June 9, Cincinnati will once again host the Midwest Sustainability Summit at Xavier’s Cintas Center. The event will feature a keynote speaker, awards ceremony and breakout sessions.
 
This year, the Summit will explore new areas of environmental sustainability while taking a deeper look at equity in sustainability.
 
The Summit’s goal is to bring together a broad audience of professionals — Fortune 100 businesses, small business owners, government agencies, academia and NGOs — who want to engage in thoughtful discussion, share best practices and celebrate the sustainability work that is currently being done throughout the Midwest. The Summit will also help identify areas for future regional collaborations.
 
Van Jones, a leader in building an equitable green economy, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Summit. He’s started problem-solving organizations like The Dream Corps, Green for All and Rebuild the Dream, and will share his wealth of knowledge and experience in linking the economy, environment and social justice.
 
A lunchtime awards ceremony will honor local small business leaders that have incorporated sustainability into their business practices. The breakout sessions will allow attendees to dive deeper into issues like energy conservation, water quality, local food access, outdoor recreation, sustainable business supply chains and waste reduction.
 
Tickets will go on sale in February. Early bird student admission is $15; Green Umbrella members are $45; and general admission is $65.
 

Kresge Foundation lends $5 million to Port Authority for CBD development


A new commercial real estate fund has been developed in Greater Cincinnati to rehab rundown properties and attract new businesses.

The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority established the loan fund and in return received $5 million in initial capital from The Kresge Foundation to supplement a 10-year span. According to Gail Paul, the director of communication strategy for the Port Authority, the loan project is part of a development to help bring revitalization to blighted residential and commercial areas in order to broaden arts and culture, retail and enterprise in the area.

“The Port Authority will administer the fund and develop the program through The Kresge Foundation donation," Paul says. "We will announce the first project in the next couple of months. It will be in a neighborhood in which we are already working — Evanston or Bond Hill."

Susan Thomas, executive vice president for the Port Authority, gave a presentation in mid-December detailing the commercial development loan fund to the Port Authority's board members. The meeting was successful, as the board members approved the establishment of the project.

“The overall goal of the Fund is to act as a unique financial tool, not compete with commercial banks or other local lenders,” Thomas says.

In redeveloping the neighborhood business districts in and around Cincinnati, the fund will be transformative in how capital is raised over time to lend a hand to further development.

The initial idea came about through Kresge, which is based in Detroit. Development finance agencies like the Port Authority and foundations can work together on projects (such as the loan fund) for investing in funds for important revitalization work. Kresge’s mission is to expand opportunities for low-income residents in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing.

Laura Brunner, president and CEO of the Port Authority, says the organization anticipates announcing a 2017 real estate project that is facilitated by this loan fund. Nationally, Kresge’s investment is among the first partnerships between a national foundation and a development finance agency.

Having previously worked in neighborhoods needing the attention, the Port Authority was on Kresge’s radar as a business alignment and source of encouragement. Striving to be the top development partner, the Port Authority is actively engaged in the Cincinnati area, frequently meeting with community leaders, business owners, shareholders and organizations on how to positively join and impact the area’s economic development.
 

Six Greater Cincinnati projects receive more than $2 million in state historic tax credits


Across the state, 18 organizations were awarded $22.8 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits to rehabilitate 33 historic buildings. The projects are expected to bring more than $225 million in private investment to 12 communities.

This round, six Greater Cincinnati projects received more than $2 million in tax credits, which will help developers continue work on pivotal projects in Hamilton and Over-the-Rhine.
 
509 E. 12th St., Pendleton
Received $150,000 in tax credits
Two buildings on the front and rear of the site have been vacant for about 20 years. They served as housing for about 130 years, and after catching fire in 2016, will be rehabbed into seven one- and two-bedroom apartments.
 
1810 Campbell St., OTR
Received $250,000 in tax credits
Located in OTR’s historic district, 1810 Campbell is part of Model Group’s Market Square project near Findlay Market. The building, which has been vacant for years, will be rehabilitated into commercial office space.
 
1925 Vine St., OTR
Received $249,000 in tax credits
This building, which is on the northern edge of OTR’s historic district, will be renovated into 20 residential units. Built in the 1850s and abandoned decades ago, the building will become a combination of studio and one-bedroom apartments. OTR A.D.O.P.T. helped save the building, and plans include preserving the original staircases, wood floors, wood trim and fireplace mantels.
 
Dollar Federal Bank Building, 2 S. Third St., Hamilton
Received $250,000 in tax credits
Built in 1958, the mid-century modern bank building will have two of the upper floors rehabilitated into commercial office space.
 
Liberty and Elm, 212 and 214 W. Liberty St., 1711 and 1713 Elm St., OTR
Received $1,358,772 in tax credits
This project will include the rehabilitation of five historic buildings, plus more than 100,000 square feet of new construction on currently vacant lots. When finished, the project will yield first-floor retail space and 109 apartments.
 
Market Square III, 30, 34 and 124 Findlay St.; 1821, 1834, 1936 and 1941 Race St.; 41 W. McMicken Ave.
Received $1,690,000 in tax credits
Near Findlay Market, Model Group will rehabilitate eight primarily vacant, historic buildings that once served as residential and mixed-use commercial storefronts with residential above. When finished, the buildings will house retail and office space, as well as 38 residential units. One non-historic building will be demolished, and a new commercial building will be built in its place.
 

Nine local nonprofits and individuals receive funding from NEA for creative projects


For its first round of grant funding in 2017, the National Endowment for the Arts doled out more than $300 million to nonprofits and individuals in 48 states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
 
This year’s grants cross all artistic disciplines, and fall into one of the four grant categories: Art Works, Art Works: Creativity Connects, Challenge America and Creative Writing Fellowships.
 
Nine local organizations and one individual received a total of $180,000 in this round of funding.
 
Center for Great Neighborhoods
The Center received $20,000 in funding, which will be used for the design and art commissions for the lobby at the new Hellmann Creative Center. The goal is to turn the lobby into a work of art; additional funds will be used for collaborative art pieces, open workshops and artist or resident-led classes.

Cincinnati Ballet
Hip-hop choreographer Jennifer Archibald, as part of the Kaplan New Works Series, will use the Ballet's $20,000 grant to help support the creation of a new piece. New Works is an all-female choreographic production that will explore poverty, hope, finding beauty in surprising places and shared connections between choreographer and artist. Performances will be held at the Aronoff Center for the Arts later in the year.
 
Cincinnati Opera
The $20,000 NEA grant will support the Opera's performance of “The Magic Flute” by Mozart. Music will come to life through larger-than-life animation and visual storytelling, and concerts will combine film, performance and music to give the traditional piece a fresh and unique look. Up to three performances will take place at the Aronoff this summer.
 
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
The $10,000 grant will go toward the premiere of “All the Roads Home” by Jen Silverman. The production will feature three generations of women and the legacies they inherit, which aligns with the Playhouse’s mission to produce new work to help support the evolution of the American theater canon, as well as its continued commitment to celebrating women’s stories and the issues they deal with. Performances will be held at the Shelterhouse Theatre this spring.
 
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company
The $10,000 in grant funds will be used for PROJECT38, an arts and education initiative. Throughout the year, students will explore Shakespeare’s canon, and students from local schools will work with Cincinnati Shakespeare’s Resident Ensemble of teaching artists to co-create 38 interpretations — dramatic, musical, visual and dance — of his 38 plays. The project will culminate in a weekend festival where students will come together to share what they’ve created with family, friends and the community.
 
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
The $40,000 NEA grant will support the CSO's Classical Roots concert, which will feature guest artists and the Classical Roots Community Mass Choir. The concert will be held at Crossroads Church, and will serve as a community-wide celebration of African-American musical heritage.
 
Contemporary Arts Center
The CAC received $25,000, which will be used for Ugo Rondinone's “Vocabulary of Solitude” series — an immersive experience that will combine a variety of materials and objects, gallery architecture and visitors as collaborators. The installation will feature a neon rainbow, colored gels on windows, floating mandalas, paintings, painted windows, life-sized clown sculptures and public programming that will be developed in partnership with a variety of community organizations. There are plans for the piece to be recreated in several other venues.
 
Contemporary Dance Theater
The $10,000 grant will be used to support the presentation of CDT’s 44th and 45th Guest Artist Series. In addition to performances, artists will share a variety of activities with the community, such as classes, lectures, workshops and receptions. Performances will be at the Aronoff in partnership with the Cincinnati Arts Association.
 
Corey Van Landingham received $25,000 for a creative writing fellowship.
 

Buzzworthy beginnings for the bee hives at the Cincinnati Zoo


Tucked away in Warren County is one of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s top conservation projects: bee hives. And according to Melanie Evans, one of the founders of the zoo’s Pollen Nation, the honey could become a source of homegrown revenue in the future. 

Established as a contribution to the area’s population, the bee apiary can be found on the zoo's 650-acre Bowyer Farm in Turtlecreek Township. Along with the beekeeping exhibit at the zoo, there are about 24 bee hives that hold over one million honeybees. The farm is owned and run by zoo staff and volunteers, but what makes the site so unique is the environment in which the bees exist.

“We chose to have our full-sized apiary on our farm since we had the pollen support for them to feed from," Evans says. "It would also be beneficial to the native wetland farming projects we have going on out there to receive the pollination services. The two on the zoo grounds are primarily there for exhibition and educational purposes.”

In addition to boosting the honeybee population, the farm uses the bees for pollination for one-third of its crops. In utilizing this natural system with the crops ranging from berries to zucchini, the use of harmful pesticides and the presence of parasites is greatly reduced.

More than 100 acres of the property are farmed organically. As news of the zoo's beekeeping spreads across the region and beyond, it has sparked an interest in backyard beekeeping and promoting an increase in the bee population. By planting more wildflowers and refraining from harmful pesticide use, individuals can impact bee conservation over time.

With the expectation of a large winter turnout and high survival rate, members of Pollen Nation expect that the honey will be for sale in the zoo’s gift shop sometime next fall. Once the colonies get going, hundreds of pounds of honey could be harvested. For now, Evans, along with VP of zoo facilities, planning and sustainability Mark Fisher, say that the few pounds of honey produced in 2016 were distributed to the beekeepers and a small handful of donors.

"Bee" on the lookout for more news about the Cincinnati Zoo’s honeybee conservation project later in 2017!
 

Creative placemaking efforts to launch in five Cincinnati neighborhoods


Throughout fall 2016, a coalition of local arts organizations, nonprofit leaders and community members came together to form a creative placemaking network that will bring arts and cultural events and initiatives to Cincinnati in 2017. Creative placemaking is the strategic shaping of neighborhoods around arts and cultural activities.

At its heart, creative placemaking is a collaborative process, and according to Kristen Baker, senior program officer with Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Cincinnati is on the cutting edge of creative placemaking efforts in the United States.

The network will focus its placemaking projects on five Cincinnati neighborhoods: Covington, Price Hill, Walnut Hills, Madisonville and the West End. Each of the participating neighborhoods are part of LISC’s Place Matters initiative, which is a citizen-led partnership to transform key Greater Cincinnati communities.

Lead project partners LISC and ArtsWave secured $35,000 in grant funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to make the creative placemaking work possible. Over the course of five months, interdisciplinary teams completed a project design process led by Design Impact, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit design firm. Project concepts varied by neighborhood, but each focused on using arts and culture to develop community:
  • Covington: The Center for Great Neighborhoods worked with Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton to develop the concept for a sculptural installation that incorporates the stories of community members.
  • Price Hill: Price Hill Will and other partners will help create opportunities for neighborhood residents to install art pieces on their properties.
  • Walnut Hills: Frederick Douglas Elementary School will partner with community organizations to activate a vacant green space beside the school, turning it into a community hub.
  • Madisonville: Arts organizations and neighborhood residents will equip the underutilized Bramble Park with materials to encourage play, music-making and increased engagement.
  • West End: Efforts will focus around increasing community cohesion through arts programming and public events.
Each participating neighborhood team received $4,000 to launch their projects, which will happen throughout 2017. Baker underscores the potential for good that creative placemaking can bring to Cincinnati.

“The great thing about creative placemaking is that it is not deficit-focused, it brings to light the cultural activity in neighborhoods that makes them good," she says. "It’s a positive thing for communities, and it’s an affirming message for communities that might see themselves negatively reflected in the headlines.”

To stay up-to-date on the launch of creative placemaking network projects, visit the events pages for ArtsWave and LISC. LISC will also post updates from the creative placemaking network on its Twitter and Facebook pages throughout the year.   
 

Catalytic Fund takes first steps toward redeveloping Covington's historic Bradford Building


The 15,000-square-foot Bradford Building is named for Bradford Shinkle, Covington’s wealthiest man, who died in 1909. He was the son of Amos Shinkle, a businessman and philanthropist who played a large role in developing the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky and Roebling Suspension Bridge.
 
The building has been abandoned for years, and its most recent tenants included a strip club and a restaurant. It was recently deemed a historically significant property, which prompted The Catalytic Fund to purchase it.
 
Purchasing the Bradford is the first step toward restoring and redeveloping the space. The Catalytic Fund’s initial plans include stabilizing and securing the building to help prevent further deterioration.
 
Although details aren’t official, proposed plans include five condos on the upper floors that will be available for sale, as well as street-level commercial space.
 
The Catalytic Fund is known for spearheading, planning and helping finance some of Northern Kentucky’s most important urban redevelopment projects, including the Boone Block and Hotel Covington.
 

Mecca creates artistic haven in the heart of OTR


In November, Mecca OTR held a quiet opening, which isn’t normal for a bar in the heart of Over-the-Rhine. However, owners Joe and Robin Creighton and Jon Mouch, who also co-own Cheapside Café, wanted to let people discover something new on their own.
 
The building, which is located at 1429 Walnut St., used to be the home of local developer Urban Sites, but when they moved to a new office on Sycamore Street, they asked Creighton if he wanted to open something in the space.
 
Mecca gets its name from the Walnut Street saloon where Boss Cox kept his office. It’s also used in the religious sense of the Holy City, which is a place that draws people together, regardless of their culture or background. And that’s what the Creightons and Mouch wanted Mecca to be for OTR.
 
In the 1800s, Cincinnati was called the "Paris of America" and was filled with artists. Now, many of those artists go to New York or Los Angeles. To strengthen Cincinnati’s current artistic community, Mecca’s owners worked with artists all over the city to cover every inch of the bar’s walls in murals, drawings, sculptures and art installations.
 
Each bathroom was designed by a different artist, and the tables have Sharpie drawings on them by Alex Frank. A giant metal bee perches on the building's façade, and lights are strung across the outdoor courtyard. Ferns hang from the ceiling in the indoor bar area, which is black-lit to create a 3D effect on the murals.
 
An outdoor bar area is in the works, and will include a deconstructed car tunnel entrance and a tree that will be done by Adam Sands of Elite Customz (who also designed the bee).
 
Mecca alo houses a vintage Americana apparel and memorabilia shop on the Walnut side of the building. Owner Matt Joy curates his collection from estate sales across the country, and has everything from vintage denim to license plates, boots and decorations. The shop is open from 4 to 8 p.m. on days that Mecca is open.
 
The cocktail program is simple, and shots of absinthe are available for $6. The signature drink is called the Chichunker, a can of flavored San Pellegrino served with a lime wedge and a tiny bottle of liquor in the mouth of the can. The food menu is small and basic: popcorn and corn dogs.
 
Mecca is open 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
 

Source 3 Development finalizes plans for redevelopment and infill project in OTR


At the beginning of December, the Cincinnati Planning Commission approved Source 3 Development’s plans for a new housing development in Over-the-Rhine. Freeport Row, which will be located at the northwest corner of Liberty and Elm streets, will break ground in March 2017.
 
The $25 million, mixed-use project will sit right in the middle of OTR, connecting the north and south portions of the neighborhood. The project will include four historic building renovations, as well as the construction of a new building on a currently vacant lot.
 
In total, Freeport Row will yield 110 apartments and 17,000 square feet of retail space. There will also be a two-phase parking garage with 155 total parking spaces.
 
Freeport Row is so named for Freeport Alley, which is at the center of the development site.
 
Initial plans for the 1.5-acre site were announced a year ago, but have gone through a number of changes since then.
 

Fab Ferments expands operations to include a taproom in Lockland


Since 2008, Jordan Aversman and Jennifer De Marco have been serving up traditionally prepared fermented foods with their company Fab Ferments. Over the past eight years, the duo has been hard at work building their “revolution for real food,” as De Marco refers to their company’s vision.

While they started with sauerkraut, they have since expanded their business to offer a full range of raw cultured veggies, hot sauce, a tonic drink called beet kvas and fermented tea, or kombucha.

In December, Fab Ferments opened a kombucha taproom at their Lockland production facility, which is in the same complex as Rivertown Brewery & Barrel House and La Terza Artisan Coffee Roasterie.

“We knew we always wanted to have a taproom,” De Marco explained. “We’ve been waiting for more and more people to find out what kombucha is. We’ve been doing basic education — what does it taste like, why is it good for you?”

For the uninitiated, kombucha is a beverage made of black or green tea brewed with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, also known as a SCOBY. It’s tangy, slightly sweet, carbonated and often features additional flavorings. Because it is naturally fermented using traditional techniques, some alcohol is present in the finished drink, but it is typically no more than 1 percent alcohol by volume. Proponents regard it as an overall health tonic.  

Fab Ferments' taproom offers a line of 12 kombucha flavors on tap, including rotating seasonal flavors like pumpkin pie and wild-harvested persimmon vanilla. Many of Fab Ferments' kombuchas, which are also available in bottles, incorporate fresh juices like the Perky Pink Grapefruit or the Go Go Ginger.

“We don’t use natural flavorings — if you’re going to buy something from us, it is fresh juice and ingredients, so you can enjoy all the benefits that come from those flavorings as well,” De Marco said.

She expressed excitement about bringing “high-quality, nutrient-dense foods” to the larger community through the opening of the new taproom.

To start, the Fab Ferments taproom will be open from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, with future weekend hours planned. Prices run $4 for a pint, $7 for a 32 oz. growler fill and $13 for a 64 oz. fill. Flights are also available. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own growler or purchase one at the taproom.

De Marco encourages patrons to stop by to try an authentic glass of kombucha or to purchase a gift certificate to give for the holidays or any occasion. To stay up-to-date on all things Fab Ferments, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.
 

Newport working to establish new historic district


In May, the City of Newport was awarded a $20,000 grant from the Kentucky Heritage Council to help start establishing a new historic district in the city. The city matched the grant with $13,000, most of which was donated through in-kind volunteer hours or private funds.
 
Starting in June, 1,000 buildings in Newport’s Buena Vista neighborhood from Eighth Street to 12th Street and York Street to Brighton Street were surveyed, with researchers looking at architectural styles and history.

National historic districts can help bolster building rehabilitations by making them eligible for historic tax credits. Newport is hoping that a designated historic district will help bolster rejuvenation efforts on the city's Westside. Much of the redevelopment efforts in Newport have been on the city's east side.
 
Newport currently has seven historic districts: Cote Brilliante National Register Historic District, East Newport National Register Historic District, East Row Local Historic District, Mansion Hill National Register Historic District, Monmouth Street National Register Historic District, Newport Courthouse Square Historic District and York Street National Register Historic District.
 
The Buena Vista neighborhood is home to 120 buildings, six religious buildings and a number of architectural styles.

Final decisions regarding the designation are still being made.
 

Three Cincinnati development organizations receive New Market Tax Credits


This year, a total of $7 billion in New Market Tax Credits were awarded to 120 organizations around the country from the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which is made possible by the U.S. Treasury Department. Three Cincinnati development organizations received $125 million of that money.
 
The Cincinnati Development Fund received $65 million in NMTC. The organization plans to utilize the money to help kickstart development efforts in College Hill, Madisonville, Northside and Walnut Hills, all of which have business districts that are undergoing rejuvenations.
 
This is the largest award CDF has received through the NMTC program.
 
The Kroger Community Development Entity LLC received $15 million through the program, and Uptown Consortium received $45 million.
 
Since its inception in 2000, a total of $50.5 billion has been doled out to community development organizations. For every dollar invested by the federal government, it has helped leverage about $8 billion in private investment.
 
The NMTC program allows investors to reduce tax liability by purchasing federal tax credits from community development groups, which then use the funds to help close financing gaps. Overall, the goal of the program is to further redevelopment in blighted neighborhoods.
 
 

Look Here! photography project highlights Covington's architecture and history


Local nonprofit Renaissance Covington works to socially and economically revitalize downtown Covington for everyone. This effort takes many forms — from the installation of temporary micro-parks called parklets, to beautification projects to planning community-centric arts and cultural events.

From Nov. 2016 until April 2017, this effort also includes an innovative photography project called Look Here!

Look Here! is a free, outdoor photography exhibit scattered throughout Covington’s central business district and MainStrasse Village. Partnering closely with the Kenton County Public Library, Renaissance Covington selected 50 historical photographs depicting Covington landmarks that span a 100-year period. A total of 50 photos were selected in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, which created the National Register of Historic Places.

The photos are mounted at points of interest throughout Covington, available for discovery by passing pedestrians.

According to Renaissance Covington's Executive Director Katie Meyer, the project is a “low-cost, high-impact” way to promote walkability and elevate 100 years of architecture, reinvention and development in Covington.

Taken collectively, the photos serve as a tour through time, giving context to the present landscape of architecture and buildings that make up Covington’s core. “We’re very lucky that we have such a great inventory of historic buildings in good shape,” Meyer said. "Look Here! helps to change the narrative around Covington and highlight our assets."

The project was made possible through close collaboration with the City of Covington. Emily Ahouse, preservation and planning specialist with the city, got on board with the project right away and championed it at City Hall, helping Renaissance Covington to secure the necessary permissions to install Look Here! photos on durable signage that could hold up to the elements.

Look Here! Covington is the second installation of its kind. In late 2015 and early 2016, Anne Delano Steinert, a doctoral student of urban and public history at the University of Cincinnati, received funding from People’s Liberty to install the first iteration of the project in Over-the-Rhine.

She was inspired to bring the first Look Here! public history photography exhibit to the streets of OTR with the hope of promoting neighborhood exploration in a widely-accessible format that highlights the historical value of the neighborhood. Delano Steinert served as an advisor on the new Look Here! installation, offering her learnings and expertise to the Renaissance Covington team.
 
“My whole goal on the project was that it would be replicable and simple enough that any community could take it up,” Delano Steinert said.

Since completing the OTR project, she has spoken with historical preservation societies and groups in Maryland and Ohio, including community groups from other Cincinnati neighborhoods. Delano Steinert was thrilled to see the Look Here! project happen in Covington. “It came to life in the best possible way,” she said.

For a full map of Look Here! Covington sites, check out the Renaissance Covington website, and visit its Facebook page to stay up-to-date with Look Here!
 
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