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Fresh Table owners opening urban grocery store at Market Square development

Meredith Trombly and Louis Snowden, owners of Findlay Market’s Fresh Table, plan to open an urban grocery store this fall at 1818 Race St. across from their spot at the market.

The Epicurean Mercantile Company grocery store will feature a 5,700-square-foot space with fresh foods, nonperishable items, libations, personal hygiene items and a variety of seasonal gifts. There will also be a lunch counter with freshly prepared foods made by Chef Dan Jansen.
Fresh Market is an organic stand at Findlay Market that features ready-to-eat meals, including salads and entrees. The lunch counter at Epicurean Mercantile will reflect Fresh Market’s offerings, focusing on what’s fresh and what’s available.
Epicurean Mercantile will be part of Model Group’s $24 million Market Square project, which is redeveloping the entire 1800 block of Race adjacent to Findlay Market. The project has received several rounds of state historic tax credits and includes both residential and commercial space.

Twentysomething developer investing in quality Cincinnati housing stock

Ben Fry purchased his first house seven years ago while studying real estate at the University of Cincinnati. Now 26, he’s flipped about 15 properties all around the city, focusing on providing higher quality housing stock for local homeowners. 
That first house was listed at $20,000. Fry was able to purchase the property in Price Hill for just $6,000 and flipped it for a return on his investment. After purchasing a second property in Price Hill — a storefront with three apartments above — investors started coming to him rather than Fry having to seek them out.
“With redevelopment, home prices and property taxes increase, adding value to the neighborhood,” Fry says.
His company, Fry Holdings LLC, is currently working on a condo redevelopment off of Sycamore Street in Over-the-Rhine. It’s Fry’s largest project to-date and when finished in March will feature two two-story condos with city views.
He also recently purchased two houses in Northside, one on Beech Hill Avenue and the other on Fergus Street. Last week, another of Fry’s houses, this one on Mad Anthony, was listed for sale at $139,900.
“I really like Northside because of the architecture, design and home prices,” Fry says. “It’s a neighborhood where you can really do some different things and still have the home fit in with its surroundings.”
The Beech Hill house is shotgun-style and only 14 feet from wall to wall. It didn’t leave Fry a lot of space, and he’s planning to build an addition on the back of the house to create more space.

The house on Fergus is currently a two-family dwelling but will become a single-family residence after an eight-week renovation. Fry plans to create a vaulted ceiling on the first floor with stairs leading up to a loft.
Fry says he’s been in talks with TV producers about hosting a series that follows one of his renovation projects from start to finish.

Board game parlor hopes to build community via shared experiences in OTR

Growing up, game night was a common occurrence for Zach Leopold’s family. They played games like Aggravation and Sorry!, and as Zach got older he started collecting games.
“I’ve always been a board game geek, ever since I was a kid,” he says. “I was the kid who would clear the board in a rage when my brother wiped out my armies during a game of Risk.”  
His love of board games has led him to start a board game parlor, The Rook, with his father Jim in Over-the-Rhine. They’re doing much of the renovation work themselves at 1115 Vine St. (a few doors from Ensemble Theatre) and plan to create a space where people of all ages can come and play games.
“We’ve been waiting for the right location for the concept and decided early last year that OTR was ‘here to stay,’” Leopold says. “The neighborhood gets high volumes of the kinds of people we believe will most enjoy The Rook. And the community and consumers in OTR seem to embrace unique concepts because of the diversity of the people and the fact that they’re engaged in their community.”
The Leopolds are hoping to build on the existing community atmosphere in OTR. Board games give people the opportunity to gather and share in a fun experience, and The Rook will offer just that.
“Everything about your experience at The Rook is about getting friends around a table to do something you love, from the food to the drinks to the games,” Leopold says. “And most everyone loves board games, whether for nostalgic reasons, competitive reasons, social reasons or because they’re just really fun.”
Over the past 10 years, the board game industry has evolved and grown, he says. Games like Catan, Pandemic and King of Tokyo are now popular among young adults and are gateway games to the thousands of fun strategy games on the market.
The Rook will offer these types of games and more. Leopold plans to offer 1,000 different games, with well-loved classics like Candyland, Clue and Monopoly as well as newer strategy games, giant games, trivia games, dice games, card games and party games. There will be multiple copies of popular games, with about 600 different titles in the game library. “Game geeks” will be available to recommend games to a group as well as explain them.
The 4,000-square-foot space will occupy two floors in the building. There will be 25 game tables and a 30-person private party space that will also serve as a community game table during peak hours.
The Rook will also be a restaurant and bar. The menu is still in the works, but Leopold plans to offer between 8-12 local craft beers as well as a selection of wines and a cocktail menu with classics and originals. For food, the menu will have something for everyone, with sandwiches, soups, hummus platters, salads and a “game night” section with classic game night snacks to share.
The Leopolds plan to open by May 1 and will be open 11 a.m.-1 a.m. daily, with later hours possible on the weekends.

90 apartments plus commercial and restaurant space announced for prominent OTR corner

Source 3 Development has partnered with 224 W Liberty LLC to announce a $25-million mixed-use development at the northwest corner of Liberty and Elm streets in Over-the-Rhine. The project will construct 90 market-rate apartments as well as 15,000 square feet of street-level retail and restaurant space.
The project includes renovating four existing buildings: 212 and 214 W. Liberty and 1711 and 1713 Elm. The first three will have first-floor retail with apartments above, and 1713 Elm will be completely residential.
Source 3 envisions a live/work/play atmosphere for the project, which is aimed at young professionals and empty-nesters who already spend their free time in OTR. The project is located on the Cincinnati Streetcar line, with a northbound stop catty-corner from the development on the southeast corner of Liberty and Elm and a southbound stop two blocks away at Liberty and Race.
Most of the 90 apartments will be one-bedroom, but there will be a mix of studios and two-bedroom as well. Source 3 also plans to include a fitness room, cyber cafe and 2,400-square-foot community room on the top floor. Unit sizes, types and prices are still in the works, but they will be in line with existing projects in OTR. Final designs are still on the drawing board.
On street level, there will be more than 6,900 square feet of commercial retail space plus two restaurant spaces — one 2,200-square foot space and one 4,900-square-foot space with a 1,100-square-foot outdoor patio.
There are also plans for a new three-level 165-space parking garage. One level will be underground, with entrances on Logan, Green and Liberty streets.
Construction is slated to begin this fall, with apartments and commercial space available a year later.

Owners of 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab look at Spring opening for second restaurant in OTR

Joanna Kirkendall and Daniel Souder, owners of 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab, are embarking on their second Over-the-Rhine restaurant venture, Pleasantry. It will be an all-day neighborhood restaurant featuring a curated wine list and small plates.
The 1,000-square-foot restaurant will have 45 seats plus a 15-seat bar as well as room for 15 on an outdoor patio. It’s located at the corner of 15th and Pleasant streets in the Osborne development, which has 11 condos and retail space in three historically rehabbed buildings.
Kirkendall and Souder brought on executive chef Evan Hartman, who was recently the sous chef at the President’s Room at The Phoenix.
Specific menu items are still being development but will feature seasonal ingredients sourced from sustainable farmers, fishermen and butchers. The breakfast menu will include an everything biscuit with house-cured salmon and cream cheese, and the dinner menu will include 10-12 dishes under $18, including a duck rillette with grilled Sixteen Bricks bread, pickled vegetables and sweet jam.
Souder, Pleasantry’s wine director, is working with wine producers in California and Europe as well as distributors who can help bring in minimally manipulated wines that are made with organically-grown grapes and without sulfites.
When it opens this Spring, Pleasantry’s hours will be 7 a.m.-11 p.m. daily, with wine and coffee served throughout the day.

Creative types to gather for PechaKucha Night

Local creative types will gather at Rhinegeist Jan. 14 for PechaKucha Night, which started in Tokyo in 2003 as an event where young designers meet to network and show their work to the public; by last year, it had grown to more than 800 cities. The Cincinnati version launched in October 2009, and this week’s event is a reboot of sort, since there hasn’t been one held since then.
“Pecha kucha” means “chit chat” in Japanese and is based on a presentation format showcasing 20 images in 20 seconds. This makes each presentation concise and keeps things moving.
“The key to a great presentation is to present something you love,” says Ryan Newman, organizer for PechaKucha in Cincinnati. “Most people use PechaKucha Night to present their latest creative projects or work. Some people share their passion and might show their prized collection of records, while others share photos of their latest visit to a construction site or their recent holiday snaps.”
There will be eight presenters on Jan. 14, starting at 8:20 p.m.:

• Joi Sears, Free People International, “Social Change xChange”
• Brian Monahan, Prestige AV & Creative Services, TBD
• Steve Stidham, MSP, “Waste=Capital”
• Darrin Scott Hunter, Dish Design, “You’re Probably a Font Whore (or Typographic Slut Shaming)”
• John Stoughton, TBD
• Lightborne Studios, TBD
• Ryan Newman, Kolar Design, “The Secure Illusion/Psychology of Security Design”

PechaKucha is open to the public and requires a $3 donation from attendees in order to cover the cost of the venue and set-up.
“Cincinnati has an amazing and dynamic group of people doing exciting things in all aspects of creativity, beyond traditional design,” Newman says. “My hope is that PechaKucha helps connect, inspire and showcase the diverse communities in Cincinnati.”
There will be three other events in 2016, with the next scheduled for mid-April. If you’re interested in presenting at the next PechaKucha Night, send an email to cincypk@gmail.com.

Five Cincinnati arts orgs receive NEA grant money

The National Endowment for the Arts recently doled out $27.6 million to arts organizations across the country, including $517,000 to organizations in Ohio. Five Cincinnati organizations received a total of $150,000 to support creative placemaking, premieres, renovations and art installations.
ArtsWave received $35,000 for professional development workshops on the arts and community engagement. Workshops will be facilitated by Design Impact to provide participants with the chance to brainstorm creative placemaking ideas. The grant will also help ArtsWave create the Creative Placemaking Network, which will yield creative placemaking toolkits for other organizations to use. There are also plans to create a searchable website with a directory of locally-based artists and organizations.
In June, Cincinnati Opera will present Fellow Travelers, an opera composed by Gregory Spears and librettist Greg Pierce based on the novel by Thomas Mallon exploring the persecution of homosexuals in the 1950s, particularly by the U.S. Government. Cincinnati Opera received $35,000 from the NEA to support the world premiere.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra received $40,000 to support commissions and premieres of new works, including related educational activities. The CSO will be premiering “Symphonic Triptych” by Gunther Schuller this month and two concertos for orchestra composed by Thierry Escaich and Zhou Tian in May. Accompanying educational activities include pre-concert lectures, residency activities for schools and community groups and panel discussions.
The Clifton Cultural Arts Center received $10,000 to help aid designs for renovation of the old Clifton School, home to the CCAC.
The Contemporary Arts Center received a $30,000 grant to support the installation of “Solar Bell,” a large kite-like object created by Tomas Saraceno that will be hung from the CAC’s newly renovated lobby, and others like it.

Men's lifestyle shop Righno to open in OTR after launches in Indianapolis and Columbus

Columbus native Corey Bee will open his lifestyle boutique Righno in March at 1417 Vine St. in Over-the-Rhine. The business started off as a men’s and women’s online retailer, but when Bee opened his first shop in Indianapolis in Fall 2014 he decided to focus on men’s only.
He opened the second Righno last Fall in Columbus.  
“When I started Righno, a storefront was always in the future,” Bee says. “I always wanted a physical location for the shop, and an online shop was a way for people to see what was coming — almost like a lookbook or showroom of sorts.”
Righno is a true men’s lifestyle shop that embodies the attitudes, opinions, interests and overall way of life of its customers. When a customer walks into the shop, he’ll find clothing, accessories, books, plants and hygiene products inspired by European, Australian and Southern Californian streetwear styles.
“I think OTR is the perfect spot to expand to because of the diversity and culture of the community,” Bee says. “It’s so raw and natural in every aspect. It’s said to be the largest and most intact urban historic district in the United States, and the best part is that the city is doing everything in its power to keep it that way while making it even more beautiful and keeping its charm.”
Righno will be the third men’s-only lifestyle shop in OTR, but with something different to offer.
“We believe Righno will give guys the complete shopping experience, but if we don’t have it we will direct customers to a neighboring shop,” Bee says.
If you can’t wait for Righno to open, make sure to check out its online store.

16 area projects receive total of $11 million in Ohio historic tax credits

In late December, 34 Ohio projects were awarded $285.3 million through the 2015 Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits program, resulting in 55 buildings in 13 cities undergoing renovations to create apartments, offices, retail storefronts and restaurant space.
Sixteen proposed Cincinnati projects received a total of about $11 million in state historic tax credits.
Fromm Building, 286 W. McMicken Ave.
Total cost: $682,394
Tax credit: $108,500
Built in 1865, the Fromm Building was renovated in the early 1930s to house doctor’s offices. Renovation plans include several residential units, with the first-floor unit designed as a live-work space.
Union Central Life Annex, 309 Vine St.
Total cost: $75,541,592
Tax credit: $5 million
Built in 1928, the now-vacant building originally housed offices. Village Green will renovate it into 294 market-rate apartments, a first-floor grocery store and a rooftop restaurant. There will also be space for a business incubator and offices.
100 W. Elder St.
Total cost: $1,587,987
Tax credit: $220,000
Located across the street from Findlay Market, it once housed apartments and first-floor commercial space. Vacant since the early 2000s, it will be rehabbed into first-floor retail/restaurant space with offices on the upper floors.
205 W. McMicken Ave.
Total cost: $375,000
Tax credit: $37,000
Built in the 1870s, it has housed barbers, conductors, shoemakers, bartenders, plasterers and other laborers. It’s been vacant for over 20 years, and OTR Adopt’s rehab plans include first-floor commercial space and one three-bedroom apartment above.
1737 Elm St.
Total cost: $1,200,047
Tax credit: $233,799
The two buildings were built in the mid- and late-1800s and will be renovated into small market-rate apartments and first-floor retail.
1737 Vine St.
Total cost: $1,316,634
Tax credit: $185,000
The three-story building has been vacant for more than a decade. Plans include seven market-rate units and restaurant space.
1814 Race St.
Total cost: $1,983,366
Tax credit: $217,000
Model Group plans to convert the building, which is also across the street from Findlay Market, into five apartments and first-floor commercial space on the front side.
Kauffman Building, 1725 Vine St.
Total cost: $2,775,353
Tax credit: $249,999
Built in 1863 to house brewery workers, the Kauffman Building has been vacant since the 1990s. It will be renovated into first-floor commercial space with six apartments above. A new addition will yield six more apartments and parking.
Ophthalmic Hospital, 208-214 W. 12th St.
Total cost: $7,366,150
Tax credit: $732,950
The now vacant medical facility will be rehabbed by 3CDC into a boutique hotel with 20 guest rooms, a bar and a restaurant on the first floor.
Rutemueller Building, 527 E. 13th St.
Total cost: $1,137,569
Tax credit: $113,500
The former grocery store and tenement apartments will be upgraded into modern living spaces with seven market-rate apartments and first-floor live/work spaces.
Schmitthenner Building, 1527 Elm St.
Total cost: $671,870
Tax credit: $82,750
The four-story building will become seven market-rate apartments with one retail storefront.
3936 Spring Grove Ave.
Total cost: $504,843
Tax credit: $71,608
It’s been vacant since the 1980s, and renovations will yield two market-rate apartments upstairs and a bar on the first floor.
515 E. 12th St.
Total cost: $1,579,851
Tax credit: $195,000
Part of a larger project, Model Group plans to renovate the building into six market-rate apartments.
Broadway Square II, 1126-1211 Broadway, 405-414 E. 12th St., 331 E. 13th St.
Total cost: $13,133,245
Tax credit: $1.3 million
Model Group will renovate the 10 historic buildings into retail space and 37 residential units.
Walnut Hills
Central Trust Company East Hills Branch, 1535 Madison Road
Total cost: $1,259,939
Tax credit: $196,007
Built in 1926, it was used as a bank until the 1960s. South Block Properties plans to rehab the building into restaurant space.
Paramount Square, 900-921 E. McMillan St., 2436-2454 Gilbert Ave., 2363 St. James St.
Total cost: $20,093,697
Tax credit: $1,999,000
The Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation and Model Group will renovate six historic and two non-historic buildings into 15 commercial spaces and 44 market-rate apartments.

These 11 Cincinnati/NKY businesses are celebrating their first year of operation

Doesn't it seem like more restaurants and retail businesses have opened in Greater Cincinnati in 2015 than in previous years? Entrepreneurship is booming, due in part to organizations like Bad Girl Ventures, The Brandery, Cintrifuse, Mortar and UpTech, which have helped a number of local business owners get their ideas off the ground.
Here's a roundup of 11 high-profile businesses that just happen to be celebrating their one-year anniversary or will before the start of the new year.
Brick OTR, 1327 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine: Business accelerator Mortar started Brick as a way for business owners to host pop-up shops and expand on their ideas; the holiday pop-up opens on Dec. 12. Mortar recently opened a second pop-up shop in Walnut Hills.
DogBerry Brewing, 7865 Cincinnati Dayton Road, West Chester: Since opening in January, DogBerry has had to expand its hours and days of operation due to demand. They’re celebrating their one-year anniversary on Jan. 8; you can purchase tickets for $25 at the taproom.  
Folk School Coffee Parlor, 332 Elm St., Ludlow: Folk School serves up Deeper Roots coffee and handmade foods and goods from local retailers and artisans. It also hosts workshops and classes for musicians of all ages and skill levels, plus casual concerts.
G. Salzano’s, 201 E. Fourth St., downtown: The son of the founder of Salzano’s barbershop opened a men’s grooming products retail store, where you’ll find everything from razors to cologne.
Goodfellas Pizzeria, 1211 Main St., OTR: With two restaurants in Lexington and one in Covington, the OTR location took over the former Mayberry space and serves up pizza in a 1920s speakeasy.
The Growler House, 1526 Madison Road, Walnut Hills: This beer haven has been a huge draw in the burgeoning Walnut Hills area and boasts 40 taps, 20 of them with local beers.
The Gruff, 129 E. Second St., Covington: Ever heard of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff?” Cross the bridge into Northern Kentucky for brick oven pizzas, but watch out for the troll!
Horse & Barrel, 625 Walnut St., downtown: Owned by the same group as Nicholson’s, Horse & Barrel is all about the bourbon and small plates.
Tap & Screw Brewery, 5060 Crookshank Road, Western Hills: Tap & Screw rebranded last December, started brewing beer and revamped its menu. They recently hosted TapFest, adding to Cincinnati’s growing beer scene and events.
The Weekly Juicery, 2727 Erie Ave., Hyde Park: The Weekly Juicery features cold-pressed juices and a raw food menu. Even if you’ve never tried pressed juices, they want to make you a fan.
Woodward Theater, 1404 Main St., OTR: MOTR Pub’s owners added to the local music scene last November by converting this 101-year-old building into a music/events center. The Woodward hosted its first wedding this summer and continues to book nationally touring bands.

Holiday events for beer drinkers, outdoors types and kids at heart

The holidays are upon us, and in typical Cincinnati fashion there are scores of events happening around town. Check out this roundup of our favorites....

For the beer lover:
Polar Bear Express Route on the Pedal Wagon, now through Feb. 29
Two-hour pub crawl with seasonal drink specials along the way. 15-seat private tours are $250 Sunday-Thursday and $295 Friday-Saturday; public tours are $20/seat Sunday-Thursday and $25/seat Friday-Saturday.

Cincinnati SantaCon, 12 noon-12 midnight Dec. 12
Register online for your chance to dress up like Santa and stop at some of Cincinnati’s favorite bars.

For the outdoors type:
Weekend carriage rides at Macy’s Celebration Station across from Fountain Square, 12-5 p.m. Dec. 12-13

Krohn by Candlelight, 5-7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, 16 & 23

Krohn Conservatory’s Holiday Show, now through Jan. 3

Light Up OTR at Washington Park, 6 p.m. Dec. 12

Holly Jolly Downtown Trolley, 12-5 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 19
Trolley service will run every five minutes, with stops along Fourth and Fifth streets. Free.

Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt at Fountain Square, 4-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 20
Market vendors offer a variety of traditional holiday sweets and European baked goods, Glühwein (hot spiced wine) and other hot beverages, Christian Moerlein beer and handcrafted gifts and seasonal decorations. USA Today named it one of the top 10 German-themed holiday markets in the U.S.

Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, now through Jan. 2
Tickets are $16 adults online, $11 kids and seniors online; $18 adults at zoo, $12 kids and seniors at zoo

Fountain Square Ice Rink, now through Feb. 15
$6 admission, $4 skate rental.

For the arts enthusiast:
The City Flea at Washington Park, 5-10 p.m. Dec. 12

Antique Christmas at the Taft Museum of Art, now through Jan. 3
Tickets are $10 adults, $5 kids; kids 5 and under are free.

Holiday Toy Trains at the Behringer-Crawford Museum, now through Jan. 17
Tickets are $9 adults, $5 kids.

For the historian:
Luminaria at Mt. Lookout Square and Cincinnati Observatory, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 13

Holiday Junction at the Cincinnati Museum Center, now through Jan. 3
Tickets are free for members; prices vary depending on which museum package purchased.

For the kid at heart:
Macy’s Downtown Dazzle on Fountain Square, 6 p.m. Dec. 12
Watch Santa rappel down the 525 Vine building to Macy’s rooftop, and catch fireworks afterward as well as much from local choirs. John Morris Russell will conduct the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and May Festival singers. 

Holiday Mystery Theater at Cincinnati Museum Center, 5 p.m. Dec. 13
The Whodunit Players will perform Santa’s Slay…Oops, Sleigh. Tickets are $55 for members and $65 for non-members.

BRICKmas Holiday Display at Newport on the Levee, now through Jan. 1
Tickets are $10.

For the dog lover:
Reindog Parade in Mt. Adams, 2 p.m. Dec. 12
26th annual parade of dog owners and their best friends, with Marty Brennaman as Grand Marshal. Prizes awarded for best costumes for dogs under 25 lbs. and over 25 lbs., best group and best master/dog lookalike.

Innovative chef Ryan Santos finds spot for a brick-and-mortar restaurant

For the past four years, chef Ryan Santos has hosted pop-up dinners under the name Please. In a Soapbox interview in February, he said he’d finally decided to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant and was looking at locations in Columbia-Tusculum, East Walnut Hills and Over-the-Rhine.

Santos has now settled on a spot at the corner of 14th and Clay streets in Over-the-Rhine, where he plans to open his restaurant, also called Please.
The space is small, with seating for 25 plus 10 at the bar, which will be separate from the main dining area. The building is currently being renovated by Urban Sites and will have four apartments on upper floors.
Santos’ pop-up dinners usually consist of five-course dinners with artistic and experimental food and featuring local ingredients. He will carry this into the restaurant’s menu, which will feature three- or five-course meals that change with the seasons based on the availability of local ingredients.
The bar menu will feature cocktails made with fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables as well as a small a la carte menu.
Please is slated to open in the late spring. Pop-up dinners will cease once the restaurant opens, but Santos plans to continue private dinners for customers that he cooks in their home.

Another new townhouse development planned for OTR

In June Maestro Development/Daniels Homes acquired a number of properties near the corner of West 15th and Elm streets in Over-the-Rhine, where the developer has announced plans to construct nine 3,600-square-foot townhomes.
Five units will be built on the north side of 15th Street, and the other four will be built on the south side. Each unit will be three stories, except one that will have four floors. The units will all be LEED Silver certified, with two-car garages located off the rear alleys.
The project will be completed in three phases, with the five north-side units to be constructed first and the four on the south side as phase II. Four of the first five units have already been purchased, with prices ranging from about $650,000 to $1 million.
Phase I is expected to be completed in late 2016, with phase II completed in mid-2017. Phase III includes redeveloping the former Washington Park Firehouse at 222 W. 15th St. into a private residence for Jim Daniels, manager of Daniels Homes.
The 15,000-square-foot building has a garage on the first floor, and the top floor will become a penthouse-style loft. Plans for the second floor are still up in the air but could include office space or more residential living space.

The new townhomes will be adjacent to a Towne Properties development that will feature seven townhomes at 15th and Elm.
Montgomery-based Maestro Development/Daniels Homes has constructed homes for about 20 Homearama shows and is finishing up redevelopment of a historic home at 1405 Elm St.

Noble Denim founders open Victor Athletics storefront, partner for Brush Factory launch

Noble Denim clothing has been sold online and exclusively at Article in Over-the-Rhine since 2012, but on Nov. 21 its founders will open a nearby storefront for their denim as well as for their new brand, Victor Athletics. This next step was made possible due to a Kickstarter campaign that launched in the spring and raised over $120,000.
Like Noble, Victor will offer American-made, organic clothing — specifically athletic-based items like sweatshirts, jogger pants and T-shirts. The Noble team focuses on organic clothing because, just like food, cotton is grown using a number of pesticides that can damage clothing in the long run.
Although the average consumer’s buying habits haven’t changed as much when it comes to purchasing organic clothing, Noble and Victor hope to shine a light on the benefits of organic clothing. They’re interested in sourcing cotton that lessens the impact on workers and is grown without pesticides and other chemicals.
Noble and Victor are also committed to American-made products.
“Victor really came to be because our factory in Tennessee wanted more work and wanted to grow their workforce and Noble Denim customers were looking for items at a lower price point than our jeans,” says co-founder Abby Sutton, who started Noble with her husband, Chris.
The 987-square-foot Victor Athletics Club is on the ground floor of Beasley Place, a mixed-income apartment project at Republic and 14th Streets developed by Over-the-Rhine Community Housing. The majority of Victor’s clothing is under $100, including a crewneck sweatshirt for $30 and a hoodie for $70. The storefront will also have a sewing area where workers will make totes in-store from American-made canvas.
Although Noble and Victor will both be available at the new store, the team’s primary goal is to grow Victor online.
“Our generation goes online first,” Sutton says. “But that in-person experience is so important, especially for a brand that wants to grow online.”

Noble/Victor is partnering with another successful startup, Brush Factory, to sell that company’s first collection of solid hardwood furniture, BFF. A soft launch of the furniture line is scheduled for 4-10 p.m. on Black Friday (Nov. 27) at Victor Athletics Club.

Brush Factory won the 2015 ArtWorks Big Pitch competition in August, while Noble Denim won the same competition in 2014.
Once open, Victor Athletics Club hours will be 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

New contemporary art gallery opens in Over-the-Rhine

Art enthusiast Rachael Moore has opened Cincinnati Art Underground, a contemporary art gallery, at 1415 Main St. in Over-the-Rhine. The gallery’s first show, Delicate Fractures, debuted Nov. 13, featuring work by glass artist Jacci Delaney, ceramics artist Didem Mert and painter Katie St. Clair.
“Cincinnati is so full of artists, and I wanted to be another space for artists to show their work and help start conversations with other artists,” Moore says.
Before opening a physical space, Moore held two pop-up galleries that allowed her to work closely with artists and bring a collaborative environment to the events. She wanted to open a storefront because it would make it easier for people to find the gallery.
Moore describes the 800-square-foot Cincinnati Art Underground space as a boutique gallery rather than a typical white box gallery. Its colorfully painted walls help accent the artwork and draw in the viewer’s attention. Shows will change every six to eight weeks, and every piece on display is for sale.
“There’s this dichotomy between serious and beautiful art, and I’m trying to go down the middle with approachable art,” Moore says. “I want to inspire people to learn more. Not everyone will like every piece of art they see, but I want to help people find what they like.”
To help with that, Cincinnati Art Underground will host studio talks to give artists a chance to mingle with art lovers and potential clients and share their process and inspiration. Moore also plans to offer concierge art services and work with interior designers to help customers find the perfect piece of art for their space.
“I really want to connect more people with art,” she says. “The community is so involved in the arts, whether it be through theater, music or physical art. I want to help bring more people to visual art and educate them about visual art.”
Cincinnati Art Underground’s hours are 12-6 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday or by appointment. Delicate Fractures runs through Jan. 2.
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