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Findlay Kitchen to offer commercial space for food entrepreneurs, classes

Findlay Market hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony March 23 for its new incubator kitchen, the Charlotte and Edward Unnewehr Findlay Kitchen at 1719 Elm St. The nonprofit incubator has been in the works for a year and will help give food entrepreneurs the resources, work space and support to launch or continue their businesses.
The 8,000-square-foot, shared-use space houses 10 separate industrial kitchens so a number of businesses can co-exist and create at the same time. Several small food-related businesses have already joined Findlay Kitchen, including Gadabout Doughnuts and The Jaded Fork.
Findlay Kitchen is an affordable way for entrepreneurs to get started in the food business and have access to a commercial-grade kitchen, equipment and storage space as well as resources and support. There are also plans to use the space for pop-up restaurants, cooking classes and healthy eating education.
On top of that, Findlay Kitchen is partnering with a number of programs and organizations to provide the training, mentorship and resources needed for small business owners to succeed. The nonprofit will also help its members get their products in more places, acting as a conduit for wholesale and institutional customers.
One of those partnerships is Co.Starters: Kitchen Edition, a business development program for food entrepreneurs with ArtWorks. The 12-week program will be held at Findlay Kitchen and feature food-focused business curriculum, mentorship and networking opportunities. Class registration is $350, with sessions held 6-9 p.m. on Tuesdays, May 3-July 19.
Findlay Kitchen is also still accepting applications for members. If you’re interested in renting kitchen space, fill out an application here.

Melt and Neon's getting brunch, Myrtle's Punch House adding food menu

Molly Wellmann acquired Melt and Picnic & Pantry in January with an eye toward bringing food to Wellmann’s Brands bars such as Myrtle’s Punch House and Neon’s, which will happen in April, as will a relaunch of brunch at Melt.
Brunch at Melt and Neon’s will start April 3, with favorites from Melt’s old brunch menu. Not every item will be available at both locations, but a few highlights include banana French toast, the Northside hot brown and the Southwest tofu scramble.
Myrtle’s will start serving food April 15, which coincides with Walk on Woodburn. Wellmann’s Brands Executive Chef Lisa Kagen, former owner of Melt and Picnic & Pantry, curated the menu around small plates and shareable items, much like the idea of the punch bowl.
Menus at each table will allow customers to pick and choose what they want to order. The menu isn’t finalized yet, but there will be vegan, vegetarian, meat, fish and “iron-pressed” options to appeal to everyone. Kagen is bringing in items from other local food purveyors, too, including chips from Hen of the Woods, The Pickled Pig’s smoked pork tenderloin and flatbreads served on Fireside Pizza’s wood-fired dough.
Brunch will be served on Neon’s patio, weather permitting, 12-4 p.m. every Sunday. Melt will serve brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m. every Sunday. Food will be served at Myrtle’s Thursday-Sunday, with plans to expand to seven days a week in the near future.

OTR's first cookware store opening near Findlay Market April 2

Retirement is typically a time of relaxation and travel, but not for Brad and Karen Hughes. The couple planned their retirement around Artichoke, the city’s first cookware store, which they will open on April 2 adjacent to Findlay Market.
“When we started looking for a location, the logical place was Findlay Market,” Karen says. “We could have opened a storefront on Vine Street and done great, but the synergy with the market is the key component of what we wanted to do. There’s nothing like it in the city.”
The Hughes started looking for a location about two years ago. At that time, the city was in the process of releasing a number of properties, including those located at 1824, 1826 and 1828 Elm St. They purchased the three buildings with the intent of creating a storefront for Artichoke with two apartments upstairs, and then Phase II will focus on creating a new home for themselves.
The 150-year-old brick buildings were stabilized about 15 years ago by the city, which helped in the renovation process. The project is LEED Silver-certified, and the Hughes have made sure to repurpose a number of materials, including ceiling beams that are now part of the countertops and displays.
In the entryway will be a Rookwood tile mosaic welcoming customers into the 880-square-foot retail space, which also includes a demonstration kitchen. The idea is to have chefs demo 60-80 percent of the time, whether that’s chefs showcasing products from Findlay Market or chefs from around the city trying out new recipes or restaurant favorites. The demo kitchen will also have room to seat 10 people for after-hours events. 
Artichoke will offer cookware only as a way to provide vessels for the food sold at Findlay Market. The Hughes are focusing on items that are responsibly and sustainably made in the U.S. and Europe, including Cristel cookware, Staub enamel cast iron, Revol porcelain cookware, Fagor pressure and multicookers, OXO cooking tools and new electrics and Wusthof, Global and Shun knives.
The basement will also be stocked with a line of commercial-grade products so chefs can get what they need locally rather than having to drive out to the suburbs when in a pinch.
“After retiring, we thought about moving, but we live in Over-the-Rhine and are invested in the city and community,” Karen says. “We hated to move away and not see what happens with all of the new businesses coming in and development projects that are going on.”
Artichoke’s hours will be 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Cincinnati Shakespeare program helps students design own Bard-inspired projects

For the past three years, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (CSC) has been working with Greater Cincinnati schools to put on artistic interpretations of William Shakespeare’s 38 plays. Called Project 38, the program is a yearlong process for CSC artists going into schools to help students create an artistic piece based on one of Shakespeare’s plays, with the works then performed at a week-long festival. 
“Many students say ‘I’m enjoying school for the first time,’ because they now have an artistic outlet where they get to create the final product,” says Maggie Lou Rader, coordinator for Project 38. “It’s the students’ passion that brings each and every project to life from start to finish. The student-driven Shakespearean projects bring these wonderful stories to life in a new way for the community every year.”
Project 38 is entirely free for schools as well as for festivalgoers.
This year’s festival is scheduled for April 14-18 and will feature more than 43 events at the Woodward Theater and in Washington Park. Performances include 18 pieces based on Shakespearean text, six pieces that incorporate music, three dance performances, 13 films, eight projects that have visual elements, two research projects, one computer-animated piece and 16 original works.
The week before the festival, Cincinnati Shakespeare will host Revel and Moonlight on April 9 at The Transept. The event includes exclusive live performances of Project 38 pieces as well as wine, cocktails and food. Tickets for Revel and Moonlight range from $25 to $250 and are available online.
“We hope that Project 38 will bring the entirety of Shakespeare’s canon to life in local classrooms and the city every year,” Rader says.
Project 38 also includes a free encore performances of Shakespeare in the Park’s touring performances of Romeo and Juliet as well as premiere the new Midsummer for Elementary Students, which is Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in Washington Park.
The Woodward will serve as home base for the festival and will be open during all activities. Festival attendees can go there to get information and learn about upcoming performances as well as see art installations related to Shakespeare’s canon.
Get the full Project 38 festival schedule here.

Hotel Covington to open its doors this summer

The long-awaited Hotel Covington will open at 638 Madison Ave. in downtown Covington this summer in the space known by many Northern Kentuckians as the Coppins Building. The hotel is a collaboration between Aparium Hotel Group and The Salyers Group and has been under construction for a year.

With the help of $5.4 million from the Kentucky Tourism Department Finance Authority, the century-old building underwent a $22-million renovation that preserved its historic features while also adding some modern finishes.
Built in 1910, the building housed Coppins Department store until 1977. Covington City Hall moved there in 1990 and moved out in 2014 so the hotel project could begin. The seven-story structure will house 114 guest rooms with vintage-inspired free-standing coat racks that pay homage to the building’s past.
The hotel will also have 4,700 square feet of meeting and event space that’s comprised of a ballroom, boardroom, library and lobby lounge that seats 40 people.
Hotel Covington will also house a 1,400-square-foot restaurant, Coppin’s. The menu will include Northern and Southern dishes like fish, steak, salads, fried chicken, country ham and biscuits, with attention to sustainability and locally sourced produce. The bar will serve local craft beer as well as wine and craft cocktails.

Second phase of Avondale townhomes project gets OK to proceed

Hickory Place Townhomes opened last Fall along Northern Avenue in Avondale, and the eight townhomes sold quickly. Now Phase II will be planned and constructed based on demand.
Hickory Place is the first new development in Avondale since the 1990s. A number of other developments are also in the works to help welcome new residents to the neighborhood as well as retain longtime residents.
Like the $5 million Phase I, the second phase of townhomes will be about 1,400 square feet, with a mix of two- and three-bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. Each will have a one-car garage and tandem on-street parking. Other touches include hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances and quartz countertops. Townhomes in Phase II will start at $225,000.
The project team includes John Hueber Homes, NorthPoint Advisory Services and Wichman + Gunther Architects. Funders include nearby Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center, the Uptown Cincinnati Development Fund and Uptown Consortium.

Pop! Goes Westwood looking for businesses to help activate vacant lot this summer

This summer, Westwood Works and Westwood Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (WestCURC) plan to revitalize a vacant lot along Harrison Avenue west of Montana Avenue. Pop! Goes Westwood will help energize the neighborhood’s historic business district as well as provide local businesses the chance to set up shop there.
A 12-by-120-foot temporary wall will be erected in the empty lot next to Henke Winery owned by WestCURC. The wall will serve as the “front door” for the six rotating popup tenants and will resemble what finished retail spaces might look like.
Most of the retail offerings will be artistic-based packaged food or goods and preferably Westwood- and/or Cincinnati-based.
Along with the retail tenants, the bowtie-shaped space at the intersection of Epworth, Urwiler and Harrison avenues will serve as a public space for all types of creative activities, including Chase Public, Cincinnati Hamilton County Public Library, Happen Inc., Pones Inc., a popup beer garden, yoga by Four Directions Studio and Zumba by Robin.
The popup events will take place on the weekends June 18 through Sept. 11. A kick-off event is scheduled for 3 p.m. June 18; a full calendar will be available for the summer’s events by May 1 on the Westwood Works website.
Businesses must be open from 3-8 p.m. Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. Sundays. The fee to participate is $100 per weekend for one to five weekends, $80 per weekend for six to 10 weekends and $60 per weekend for 11-plus weekends. If you’re a business interested in participating in Pop! Goes Westwood, fill out an application here.

Walnut Hills event connects neighborhood's history to current redevelopment

The Walnut Hills Historical Society will host a March 19 event called “Walk McMillan with the McDevitts” to recognize a typical turn-of-the-century, middle-class, Irish-American family who had success in business in Walnut Hills and to celebrate the business district’s redevelopment.
“Historians have spent a lot of time illuminating the lives of some of the world’s more extraordinary people while the more ordinary are passed over,” says Sue Plummer of the Historical Society. “To understand how a neighborhood like Walnut Hills operated, many different types of people need to be considered, and the McDevitts are one sliver of our history.”
Pat McDevitt, great-grandson of founder James McDevitt, has been working with the Historical Society to bring his extended family together to revisit the former store as well as share photos and history with the public.
McDevitt opened his dry goods/men’s clothing store in 1896 in Walnut Hills. Over the years, the store operated in several locations along East McMillan Avenue, with its most historically significant and last location being in the Paramount Building at Peebles Corner at Gilbert and McMillan. McDevitt’s closed in 1970 due to the advent of shopping malls and the riots of the 1960s.  
At the time, Peebles Corner was a major transportation hub for people who were traveling between downtown and outlying neighborhoods as well as for those moving across town. Most Cincinnatians were familiar with Peebles Corner and had either seen it or shopped there.
The Paramount Building stands at the center of the neighborhood and was at one point in time the site of Peebles Grocery store, a high-end retail business. It was also the Paramount Theater for three decades and is today a CVS pharmacy. Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation recently acquired the building, with plans to redevelop it into two floors of commercial space for local small businesses.
“As an organization, our main goal is to start collecting the oral histories that connect the neighborhood, and this event will help put us in touch with future oral history subjects,” Plummer says.
Limited event tickets are available for $15 here. The cost includes an annual membership to the Historical Society, a walking map of the historic McDevitt’s locations, day-of access to the store space, lunch at Fireside Pizza and happy hour prices at Brew House.

First State of Community Development conference to be held March 17

Community Development Corporations Association of Greater Cincinnati will host its first State of Community Development conference March 17 to provide networking opportunities for community developers as well as resources to better connect and market themselves within their respective neighborhoods.
Community development corporations, or CDCs, are nonprofits that lead the effort to implement a community’s vision, specifically when it comes to housing and business development. CDCs usually form when the private market has left a neighborhood but there remains a need to improve property values and decrease the number of blighted and vacant buildings.
Currently, 36 community development corporations operate within Cincinnati, spurring development projects in the city’s 52 neighborhoods. Here is a sampling of projects that are products of Cincinnati’s CDCs:
The Camp Washington Community Board has been working for years to give Camp the housing its residents needs. As of May 2015, the organization had renovated 52 neighborhood houses.
The Center for Great Neighborhoods focuses on creative placemaking in Covington, including facilitating arts grants. In September, CGN broke ground on its newest venture, Hellmann Creative Center, which will house community and event space as well as leasable art studios.
The Cincinnati Northside Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation changed its name last April to Northsiders Engaged in Sustainable Transformation (NEST). Up to that point, the group had created 17 single-family homes in Northside.
College Hill CURC has been working hard over the past year to provide the neighborhood business district on Hamilton Avenue a much-needed facelift. Most recently, CHCURC announced a new brewery will open this summer in a vacant storefront building.
The Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation is another CDC working on creative placemaking efforts within its neighborhood. Last year, MCURC hosted its second annual Cincinnati Jazz & BBQ Festival with the help of a $9,000 ArtsWave grant.
Last spring, the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation launched a campaign to combat obesity throughout the neighborhood. It started a creative placemaking initiative called Music Off McMillan in August and has hosted regular social events in the Five Points alleyway. WHRF headed up renovation of the high-profile Trevarren Flats apartment building and purchased the old Paramount Building in the core of its struggling McMillan Avenue business district.

Registration for the March 17 event is by invitation only; find more information here.

Six local projects awarded $275,900 in Duke Energy Urban Revitalization grants

The Duke Energy Urban Revitalization grant program has doled out $1.3 million to 35 projects since its inception in 2011. Six local projects were recently awarded $275,900 in grant money to help eliminate blight, create jobs and increase business retention and expansion in Covington, Newport, Pleasant Ridge, Price Hill and Walnut Hills.
The Catalytic Fund received $30,000 to restore buildings on East Fifth Street in Covington. The project will create 4,000 square feet of move-in ready commercial space as well as five new market-rate apartments. It will also help accommodate The Risk Firm’s rapid expansion by providing 1,000 square feet of additional office space adjacent to its existing building, creating four new jobs.
The Catalytic Fund was awarded $42,476 for the expansion of Carabello Coffee in Newport. Justin and Emily Carabello will be purchasing and renovating the vacant 1,800-square-foot building next to their existing business on Monmouth Street. The project will help activate the entire corner and will allow Carabello to create three more permanent jobs.
HCDC's Economic Development department received $60,000 for its small business coaching and mentoring program, which this year will be in Mt. Healthy, Cheviot and Westwood. Since 2013, the program has helped small businesses in College Hill, East Walnut Hills, North College Hill, Northside, Pleasant Ridge and Price Hill.
Duke Energy awarded the Pleasant Ridge Development Corporation $50,000 to help restore a historic movie theater in the neighborhood. The 7,000-square-foot space on Montgomery Road has been targeted for redevelopment for years and will now become a boutique movie theater and community gathering place. PRDC will partner with an established business that has produced pop-up movie events over the past two years and is ready to expand into a permanent location. Renovation efforts will include removing the boarded-up facade and upgrading the HVAC and water systems.
Price Hill Will received $37,424 to restore a building at the heart of the Eighth Street corridor in Lower Price Hill. The Eighth and Depot Project will create a new retail space, six mixed-income live-work units and five new jobs. The building will serve as the anchor project for the corridor’s redevelopment efforts over the next 10-15 years.
The Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation was awarded a $56,000 grant for the redevelopment of the Century Theater and the Durner Building, which are both on the National Register of Historic Places. The buildings are at the center of Peeble’s Corner and have been vacant for years. Once finished, the project will create a co-working space and 33 permanent jobs.

Paddlefest offers a number of changes for 15th annual splash in August

Greater Cincinnati’s Paddlefest event, which attracts 2,000 canoers and kayakers to the Ohio River each year, is undergoing a number of changes in 2016, including a new date, a different route, route guides and a new sponsor. The 15th annual Paddlefest will be held on Aug. 6, nearly a month later than usual.
Paddlefest was postponed last year due to heavy rains that flooded the Ohio River. By moving the event to later in the summer, organizers hope to avoid the rainier months.
Paddlefest will be a bit longer this year, with an 8.9-mile trip that takes participants under all six Ohio River bridges in Cincinnati. The event will start at Schmidt Recreation Complex in the East End and end with a celebration at Gilday Park in Riverside, with a mid-point stop in Covington. In previous years, Paddlefest started at Coney Island and ended at the Public Landing downtown and was 8.4 miles long.
Guides will also be positioned along the river at the mouths of the Licking River and Mill Creek to help paddlers who are interested in exploring the tributaries.
Outdoor Adventure Clubs of Greater Cincinnati is the new organizer of Paddlefest, which was founded by Brewster Rhoads, former director of Green Umbrella, in 2001. He remains the event’s executive director, and Green Umbrella will still run the Kids Outdoor Adventure Expo on July 22. That event will be held at Winton Woods this year rather than Coney Island.
Registration is now open for Paddlefest, with an early bird rate of $35. Rates will increase as the date gets closer, and if you need to rent a kayak or canoe, do it soon because the number of boats is limited.

Renovations to Music Hall are finally becoming a reality

The need to renovate Music Hall in Over-the-Rhine has been at the forefront of arts and culture conversations for nearly a decade. Those plans are finally being put into action in 2016 as Music Hall Revitalization Company works to preserve the 140-year-old historic building.
Music Hall hasn’t been renovated for more than 40 years, so this overhaul is a big deal. Such a big deal, in fact, that Music Hall will be closed starting June 1 and won’t reopen until fall 2017, if everything goes according to plan. This means that the building’s resident companies will perform elsewhere in their upcoming seasons — Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and Cincinnati May Festival will perform at the Taft Theatre for the 2016-2017 season, while Cincinnati Opera will perform at the Aronoff Center for the Arts for its 2016 and 2017 summer seasons.
A few smaller renovations are already in the works, such as structural and office demo. Within the next 90 days, the larger part of the work will begin.
Renovations include:

Smaller seating capacity: 1,000 seats will be removed from Springer Auditorium to make the auditorium more intimate, and false walls will be erected on two levels of the concert hall to amplify sound. All of the seats will be replaced, and the new seats will be wider with more legroom. The main floor will be resloped, along with the balconies, and new boxes will be installed. A new thrust stage will be added for the orchestra.

Updated lobby: The lobby, which will be renamed the Edyth B. Lindner Grand Foyer, will have new torchiere lighting along the balcony railings to show off the ceiling, and the smaller Czech chandeliers will be replaced.

New patron lounge: A new lounge is being added at the back of Springer Auditorium, and new bars, concessions areas and LED screens will be installed. The box office and gift shop are getting a facelift as well.

New windows: The currently bricked-up windows on Music Hall’s facade will be restored to allow in more light, and new accent lighting will be installed to illuminate the building at night.

More restrooms: Bathrooms for both sexes will be added, increasing the number of stalls by more than 50 percent.

Improved access: There will also be improved access for patrons with mobility issues, including street-level access through the box office, more wheelchair accessible seating, mobile wheelchair charging stations and an assisted listening system inside the auditorium. Two new elevators are also being installed that will give patrons access to all floors.

Orchestra library reorganization: Music Hall currently houses the world’s largest orchestra library, but it’s not stored in any one location within the building. When it reopens, more than 140 years of music will be represented in one fire-protected room on the first floor. 

A public campaign is currently underway to raise the remaining $5 million of the $135 million needed for the renovation. To donate, click here.

Enright Ecovillage building an urban homesteading store and community gathering space in Price Hill

Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage has been a cornerstone in Price Hill for the past 30 years, creating a community focused on stewardship and sustainability. Enright Ecovillage will gain even more visibility this summer when it opens a general store and pub at the corner of West Eighth Street and Enright Avenue.
Enright Ecovillage purchased the former Paradise Lounge last year and is currently rehabilitating the building into a destination store within the neighborhood.
“Although we will have a liquor license at the store, the goal isn’t to be a bar,” says Elizabeth Doshi, resident of Enright Ecovillage. “The goal is to become a homesteading store and educational center as well as a community center.”
The store will have everything needed for homesteading, including animal feed and composting tools. Enright Ecovillage is keeping the bar aspect of the space because it wants the building to be a community space and hold public events. A liquor license will also help the village raise funds to continue its outreach efforts and programming.
One of Enright Ecovillage’s goals is to engage the surrounding community about healthy eating habits and how to be more sustainable. The village currently operates a community supported agriculture site (CSA) that’s open to anyone in the city, and last summer it sold surplus produce at a farm stand in front of the future store.
“It was a good opportunity to reach out to our neighbors and offer affordable, fresh local produce,” Doshi says. “Enright Ecovillage is getting more and more attention from the neighborhood and the city and is starting to become more recognized within the city.”
Doshi says the farm stand will continue once the store opens, and there are plans to offer starter plants this spring. The store will also sell produce when there’s an overflow, and as the village becomes more financially stable it will start to grow more and offer more.
The store’s official name is still in the works but will be announced in the next few weeks.

NKU plans to open its free community garden in April

Northern Kentucky University recently received a $700 Color in Our Community grant from the Campbell County Cooperative Extension Service to help fund an on-campus community garden. The garden will open in April and join a network of existing gardens in the Highland Heights area.
This isn’t the first time NKU has started a garden on campus. The first was behind Callahan Hall, but once renovations started on the building the construction work rendered the garden site unsafe.
The new community garden is in a more central location behind NKU’s historic log cabin off of Nunn Drive, which makes it accessible to a wider diversity of people. It’s a relatively small garden, with just 10 plots that measure 4-by-8-ft. NKU plans to plant wildflowers, and during Earth Week fruit trees will be added around the garden.
Everything about the garden is free, from the obtaining of plots to the seeds to the equipment to garden. NKU Facilities Management paid for a large portion, including the construction labor and foundation work; the Color in Our Community grant filled in the gaps. NKU’s on-campus food provider, Chartwells, is providing the seeds.
“This is a great opportunity for people to grow their own fresh produce, something that college students have access to, especially in the summer,” NKU Sustainability Manager Tess Phinney says. “It’s a chance to get free food as well as healthy and organic food that you grow yourself.”
Applications for a garden plot are due by Feb. 29 and can be accessed here. Each gardener must attend one of two orientation classes scheduled for March 23 at 5:50 p.m. and March 25 at 11 a.m. at the Campbell County Cooperative Extension in Highland Heights.
At the meeting, Phinney will go over the gardening waiver and the two horticulture technicians who are tag-teaming the classes will go over the basics of gardening. The classes are open to anyone interested, even if you’re not adopting a plot on NKU’s campus.
“The garden gives the university and surrounding community the chance to partner on something bigger than ourselves,” Phinney says. “It gives us a chance to help build a community.”

Second phase of Pike Star renovations underway in Covington

A groundbreaking ceremony was held last week for Phase II of the Pike Star building at 114 W. Pike St. in Covington. This part of the project will yield 2,300 square feet of street-level office space for Bad Girl Ventures and four upper level apartments.
Built in 1900, the four-story building is known as the Tanino’s Building thanks to its most recent ground-floor tenant, Tanino’s Cafe. It was occupied for many years by A.L. Boehmer Paint Company but has been vacant for more than a decade.
Phase I was completed in 2014 and includes seven market-rate loft-style studio and one-bedroom apartments as well as retail space for UpTech. Orleans Development, the Center for Great Neighborhoods and Marc Tischbein worked on Phase I, with The Catalytic Fund, Duke Energy and the City of Covington as investors in partnership with LISC Cincinnati.
A number of residential projects have recently come online in Covington, including Market Lofts, Mutual Building and Doctor’s Building. Although construction isn’t completed, the nine upscale townhouses in the Boone Block are already 66 percent occupied, and the recently announced Duveneck Square development will bring about 170 apartments across the street from Pike Star.
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