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Developments at Newport on the Levee to provide a more integrated experience


Newport on the Levee is undergoing major changes to contemporize its attractions and everyday offerings. The Northern Kentucky destination is slowly moving away from the 21-and-over nightlife scene to more of a family experience.

Across the country, the entertainment game is changing: Shoppers are choosing online shopping over retail stores, and fewer movie buffs are filling the seats in theaters.

“In the past, it was about outdoor shopping and eateries,” explains Levee spokesperson Vanessa Rovekamp.

Longtime dining favorites Mitchell's Fish Market and Brio Tuscan Grille are being joined by newer, locally owned spots like Greek Burrito and The Dog House hotdog restaurant.

The Levee wants to become an entertainment destination. Current attractions like the Newport Aquarium, Axis Alley and an AMC movie theater will provide the backbone for that plan.

On top of that, the theater, which was built in 2001, is undergoing a major renovation that will be completed in late November. Updates include power reclining seats, an updated snack bar menu and new screens, sound systems, speakers, carpet and paint. The changes aim to broaden the theater's demographic. While young adults used to make up its largest group of visitors, the updates are intended to create family entertainment for all ages.

Most of the changes at the Levee are not public at this time, but they are expected to reveal themselves over the next two years.

Two developments recently opened at the Levee: a new 238-apartment complex, Aqua on the Levee, offers one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and another 8,300 square feet of retail space and a 144-room Aloft Hotel. Apartments and a hotel are totally new concepts for the Levee area, and encourage a new "stay and play" atmosphere.

Over the past few years, the Levee has also experienced a revolving door of tenants. Despite empty properties, the Levee holds events to keep the entertainment going as renovations continue.

Recent events include the 11th annual Wine Walk (March), supported by Levee tenants and featuring local wines; LIVE at the Levee summer concert series showcasing local bands; Local Brews and Blues (June); Margarita Madness (August); fall events and country concerts to complement the winding down of Riverbend’s schedule; and Light Up the Levee, which will kick off the holiday season on Nov. 21 with festive activities for kids on the weekends.

Visit the Levee's events page for a full calendar of events, which includes tenant-related events and specials too.


Tether Cincinnati connects local creatives to job opportunities, other creatives


One local woman is using her $100,000 Haile Fellowship grant from People’s Liberty to start Tether Cincinnati, a way to connect local image makers (photographers, wardrobe stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists, models, creative directors and fashion designers) in the Cincinnati area.

Tether’s mission is to make it easier for local image makers to connect to each other, and to opportunities for work so they can thrive — and stay — in Cincinnati.

The idea ignited when fashion blogger and former Cincinnati Magazine stylist Tamia Stinson traveled to London. She did a co-op at a British magazine and was inspired by the international image maker directory book, Le Book.

“It was extremely valuable because that was how you found people to execute those types of jobs,” she says.

When she started working, Stinson received many requests from clients, especially from out of town, about the image making industry in Cincinnati.

“I was getting all these inquiries from people and they wanted to know who do I follow, who I get in touch with, what's the best resource for doing this or that,” says Stinson. “And I thought it would be really cool to have a one-stop shop for that information.”

Her passion for design mixed with the resources at People’s Liberty, which helped jumpstart her entrepreneurial career.

“I think it's important to be a part of that creative community and to make sure that I'm supporting people financially in much the same way that I'm trying to get people to do for this community,” Stinson says.

Since its launch in May, Tether has a growing community of about 91 members — and that's just online. Anyone can connect through the Tether Cincinnati website, the print sourcebook and through networking events.

“I think people really get a lot out of that face-to-face interaction, which is why we do events,” says Stinson. “Probably about once a month there's an opportunity for people to actually gather together.”

As much as face-to-face communication is important to her brand, social media is also a key ingredient. “This is a very visual community. So Instagram is where people would tend to hang out the most, but also Facebook and Twitter.”

Aside from social media and events, Stinson also helped organize a sourcebook — a combination fashion magazine and phonebook that features Cincinnati image makers. It will launch in December to agencies and brands nationwide. At the launch, Stinson is planning to "make the sourcebook come to life".

“The plan is to have guests walk in and get the experience of walking into a photoshoot; there will be some kind of interactive part on set to create some of the imagery for the book itself,” Stinson says.

Stinson has been working on this since the beginning of the summer and as of now, the date for the sourcebook launch is Dec. 13. The plan is to have the book come out annually.

The next Tether event is scheduled for Nov. 15 at Alias Imaging, where people from different communities will meet.

Keep tabs on all things Tether by signing up for its newsletter.
 


NKY redevelopment project will go forward despite failing zoning vote


Despite the failing vote regarding the zoning of the historic Kent Building on Grand in Bellevue, the plans to rejuvenate the building and transform it into an apartment building have not yet died.

Currently for sale for $1.2 million, the Kent has been a spotlight for potential redevelopment — and misinformation. “Contrary to misinformation on flyers that have been placed on cars in the neighborhood, there is no plan for Section-8 housing on this site,” says the City of Bellevue.

Wrapped up in zoning issues but carefully moving forward in an effort to purchase the building, Covington-based Orleans Development approached the city in August. Their plans are to convert the former manufacturing facility into a residential building, which would include 66 market-rate apartments.

Because the current zoning does not fit the number of apartments desired in the plans, Orleans Development had to submit an application to the city’s Board of Adjustments to allow for rezoning. On Oct. 3, the proposal didn't pass, but the opportunity for new zoning still lies ahead.

Why is the Kent such a big deal for Bellevue?

According to Chelsey Lonneman of Orleans Development, the building has become a big community concern. “It's a very small, close knit community. Bellevue citizens are worried about losing street parking and increasing density (more people) in the neighborhood. The difference between American Can and Kent Lofts is the size of the lot and neighborhood.”

Northside's American Can building sits on a spacious lot with its own parking lot. It's also in a more commercial area. Kent Lofts is situated on a tight lot, and the building takes up about 95 percent of it. It's in a residential neighborhood, and the point of community concern is geared toward who purchases the property.

Bellevue is phasing into a “newer, younger” time in terms of the residential space and desire for more residential options and attractions for the community, so it's important for the Kent to maintain that residential feel.

“The resurgence of urban living is affecting all of the river cities," Lonneman says. "The more Northern Kentucky is seen as a viable urban living option in comparison to Cincinnati, the better it is for the general area. Bellevue and Covington are like apples and oranges. Bellevue has a more residential feel than Covington. It is inviting, charming and we do see the next generation flocking to it.”

Shaping the development and rejuvenation of Bellevue is inevitable, according to the city's zoning commission. However, it doesn’t want to stop the potential of newer and younger heading in its direction, and Orleans Development understands that in taking on this project.

“We want to bring more urban living options to Bellevue," Lonneman says. "Bellevue's population has declined over the past decade. This development will bring young professionals and millennials to the area. We've seen it in Covington — millennials rent in the city, become involved and take pride in the community and eventually buy homes.”

For more information regarding the project and purchase of the property, click here.
 


Green Cincinnati Plan updates focus on water resilience and renewable energy


The City of Cincinnati is updating its Green Cincinnati Plan, which was first adopted in 2008 and then revised and readopted in 2013. City officials met with residents on Sept. 27 at the Cincinnati Zoo, also known as the greenest zoo in America, to present and take new recommendations to help improve Cincinnati’s sustainability.

Mayor John Cranley, who is supporting the plan from his own budget, began his presentation by saying, “I believe that climate change is real.” He continued to stress the importance of adaption, “We owe it to our kids and grandkids to do what we can to combat climate change. We have to do what we can in our corner of the world to live up to our moral responsibility to care for this earth.”

With over 250 people in attendance, the meeting was the largest climate change one yet. Three different task teams examined the main aspects of the plan: sustainability and managing and overcoming greenhouse gasses; equity and determining the costs and benefits of different areas of the plan; and resilience to climate change.

The themes will be used to evaluate sustainable improvements on energy, transportation, waste minimization, built environment, food, natural systems, education and outreach and resilience within the city.

Since its inception, the plan has been successful. Oliver Kroner, Cincinnati’s sustainability coordinator, explains that because of its success so far, the city is hopeful for the next updates.

It’s a high impact plan that focuses on many different areas: energy efficiency, renewable energy, transportation, reducing waste, land management, land use, food, water, outdoor recreation and nature awareness and climate adaptation.

The plan will work for the city as a whole, but part of the updates include a neighborhood vulnerability assessment to predict climate change impacts. As storms increase, the city desires to strengthen resilience — water management has been a major issue, and some neighborhoods are more vulnerable than others.

“The city has already had to pay $50 million in damages from storms just this year,” Kroner explains. “The updated plan focuses on resilience planning, recognizing changes and what we need to do to adapt.”

Another major update to the plan includes a new solar installation. “The goal is to build the largest city-owned solar energy array,” Kroner says.

This initiative will take advantage of city-owned properties at Lunken Airport, Greater Cincinnati Water Works and the Center Hill landfill.

According to Cranley, the proposed solar panels are enough to produce 25 mega watts of energy, which is the equivalent of 33 million kilowatt hours per year. That's enough to power 3,400 homes and could cover 20 percent of the city’s total energy.

By 2035, the city hopes to convert to 100 percent renewable energy.

Now that the event is over, the City is quantifying impacts and evaluating recommendations in preparation for the next climate change meeting, which will be held the week of Nov. 13.
 


Writers join together for bi-monthly social engagement series


This July, Union Institute & University launched its Live Reading Series to offer a free event for the public where writers, journalists and poets can converge to read and speak about their works — all of which target important societal issues. The new series is also meant to help start a dialogue that furthers knowledge and initiates forward thinking.

The university, which has campuses in five states, specializes in adult education and offers a curriculum that takes flexibility into account with online, hybrid and face-to-face course options.

Ohio’s campus is located in Walnut Hills and seeks to not only deliver high-quality education to its students, but also play a prominent role within the community.

“We chose topics for our series that touch or impact everyone’s life,” says Donna Gruber, executive director of Cincinnati’s Academic Center. “The series is designed to open dialogue in a non-threatening way.”

The series occurs bimonthly. Last month’s topic was “Women’s Issues in Society,” and featured Bhumika Patel, a regional coalition specialist for the Salvation Army's Anti-Human Trafficking Program.

“Bhumika sees human trafficking as an issue that is often misunderstood and unrecognized in our community and seeks to address misconceptions and offer resources,” Gruber says.

Lo Kwa Mei-en, a poet and author, was another featured speaker at the Sept. 29 event. She addressed trauma and survival.

“The community doesn’t have to come up with solutions, but think and reflect on what they hear,” Gruber says. “Often change comes from within.”

Upcoming Live Reading Series events are Nov. 17, Mental Health Issues in Society, and Jan. 26,  Business, Industry and Leadership in Society. The next event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at Union's Cincinnati Center.
 


King Records' legacy lives on through new collaborative education program


Despite launching the career of James Brown and spawning major hits like “The Twist,” Cincinnati-based King Records fell into relative obscurity. The studio on Brewster Avenue was once a bustling hive for both country and R&B recording artists, but was closed in 1975 and all but forgotten in the years that followed.

A new educational initiative led by King Studios LLC — a collaboration between Xavier University and the neighborhood of Evanston — seeks to change that.

The King Studio’s Traveling Suitcases are a set of five different kits filled with replica historical objects and lesson plans in key subject areas. K-12 Cincinnati teachers can check out a suitcase for a week at a time from local nonprofit Crayons to Computers, which is handling pick-up and drop-off logistics.

The cases were fabricated by the Cincinnati Museum Center and contain curricula developed by a group of classroom teachers and Xavier professor Dr. Christine Anderson in one of five subject areas: Great Migration, Civil Rights, Science, Math and Music.

According to education committee co-chair Sean Rhiney, who also serves as director of the Eigel Center for Community-Engaged Learning at Xavier, the traveling suitcase project has been eight years in the making. Part of the reason for the long period of development is that the cases were collaboratively made, drawing on community and teacher feedback to ensure they would be relevant in today’s classroom.

“We started by asking teachers how they would share the King story," says Rhiney. "We heard back ‘Well, we’re limited in class time,' so they worked with us to develop the suitcases with tested subjects.”

The King Records story is a unique one. “King was innovative in that everything happened under one roof — recording, promotion, publicity and pressing," says Rhiney. "Very few major studios were doing that at the time and King was independent."

King was also special in that it blended genres, bringing together African-American and Appalachian artists during a time when strict segregation was the norm. These parts of King Records' history are woven throughout the lesson plans in the traveling suitcases, which Rhiney says are a fun, powerful way to tell stories while reinforcing core subjects.

Rhiney is excited about how the traveling suitcases will make Cincinnati history relevant to young people. “It’s our history and I think it’s important," he says.

The first cases were made possible in part by support from the Elsa Heisel Sule Foundation and the Charles H. Dater Foundation, but the goal is that the program will grow; there are plans to create five more suitcases, if funding is available.

For more information or to reserve a traveling case, visit the King Studios Education Website.
 


P&G's biannual alumni conference touches down in Cincy Oct. 9-13


Every two years, P&G holds a global conference that not only allows for networking opportunities, but also identifies the progress and innovation patterns found in the many P&G brands. This year, the alumni conference returns to Cincinnati for the first time in a decade: home to P&G's headquarters and a thriving technology and arts scene.

The conference will occur in a series of roundtables, panels, TED-style talks, keynote speakers, break-out panels and more. Comprised of six major events, the conference includes P&G CEOs, CFOs, board members, media leaders, innovators, founders of companies breaking ground, nonprofit leaders and leaders of small businesses.

The P&G Alumni Network Global Conference will take place Oct. 9-13, and three of the events are open to the public (Generation NOW, Innovation Summit and the Small Business Symposium).

CEO Roundtable:
On Oct.10, the CEO Roundtable will kick off the conference with four keynote speakers, including AG Lafley (retired P&G CEO), Jim McNerney (former CEO of Boeing and 3M), Meg Whitman (CEO of Hewlett Packard) and Scott Cook (founder and former CEO). All P&G alums, they have made their way into leadership and highly profitable P&G brands.

Generation NOW:
The Generation Now event will also be held on Oct. 10. Inventors, startup founders, digi-experts and funders will cover topics ranging from the startup atmosphere in Cincinnati to making your passion into a career to making investments in the startup community. Speakers for Generation Now include Pete Blackshaw, global head of digital & social media, Nestle; Julie Eddleman, global client partner, Google; Jack Rouse, founder of Braxton Brewery in Covington; and many more.

Innovation Summit:
Tuesday's Innovation Summit will bring together leaders and experts to discuss the latest innovation trends, success models, and tools. Among the topics for this portion of the conference are innovation, innovation in product supply chains, leading innovation, and social innovation.

Central Conference:
The Main Conference on Oct. 11 will bring together a group of speakers from different backgrounds to share their thoughts on the future, leadership and how to stay ahead. Among the range of topics are a CEO panel, CFO panel, global panel, investments, conscious business leadership, emerging issues in information technology, the future of digital marketing, nonprofits and more. Speakers include Jonah Peretti (founder and CEO of BuzzFeed), Greg Wasson (former CEO of Walgreens) and Benno Dorer (CEO of Clorox). These talks will be reminiscent of TED talks and will be interactive.

Small Business Symposium:
The Small Business Symposium on Oct. 13 will give alumni the chance to connect, learn and showcase their work. An open-to-the-public trade show will be held later in the day to present new ideas and opportunities to Cincinnati residents and business leaders. The symposium is geared toward those that wish to leave the corporate world and focus on owning and running their own small business.

A gala dinner and reunion party will cap off the conference on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Happy hours will also be held each evening for both business and public interactions with P&G leaders and alumni.

The entire conference will be held at a variety of locations, including P&G Towers, the downtown Westin, Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine, Crossroads Oakley and Rhinegeist Brewery. For more information regarding the conference, click here or visit the Facebook event page.
 


Interconnected trails network to provide alternate means of transportation for region


What if there was a healthy, affordable, environmentally-friendly way to get to work? What if you could skip the headache of traffic every morning?

CROWN, formally known as the Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network, is a series of trails that loops and connects Cincinnati’s existing biking and walking trails. Interact for Health funds the promotion of CROWN, highlighting the collaboration of nonprofit, government agencies and transportation organizations to expand and promote the trail network.

Wade Johnston is the director of Tri-State Trails, a Green Umbrella initiative that's committed to connecting and expanding the region's trail system. Tri-State Trails is one of the many organizations working to make CROWN a reality. Johnston says that CROWN will connect neighborhoods, taking us back to the basics of transportation and recreation.

“What better way to connect neighborhoods than to connect trails?” he asks.

The CROWN network also keeps us competitive with similar efforts happening in Louisville, Columbus and Cleveland, which are also building ways to actively transport their citizens to their destinations.

The CROWN is founded on five pillars of benefits to our city:

  • Active transportation: “Forty percent of car rides in an urban environment are trips that are two miles or less,” says Frank Henson, the chair for Tri-State Trails. The idea is to get people safely between destinations without a car.
  • Economic development: “There’s already evidence that trails increase property values,” Johnston says, pointing out the examples of development happening along the Little Miami Trail.
  • Public health: “Ohio and Kentucky are near the bottom of public health rankings for cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” says Johnston. “If we can make it an easy choice to bike or walk every day, it can reduce healthcare costs collectively.”
  • Transportation equity: Providing biking or walking options to impoverished areas can provide additional connectivity to people who don’t have access to a car.
  • Environmental sustainability: “We have some of the worst air quality here in Cincinnati and fumes from cars contribute to that,” Johnston says. Walking and biking will have the added benefit of improving air quality and lowering the instances of pulmonary diseases.

The work for the CROWN network is ongoing, with 48 miles of the 104-mile network already built. The vision is to have the entire network completed in 5-10 years.

Meanwhile, citizens can enjoy the portions of the CROWN that already exist (check out the map below).



“It’s very appropriate for the Queen City to have a CROWN,” Johnston adds.
 


Northside-based station Radio Artifact is set to make a name for itself in independent music


The idea for a radio station in Northside that plays independent artists and brings prominent local people on air came about two years ago, long before WNKU went off the air.


The radio station, Radio Artifact, will be a 24/7 station based out of the Rectory, which is next door to Urban Artifact. It will broadcast all kinds of music — from independent artists on the local and national level to interviews with artists and prominent figures in the Cincinnati area. The brewery will also use this platform to market its beer.

 

Scott Hand, one of the founders of Urban Artifact, had an idea to start a small radio station that pays homage to the arts back in 2015 when the brewery opened.

 

“I think he just wanted a cool little pirate station to be able to feature all the good music that we have around town,” says Urban Artifact's booking coordinator, Jeremy Moore.


Urban Artifact is also a music venue. Moore has booked local acts like The Skulx and the Blue Wisp Big Band. Touring musicians include Emily Davis and John Nolan from Taking Back Sunday.

 

With many touring acts coming to Cincinnati, Moore wants to be able to get them on the radio “to better promote themselves,” he says.

 

Radio Artifact will not just play music, but will feature all sorts of content. “The main goal is to get as much music-like programming out there, but we also want to focus on all parts of the arts community and just the Cincinnati community in general,” Moore says.

 

The station will air in a 2.5-mile radius. For those who do not live within that radius, online streaming will be provided on its website.

 

Radio Artifact won't necessarily fill WKNU’s space, considering it will only broadcast throughout Northside, parts of Clifton, Westwood, Camp Washington, Mt. Airy and Norwood. WNKU had a much wider reach.

 

But Moore says, “We’re just really trying to do something very independently.”

 

Radio Artifact will eventually broaden its antennas to reach a wider audience, but it's heavily relying on reaching listeners through online streaming.

 

“That's kind of how people listen to stuff at work nowadays, anyway — it's usually on the computer,” Moore says.

 

The radio station has received many original music submissions, but it's been experiencing trouble with its servers. You can still submit original music, and the station plans to officially launch during the first week of October.

 


Four local nonprofits receive $101,000 each from Impact 100


Impact 100, a local organization that dedicates time, effort and resources to help the community, awarded $101,000 to four organizations during its annual awards ceremony on Sept. 12.

Started in Cincinnati in 2001 by Wendy Steele, Impact 100 was created with the idea of promoting philanthropy among women — if 100 women each donated $1,000, a grant of $100,000 could be awarded to a nonprofit community organization.

Since its inception, the group has become a worldwide name with more than 30 chapters in the U.S. and two in Australia. In Cincinnati, Impact 100 has raised more than $400,000 annually, enough to give $100,000 grants to four recipients.

This year's recipients were selected from a pool of more than 100 regional charities that applied for funding in five impact areas: culture; education; environment, preservation and recreation; family; and health and wellness.

The 2017 grant recipients include First Step Home, Lighthouse Youth and Family Services, NKY Community Action Commission and Ohio Valley Voices.
 
  • First Step Home, an addiction treatment center, will utilize its $101,000 grant for the expansion of its programming for opiate-addicted pregnant women and their newborn babies.
  • Lighthouse Youth and Family Services will be using its grant money to expand its experiential learning opportunities for children in foster care or the juvenile justice system. The organization will also start work on its Lighthouse Charter School Agricultural Learning Center.
  • The NKY Community Action Commission will put its award toward the Lincoln Grant Scholar House, as well as new computer equipment. Single mothers who wish to pursue a secondary education will not only have an affordable living option, but a chance to learn about generational poverty.
  • Ohio Valley Voices is looking to relocate, as well as add a new audiology clinic and purchase new equipment for infant diagnostic testing. Its long-term goal is to increase its services by 50 percent.
“It is a privilege to support these organizations — they are making a tangible impact on our communities,” says Donna Broderick, president of Impact 100. “While we could only choose four, as an organization we learn so much about all of the wonderful groups that are working so selflessly to make a difference.”
 

Past winners include Crayons to Computers, the Freestore Foodbank, Supports to Encourage Low Income Families and the Women's Crisis Center.

For more information on the Impact 100 grant process and how to apply for the 2018 round of funding, click here.
 


Design firm relocates to the heart of downtown Newport


Notice any changes on Monmouth Street near Ebert’s Meats? Following a historic building remodel in what used to be a pet grooming business, another firm has set its foundation in Northern Kentucky.

Eighty Twenty Design Group, owned by Fort Thomas resident Michael Smith, is now headquartered in Newport. The building was purchased last October, and renovations led up to a grand opening held earlier this month.

Eighty Twenty is a residential and commercial interior design company specializing in residential room makeovers, remodel planning and design and commercial design consulting. The firm was founded by Smith in 2013 and has grown with the area, becoming one of the most innovative and balanced design companies around. While the company isn’t necessarily new, the presence it will have in Northern Kentucky continues to highlight the area's business boom.

The design firm's core offerings include startup and commercial interior design, residential interior design, paint and accessories, furniture placement and installation, antique furniture restoration and custom-made furniture. A unique feature of Eighty Twenty is that it doesn’t rely on a single supplier, which allows for an infinite selection of styles and retailers. Smith prefers customers to be involved in the process so that they can learn simple techniques to upkeep the design over time.

Using design software, Eighty Twenty can implement the desired design techniques and know exactly how a room or home is going to look before the item is purchased and renovations even begin. High-definition, 3D and virtual reality renderings take customers on a virtual tour through their redesigned home or office space.

Eighty Twenty's portfolio is extensive, from exterior residential painting and hardwood floor restoration to house flips and custom made built-in furniture and storage. You can view some of its past interior design projects here.

The Newport location will house the firm’s office and design studio, along with a retail home store and event space, "Headquarters” will sell home décor, accessories and furniture, as well as host DIY workshops and other events. Products from the home store are available both online and in-store.

If you missed the grand opening on Sept. 2, be sure to catch a glimpse of the projects and products available when Eighty Twenty is featured on the Newport Beyond The Curb Urban Living Tour on Oct. 1. Tickets are available for the self-guided walking tour here.
 


Covington's Austinburg reigniting its 27-year-old plans to better the neighborhood

 

For the past 20 years, the Austinburg Neighborhood Association has remained dedicated to its neighborhood plan, which was created in the 1990s. The plan outlines expanding greenspace, restoring historic commercial buildings and returning character to the neighborhood.

The group is hoping to reignite those plans and is collaborating with organizations and local government to execute projects to better the neighborhood.

The plan, written in 1990 and initiated in 1998, centers on four main goals: removing the state highway designation for Greenup Street and Scott Boulevard; positively developing the almost five-acre property that was once St. Elizabeth Hospital to a mixed-use project; restoring the historic commercial buildings along the 20th Street corridor between the former St. Elizabeth property and Madison Avenue to a thriving business district; and further expanding green spaces.

The state highway designation of Greenup and Scott runs through four Covington neighborhoods, including Wallace Woods and Austinburg. Since the 1960s, Austinburg has tried to remove the designation to return the streets to a quieter, neighborhood feel.

J.T. Spence of the Austinburg Neighborhood Association is optimistic. Adjacent neighborhood Wallace Woods recently removed the designation. “Because of Wallace, I think the state will be more empathetic.”

The next project on the list is the utilization of the former hospital. The property has potential for a mixed-use project to combine housing and local businesses. “We don’t have a specific use in mind, but we’re thinking synergy with the neighborhood," Spence says.

There's an existing parking garage, which would add to the potential project and help showcase "the diversity of urban life."

Part of the unique character of Austinburg is its charming architecture. The corridor between the old hospital and Madison is comprised of historic commercial properties. The Austinburg Neighborhood Association is seeking to rezone the area for the expansion of businesses.

“We hope the rezoning will entice local businesses, serve the neighborhood and increase walkability,” Spence says. This rezoning would also create jobs for neighborhood residents.

A final project for the neighborhood is improving its green spaces. Spence describes Austinburg’s open space as both small and large, with space for active and passive recreation. There is an opportunity for a park at the end of Thomas Street, which could include a water feature. Its proximity to the schools could offer an expanded learning space for students.

Spence says that Austinburg has many desirable assets. “Its accessibility and proximity to Cincinnati, the bike trails and bus lines, affordable housing and open space make it a great place to live.”
 


Two engineers embark on entrepreneurial dream with poke restaurant


Two engineers are about to step into the foodie world with a Chipotle-style, Hawaiian poke restaurant in the heart of Over-the-Rhine.

Sally Lin, who works at P&G, and her fiancé and GE employee Baret Kilbacak, chose OTR as the location for Poke Hut because of the diversity in the neighborhood and a lack of fast-paced restaurant options for busy young professionals.

“We're trying to break the mold; we're trying to offer something that fits people's lifestyle,” Kilbacak says.

Poke is a traditional Hawaiian dish that consists of raw, cubed pieces of fish. It is usually served in a bowl with rice and veggies.

Poke Hut will serve poke with sushi rice and a variety of toppings and sauces. The menu will also feature cooked meat dishes. The restaurant will have a beach-theme mixed with a little bit of Cincinnati. There will be bubble tea, a bar (with alcoholic bubble tea), poke burritos and steamed buns for those seeking a healthy late-night snack.

The couple are first-generation immigrants — Lin’s family is from China and Kilbacak’s Armenian family is from Turkey.

“We grew up seeing our families in small businesses, which is typical of immigrants, and I think we kind of miss that,” Lin says.

The idea for a poke spot started when Kilbacak went on an impromptu trip to Hawaii with his brother and a close friend. After a long day of surfing, the group stumbled upon a poke shop in search of a quick bite.

“We went to a shop, and within just a few minutes we had a bowl in our hands and we went to the beach,” he says. “The lifeguards were off duty and there was a lifeguard shack. We went right up there, threw our feet over the edge and watched the tide roll in and ate our food.”

After a year of planning, Poke Hut anticipates a soft opening in October or early November.

Although owning and operating a small business is something the couple has wanted to do for a long time, they don't plan to quit their day jobs. Instead, a third partner will oversee the restaurant's day-to-day operations.

Poke Hut will be located across from Taft's Ale House in the Allison Building at 1509 Race St.
 


Vision 2020 works to offer CPS students real-world experience


The Vision 2020 initiative strives to improve the city's public schools by offering students real-world experience at an early age to better prepare them to be successful students and contributing members of the community.

Established in 2016, Vision 2020 started specialized programming at seven Cincinnati Public Schools with focuses based in the surrounding community — high tech, student enterprise and environmental science.

This year, nine schools have been added to the list, along with updated programming.

CPS asked stakeholders what they would like to see improved in neighborhood schools, and Vision 2020 was born.

The perception is that magnet schools are better, says Dawn Grady, public affairs officer for CPS.

Magnet schools with specialized programming were established in the 1970s to diversify and integrate Cincinnati’s public schools. Vision 2020 brings that specialized programming to neighborhood schools to help increase learning outside the classroom and strengthen the community.

The goal is that by the year 2020, neighborhood schools will offer improved programming that offers relevant programs to get students immersed in the community, while reinforcing what they’re learning in the classroom.

Near Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the Cincinnati Zoo, Avondale's Rockdale Academy specializes in global conservation. Students venture on field trips to learn about consciously taking care of themselves, their community and the environment.

Rothenburg Preparatory Academy in Over-the-Rhine learns from its proximity to the neighborhod's booming business district. Specializing in entrepreneurship, the school hosted a pop-up shop last year to sell coasters designed by students.

The West End's Hays-Porter School focuses on new technology to prepare students for the fast-moving technological world. Students work on designing and programming, along with the typical everyday classwork.

With the updates to Vision 2020, additional schools are beginning to specialize in subjects, including environmental science, high technology, expeditionary learning, contemplative arts and sciences, global environmental literacy and math and science discovery.

“Vision 2020 is about achieving equity, making sure everyone has access to programs at magnet schools,” Grady says. Hearing something in a classroom is only part of it. “If you can apply those skills, that means you can actually learn it.”

The initiative allows students to connect the dots with what they learn in the classroom to how it relates to the real world in an effort to better prepare them.

“It’s all about real-world experiences and starting it young,” Grady says.

The initial seven schools include Chase School in Northside, Woodford Paideia Academy in Kennedy Heights, Pleasant Hill Academy in College Hill, Gifted Academy West at Cheviot School, Hays-Porter, Rothenberg Prep and Westwood School.

The nine schools added to Vision 2020 this year are South Avondale School, Frederick Douglass School in Walnut Hills, College Hill Fundamental Academy, Mt. Washington School, Rockdale Academy in Avondale, John P. Parker School in Mariemont, Roll Hill Academy in East Westwood, Bond Hill Academy and Ethel M. Taylor Academy in Millvale.

 


Grocery stores adapt to the recent changes in Cincinnati's food landscape

 

Various Cincinnati neighborhoods are in transition, experiencing a shifting landscape with grocery stores either entering or exiting: Kroger closing in Walnut Hills, the proposed downtown Kroger development, the new Corryville Kroger, Clifton Market, Apple Street Market in Northside and the The Epicurean Mercantile Co. in Over-the-Rhine — among others.

In May, the owners of Findlay Market staple Fresh Table opened EMC on Race Street just across from the Market, as they saw a need for a full-service grocery store in the area.

“There was a real need [for a grocery store] in OTR, but also the Central Business District,” says Meredith Trombly, owner of EMC. “We always knew we were going to form a new business, whether that was a food truck, herb garden or what have you.”

The 5,000-square-foot store is also home to The Counter, a 1,000-square-foot restaurant that serves food for dine-in or carryout.

Trombly believes that being along the streetcar line offers a convenience to downtown residents and the surrounding neighborhood, and that including a restaurant sets them apart from others. She also sees a need for other grocery stores to offer something different in the current economic landscape.

“We wanted something unique for the neighborhood — something different but also functional. People are looking for that kind of convenience, that kind of spark.”

Similarly, Clifton Market, which opened in January, has since filled The Gaslight District’s grocery store vacancy following the closure of Keller’s IGA in 2010. The market’s model is also different than other grocery stores in Cincinnati, with its many shareholders making its opening possible.

The market’s board first met in Aug. 2013 to discuss opening the grocery store, which incorporated in Jan. 2014 and opened in Jan. 2017.

“We went to a co-op startup conference in 2014 and we told them we just got incorporated, and then we told them we wanted to open up in 2-3 years,” says Marilyn Hyland, founding board member of Clifton Market. “They told us, ‘No, you can’t do that. It takes 5-9 years to open up a food co-op.’”

Clifton Market began selling shares to the community in March 2014, and by Dec. 2015, it had raised nearly $1.65 million in owner shares and owner loans. It currently has more than 1,700 shareholders.

“A lot of why we felt it would be feasible to raise the money for the grocery store was in the Clifton tradition of rolling up your sleeves and planning and making happen the picture of the community that people have," Hyland says.

The market is beginning its third phase of fundraising, aiming to raise $100,000 this month and $500,000 within the next six months. This new round of fundraising will focus around a variety of events and share drives to provide a better startup cushion for the store.

Clifton Market is also preparing to offer online delivery at a cost of $2 to collect groceries in-store and $10 for delivery within a five-mile radius. There are future plans to extend the delivery service to anywhere within the I-275 loop. Hyland sees this as an opportunity to bring people from outside of the neighborhood into the area.

“The grocery store is a social space, as well as the heart of a community,” Hyland says. “But you don’t have to live in Clifton to love it. You can go there, shed your car and be a part of everything.”

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