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.”