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Rookwood Pottery finishes first phase of $18M rehabiltiation project in OTR

Rookwood Pottery got its start back in 1818, but is currently in the midst of an exciting period of expansion and growth.  Christopher Rose brought the historic company back to life in 2006 and has been responsible for the revival of the brand and its history ever since.

The fruits of that labor have led to the relocation of the venerated business from a small Corryville operation to a new 100,000 square-foot location near Findlay Market in the historic neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine.  So far, the company has invested $2.3 million into the building.

Plans are to quickly move into the second phase of the project which includes an additional 55,000 square feet of renovated space featuring a retail component and Race Street facade that will quickly become a neighborhood landmark.

Once complete, the $5.5 million first and second phases of the rehabilitation work will be completed within two years, with an additional future investment of $18 million also being a possibility.

Rookwood Pottery is working with GBBN Architects on the rehabilitation work that will lead to a complete reprogramming of the space. The new structure will eventually house their main operations, storage of raw materials, a museum and showcase area, retail space, and a Japanese arts and crafts style garden on the roof suitable for entertaining.

Rose says they receive a number of requests from around the country to tour their operations and learn more about Rookwood’s rich and venerated history.  As a result, the building is being designed to handle some 200,000 visitors per year, many of whom will be from out of town.

Rose is also working to ensure that the rehabilitation work is environmentally friendly.  In addition to the rooftop garden, they are also looking to incorporate as much solar power as possible, says Rose.  According to recent estimates, Rose hopes to take 90-95 percent of the building off the grid once complete.

“I chose this location so that we could be right on the streetcar line.  If you want to start looking at a return on investment, for the streetcar, then you can look at us.  We’re going in here with the streetcar in mind,” says Rose.

Also important is the close proximity to Findlay Market and the opportunity to be a secondary anchor for that part of Over-the-Rhine.  Future plans include monthly meet-and-greets so that people can visit the new facility.

Rookwood Pottery also hopes to leave a lasting impression on Cincinnati’s urban core by encouraging Over-the-Rhine developers to use Rookwood finishes in their buildings, and especially on the exteriors of their redeveloped properties.

"Over-the-Rhine has great Italianate architecture and we could really make this unique by leaving a Cincinnati touch on the street-level finishes of these buildings," says Rose.  Rookwood is currently working on several Over-the-Rhine projects including Lackman Lofts, Fourteenth & Vine and the exterior of Twist on Fourth Street.

Throughout the rest of the year, Rookwood Pottery plans to host several fundraising events at their new Over-the-Rhine location.  Those interested in staying up-to-date on the latest Rookwood news can sign up for the First to Know Rookwood Club.

Writer: Randy Simes
Source: Christopher Rose, owner, Rookwood Pottery; Suzanne Blackburn, public relations & managing manager, Rookwood Pottery

Illustrations provided
Race Street facade
Japanese arts and crafts style rooftop garden

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