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Wyoming Historical Society teams up with Cincinnati Preservation Association for spring home tour


In partnership with the Wyoming Historical Society for the celebration of its 30th anniversary, the Cincinnati Preservation Association is hosting a spring house tour in the neighborhood to highlight some of its historic buildings and residences.

First listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, the Wyoming Historic District is home to more than 300 buildings including homes, churches, businesses and more. The Ohio Historical Preservation Office calls it “a one-of-a-kind community with an extremely impressive array of architecture.”

The neighborhood has 19th- and 20th-century homes in Victorian and Tudor styles.

Self-guided walking tours are available in the district, with resources provided by the Wyoming Historical Society. Although self-guided tours of the village don’t take tourists into the buildings, the brochure provided through the Wyoming Historical Society takes you through each historical step from previous farmland to colonial-style homes. Going this route, you have access to the historical architecture of the area’s homes, churches, businesses and schools.

The Spring House Tour, in partnership with the CPA, will take visitors through the heart of Wyoming’s village area, touring through five homes and two churches along the way.

According to Ashleigh Finke, board member of the CPA and co-chair of the tour, the event highlights architectural variety by featuring five homes ranging from an Italianate built in 1865 to a charming bungalow constructed in 1925.

The Palmer-Stearn House, a High Italianate mansion atop a rolling 1.6-acre estate, will be one of the stops on the tour. The mansion was fully restored and is known as one of the oldest and most historically important homes in Wyoming. The tour will cap off with a visit to two local churches — one a Victorian-Gothic style and the other a Mid-Century Modern.

The event, sponsored by Cincinnati Historic Homes and the Sanregret Team, will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. on May 13. Will call will be available at the Wyoming Civic Center, but advance purchase is recommended. Tickets are $30 for CPA and WHS members, $35 for nonmembers if purchased in advance and $40 for a full day of touring.

Tickets can be purchased by calling 513-721-4506 or by visiting www.cincinnatipreservation.org.
 

Ladling out cultural understanding and community building through soup


Soup is a quintessential comfort food, and in these culturally polarized times, could be especially useful in countering the woes of a post-election winter. Kate Zaidan, owner of Dean’s Mediterranean Imports at Findlay Market, has organized a community "soup swap" in an effort to highlight the diverse voices of people in Cincinnati.
 
“This is part of a long tradition of community food gatherings,” Zaidan says. “I didn’t invent the idea of a soup swap — they happen all over the country. They’re great ways to get people together, do something community-oriented and leave with a benefit in the process.”
 
Zaidan is attempting to use soup as a starting point for people to discuss their heritage, while also opening their eyes to other cultures they might not have much exposure to on a regular basis.
 
“Food is such a great place to start,” Zaidan says. “We all eat, we all cook. Food is very, very personal and a source of pride for people, and I think if we can start building bridges across the divisive lines in our society with food, if we start there, it grows and builds something incredibly powerful.”
 
To attend the free event, it’s been requested that participants register ahead of time and bring a soup of their own to share. Simply make a pot of soup, divvy it into six Tupperware containers and write down the recipe in consideration of anyone with dietary restrictions. It’s expected all participants will be able to leave with five of their favorite soup samples.
 
The soup swap is a sort of inaugural event for Zaidan’s new monthly cooking club, Stir!, which recently received a $10,000 grant from People’s Liberty (the nonprofit is hosting the soup swap in their space in Over-the-Rhine). Stir will focus on a different theme each class, which is centered around creating community and sharing skills and expertise.
 
“Every single culture has its own neat recipes," Zaidan says. "Through that, we’ll have all kinds of people who might not otherwise be in a room together talking about food. Any kind of soup is welcomed. The world is your oyster.”

She adds: “If you even want to bring oyster soup, that’s totally fine too.” 
 
Hungry participants can join the soup swap at People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm St., at 11 a.m. on Feb. 25. For more information on the soup swap and Zaidan’s new cooking club, connect with the group on Facebook.
 

Former Newport school to become 200 residential units and first-floor commercial space


Until spring 2016, Newport Intermediate School on Fourth Street in Newport housed 450 students in grades 3-5. Thanks to a redevelopment project by CRG Residential, the school will now be home to new tenants.

The building was constructed in 1939 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s public works project. It was purchased for $2.6 million in June 2015, and is being redeveloped into Academy on Fourth apartments. Many original pieces from inside the school will be saved for historical purposes, and one of the outside walls will remain.

CRG's Vice President of Development David George is very excited for the project to begin and believes it will add great value to the Newport area.

“We are excited about the opportunity to be part of the Newport community,” he says. “CRG Residential and our development partner, Barrett & Stokely, have developed several properties in the Cincinnati region. However, this will be our first project in the Newport market.”

The current layout of the project includes 200 market-rate apartments, as well as commercial space on the ground floor, along Monmouth Street. Each unit will include granite counters, stainless steel appliances and the same finishes as other new residential projects in the Cincinnati region. 

Other features for the project are being worked out by the company as well. Underground parking, an interior exercise facility and a common area that will look out onto a large, central courtyard are in the works, as well as a pool and other gathering areas.

The redevelopment design is currently in the works, according to Joe Langebartels, vice president of construction for CRG. Groundbreaking and building demolition will occur this spring, and construction will last about a year and a half.

In January, the Newport City Commission agreed to issue up to $32 million in industrial revenue bonds to assist CRG with the project, alongside what CRG has already allotted in its budget.

In selling the property, Newport schools will have the capability to not only purchase updated technology but also pay tribute to a historic school and district. According to George, this high-end development will do that and more.

“Our project will also include several rehabilitation measures to the historic Southgate School, which is immediately east of our project site,” he says. “This will include upgrades to their façade.” That building will be part of an ongoing project as it is converted into a museum.

CRG, based in Carmel, Ind., plans for the 200 units in the four-story apartment complex to be available for rent in late 2018. Other notable CRG projects in Cincinnati include the renovation of One Lytle Place and the redevelopment of the Alumni Lofts.
 

Green Umbrella launches grant to continue growth of local food system


Green Umbrella is known for furthering sustainability and green efforts in Cincinnati, but it’s also working to help grow the food movement. With the help of a lump sum of $75,000 from the Duke Class Benefit Fund, the nonprofit is providing grants to support energy-efficient refrigeration in the local food system. 
 
Refrigeration is essential to maintaining quality, meeting food safety requirements and avoiding food waste. It’s also one of the most costly parts for the local food supply chain. The grant will help advance the region’s sustainability goals related to local food, food waste reduction, fresh food access and energy efficiency.
 
Cincinnati boasts many food-related accomplishments, including:The grants will help get Green Umbrella one step closer to achieving its goal of doubling production and consumption of local food and locally made goods by 2020.
 
Applications are due March 15, and can be accessed here.
 

Nepalese cuisine now on Northside's menu


Connecting Bridges, a Nepalese restaurant operated by Ashak Chipalu and his mother Rose, is nearly set to open its doors in Northside. It will take over the location formerly occupied by Melt. (Melt is reopening in a new whitebox space in The Gantry, and is expected to open this spring.)
 
“We are very close to opening,” Ashak says, as he and his mother hand out samples at his family’s food stand at Findlay Market. “We have done all of the interiors already. Our last health permit and our building permits are left, but other than that, everything is ready in the space.”

Bridges started out at Findlay Market, and the family continues to operate a food stand there. The Chipalus are no strangers to Northside: last year, they occasionally set up a food stand inside Urban Artifact to sell food to hungry patrons.  
 
At a glance, Nepalese food is a balancing act between familiar Chinese takeout and Indian curries, but once sampled, the flavors of Nepal impart a spicy South Asian smokiness that levitates healthy, brilliantly simple ingredients.
 
“Our country is a mountainous country, so the different belts have different vegetation in the same way we have different tribes and different languages,” Rose says. “There are something like 100 spoken languages. Different belt, different tradition, different language, different culture.”
 
The Chipalus are of the Newari tribe, found in the valley of Kathmandu. The food offered at Bridges characterizes some of the unique aspects of their tribe’s culinary heritage.
 
“For side dishes, we have an authentic Newari tribe potato salad we call aloo walla,” Ashak says. “It’s very simple, very popular, we have spicy and mild. Very healthy for you.”
 
While retaining Newari tradtions, Bridges also offers items like a bacon, potato and cheese samosa —  a dish made to cater to old school Cincinnati diners. There will also be potato and cheese or a chicken tikka masala and rice samosa; there will also be vegan options like potato with peas and carrots.
 
“We always come to Findlay Market and Northside Farmers Market to shop, and these markets are very similar to the markets in Nepal, where people just walk in to buy their vegetables in an open bazaar,” Ashak explains. “The Melt space was open, I knew about that, and the landlord came into the market and he really liked what we were doing, so he offered the space. He has been really good to us. It’s been a good partnership and will be good for the years to come. We love Northside because our food really fits in with the neighborhood. The vibe is really chilled, the streets look just like some streets in Nepal and that really attracted us.”
 
Bridges, which will open in the next few weeks, will be BYOB until further notice. Keep tabs on Bridges' Facebook page for opening day details.
 

Gateway Tech now offering historic preservation arts classes


For the first time, Gateway Community Technical College in Covington is offering historic preservation arts classes. Stemming from an effort led by Progress with Preservation, a local group of Covington residents and regional advocates for the preservation of the region's architectural heritage, the Historic Preservation Arts programming continues its development through the input of regional historic preservation officers, tradesmen, real estate professionals, contractors and engaged citizens.

According to Patricia Mahabir, executive vice president at Gateway, the program is just one way Gateway is joining the movement to uphold the historic element in the area.

“The Historic Preservation Arts program is an excellent example of how Gateway can come alongside the community and become part of the energy and movement being led by stakeholders,” Mahabir says. “We have come to the table and are serving as a convener and catalyst to place greater focus on the importance of preservation. We just launched our first series of courses, most of which are focused on theory and developing a strong understanding of what historic preservation is and why it is so important.”

Mahabir began meeting with Progress with Preservation in June 2016, and began learning about the significant existence and importance of preserving the historic architecture of the region.

Donovan Rypkema, principal of PlaceEconomics, stated: "In Kentucky, $1 million spent on rehabilitating a historic building adds $730,000 in household income to our state's economy — $95,000 more than $1 million spent on new construction.”

The significant shortage of skilled tradesmen in the Greater Cincinnati area has led to waiting lists of up to two years for restoration work on historic properties. In creating a program like this in the area, Gateway now has the capability of teaching young professionals and community members the importance of maintaining historic ground. 

The first course, Philosophy of Historic Preservation, began on Feb. 2. There are five additional courses scheduled this year, which are being taught by Beth Johnson and Steve Oldfield, who are both experts in historic preservation. The courses include Historic Preservation Standards, Urban Architectural Photography, Research of Early American Architecture, Application of Preservation Theory and Philosophy and Historic Preservation Practice.

For the last two classes, students will work with the City of Covington’s Historic Preservation Office and the Kentucky Heritage Council to complete the Kentucky Historic Resources Inventory, which will include all of the historic buildings in the City of Covington.

Because the courses are being offered as a pilot to the Community Education area, the courses are open to anyone. Each course has an associated fee ranging anywhere from $75-160. If the pilot courses go well, a second phase will be implemented to include credited courses as well as opportunities to join the energy in the community.

Mahabir encourages the community to join one of the upcoming events at Gateway's Urban Metro Campus in early March to learn more about restoration in the area.

“On March 11, Gateway will host the Northern Kentucky Restoration Weekend on our Urban Metro Campus," Mahabir says. "This annual event draws more than 250 individuals from throughout the region and state who come together to learn about various aspects of historic preservation. From May 17-31, Gateway will host a special exhibit showcasing photography and work of students from the historic preservation courses and beyond, as May is Historic Preservation Month.”

For more information about the courses, program structure, costs and more, visit Gateway’s Community Arts Education page here
 

NEP targets 23rd and 24th neighborhoods in 2017


This year, the Neighborhood Enhancement Program will touch down in three Cincinnati neighborhoods — East Westwood, Westwood and the West End. The program is a 90-day blitz that brings together city departments, residents, community organizations and corporate partners to affect long-term change in a neighborhood.
 
The NEP focuses on developing neighborhood assets like building code enforcement, street clean up and landscape and streetscape beautification. It also works with property owners to help them adopt sustainable practices.
 
East Westwood/Westwood was the first neighborhood to participate in the place-based investigations of violent offenders program, which focused on the McHenry corridor between Harrison and Baltimore avenues. As a result of PIVOT, there have been fewer shootings and a reduction in violent crime and weapons-related calls. The NEP will be part of the post-PIVOT Sustainability Plan, and will focus on the same area as PIVOT.
 
The City of Cincinnati hopes that the NEP will continue to reduce blight and address crime, while also promoting a more positive image of Westwood.
 
The NEP will be in East Westwood and Westwood March-May, and in the West End August-November.
 
This round of the NEP brings in new partners, including the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati and LISC.
 
Since its inception in 2007, 22 neighborhoods have participated in the NEP: Avondale, Bond Hill, Carthage, College Hill, Corryville, CUF, East Price Hill, Evanston, Kennedy Heights, Lower Price Hill, Madisonville, Mt. Airy, Mt. Auburn, Mt. Washington, Northside, Over-the-Rhine, Pendleton, Price Hill, Roselawn, Walnut Hills and Westwood.
 

25th annual Ohio Sacred Harp convention keeps folk tradition alive


On March 4 and 5, more than 100 regional and international "shape-note” singers will come together for the 25th annual Ohio Sacred Harp Singing Convention. Shape-note singing is a folk tradition first popularized in the late 19th century in the United States.

Shape-note singing uses four notes on a sheet of music, as opposed to the seven-note scale most commonly taught.

At the Ohio Convention, which takes place in Cincinnati every three years, participants will sing from the Sacred Harp songbook. Sacred Harp is a term that refers to the human voice, and the Sacred Harp hymnal book was first published in 1844. At the time, it was one of hundreds of hymnal collections written in shape-note notation.

Historically, groups of singers would gather for marathon all-day singing sessions at public conventions. These events were not performances or religious services, but were seen as inclusive, collective spiritual experiences. This folk tradition continues today, and the Sacred Harp is still the most enduring and widely-used shape-note songbook.

According to convention planner and founding member John Bealle the convention is nondenominational and inclusive to all.

“Some are devout Christians, and others are not — it’s really a personal thing,” Bealle says. The unique sounds of sacred harp singing are influenced by colonial era fugues, baroque composers and sometimes feature four-part, cascading harmonies. The songs touch on themes of praise and the shared experience of death.

“It’s a real physical experience, putting every bit of physical energy into music,” Bealle says. "We’ve even broken windows sometimes because the singing is so loud.”

Convention attendees do not come to watch a performance by professional singers. Rather, everyone in attendance participates in the a capella chorus.

According to the Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association, sacred harp singing is “a living, breathing, ongoing practice passed directly to us by generations of singers, many gone on before and many still living.”

Bealle says that the convention is the perfect time to experience sacred harp singing for those unfamiliar with it. “The best singers are going to come to this,” he says.

The event is free, open to the general public and will take place at First Lutheran Church on Race Street in Over-the-Rhine. All ages are welcome to attend. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 4 and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 5. For more information, visit the website.
 

St. Bernard/Elmwood Place School District plans new combined school for all grade levels


Changes are coming to the St. Bernard/Elmwood Place School District with the construction of a new combined elementary, middle and high school.

The school, which will house more than 1,000 students, will replace the existing elementary and junior/senior high school. The existing schools will remain open until the completion of the new combined school, which is projected to be finished in fall or winter of 2019. Initial construction stages are set to begin next spring.

While an architect has not yet been selected for the project, the layout for space, cost and location are already in full swing. The 144,000-square-foot school would be built on the existing 6.6-acre site that is currently shared by St. Bernard-Elmwood Place High School and St. Bernard Elementary School, which are located at 4615 Tower Ave. and 4515 Tower Ave., respectively. Those locations will be demolished upon completion of the project.

According to Emily Hauser, treasurer of the school district, the project was made possible by funding from the state. The estimated cost of the project is about $37 million, with $27 million of that coming from the state. The remaining $10 million is covered by a 2016 bond levy.

The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission is the lead on the project, having previously assessed the need for improvements in the existing schools.

“The OFCC evaluated our current buildings about three years ago, and determined that new construction was the most cost efficient manner to proceed,” says Mimi Webb, superintendent of St. Bernard/Elmwood Place City Schools. “The OFCC provides a concept called ‘Educational Visioning,’ which includes a wide spectrum of people to discuss what they want to see in the future for their children and grandchildren. During this visioning piece, a transition plan will be developed to address how we will transition from three buildings to one. The visioning aspect will include the development of classroom space and how instruction is best delivered in the 21st century.”

One of the goals of this project, aside from updating the existing conditions at the current schools, is to begin a solid foundation for students from a younger age. By incorporating the proposed changes to the school district, students will be together longer.

“We wanted to combine our two elementary buildings so students could begin their education together sooner, thus allowing friendships to begin in preschool rather than make the transition in seventh grade,” Webb says.

Because the district and OFCC are so early in the process, other specifications are still in the works. The district put out a request for qualifying construction managers on Dec. 30, and all final proposals were due yesterday.

The district will request project proposals and short-list firms in February with interviews and selection to take place in March.
 

Longtime Oakley business moving down the street to continue investing in neighborhood


Sandra Gross and Dr. John Hutton, the owners of several Oakley businesses, are reinvesting in their neighborhood in a big way. Their daughter, Blythe Gross-Hutton, and her company BAM Realty Group are behind a new development at 3094 Madison Rd. — and her parents plan to move their flagship business, Blue Manatee Children's Bookstore, into it.

The $1.5 million, LEED Silver, mixed-use project, which includes the construction of a new 5,600-square-foot building and 20 parking spaces behind it, is slated to be finished in February.
 
The site used to be home to a 2,000-square-foot building that was demolished after it had been vacant for about two years. BAM Realty Group purchased the site in April 2014, and construction began on it last fall.
 
Blue Manatee will move from its current location at 3054 Madison to occupy a first-floor retail space in the new building. It will also house a salon, offices for Sleepy Bee Café (also owned by the couple), Blue Manatee’s publishing company and its online baby gift businesses, Blue Manatee Boxes.
 
Artists from nearby Brazee Street Studios (also owned by Gross and Hutton) are helping design the new space, which will include hands-on activities for kids and custom artwork on the walls.
 
Terrex Development & Construction are doing the build-out on the building, and the drawing dept is the project’s architect.

Long-awaited Clifton Market to celebrate grand opening this weekend


It's been three years since planning began, but Clifton Market had its soft opening on Sunday. The store, which is housed in the former Keller’s IGA on Ludlow Avenue, will celebrate its long-awaited debut this weekend with three days of festivities.

Since Keller's closed in 2011, Clifton has been without a fresh food grocery store. The neighborhood is considered a food desert because residents don't have ready access to fresh, healthy foods. For many, going to the grocery store is an all-day effort that includes changing buses and carting bags of food to and from the store. 

The $5.6 million project is a result of a collaborative community effort that was made possible by investments from about 1,400 community shareowners. Community investment totaled $1.8 million, with the remaining funds coming from financial organizations like National Cooperative Bank and Shared Capital Cooperative.

The significant fundraising effort was needed to remodel the space, which had been gutted and stripped of copper before the project began.

Clifton Market has completely revived the space, outfitting it with efficient coolers and refrigerators, LED lighting and restoring the building's original tin ceiling tiles. The market offers a full suite of grocery options, including a cafe, juice bar, artisan bakery, salad bar and prepared foods, cheese bar, bulk foods and a Brewery District with an emphasis on local craft beers.

General manager Keith Brock says the project is “where passion and purpose come together.”

Brock, who has been in the grocery business for 23 years and helped open Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores around the Cincinnati area, says that the store is adding 81 new jobs to the neighborhood.

According to Clifton Market board member and fundraising committee chair Marilyn Hyland, market analysis projects that 15,000 visitors will frequent the shop each week.

Visitors are encouraged to join Clifton Market in celebrating its launch beginning on Thursday. The evening’s festivities will include a store-wide scavenger hunt and food tasting for adults and kids. On Friday, the store is hosting a Blue Jeans to Black Tie Gala from 6 p.m. to midnight. The free event will feature a silent auction, a Taste of Clifton Market that will showcase each department, a treasure hunt and live music by Mike Grathwold of the Modulators.

The three-day launch will culminate on Saturday with an official ribbon cutting ceremony, proclamations and a 135-cart parade through the streets of Clifton.

“We’re not a pin on a map for a national company,” says Hyland. “We’re here for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.”

Visit Clifton Market's website and follow Clifton Market on Facebook to stay up-to-date with the launch and future market events.
 

Proposed Oakley transit center aims to improve rider experience


The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority recently approved a contract to build a new transit center in Oakley. Like the proposed Northside transit center, the Oakley hub will provide improved connections and amenities for riders, and will make using public transit more convenient.
 
The transit center will be located at the intersection of Marburg and Ibsen avenues. It will be served by two Metro crosstown routes, the 41 and the 51, which connect the east and west sides of town; two local routes, the 4 and the 11; and one express route, the 12X, which services downtown.
 
Features of the transit center will include four boarding bays, off-street commuter parking, enhanced shelters and streetscaping, wayfinding maps and real-time information screens.
 
The $1.1 million project is being funded by a grant from the Federal Surface Transportation Program and local funds.
 
Ford Development Corporation was chosen to develop the site, and hopes to break ground this spring.
 
The Oakley Transit Center was designed by the Transportation Planning and Urban Design section of the city’s Department of Transportation and Engineering, in partnership with SORTA, the Ohio Department of Transportation, the OKI Regional Council of Governments, the city and the Federal Transit Administration.
 

Father and son team up to bring their brand of distilled spirits to Over-the-Rhine


In German, “stadt” means “city.” But for Mike and John Funcheon, that word means the start of a new business venture. The father-son team plans to open Stadt Distillery in Over-the-Rhine this summer.
 
“We want to bring something that’s not quite ‘here’ yet,” John says. “Craft distilling is a new trend, and we want to see more craft distilleries coming to OTR. It’s the scene for distillers, and will add another facet to the neighborhood.”
 
As a former tour guide for American Legacy Tours, John is familiar with OTR's history, and says that he pursues his own personal education in things that interest him.
 
Craft distilling is no different.
 
Seventeen years ago, Mike and John brewed their first batch of beer together, when John was just 11 years old. About 10 years ago, they had their first taste of moonshine, which sparked an interest in craft distilling and has lead them to open their own craft distillery.
 
Until September, the Funcheons were only planning to open a production facility, but a new Ohio law was passed that now allows distilleries to function like breweries and wineries. Plans have changed, but that’s not a bad thing, John says.
 
“Starting this business has been one of the most exciting things we’ve ever done, and I can’t imagine doing it with anyone but my father,” he says. “We’ve both realized we couldn’t do it without each other.”
 
John will be Stadt’s master distiller, and Mike will focus on the business side of things. They want to keep each side of the business separate in order to do the best they can in every facet of the distillery.
 
Since John has worked most of his adult life in the tourism industry, he wants to incorporate tourism into Stadt in some way. He plans to give tours of the distillery and tell customers about his family’s history and the distilling process.
 
“Distilling can be kind of intimidating, but since my background is in storytelling, I want to make distilled spirits as approachable as possible and get people involved,” John says.
 
Although Stadt’s exact location and design plans are still undecided, the Funcheons have a huge lead time because they already have their stills, which were purchased from Kothe Distilling in Urlinger, Germany.
 
The space will have a contempor-rustic feel, and will be open and inviting. Customers will be able to see the production facility while enjoying a drink at the bar. By law, there has to be food in some way, and the Funcheons are planning something unique that speaks to craft distilling.
 
Stadt will have a full bar featuring its own distilled spirits — bourbon, gin, absinthe, vodka, bitters and moonshine — and bottles will be available for purchase. The Funcheons are also going to distribute their products, starting in Ohio, then Kentucky and Indiana, and growing from there.
 
If you’re interested in learning more about Stadt, email mikef@stadtdistillery.com.
 

Upcoming event series at Know Theatre to focus on active citizenship


For an upcoming three-night event, Know Theatre is encouraging area residents to be more active citizens.

The theater company is known for showcasing “unexpected voices, new works and plays that embrace the inherent theatricality of the live experience." Democracy in Action is a three-part event series that addresses how to be a more active citizen in local government issues via political, humanitarian and artistic means.

According to Alice Flanders, the managing director for Know Theatre, the idea to create the series stemmed from the 2016 presidential election.

“The results were not what we expected, nor what we desired, but they incited us to action,” Flanders says. “Maggie (education director for Know Theatre) and I both have scheduled weekly calls to those in power to voice our minds and to make sure our opinions are heard by our elected representatives.”

Once word spread about the plan they were developing, more people wanted to get involved. “A friend of ours suggested a sort of ‘citizen training’ evening where we taught people what we knew about affecting change on a local level,” Flanders says.

The first event, “Getting Involved in Local Government,” will be held on Jan. 31 and invites local politicians and representatives to help answer questions about how to get involved. The panel, including Aftab Pureval, Tamaya Dennard, Chris Seelbach and others will answer questions about what local government can do and how getting involved on a local level can affect change nationally as well.

Tuesday's event will be hel at Greaves Hall at Northern Kentucky University, which is located within the university's Fine Arts Center. NKU's campus is located at 100 Louie B. Nunn Dr., Newport, 41099.

The second event, “Arts and Politics: A Group Discussion,” will be held on Feb. 7 as more of a group discussion that will center around how the arts and culture community can use their professional skills and talents in the current political climate.

“We're very committed to this being open to all art forms, not just theater,” Flanders says. “We want to know how writers are combating the attacks on civil rights, we want to know how crafters are using their embroidery and knitting to fight for equality, we want to know how performance artists are campaigning for our natural resources.”

The third event, “Bystander Training,” will be held on Feb. 21 to teach people how to react when faced with an altercation, from being a simple witness and calling for help to standing in solidarity for what you believe in. This could be groundbreaking, as many people are concerned about raising their opinions about local and national issues due to fear of controversy.

“The Know has always been a place that has striven for equal representation, and we believe a program like this falls well within our mission statement to give a stage to voices that are traditionally underrepresented," Flanders says.

Know Theatre, a contemporary black-box theater, is located on Jackson Street in Over-The-Rhine. For more information on the event series, visit the Facebook event page or the Know Theatre website.
 

What's next for affordable housing in Over-the-Rhine?


Historically, Over-the-Rhine has been at the epicenter of Cincinnati’s housing boom; however, it can be argued that not enough of the neighborhood’s housing options are affordable. But 3CDC, Cornerstone Corporation for Shared Equity, Model Group and Over-the-Rhine Community Housing are working together to change that.
 
It’s estimated that 550 new apartments will be developed this year, with the majority designated as affordable housing. Developers are working to save 300 units of low-income and affordable housing that have been lost in recent years or are at risk of leaving the market, and a total of 12 new housing projects are also in the works that will add 50 more affordable units and 200 more market-rate apartments to the neighborhood.
 
In order for these projects to happen, 3CDC had to acquire the Section 8 Jan and Senate apartments, which include six separate buildings, from Community Builders. To complete the project, 3CDC needs to get 101 housing assistance payments — these are U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development subsidies — that are associated with the two buildings. Those subsidies will be donated back to the 12 projects that will create a mixture of low-income, affordable housing and market-rate units in different buildings.
 
Model Group and 3CDC also plan to acquire the Mercy Housing portfolio, which is a group of 18 buildings, or 140 units, scattered around OTR. The goal is to rehab half of the units that are in desperate need of repairs, and make basic renovations to the other half.
 
The Jan and Senate buildings, located at the northwest corner of 13th and Walnut streets, along with 216 W. 12th St., are vacant, and will be included in the housing overhaul.
 
The City of Cincinnati also recently passed an ordinance that will forgive four loans that are associated with the Mercy buildings, for a total of $2.2 million in loan forgiveness. The loans were federal housing funds that were passed through the City to the projects.
 
In partnership with McCormack Baron Salazar, developers are planning to build high-quality affordable housing that will ensure that there are options available to residents of all income levels. In total, 276 units will be available to those who earn less than 60 percent of the area median income; 71 units for those who earn less than 80 percent of the area median income; the remaining 200 units will be market-rate.
 
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