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Northside developments convert abandoned buildings into single-family homes

Northside is known for its eclectic mix of restaurants and shops, but new projects focus on on adding to the population as well.
 
“New developments are critical for the health of the city so that there is a stable population that supports small businesses,” says Cincinnati Northside Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation’s Executive Director Stefanie Sunderland. “There’s also a potential to increase business investment and generate increased tax revenue.”
 
Two houses in the neighborhood will soon receive national attention on the HGTV program “You Live in What?” The program focuses on people who live in buildings that were originally built for other purposes, then converted to single-family homes, Sunderland says.
 
One of the houses, located at 1760 Hanfield, was built in the late 1800s, and records indicate that the first business to occupy the building was a tinner. The redevelopment of the Hanfield property was done by CNCURC. The other house at 1615 Springlawn Avenue used to be Hogan’s Meat Market and was recently converted to a single-family home with a three-car garage. (There’s another house in Cincinnati on McMillan that will be featured on the program as well.)
 
The biggest future project in Northside is a three part development that includes the Myron G. Johnson & Son Lumber Company site and the old Mergards Bowling Alley at Hamilton Avenue and Blue Rock Street, American Can Lofts at Blue Rock and Fergus, and a tract of land north of the lofts at the corner of Fergus and Knowlton.

The Johnson building has been vacant since 2005, and the City recently awarded an RFP to Indianapolis' Milhaus Development for the project. Plans include a mixed-use development of several three- to four-story buildings on Hamilton that will provide retail or commercial space on the first floor with apartments above, several apartment buildings, possible town houses, and the redevelopment and repurposing of the historic railroad building in the area. In all, the project will yield up to 140 rental units.

The American Can Lofts project was the conversion and development of a large, historic manufacture building by Bloomfield/Schon + Partners, which includes up to 110 apartments, with a long waiting list. There's also three large retail or commercial bays on the first floor of the building. The third piece of the project, which is owned by Bloomfiled/Schon, will provide 54 senior housing units and amenities, and is designed by the Model Group.
 
CNCUR is also working on converting four rental properties on Witler into single-family homes. One of the houses is finished, and the other three are close to completion.
 
“Our goal is to reduce blight through the redevelopment of vacant houses,” says Sunderland. “We’re working in areas that are seriously depressed, and have been impacted by foreclosures and abandonment.”
 
With the near-completion of the infrastructure and road improvements along Colerain Avenue, the Virginia Place development will start to fill up, says Sunderland. The project includes 40 single-family suburban and neo-traditional houses that are being completed by a handful of builders.
 
Groundwork Cincinnati was recently awarded grant money to work on the West Fork flood plain on the western side of the neighborhood. Before the grant, FEMA money was used to purchase and demolish the buildings located in the flood plain, pay for the relocation of homeowners, and naturalize the creek.
 
“I think it’s important to repurpose what you already have instead of destroying green spaces,” says Sunderland. “It makes sense to recycle existing communities, rather than affect the environment and build new ones.”
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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