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Regionalism : Development News

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New Riff expansion to serve as catalyst for development in West Newport


Two years after opening, New Riff Distilling is planning a $7.5 million expansion along the newly widened Kentucky Route 9. Whiskey Campus will store New Riff’s bourbon and rye whiskey while it ages.
 
The project will include the construction of a 17,300-square-foot, 15-barrel-high Rickhouse to house New Riff’s bourbon barrels, as well as the rehabilitation of two historic buildings — a 32,100-square-foot building that will be used a distribution center, office space, bottling and storage space, plus a 10,600-square-foot building that will be used as another Rickhouse.
 
Both buildings are over 100 years old and used to house the Greenline trolley and bus system that served Northern Kentucky until 1972.
 
Whiskey Campus will serve as a catalyst for additional economic development along Route 9, which is a direct path from AA Highway and I-275 to Newport’s West Side and downtown Cincinnati.
 
Construction is slated to begin at the end of this month or the beginning of September.
 
Phase II of the project will include a brewpub, taproom and restaurant as well as Ei8ht Ball Brewing, which plans to relocate to Whiskey Campus. It will also feature decks that will overlook the Licking River.

Construction details for Phase II haven’t been announced yet.
 

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.
 

Former musician opening cafe and cocktail bar in Over-the-Rhine


Former musician Mike Stankovich is bringing a bit of Europe to Over-the-Rhine with Peacemaker, a low-key café and cocktail bar. It will be located at 111 13th St., and is slated to open in October.
 
Inspired by European café culture, Peacemaker will be somewhere people can stop in and read a book; or a drink and something to eat. The horseshoe-shaped bar will also add to that culture, encouraging conversation between customers.
 
Peacemaker won’t have a full kitchen, but the food menu will include things like housemade pickles, mustards and jams. Stankovich is also working with local chefs to create a pate that can be served with bread and mustard or jam. There will also be open-faced sandwiches featuring seasonal ingredients, plus twists on traditional sandwiches like peanut butter and spicy honey or liverwurst.
 
When it comes to the drink menu, Stankovich wants to focus on technique and know-how. Three-ingredient and all-booze cocktails will be the highlight of Peacemaker’s ever-changing drink menu. There will also be four beers on tap with constantly rotating kegs, and the wine program will focus on flavor profiles rather than grape types.
 
There’s also a back room that will house a separate bar, and can provide extra seating for when the front room is at capacity (which is only 52). The room will also be rented out for private events.
 
When it opens, Peacemaker will be open from 3 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Tuesday-Friday; and noon to 2:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Food will be served until 2 a.m. daily.
 

Specialty cheese shop The Rhined to open near Findlay Market


This fall, a new specialty cheese shop will join the bustling activity near Findlay Market. The Rhined, owned by Stephanie Webster and her husband Dave, will offer gourmet cheeses; charcuterie, including preserves, pickles, olives and condiments; and beer and wine for retail sale. A full rehab of the 636-square-foot space, located at 1737 Elm St., is currently underway.  

Once renovation is complete, the space will feature a cheese counter with seating for 12. The counter will give patrons an opportunity to enjoy a gourmet cheese flight paired with a glass of wine or local craft beer.

“A lot of people don’t realize that cheese pairs well with beer,” Webster says. “The carbonation cuts through the fat of the cheese.”

The shop will primarily carry local beers, paying homage to Cincinnati’s rich brewing history.

Commitment to promoting local products extends beyond the beer offerings. The shop is particularly focused on exposing customers to the many world-class cheeses that are produced throughout the Midwest. The Rhined will carry a selection of 50 cheeses, including options sourced from Indiana, Kentucky and Wisconsin. Pricing will run from $12-30 per pound.

Pricing reflects the hand-crafted nature of the product being sold.

“That might seem expensive to some people,” Webster says. “We’re doing this for the cheesemakers, and we want to make sure they get a solid price for the amazing product that they make. And once they taste the cheese, they’ll know that it’s worth it.”

In the past year, the Websters have gotten familiar with many of the family, artisanal cheesemakers that The Rhined will ultimately promote.

“We’ve been visiting cheese shops in other cities, tasting a lot of cheese, meeting cheesemakers, talking to people in the industry, and trying to do our homework and research,” Webster says. “We want to make sure that we do this right for our city, and for our neighborhood.”

The Rhined is expected to open by October, just in time for holiday gift-giving and entertaining.

“It will be a welcoming place that anyone can come into to learn about cheese,” Webster says. “Once you have the cheese, you’re going want to buy it.”

Follow The Rhined on Instagram @therhined for updates and all things cheese.

 

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.

Construction underway at Brink Brewing, opening planned for November


If you’ve driven past 5905 Hamilton Ave. in College Hill over the past few weeks, you’ve seen a few changes to the building’s façade. But big changes are happening inside the building to make way for Brink Brewing.
 
The building has been gutted, and strides are being taken to preserve the historic feel of its interior, including the tin tiled ceiling and brick walls. Part of the rear wall was demolished to make room for a door to the outdoor patio and beer garden. A large garage door will open onto Hamilton Avenue, which will be open during nice weather.
 
CEO John McGarry wants Brink to be a gathering place for the community. That’s a cornerstone of the brewery’s design, even down to the seating. A large community table will the main focal point of the taproom, and a community photo wall will invite customers to bring in their own photos.
 
Head brewer Kelly Montgomery and assistant brewer Mark Landers are planning to keep Brink’s 12 taps ever-rotating. Many of the brewery’s options will include old ales, stouts and barleywines, but there will be lighter options as well, such as blonde ales, cream ales and IPAs.
 
McGarry and his wife Sarah, who is Brink’s marketing director, are from Colorado, and they have a vision for Brink.
 
“Colorado is a huge beer state, and we get to try a lot of the newer stuff that’s coming onboard for beer. We can then bring those ideas to Cincinnati, and be a leader in the beer community.”
 
Although Brink won’t have a kitchen, you can grab a bit at nearby restaurants like Red Rose Jems Pizzeria or Marty's Hops and Vines, and then head to the brewery for a pint or two.
 
Brink hopes to open in November. Keep tabs on the brewery’s Facebook page for up-to-date information.
 

Seven finalists announced for Impact 100 grant


Seven area organizations were recently named finalists for the Impact 100 grant. Each year, Impact 100 awards upwards of $100,000 to regional nonprofits for a variety of projects. Since its founding in 2011, Impact 100 has awarded over $3.2 million to the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area.

Four of the grants will be awarded this year, each totaling $101,500. Grant recipients will be named Sept. 13 at Impact 100’s Annual Awards Celebration.
 
Finalists are:
  • The Center for Great Neighborhood's Hellmann Creative Center. Grant money would be used for artist equipment, to display equipment for community-focused gallery space, hiring a coordinator, and a multi-media station that highlights local productions.
  • Chatfield College plans to renovate an underutilized park at the corner of Central Parkway and and Liberty Street into an outdoor learning space. The Central & Liberty Green Space will be used by students doing service projects and in hands-on classroom activities, as well as by the community.
  • Cincinnati Therapeutic Riding & Horsemanship plans to expand Project Mustang if its chosen as a grant recipient. The program helps save wild mustangs; the mustangs are part of the organization's larger goal of helping veterans overcome the affects of PTSD. 
  • Greater Cincinnati Construction Foundation is expanding a program at Woodward Career Technical High School that focuses on the development and implementation of practical, application-based math program in middle schools. The program will help increase the placement of students into the high school program that prepares them for the construction trade.
  • Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission hopes to equip the Lincoln Grant Scholar House with safety amenities and programming. The house provides single mothers who are pursuing post-secondary educations — and their kids — with an affordable housing option and access to a number of programs.
  • St. Francis Seraph Ministries & Center for Respite Care will purchase a commercial stove hood for The St. Anthony Center Dinner Club, which provides breakfast and dinners for the homeless five days per week. The grant would also help fund a new kitchenette for the in-house respite care unit that provides post-hospitalization care and other services for the homeless.
  • Women’s Crisis Center plans to expand its Green Dot Violence Prevention Program to three new high schools in Northern Kentucky.

Construction underway at Clifton Market


The former Keller’s IGA store on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton is seeing a flurry of activity as the community readies for the opening of Clifton Market. Construction began on the co-op grocery store in March, and the opening date is slated for October.
 
Construction should wrap up at the end of September, with interior equipment being delivered later this month.
 
A new grocery store in Clifton has been a long time coming. Plans for it were started in 2014, but organizers were still fundraising for the $5.6 million project. The co-op model, where community members are shareowners, has made the dream a reality.
 
Currently, there are about 1,250 shareowners who hold 1,700 shares. The goal is to obtain 2,000 shareowners by the time the market opens, says Marilyn Hyland, a Clifton Market board member.
 
“The more shareowners there are, the stronger the store will be and the stronger the store will be as the heart of the community,” she says.
 
The 23,000-square-foot building will house organic and locally sourced produce, a butcher, a seafood counter, a deli and a bakery. Customers will be able to purchase everything from beer and wine to pet supplies.
 
Clifton Market will also feature a salad bar and juice bar, plus a cafe space toward the front of the store. There are also plans to offer cooking classes and beer and cheese tastings.
 
The board hired Keith Wicks, a grocery market expert from Minneapolis, to help with the market’s business plan and projected outcomes. Based on his findings, he predicts that 15,000 people will visit the store and the Clifton business district each week.
 
“Clifton Market will be another stop for shoppers in Clifton, bringing in more customers to the store and the neighborhood,” Hyland says.
 
There are plans to cross-promote the market with the shops and restaurants on Ludlow Avenue, creating a cohesive environment for the community.
 
If you’re interested in purchasing a share in Clifton Market, visit its website for more information.
 

Rejuvenation and growth in the heart of historic Madisonville


Plans for development at the corner of Madison Road and Whetsel Avenue could mean big changes for Madisonville. A number of new businesses have already opened this year, adding retail and restaurant destinations, as well as jobs, to the neighborhood.

“We’re working to create a vibrant heart of the neighborhood that will radiate out to the other parts,” says Matt Strauss, real estate and marketing manager for the Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation.

Madisonville has been successful in attracting new restaurants and shops this year, with much of it centered at the core of the business district. Establishments new to the neighborhood in 2016 include Boxing 4 Fitness, Cookoo’s Coffee Shoppe, Dubwerx Auto Repair, Jojo’s Chicken and Fish, Lala’s Blissful Bites and Mad Llama Coffee. It was also just announced that Mazunte Taqueria Mexicana will be expanding, and plans to open a commissary kitchen and retail space in Madisonville.

MCURC is hard at work on additional plans to strengthen and enhance the business district. The City of Cincinnati has offered $4 million to help build several new, multi-story, mixed-use developments at the intersection of Madison and Whetsel. MCURC is working with local developer Ackermann Group on the effort, which is expected to total about $36 million.

Once completed, the project will add 10,000 square feet of retail space, 15,000 square feet of office space, and 185 units of new housing, a portion of which will be workforce-rate.

“The project is evolving,” Strauss says. “We’re still waiting to hear on the final piece of the financing puzzle, which includes a pending tax credit application. If we get the go-ahead, we’ll start immediately thereafter."

Once construction begins, the project will take a year and a half to complete.

MCURC also recently completed a $644,000 renovation of the former Fifth Third Bank building at the corner of Madison and Whetsel. MCURC transformed the building into a 2,600-square-foot, street-level restaurant space with two, two-bedroom apartments on the second floor. The upstairs apartments are now occupied, but the search for a downstairs business tenant continues.

Strauss says that the effort to revitalize the neighborhood includes outreach to the larger community. “In no small part, it’s about people getting to know us. We want to show people Madisonville’s personality.”

One thing that helps people get to know the neighborhood the Cincinnati Jazz and BBQ Festival, which was started in 2014. The event features food, vendors and live music, and will be held this year from 4 to 9 pm on September 10. The Madisonville 5K takes place at 8:30 am that same morning, and raises funds for MCURC’s community-building initiatives in the neighborhood.
 

Lumenocity plans to go out with a bang


In its fourth and final year, Lumenocity has moved from outdoors at Washington Park to inside the Taft Theatre. There will also be a number of new events at the Lumenocity Block Party, which will be going on all weekend and is open to the public.
 
Lumenocity is Aug. 5-7, with Taft showtimes at 8 p.m. and 9:40 p.m. Aug. 5 and 2 p.m., 3:40 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9:40 p.m. Aug. 6-7.
 
The block party will be located on East Fifth Street between Sycamore and Broadway and will feature food trucks and a Rhinegeist beer booth with special Lumenocity Glow Ale. Different stations will be set up along the street with art, music, entertainment and family-friendly activities all weekend long.  
 
Stations include:

• Artist Jonathan Gibson will assemble a crowd-sourced community art project called Art of Parts 1-8 p.m. Aug. 7. Attendees can stop by and bid on sections of the artwork from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m, and then Gibson will cut up the piece and divvy up the shares. All process will go to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Lumenocity.

• The Family Fun Zone will be just north of Fifth Street featuring a Lantern Station where you can create your own lantern using glow sticks. You can also wave your lantern and dance along with Cincy Brass and Pones Inc. in ArtsWave’s Lantern Parade at 9 p.m. Aug. 5.

• Created by students at the UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, Instrument 112 will be an immersive and responsive installation that translates movement into light, sound and patterns of light.

Antonio Violins will help out at the Music Lab, where kids of all ages can stop by and try out an instrument or two. No prior experience is required.

• Swing Set Drum Kit is a human-powered, one-man band. The swing is just like any other park swing, but its chains are connected to percussion instruments that go into action once you start swinging.

• VR Dome is a virtual reality headset with Google’s Tilt Brush technology that lets you “paint” the air. A 40-by-40-foot space will be set up in a parking lot at the corner of Fifth Street and Broadway for attendees to try out the technology. You must be 14 years or older to participate.

Even if you don’t have a ticket to Lumenocity, you can still catch the show. A 33-by-19-foot outdoor LED screen will be mounted at the east end of the block party for attendees to watch the Lumenocity performances at 9:40 p.m. Aug. 5 and 3:40 p.m. and 9:40 p.m. Aug. 6 and 7.
 
Limited tickets are still available for a variety of showtimes. You can purchase them here or stop by one of the above showtimes to watch the event on-screen at the block party.
 

21st neighborhood participates in Neighborhood Enhancement Program


On July 26, the latest Neighborhood Enhancement Program wrapped up in Lower Price Hill. The 90-day blitz is a collaboration among city departments, community organizations and residents to help jumpstart improvements in each participating neighborhood. 

Launched in 2007, NEP focuses on reducing crime hotspots, beautifying streetscapes and tackling blight, but the program can also help spur more development and investment in the targeted neighborhoods. Data analysis chooses the neighborhoods that will be chosen to participate, but a neighborhood has to be ready for the program.

Price Hill Will received a grant from the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing in March to tackle renovation of Evans Recreation Center during the NEP.

Evans was a big part of the NEP’s focus in Lower Price Hill. A former parking lot is now a skate park installed by the city and sponsored by Warsaw Federal. The skate park joins improved basketball courts and a new bicycle polo area at Evans.
 
The Cincinnati Reds are continuing to work on Evans and will renovate the baseball fields with the help of hundreds of volunteers from P&G.
 
To date, Avondale, Bond Hill, Carthage, Clifton Heights/University Heights/Fairview, College Hill, Corryville, East Price Hill, Evanston, Kennedy Heights, Madisonville, Mt. Airy, Mt. Washington, Northside, Over-the-Rhine, Pendleton, Price Hill, Roselawn, Walnut Hills and Westwood have all participated in the NEP.
 
Lower Price Hill was the 21st neighborhood to participate in NEP. The 22nd neighborhood, Mt. Auburn, will begin its blitz in mid-August.
 

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.
 

Neighborhood Irish pub expanding in Covington


The owners of Molly Malone’s in Covington are expanding to a space next door. The building at 106-108 E. Fourth St. used to be a Mexican restaurant but has been vacant for a number of years.
 
Molly Malone’s currently is at capacity, especially during televised soccer games. It's one of the most popular places in Greater Cincinnati during soccer season, and when major tournaments are on TV lines can go out the door. Live music and private events are also part of the restaurant's repertoire.

The renovated space will feature a larger bar and kitchen as well as 95 more seats in the dining area. A new seasonal patio will have glass garage doors, and there will be rooftop access.
 
There are also plans for an updated menu and a new brunch menu that will be rolled out in the next few weeks.
 
Demolition work is already underway, and the new addition should be ready in time for the NFL season.
 

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.
 
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