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Three Cincinnati development organizations receive New Market Tax Credits


This year, a total of $7 billion in New Market Tax Credits were awarded to 120 organizations around the country from the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which is made possible by the U.S. Treasury Department. Three Cincinnati development organizations received $125 million of that money.
 
The Cincinnati Development Fund received $65 million in NMTC. The organization plans to utilize the money to help kickstart development efforts in College Hill, Madisonville, Northside and Walnut Hills, all of which have business districts that are undergoing rejuvenations.
 
This is the largest award CDF has received through the NMTC program.
 
The Kroger Community Development Entity LLC received $15 million through the program, and Uptown Consortium received $45 million.
 
Since its inception in 2000, a total of $50.5 billion has been doled out to community development organizations. For every dollar invested by the federal government, it has helped leverage about $8 billion in private investment.
 
The NMTC program allows investors to reduce tax liability by purchasing federal tax credits from community development groups, which then use the funds to help close financing gaps. Overall, the goal of the program is to further redevelopment in blighted neighborhoods.
 
 

People's Liberty funds Space Walk backyard solar system


Josiah Wolf is an unlikely astronomer. A musician who has spent most of his adult life touring, Wolf began to develop an obsession with learning about the solar system.

“I just had the urge to see the scale of the sun and Earth myself,” Wolf explained. A few years ago, he decided to fashion a scale diorama of the solar system from old fence posts and blacklight paint in his backyard. He taught himself interesting facts about space and began offering nighttime tours to friends and family.

Wolf’s friend, Ben Sloan, a People’s Liberty grantee, suggested he apply for a $10,000 grant from the organization to make his backyard model into a permanent installation. With the help of his wife Liz and their project partner, Matt Kotlarcyzk, Wolf applied for a grant and his backyard project became SPACEWALK.

After receiving funding, the trio began the 10-month design process to make SPACEWALK a reality. The design went through many stages but ultimately had to conform to certain restrictions. Wolf knew that he wanted the models to light up at night, which meant they needed to utilize solar panels so that the models could be freestanding and sustainable.

Solar panels must be placed at least 12 feet in the air in order to gather sufficient power, so the design had to incorporate poles to which the panels could be mounted.

After months of trial and error, Wolf settled on a shadowbox design for the models. The small plastic planets sit inside of a case with a hidden, recessed blacklight. The planets were painted by artist Steve Casino, who is known for his miniature paintings on peanuts. The models are a 3.5-billion-to-1 in scale.

Once the design process was completed, the team needed to determine where SPACEWALK would be installed.

“It was hard to find the perfect location,” Wolf said. Because the project is meant to be viewed at night, it was important to find a location with low lighting. It also needed to be a public place with foot traffic to ensure SPACEWALK would be enjoyed by as many passing science-lovers as possible.

After considering a variety of options, Wolf selected Salway Park, which runs along Mill Creek across from Spring Grove Cemetery. The installation spans three-quarters of a mile along the path.

The project has been up for two months and will continue to be freely available for viewing for the indefinite future. Wolf also offers private tours for those interested. To arrange a tour, e-mail SPACEWALK; to stay up-to-date on all things SPACEWALK, visit its website, Twitter or Instagram.

SPACEWALK is currently accepting donations to support the ongoing maintenance of the installation.

Twice per year, eight grantees are chosen per grant cycle to prototype solutions to civic challenges. Project grantees are supported with $10,000, a launch event and access to People’s Liberty’s workplace and mentorship. Stay tuned to Soapbox for profiles of this year's 15 other grantees.
 

PAR Projects opens new space to art installations


Since its inception in 2010, PAR Projects has had many different homes in Northside, but never one that the organization has owned outright, until now. PAR’s new space, which is located in an old lumberyard at 1662 Hoffner St., will undergo a complete transformation within the next year.

The organization's goal is to create a space for exhibits, arts education and an outdoor movie theater, all made entirely from shipping containers.

Lisa Walcott’s “Swarms” is the first installation in PAR’s 1,100-square-foot gallery, called The Nook. Her whole exhibit, Making Space, is on display at PAR through Nov. 27.
 
PAR purchased the two-story, 6,000-square-foot building and surrounding lot in 2014. They originally planned to demolish the building and start from scratch, but after discovering that the roof wasn’t as bad as originally thought, they decided to keep the building and renovate it.
 
A few years ago, PAR started a traveling art gallery — Makers Mobile — in a shipping container. The container is currently sitting at the Hoffner site, and houses another part of Walcott’s exhibit. It will become the first piece of a new building that will be built entirely from shipping containers.
 
Another two shipping containers will be stacked to create the outdoor theater screen, by next spring, PAR hopes to start showing movies. The group wants to add two more containers to create classrooms for the media arts.  
 

People's Liberty project grantee, Rachelle Caplan


Local musician Rachelle Caplan recently received a $10,000 People’s Liberty grant to turn a vintage van into a mobile music discovery studio, or Caravan. The Ford utility van was gutted, painted with a vibrant mural by artist Jen Warren and rebuilt with comfortable couches, tapestries and an assortment of unusual instruments for any visitor to pick up and play.

The idea for Caravan came out of Caplan’s experiences as an organizer for Ladyfest Cincinnati, a local music, art and activism festival based in Northside. As part of the event, organizers put together an interactive pop-up music lab for children.

This session was the first opportunity many of the children had to play an instrument. Through this, Caplan learned that lack of access to musical instruments was a huge barrier to entering the creative community.

“Caravan was just like writing a fantasy grant," Caplan says. "I thought if I could do anything, I’d buy new instruments that no one has seen before, pack them in a van and have everyone learn with me. And now that’s what’s happening.”

The instruments in Caravan originate from all over the world. Some are electronic like the theremin or the Korg Kaossilator, a digital pad that was popularized by '90s rave music. Others are acoustic, such as a copper Hapi drum that Caplan says makes a sound like a steel drum mixed with a Tibetan singing bowl.

Many of the instruments are rare or exotic, such as an African Kalimba thumb piano with an amp pickup, or an electronic Indian drum machine from 1972. Caplan has amassed a collection of 13 instruments, but only a few of them are available at each public appearance of Caravan.

Caplan aims to make music accessible to everyone through Caravan. “If you’re old enough to hold something to make sound, that’s awesome. I had a 3-year-old be completely fascinated by the guiro, a giant frog you run a stick over. He was jamming so hard that his parents joined him. I am trying to target something across age. I had my 77-year-old grandmother at a session, and she loved it.”

Caravan isn’t just an opportunity to make music in the moment. Each session will also be recorded and will go on the Caravan website to stream for free. These recordings will be minimally edited, serving more as field recordings than complete songs.

Caplan has ideas to take the recordings made at these sessions and turn them into additional works of art.

“I got really floored by the idea of taking some of those soundscapes and giving those pieces to visual artists,” she says. “The recording could be the prompt for another piece, a platform to create from.”

Caplan also plans to share the recordings with musicians, who will help build the original recordings into finished works of music.

Caravan’s official debut is Friday at this year’s Ladyfest. From 7 to 8:30 p.m., Caravan will be parked in the lot across from Northside Tavern on Hamilton Avenue, and will be open for any curious passerby to come in and pick up an instrument.

Caplan aims for Caravan to be approachable for people who don’t have musical experience, but she also invites musicians to jam and help facilitate sound exploration at each session.

“Typically I have two or three musicians sit in,” she says. “I really want to have the spontaneous feel of organic creation as it manifests.”

Her “partner-in-crime” Daisy Caplan, of the local bands Lung and formerly Foxy Shazam, is at each session. Local musician and artist Warren, who painted the outside of Caravan, will also be there for the launch.

Caravan will be visiting festivals, craft fairs and other local events all over Cincinnati through spring 2017. To stay up-to-date on upcoming appearances and dates, visit Caravan's website or follow them on Facebook.

People interested in bringing Caravan to an event are encouraged to reach out to Rachelle Caplan directly.

Twice per year, eight grantees are chosen per grant cycle to prototype solutions to civic challenges. Project grantees are supported with $10,000, a launch event and access to People’s Liberty’s workplace and mentorship. Stay tuned to Soapbox for profiles of this year's 15 other grantees.
 

NEST bringing tiny house movement to Northside


Northsiders Engaged in Sustainable Transformation has been renovating and building houses for years. On Sept. 25 — the same day as the Northside House Tour — the organization is hosting a kick-off party for its Kinda Tiny Houses development project.
 
Unlike the tiny house trend that’s sweeping the nation and setting up camp in Over-the-Rhine, Kinda Tiny Houses will be a bit larger, anywhere from 600-1,000 square feet. And NEST is focusing on abandoned houses that already exist in Northside, and renovating those properties to reflect the concept.
 
“When it comes to these rehabs, we’re taking advantage of an existing resource and creating a greater resource for the community,” says Stefanie Sunderland, founder of NEST.
 
NEST plans to renovate eight houses and build one new house into Kinda Tiny Houses, but there are potential plans for two more new builds. Four houses are already underway at 4222, 4238 and 4240 Fergus St., and the new build at 4205 Mad Anthony, which is on the corner of Chase and Fergus streets. The other five properties are scattered throughout Northside.
 
“These houses will all have smaller carbon footprints, and will tie into the existing infrastructure in the neighborhood,” Sunderland says. “I feel it’s also an environmental and sustainable design.”
 
All of the Kinda Tiny Houses will be visitable, or accessible for everyone. The majority of the houses are single-story, but a few of the larger homes are two-story. NEST wants to make all of the living quarters on the first floors of the homes because much of Northside’s housing stock predates indoor plumbing. When plumbing was added, only half-bathrooms were added on the first floor and you have to go up a flight of stairs to reach the full bathroom.


 
Architect Alice Emmons designed the Kinda Tiny Houses to help people age in place, as well as for Baby Boomers who are looking to downsize and Millenials who want to move into a less expensive, functional home. All of the houses are homeownership units as opposed to rental properties, and will be more affordable options when they hit the market in the next 6-9 months.
 
The project is made possible through a grant from BB&T Bank that helped NEST develop the prototype. The City of Cincinnati is providing NOFA gap funding, and Northside Bank & Trust financed a construction allowance.
 
The Kinda Tiny Houses Initiative with Kinda Tiny Bites party will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 25 at Urban Artifact. Attendees are encouraged to go on the Northside House Tour and then swing by for light bites, music and beer. The party will include a chance to view designs of the Kinda Tiny Houses, as well as the undergoing rehabilitation on Fergus Street. The party is free, but a suggested donation of $10 is welcome.
 

Northside House Tour celebrates neighborhood architecture


The Northside House Tour has been held 16 times since 1990. This year’s event, which will be held from noon to 5 p.m. on Sept. 25, will feature 12 homes from a variety of historic periods.
 
“Back when the tour started, the neighborhood was in much different shape, and it was a way to let people know that Northside was a good place to live,” says Ryan Mooney-Bullock, publicity coordinator for the tour. “Now people know that, but they might not get to see how people are really living in the neighborhoods.”
 
The self-guided tour allows the public an up-close-and-personal look at how residents have renovated, rehabilitated and decorated the neighborhood’s stock of historic homes.
 
This year, two modern houses — which are both LEED certified — will be featured, as well as Victorian, Tudor and Colonial Revival houses.
 
“The tour does a great job of showcasing the architectural history of the neighborhood and how it’s grown over the years,” Mooney-Bullock says.
 
The exact houses that are on the tour won’t be released until the day-of as a way to keep the event a surprise. But the houses are spread out within a two-block radius of Hamilton Avenue, spanning from the southern end of the business district and up the hill.
 
In tandem with the event, many realtors also host open houses. None of the houses on the tour are for sale, but there have been instances of people who moved to Northside after falling in love with a particular street or house they saw while on the tour.
 
Tickets are $15 in advance and will be for sale online Sept. 12-24 as well as at all Northside Bank locations, Shake It Records, Taylor Jameson Salon and Building Value. You can also purchase your tickets day-of for $18 at McKie Recreation Center, which is where the tours begin.
 
You will receive a passport booklet at McKie, which includes a map of all of the homes on the tour, as well as a description and photo of each house. There are also QR codes that you can scan in the booklets for more information.
 
The route is walkable, but you can also drive from house to house.
 

Breweries and game libraries encourage Cincinnati to get its game on


Traditionally, arcades are one of the only places where adults can go and play games from their childhood. But that's not the case anymore in Cincinnati. Local breweries have started adding giant Jenga and ping pong tables to their taprooms, and within the past year two establishments have opened with board games on their menu.

From vintage arcade games to sand volleyball, Soapbox has rounded up a few of our favorite places where adults can feel like a kid again.

Columbia-Tusculum
50 West Brewing Company, 7668 Wooster Pike
In May 2016, 50 West expanded into their Production Works, a second location that's just across the street from its original brewpub. The $1.5 million expansion not only allowed the brewery to boost production, but also gave them the chance to become a destination for athletic beer-lovers. Sand volleyball leagues play at 50 West Monday-Thursday, and a sand soccer league meets Monday-Wednesday. Situated on the Little Miami, 50 West hosted a sold-out Canoe and Brew adventure on August 21, with more canoe events in the works. The brewery also owns and operates Fifty West Cycling Company, renting and selling bikes with easy access access to the adjacent Little Miami Scenic Trail.
Hours: 4-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday

Northside
Arcade Legacy: Bar Edition, 3929 Spring Grove Ave.
For a laid-back barcade experience, check out Arcade Legacy: Bar Edition. It has more than 50 arcade games and pinball machines, as well as a classic console lounge. The lounge features comfortable couches to settle in and explore any title on your favorite old-school TV console (Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis). There's also a full menu of decked-out hot dogs, nachos, snacks and desserts, as well as a full bar with craft beer, cocktails and specialty sodas. Arcade Legacy hosts tournament nights, and trivia at 8 p.m. every Tuesday. Admission is free.
Hours: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Saturday; 4 p.m.-midnight Sunday

Over-the-Rhine
16-Bit Bar+Arcade, 1331 Walnut St.
Boasting a collection of 50-plus vintage arcade games, 16-Bit also features a full-bar with cocktails with throwback names like the Bill Nye (Rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters and a cherry, served in a beaker); the Lisa Bonet (Sailor Jerry rum and St. Germain with simple syrup, lime and ginger ale); or the David Hasselhoff (Bulleit Rye, Sweet Vermouth, Aperol and orange peel). Unlike the typical arcade, 16-Bit is geared exclusively towards an adult crowd (though “High-Score Sunday” gives patrons a chance to bring their kids from 12 to 5 p.m.). Admission to 16-Bit is free.
Hours: 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Monday-Friday; noon-2:30 a.m. Saturday-Sunday

Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. taproom, 1621 Moore St.
Old-school German brewery Christian Moerlein has a taproom serving up craft beers and traditional German food — sausages, soft pretzels, and meat and cheese boards. The taproom also features a pool table, giant Jenga, cornhole and dart boards, and is the convening place for the weekly Cincinnati Beer and Board Games group. It's free to join and is an open invitation, with players meeting at 7 p.m. every Wednesday.
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 4 p.m.-midnight Friday; noon-midnight Saturday; noon-7 p.m. Sunday

The Play Library, 1805 Elm St.
Funded through a $15,000 Globe Grant by local philanthropic lab People’s Liberty, The Play Library is a unique pop-up toy and game library for all ages. The Play Library opened in the Globe Gallery across from Findlay Market on June 24, and will occupy the space for five weeks. Proceeds from game library memberships will support efforts to make The Play Library a permanent fixture in Cincinnati. For info on upcoming events, visit their website.
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St.
Enjoy a cold beer and a rousing game of ping pong or cornhole in Rhinegeist’s 25,000-square-foot taproom. Serious table tennis champs can compete in the World Famous OTR Ping Pong League, which meets at the brewery at 7 p.m. on Thursdays. 
Hours: 3-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday; noon-2 a.m. Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday

The Rook OTR, 1115 Vine St.
The Rook is Cincinnati’s only place dedicated entirely to board games. It features a library of over 1,000 games that are free to play. The Rook also has a full menu of shareable entrees and bites, plus 12 beers on tap, a wine list and specialty cocktails. Cocktails at The Rook are a one-of-a-kind, with offerings like the Pretty Pretty Princess (a sparkling wine and amaretto cocktail served with a candy bracelet) and the Capri Against Humanity (a Capri Sun with rum, served in the pouch).
Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Monday-Wednesday and Sunday; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday
 

Owners of The Littlefield opening second concept in Northside


Sports lovers will soon have a new hotspot in Northside. Located at 3936 Spring Grove Ave., Second Place will offer a “casual, neighborhood vibe” with an emphasis on local sports, according to co-owner Matt Distel.

Distel and partners, Chad Scholten, Mike Berry and John Ford currently own and operate The Littlefield, a bourbon bar and kitchen located next door to Second Place.

“We wanted to do more to attract people to that block of Northside,” Distel says. “The more people that are able to come to Northside and try a few different spots, the better.”

Second Place will be more spacious than The Littlefield — it will open into a courtyard with outdoor lounge areas and ping pong tables. Inside, there will be four televisions screening major sporting events, with a special focus on local and international soccer matches. There will also be a selection of board games and a pool table.

“Our main idea was to open a more casual bar, a place that’s comfortable to sit and watch a game or play some games,” Distel says. “We didn’t want it to scream sports bar, but it’s definitely something we offer.”

This “sports-referential” spot will feature a large draft beer selection, cocktails and bourbon slushies, which are the house specialty. Along with free popcorn, patrons will be able to snack on a limited menu developed by The Littlefield's chef, Shoshannah Hafner. The menu will ultimately expand to include a variety of house-smoked meats.

Second Place is expected to open in September, barring construction delays. For announcements regarding the opening date and official launch party, check out Second Place's Facebook page.
 

NOFA program allows developers to complete rehabs in eight neighborhoods


Ten residential development projects will receive a total of about $4.4 million in city funds through the Notice of Funding Availability program. The program was designed to help the city achieve PLAN Cincinnati’s goal of having a variety of quality housing options for people of all income levels and stages of life.
 
Each phase of funding will target a different set of neighborhoods. This round of funding includes projects in four targeted neighborhoods: College Hill, Madisonville, Northside and Walnut Hills, as well as projects in Camp Washington, Over-the-Rhine, Roselawn and South Cumminsville.
 
The money comes from a two-year surge in gap funding, and will help developers, individuals, partnerships, for-profit and nonprofit entities complete the rehabilitation of housing units in Cincinnati neighborhoods.
 
City funding is being exceeded by a ratio of 12:1 by funds from developers and other stakeholders, for a total of about $57 million in investment in the eight neighborhoods.
 
Projects that received NOFA funds in this round are:
 
  • Camp Washington Works — the rehabilitation of four single-family, affordable units in the heart of Camp Washington.
  • Working in Neighborhoods — three new, affordable, single-family homes and one market-rate unit in College Hill, called Cedar Corridor.
  • Madisonville New Homes — four new, market-rate, single-family homes.
  • 1865 Chase Ave. in Northside — seven market-rate rental units.
  • Abington, Race and Pleasant Apartments in Over-the-Rhine — the historic renovation of 50 affordable rental units.
  • Morgan Apartments in OTR — the renovation of 47 affordable rental units at 1900 Vine St., 1902-1904 Vine, 2 E. McMicken Ave., 53 E. Clifton Ave. and 19-27 W. Clifton Ave.
  • Roselawn Senior Apartments — 50 new affordable housing units for seniors.
  • The Commons at South Cumminsville — will add 80 one-bedroom supportive housing units to the neighborhood.
  • E. 771 and 772 McMillan St. in Walnut Hills — the renovation of seven rental units of market-rate housing.
  • Gateway at McMillan — the renovation of 12 market-rate rental units, as well as three storefronts, in Walnut Hills.

Update: Status of food trucks to restaurants


Over the past few months, a number of well-known food truck owners have announced that they’re branching out and opening brick-and-mortar restaurants and retail spaces. We decided it was time to give readers an update on the restaurants, as the majority of them are planning to open soon.
 
Dojo Gelato, 1735 Blue Rock St., Northside
Owner Michael Christner is renovating the former J.F. Dairy Corner building into a second location for Dojo. The building is cleaned up, and now construction can begin on the space. Christner plans to move Dojo’s production operations to Northside and will offer an expanded menu that will include gelato as well as traditional ice cream treats.
 
Panino, 1313-1315 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Nino Loreto sold his food truck to fund a brick-and-mortar restaurant, which will also serve homemade salami and charcuterie. Panino will feature a casual deli with a walk-up meat counter, plus a restaurant that will offer a small menu of charcuterie plates, crostinis, bruschetta and paninis as well as a small selection of entrees. An opening date hasn’t been set yet because, once build-out on the space is finished, Loreto has to make his meat products, which take a while to cure. Keep tabs on Panino’s Facebook page for updates.
 
Share: Cheesebar, 6105 Ridge Road, Pleasant Ridge
C’est Cheese is one of the city’s most beloved food trucks, maybe because the menu is made up of the ultimate comfort food: grilled cheese. Owner Emily Frank is taking her love of the “cheesy goodness” and opening a retail cheese shop, complete with cheese plates, craft beer and wine to enjoy in-store. There have been a number of setbacks, including a life-threatening injury that Frank experienced earlier this year, but the plans and designs for the space have been submitted and Frank is hoping for a fall opening.
 
Urban Grill on Main, 6623 Main St., Newtown
Randy Reichelderfer and sister-in-law Betsy Eicher are renovating an 1870s farmhouse into a full-service restaurant and coffee shop. The menu will feature customer favorites from the Urban Grill Food Truck, which will continue operating once the restaurant opens. They’re still shooting for a late summer opening in Newtown.
 

New Metro transit center aims to improve rider experience in Northside


A new Metro transit center is in the works near the intersection of Spring Grove Avenue and Blue Rock Street, just off of Hamilton Avenue in Northside. The hub will provide a dedicated off-street boarding location for the 13,400 riders that Metro currently serves in the neighborhood each day.

Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, the agency that oversees Metro, has been working alongside the Northside Community Council and Northside Business Association to develop a plan that addresses long-standing transit infrastructure needs. Northside is a major transit corridor, with six local routes, one express route and one crosstown route that come through the neighborhood daily.

It's the second busiest Metro location in the city, surpassed only by the Government Square stop downtown. Much of the activity is concentrated at Knowlton’s Corner, where Hamilton and Spring Grove intersect.

“This will be a very transformational project for the neighborhood,” says Ollie Kroner, president of the Northside Community Council. 

The new hub is designed to be universally accessible, improve safety and visibility and incorporate sustainable, durable materials. The transit station will have real-time destination screens, green spaces, public art, bike racks and 18 park-and-ride spaces. Development plans began a year ago and have incorporated community input through a series of charrettes, or brainstorming sessions.

According to Kroner, re-routing the stops along Hamilton to the transit hub will help to complete the business district.

“If you look at the Northside business district, under-utilization and vacancy are concentrated near the Knowlton’s Corner stop,” Kroner says.

The new transit hub is expected to streamline bus service, creating greater comfort and faster service for riders. Land acquisition, environmental assessments and a review to ensure that the site doesn't have historical significance have already been completed.

After a third community charrette session and plan finalization, construction will begin. The new hub is expected to be operational by late 2017.
 

Molly Wellmann taking Melt down the street to larger space at The Gantry


Melt, a Northside staple and a recent addition to Molly Wellmann’s Wellmann’s Brands, is making a big move. Next year, the restaurant will move from its current location at 4165 Hamilton Ave. to the newly built Gantry apartment building, which is across the street and down the block.
 
The new location will give Melt much needed space — 3,000 square feet of space, to be exact. There will be a larger kitchen space and additional seating as well as new vegetarian and vegan menu items.
 
In addition to more space, a full-service bar with craft cocktails, craft beer and wine will be added to Melt’s repertoire. Wellmann will be curating the cocktail menu, which will pair with Melt’s menu.
 
As for the interior of the new space, it will be similar to Melt’s current vibe.
 
There is still room for another restaurant or retail option on the ground floor of The Gantry. The new four-story, mixed-use development has 131 apartments and 8,000 square feet of commercial space.

Plans haven’t been announced for the additional commercial space or for Melt’s existing space. 
 

Annual Northside Music Fest adds hip-hop to lineup

 
In its ninth year, the Northside Music Fest is Cincinnati’s longest running, independently-run free music event. This year brings 16 bands to three stages at Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Ave, on June 24-25.
 
Two of the stages are located inside of Northside Tavern — one in the cozy front room and a larger stage in the main back room — with the third on the outdoor patio.
 
Jason Snell, Mike Gibboney and Scott Torres founded Northside Music Fest in 2007 as a way to celebrate the neighborhood’s music scene and eclectic identity, as well as a way for all of their friends to play together. Over the years it’s grown from a one-night showcase of local music into a two-day festival featuring local and regional acts.

"What makes Northside Music Fest unique is that it's not a huge ticket festival," Snell says. "It's free, and it's all-neighborhood first. It brings together many communities in and around Northside and truly celebrates our unique flavor."
 
Previous years have seen bands like the Buffalo Killers, Daniel Martin Moore, James Leg (Black Diamond Heavies), Joan Shelley, Soledad Brothers, Tweens and Wussy. This year, Friday night will have more of a hip-hop/dance flavor, with Open Mike Eagle as the headliner, and Saturday will be more rock and psych-garage, with bands like Eye, Motel Beds and local punk band The Dopamines wrapping up the night.
 
The two-day festival starts at 7 p.m. on June 24. For the full schedule of artists, visit Northside Music Fest’s website.
 
If you can’t make it to Northside Music Fest, there will be more free live music at the Northside Rock ‘n’ Roll Carnival July 1-4.
 

Small-batch distilleries making a comeback across Greater Cincinnati


Before and after Prohibition, there were around 80 distilleries in Over-the-Rhine alone. And just like breweries, distilleries exited the Cincinnati market until recently.

Small batch distilleries are now cropping up all around the city, and the majority of them are focusing on tasting room offerings and local retail sales.
 
A bill was passed on the state level recently to allow craft distilleries to obtain A1 liquor permits and allow the sale of mixed drinks and food on-site, much like breweries and brewpubs. Changes may be coming to some of Cincinnati's distilleries in the form of craft cocktails available in house, but for now you can find their offerings in area liquor stores and bars as well as in a few of their taprooms.
 
New Riff, 24 Distillery Way, Newport
Open since May 2014, New Riff has made a name for itself in the world of small-batch distilling. It uses two different stills — a 500-gallon pot still and a hand-operated column still — to create gin, bourbon and rye. Distillery tours are free Thursday-Sunday.

Henry Street Brewery & Distillery, 108 Henry St., Over-the-Rhine
Located in part of the old Christian Moerlein complex, Henry Street will be the first brewery, distillery and winery in the city of Cincinnati since Prohibition. The distillery’s opening date remains to be determined.
 
Northside Distilling Co., 1326-B Springlawn Ave., Northside
Northside Distilling started distributing its corn whiskey a year ago, but the small-batch distillery was able to double its output in January and now can make 8-12 cases per week. New offerings include bourbon and craft vodka. They opened a tasting room where customers can try samples and purchase liquor to go. Call 513-549-3831 to set up a tour.
 
OTR Still House/Knox Joseph Distillery, 1820 Central Parkway, Over-the-Rhine
A new venture from the owners of PetWants, the OTR Still House will open in a 117-year-old, 17,000-square-foot warehouse and will produce gin, whiskey and bourbon. The building will also be a venue for live music and entertainment and will be available for rent. It will also serve as warehouse space for PetWants production. An opening date hasn’t been set yet, but keep tabs on the distillery’s Facebook page for more information.
 
Second Sight Spirits, 301 B Elm St., Ludlow
Started by two Cirque du Soleil alums, Second Sight is all about helping to build community — the distillery often hosts on-site corporate functions and charity events. Known for its rum, Second Sight also launched Villa Hillbillies Moonshine in April. Free tours and tastings are available Thursday-Sunday.
 
Queen City Whiskey a.k.a. George Remus
Named after George Remus, King of Bootleggers, the whiskey is distilled locally and has been introduced to liquor stores and select bars throughout the region. They’ve even partnered with local breweries to create unique beer styles with bourbon characteristics.
 
Woodstone Creek, 4712 Vine St., St. Bernard
Known as Ohio’s first microdistillery, Woodstone Creek recently moved from a shared space with Listermann Brewing to its own location. Liquor offerings include Barrelhouse, Cincinnati Vodka, Murray Cask Peated Single Malt Whisky and Ridge Runner 5-Grain. The tasting room is open 2-7 p.m. Saturdays if you’re interested in a sample or a tour.
 

Kirby School Apartments to host open house for former students & teachers, prospective tenants


Built in 1910, Kirby Road School served as a Cincinnati Public School until 2012. CPS sold the facility to Bloomfield/Schon+Partners, which is redeveloping the 50,000-square-foot building into Kirby School Apartments.
 
The project will yield 40 units, a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The units range from 560 to 2,000 square feet, ranging in price from $680 to $1,400 per month.
 
Amenities include exposed ductwork, high-end slate kitchen appliances, granite countertops, wood cabinetry, washers/dryers and high ceilings. As the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Bloomfield/Schon is working to preserve much of its character, including the hardwood floors, Rookwood fountains, cabinets and chalkboards.
 
Landscaping around the building will remain part of the historic features, with open green space instead of a courtyard.
 
A 60-space parking lot behind the building will be gated and will allow for off-street parking for residents. All of the outside entrances to the building are accessible from the parking lot.
 
Three studio apartments are located in the old library, which is lofted above the third floor, and three lofts are in the school’s former gymnasium. They each have 22-foot ceilings, and two of them have 1.5 bathrooms.  
 
Kirby School will host a public open house 4-7 p.m. June 1. The tour is meant to give the neighborhood a peek at what’s been going on and attract potential residents as well as bring back former students and teachers.
 
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