A year ago, Chris Lacey moved from Maderia to the Pendleton District of Over the Rhine to live in one of the six new single-family homes he built on Dandridge Avenue.
The town homes sold out within three months of completion and Lacey saw the opportunity to help turn the neighborhood. At the intersection of Pendleton Street and Dandridge, Lacey now owns six other buildings and is in the process of rehabbing them into single-family homes. Some will even have rental units in the building that when rented, will pay the mortgage of the home. The reason for creating single-family houses is to draw homebuyers to Over the Rhine, something that will ultimately help change the neighborhood.
"Homebuyers drive change," Lacey says. "Sure, just having people renting in a neighborhood and having a presence helps, but if a momma bear is somewhere, she is going to make sure her and her kids are safe. Families also have necessities they need nearby. If families are around, businesses will come in."
Lacey, who has been in development for over 30 years, says that many young professionals that move downtown after college or obtaining a job will likely move out once they have children, looking for better schools and safer neighborhoods. The new homes will have yards, parking, in-home washer and dryers and other amenities that are usual in suburbs, but not as often in urban areas.
Adjacent to the buildings Lacey owns is an acre and a half lot he also owns. Right now, the lot is filled with a community garden and the rest is filled with hundreds of sunflowers, which Lacey planted to brighten up the area.
"I've done it in other places it really helps liven it up," Lacey says. "I cleaned cars, sofas and tons of garbage out of the lot, now it's pretty much a community park."
Lacey plans on building 10 to 12 more homes in the lot within the next year or two. The units that are currently being worked on will open in October and continue through the next months. After all of Lacey's current land is developed, he will have 30 completed units within one block.
Before moving downtown, Lacey and his wife contemplated moving out of town, but instead moved downtown and Lacey says they couldn't be more happy about the decision.
"It's rewarding to help fix something that is broken," Lacey says. "Both the buildings and the neighborhood are turning around."
Lacey says he has his eye on 14 other buildings in the Pendleton District.
By Evan Wallis