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New fine art gallery adds to Oakley's diverse, growing scene


Located at 3078 Madison Rd. in the heart of Oakley Square, Caza Sikes offers art and fine craft featuring diverse media from regional artists. The gallery features monthly exhibitions, live music, a rentable event space and appraisals.

The gallery opened this fall after an 18-month renovation of the historic building that once housed a paint store.

Owner and licensed appraiser Evan Sikes says he wanted the space to change the concept of a gallery. It features both high-end and more affordable pieces from everything from paintings to jewelry.

Sikes describes his vision as an “approachable, affordable gallery with cool stuff.”

The gallery features a rotating group of artists that all use a diverse range of media. Along with a collection of different painters, Caza Sikes also features mixed media, jewelry, woodwork, ceramics, photography, fiber arts and glass.

During the month of November, the gallery is hosting a collection of paintings by Cole Carothers, which showcase a 40-year retrospective of his work while living in Cincinnati.

After its successful opening at the end of September, Caza Sikes plans to host more events and hopes to engage all members of the community, from younger visitors to those already very familiar with the gallery scene.

“We’re mixing it up a bit,” Sikes says. Along with displays, the gallery will host a series of events from jazz shows to bourbon tastings. These will start next month with a blues/jazz concert on Dec. 1.

What Sikes is really after is a representation of fine craft because there can be a lack of the diversity of media in traditional galleries. At Caza Sikes, a visitor can see and purchase jewelry, clothes made from recycled fabric, hand-made bowls, ceramic tiles and more.

“It’s been a long time coming, and a hard momentum coming up.”

Caza Sikes joins the art scene in Oakley, along with other venues like Brazee Street Studios, which offers a gallery, events and classes for all ages; Ombré Gallery, which specializes in contemporary art jewelry by art and metalsmiths all over the world; and Redtree Art Gallery & Coffee Shop, which showcases work from locat artsits and serves as a gathering space for the community.
 


Sixteen projects receive NOFA money from the City


Thanks to the City of Cincinnati's Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) program, 12 current and future local neighborhood projects will become the subject of funded development. 

NOFA allows developers, individuals, for-profit and nonprofit organizations to apply for city funds, which then allows them to create opportunities for homeownership and rental properties that have positive and lasting impacts.

This year’s NOFA funding totaled $6.4 million — $2 million more than last year’s — and has been awarded to 16 of 20 applicants. As a result, the city will see 528 new housing units, 80 percent of which will be classified as affordable.

It’s all part of PLAN Cincinnati’s goal: to provide vision for full-spectrum housing options to all individuals, regardless of income or stage of life.

“The City of Cincinnati wants quality, diversified housing options for all of our residents,” says Vice Mayor David Mann.“It is a pleasure to be able to incorporate $2 million in additional funding for affordable housing across our neighborhoods.”

Not only have these city funds increased, but funding from investors has exceeded city funding by a ratio of 16:1 for a total of $103.5 million, more than doubling the 2016 total and quadrupling that of 2014.

“Providing quality, diversified housing options for our residents is integral to our community development strategy,” says City Manager Harry Black. “Through these NOFA projects, we look forward to leveraging public-private partnerships to enhance the quality of life for thousands of residents across our neighborhoods."

Recipients of NOFA funding include the following:

  • Copelen/5 Points Alley project, Walnut Hills
  • Evanston HURC, 3476 Woodburn
  • Price Hill Homesteading
  • South Block Home, Northside
  • South Cumminsville Urban Village
  • Cedar Corridor Phase IIII, College Hill
  • Torrence Station, East End
  • Scholar House, E. Walnut Hills
  • Crosley Apartments, Camp Washington
  • Madison Villa, Madisonville
  • 821 Flats Housing, Over-the-Rhine
  • 1420 & 1422 Knowlton, Northside
  • 1714 Vine St., OTR
  • 57 E. McMicken, OTR
  • College Hill Revitalization
  • Halstead Apartments, Clifton/CUF

Drivewell empowers drivers with basic car maintenance, repair classes


Karl Laube, founder of Drivewell, teaches a free, comprehensive course on car maintenance and basic repairs. “People were constantly asking me to work on their car or calling me because they’re at the shop and they don’t know what the mechanic is telling them.”

Laube has worked on cars since before he could legally drive. He's a firefighter for the City of Cincinnati, and after seeing a need, he applied for a project grant from People’s Liberty and founded Drivewell earlier this year.

“Most people feel like they don’t have any power and going to the mechanic is an anxiety-ridden task," Laube says. "They tell you this, this and this. But you don’t know what they did.”

After the course, drivers have a newfound confidence. Along with Shelby Dunn, a technician for Volvo, Laube aims to give drivers a better understanding to help eliminate confusion and frustration and avoid unnecessary bills.

The first class was for women only. Laube says that he would frequently get calls for advice and assistance from females. He feels when it comes to cars, women tend to get the short end of the stick.

Students get to use their own cars, and they must apply to take the classes. However, Drivewell is only for cars worth less than $10,000. The intention is to serve people who have an older car that they're trying to keep up. Laube himself drives a 1992 Mercedes station wagon.

Drivewell is all-encompassing and is a wholesome lesson on vehicle ownership: how does an engine work; tire changes, rotation and alignment; electrical systems and changing fuses; checking and changing fluids; brake maintenance and checking brake pads; detecting common scams; and how to buy and sell used cars.

“I want to use this as a tool to empower people,” Laube says.

Moreover, Laube’s ultimate goal is to combat consumerism and encourage a habit of fixing rather than disposing. “People don’t fix things anymore.”

People end up spending more money than they need to, and this class teaches drivers to fix their own vehicles. “It’s a source of pride when you own something and can work on it and take care of it," he says.


Laube is currently looking for a new location to continue the next round of classes, which he is hoping will take place in the spring. In the meantime, interested drivers can apply online or fill out an interest form for the next round of classes.

Along with the women’s only course, Drivewell plans to add two new classes to the roster: a workshop on driving a stick shift and a course for new drivers.
 


Supercade bringing spot for the whole family to Westwood this spring


As Soapbox reported in August, Westwood is on an upswing. The planning efforts of the Westwood Coalition, a group of community members and civic organizations, have begun to pay off with increased city investment and an influx of new businesses like Lillywood Home Décor, Muse Café and West Side Brewing.

Leslie Rich, a long-time Westwood resident and board chair for community building nonprofit Westwood Works, has been instrumental in stewarding this positive change. Now she and her husband Bill are striking out with their own new venture, Supercade, to bring some added fun to the neighborhood.


“I spent the last nine years promoting the neighborhood, so it made sense for us to invest in it,” says Rich. "We saw a lack of spaces for people of all ages and backgrounds to gather in a fun way.”

To fill this gap, the couple will be opening a retro arcade with upright cabinet games, pinball machines and air hockey. Though Supercade will serve alcohol, “it’s not going to be a place where you have to drink to play,” Rich says.

The arcade will also offer local snacks, popcorn and cane sugar sodas, and is hoping to work with West Side Brewing to develop a signature root beer.

Supercade, which is slated to open by March, will charge $7 for one hour of free play or $12 for two hours of free play access, and will also be available to host parties and team-building sessions for local companies.

The Riches began collecting game consoles back in 2016, and turned their living room into a mini-arcade before securing the former Keidel Plumbing building at 3143 Harrison Ave. for their new venture.

“We’ve been driving all over the Midwest to build our collection,” Rich says. That collection includes a Donkey Kong cabinet signed by world record holder Billy Mitchell, whose high score is still on the machine.

The couple is excited about how the arcade will be more than just a business, but also a way of building community. “We think there is a physical community that can be built on top of the virtual community,” Rich says.

In an increasingly tech-driven world, Rich believes that people are looking for those places where they can have relationships, physical interactions and conversation.

Supercade has a Kickstarter campaign running through Dec. 11, with a goal of raising $20,000 in additional capital. “Up until this point we’ve bootstrapped and done it ourselves, but this will help us get up and running even faster,” Rich says.

Visit Supercade's Facebook and Instagram for more information and to stay up-to-date on the storefront's progress.
 


Developments at Newport on the Levee to provide a more integrated experience


Newport on the Levee is undergoing major changes to contemporize its attractions and everyday offerings. The Northern Kentucky destination is slowly moving away from the 21-and-over nightlife scene to more of a family experience.

Across the country, the entertainment game is changing: Shoppers are choosing online shopping over retail stores, and fewer movie buffs are filling the seats in theaters.

“In the past, it was about outdoor shopping and eateries,” explains Levee spokesperson Vanessa Rovekamp.

Longtime dining favorites Mitchell's Fish Market and Brio Tuscan Grille are being joined by newer, locally owned spots like Greek Burrito and The Dog House hotdog restaurant.

The Levee wants to become an entertainment destination. Current attractions like the Newport Aquarium, Axis Alley and an AMC movie theater will provide the backbone for that plan.

On top of that, the theater, which was built in 2001, is undergoing a major renovation that will be completed in late November. Updates include power reclining seats, an updated snack bar menu and new screens, sound systems, speakers, carpet and paint. The changes aim to broaden the theater's demographic. While young adults used to make up its largest group of visitors, the updates are intended to create family entertainment for all ages.

Most of the changes at the Levee are not public at this time, but they are expected to reveal themselves over the next two years.

Two developments recently opened at the Levee: a new 238-apartment complex, Aqua on the Levee, offers one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and another 8,300 square feet of retail space and a 144-room Aloft Hotel. Apartments and a hotel are totally new concepts for the Levee area, and encourage a new "stay and play" atmosphere.

Over the past few years, the Levee has also experienced a revolving door of tenants. Despite empty properties, the Levee holds events to keep the entertainment going as renovations continue.

Recent events include the 11th annual Wine Walk (March), supported by Levee tenants and featuring local wines; LIVE at the Levee summer concert series showcasing local bands; Local Brews and Blues (June); Margarita Madness (August); fall events and country concerts to complement the winding down of Riverbend’s schedule; and Light Up the Levee, which will kick off the holiday season on Nov. 21 with festive activities for kids on the weekends.

Visit the Levee's events page for a full calendar of events, which includes tenant-related events and specials too.


Tether Cincinnati connects local creatives to job opportunities, other creatives


One local woman is using her $100,000 Haile Fellowship grant from People’s Liberty to start Tether Cincinnati, a way to connect local image makers (photographers, wardrobe stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists, models, creative directors and fashion designers) in the Cincinnati area.

Tether’s mission is to make it easier for local image makers to connect to each other, and to opportunities for work so they can thrive — and stay — in Cincinnati.

The idea ignited when fashion blogger and former Cincinnati Magazine stylist Tamia Stinson traveled to London. She did a co-op at a British magazine and was inspired by the international image maker directory book, Le Book.

“It was extremely valuable because that was how you found people to execute those types of jobs,” she says.

When she started working, Stinson received many requests from clients, especially from out of town, about the image making industry in Cincinnati.

“I was getting all these inquiries from people and they wanted to know who do I follow, who I get in touch with, what's the best resource for doing this or that,” says Stinson. “And I thought it would be really cool to have a one-stop shop for that information.”

Her passion for design mixed with the resources at People’s Liberty, which helped jumpstart her entrepreneurial career.

“I think it's important to be a part of that creative community and to make sure that I'm supporting people financially in much the same way that I'm trying to get people to do for this community,” Stinson says.

Since its launch in May, Tether has a growing community of about 91 members — and that's just online. Anyone can connect through the Tether Cincinnati website, the print sourcebook and through networking events.

“I think people really get a lot out of that face-to-face interaction, which is why we do events,” says Stinson. “Probably about once a month there's an opportunity for people to actually gather together.”

As much as face-to-face communication is important to her brand, social media is also a key ingredient. “This is a very visual community. So Instagram is where people would tend to hang out the most, but also Facebook and Twitter.”

Aside from social media and events, Stinson also helped organize a sourcebook — a combination fashion magazine and phonebook that features Cincinnati image makers. It will launch in December to agencies and brands nationwide. At the launch, Stinson is planning to "make the sourcebook come to life".

“The plan is to have guests walk in and get the experience of walking into a photoshoot; there will be some kind of interactive part on set to create some of the imagery for the book itself,” Stinson says.

Stinson has been working on this since the beginning of the summer and as of now, the date for the sourcebook launch is Dec. 13. The plan is to have the book come out annually.

The next Tether event is scheduled for Nov. 15 at Alias Imaging, where people from different communities will meet.

Keep tabs on all things Tether by signing up for its newsletter.
 


NKY redevelopment project will go forward despite failing zoning vote


Despite the failing vote regarding the zoning of the historic Kent Building on Grand in Bellevue, the plans to rejuvenate the building and transform it into an apartment building have not yet died.

Currently for sale for $1.2 million, the Kent has been a spotlight for potential redevelopment — and misinformation. “Contrary to misinformation on flyers that have been placed on cars in the neighborhood, there is no plan for Section-8 housing on this site,” says the City of Bellevue.

Wrapped up in zoning issues but carefully moving forward in an effort to purchase the building, Covington-based Orleans Development approached the city in August. Their plans are to convert the former manufacturing facility into a residential building, which would include 66 market-rate apartments.

Because the current zoning does not fit the number of apartments desired in the plans, Orleans Development had to submit an application to the city’s Board of Adjustments to allow for rezoning. On Oct. 3, the proposal didn't pass, but the opportunity for new zoning still lies ahead.

Why is the Kent such a big deal for Bellevue?

According to Chelsey Lonneman of Orleans Development, the building has become a big community concern. “It's a very small, close knit community. Bellevue citizens are worried about losing street parking and increasing density (more people) in the neighborhood. The difference between American Can and Kent Lofts is the size of the lot and neighborhood.”

Northside's American Can building sits on a spacious lot with its own parking lot. It's also in a more commercial area. Kent Lofts is situated on a tight lot, and the building takes up about 95 percent of it. It's in a residential neighborhood, and the point of community concern is geared toward who purchases the property.

Bellevue is phasing into a “newer, younger” time in terms of the residential space and desire for more residential options and attractions for the community, so it's important for the Kent to maintain that residential feel.

“The resurgence of urban living is affecting all of the river cities," Lonneman says. "The more Northern Kentucky is seen as a viable urban living option in comparison to Cincinnati, the better it is for the general area. Bellevue and Covington are like apples and oranges. Bellevue has a more residential feel than Covington. It is inviting, charming and we do see the next generation flocking to it.”

Shaping the development and rejuvenation of Bellevue is inevitable, according to the city's zoning commission. However, it doesn’t want to stop the potential of newer and younger heading in its direction, and Orleans Development understands that in taking on this project.

“We want to bring more urban living options to Bellevue," Lonneman says. "Bellevue's population has declined over the past decade. This development will bring young professionals and millennials to the area. We've seen it in Covington — millennials rent in the city, become involved and take pride in the community and eventually buy homes.”

For more information regarding the project and purchase of the property, click here.
 


Green Cincinnati Plan updates focus on water resilience and renewable energy


The City of Cincinnati is updating its Green Cincinnati Plan, which was first adopted in 2008 and then revised and readopted in 2013. City officials met with residents on Sept. 27 at the Cincinnati Zoo, also known as the greenest zoo in America, to present and take new recommendations to help improve Cincinnati’s sustainability.

Mayor John Cranley, who is supporting the plan from his own budget, began his presentation by saying, “I believe that climate change is real.” He continued to stress the importance of adaption, “We owe it to our kids and grandkids to do what we can to combat climate change. We have to do what we can in our corner of the world to live up to our moral responsibility to care for this earth.”

With over 250 people in attendance, the meeting was the largest climate change one yet. Three different task teams examined the main aspects of the plan: sustainability and managing and overcoming greenhouse gasses; equity and determining the costs and benefits of different areas of the plan; and resilience to climate change.

The themes will be used to evaluate sustainable improvements on energy, transportation, waste minimization, built environment, food, natural systems, education and outreach and resilience within the city.

Since its inception, the plan has been successful. Oliver Kroner, Cincinnati’s sustainability coordinator, explains that because of its success so far, the city is hopeful for the next updates.

It’s a high impact plan that focuses on many different areas: energy efficiency, renewable energy, transportation, reducing waste, land management, land use, food, water, outdoor recreation and nature awareness and climate adaptation.

The plan will work for the city as a whole, but part of the updates include a neighborhood vulnerability assessment to predict climate change impacts. As storms increase, the city desires to strengthen resilience — water management has been a major issue, and some neighborhoods are more vulnerable than others.

“The city has already had to pay $50 million in damages from storms just this year,” Kroner explains. “The updated plan focuses on resilience planning, recognizing changes and what we need to do to adapt.”

Another major update to the plan includes a new solar installation. “The goal is to build the largest city-owned solar energy array,” Kroner says.

This initiative will take advantage of city-owned properties at Lunken Airport, Greater Cincinnati Water Works and the Center Hill landfill.

According to Cranley, the proposed solar panels are enough to produce 25 mega watts of energy, which is the equivalent of 33 million kilowatt hours per year. That's enough to power 3,400 homes and could cover 20 percent of the city’s total energy.

By 2035, the city hopes to convert to 100 percent renewable energy.

Now that the event is over, the City is quantifying impacts and evaluating recommendations in preparation for the next climate change meeting, which will be held the week of Nov. 13.
 


Writers join together for bi-monthly social engagement series


This July, Union Institute & University launched its Live Reading Series to offer a free event for the public where writers, journalists and poets can converge to read and speak about their works — all of which target important societal issues. The new series is also meant to help start a dialogue that furthers knowledge and initiates forward thinking.

The university, which has campuses in five states, specializes in adult education and offers a curriculum that takes flexibility into account with online, hybrid and face-to-face course options.

Ohio’s campus is located in Walnut Hills and seeks to not only deliver high-quality education to its students, but also play a prominent role within the community.

“We chose topics for our series that touch or impact everyone’s life,” says Donna Gruber, executive director of Cincinnati’s Academic Center. “The series is designed to open dialogue in a non-threatening way.”

The series occurs bimonthly. Last month’s topic was “Women’s Issues in Society,” and featured Bhumika Patel, a regional coalition specialist for the Salvation Army's Anti-Human Trafficking Program.

“Bhumika sees human trafficking as an issue that is often misunderstood and unrecognized in our community and seeks to address misconceptions and offer resources,” Gruber says.

Lo Kwa Mei-en, a poet and author, was another featured speaker at the Sept. 29 event. She addressed trauma and survival.

“The community doesn’t have to come up with solutions, but think and reflect on what they hear,” Gruber says. “Often change comes from within.”

Upcoming Live Reading Series events are Nov. 17, Mental Health Issues in Society, and Jan. 26,  Business, Industry and Leadership in Society. The next event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at Union's Cincinnati Center.
 


King Records' legacy lives on through new collaborative education program


Despite launching the career of James Brown and spawning major hits like “The Twist,” Cincinnati-based King Records fell into relative obscurity. The studio on Brewster Avenue was once a bustling hive for both country and R&B recording artists, but was closed in 1975 and all but forgotten in the years that followed.

A new educational initiative led by King Studios LLC — a collaboration between Xavier University and the neighborhood of Evanston — seeks to change that.

The King Studio’s Traveling Suitcases are a set of five different kits filled with replica historical objects and lesson plans in key subject areas. K-12 Cincinnati teachers can check out a suitcase for a week at a time from local nonprofit Crayons to Computers, which is handling pick-up and drop-off logistics.

The cases were fabricated by the Cincinnati Museum Center and contain curricula developed by a group of classroom teachers and Xavier professor Dr. Christine Anderson in one of five subject areas: Great Migration, Civil Rights, Science, Math and Music.

According to education committee co-chair Sean Rhiney, who also serves as director of the Eigel Center for Community-Engaged Learning at Xavier, the traveling suitcase project has been eight years in the making. Part of the reason for the long period of development is that the cases were collaboratively made, drawing on community and teacher feedback to ensure they would be relevant in today’s classroom.

“We started by asking teachers how they would share the King story," says Rhiney. "We heard back ‘Well, we’re limited in class time,' so they worked with us to develop the suitcases with tested subjects.”

The King Records story is a unique one. “King was innovative in that everything happened under one roof — recording, promotion, publicity and pressing," says Rhiney. "Very few major studios were doing that at the time and King was independent."

King was also special in that it blended genres, bringing together African-American and Appalachian artists during a time when strict segregation was the norm. These parts of King Records' history are woven throughout the lesson plans in the traveling suitcases, which Rhiney says are a fun, powerful way to tell stories while reinforcing core subjects.

Rhiney is excited about how the traveling suitcases will make Cincinnati history relevant to young people. “It’s our history and I think it’s important," he says.

The first cases were made possible in part by support from the Elsa Heisel Sule Foundation and the Charles H. Dater Foundation, but the goal is that the program will grow; there are plans to create five more suitcases, if funding is available.

For more information or to reserve a traveling case, visit the King Studios Education Website.
 


P&G's biannual alumni conference touches down in Cincy Oct. 9-13


Every two years, P&G holds a global conference that not only allows for networking opportunities, but also identifies the progress and innovation patterns found in the many P&G brands. This year, the alumni conference returns to Cincinnati for the first time in a decade: home to P&G's headquarters and a thriving technology and arts scene.

The conference will occur in a series of roundtables, panels, TED-style talks, keynote speakers, break-out panels and more. Comprised of six major events, the conference includes P&G CEOs, CFOs, board members, media leaders, innovators, founders of companies breaking ground, nonprofit leaders and leaders of small businesses.

The P&G Alumni Network Global Conference will take place Oct. 9-13, and three of the events are open to the public (Generation NOW, Innovation Summit and the Small Business Symposium).

CEO Roundtable:
On Oct.10, the CEO Roundtable will kick off the conference with four keynote speakers, including AG Lafley (retired P&G CEO), Jim McNerney (former CEO of Boeing and 3M), Meg Whitman (CEO of Hewlett Packard) and Scott Cook (founder and former CEO). All P&G alums, they have made their way into leadership and highly profitable P&G brands.

Generation NOW:
The Generation Now event will also be held on Oct. 10. Inventors, startup founders, digi-experts and funders will cover topics ranging from the startup atmosphere in Cincinnati to making your passion into a career to making investments in the startup community. Speakers for Generation Now include Pete Blackshaw, global head of digital & social media, Nestle; Julie Eddleman, global client partner, Google; Jack Rouse, founder of Braxton Brewery in Covington; and many more.

Innovation Summit:
Tuesday's Innovation Summit will bring together leaders and experts to discuss the latest innovation trends, success models, and tools. Among the topics for this portion of the conference are innovation, innovation in product supply chains, leading innovation, and social innovation.

Central Conference:
The Main Conference on Oct. 11 will bring together a group of speakers from different backgrounds to share their thoughts on the future, leadership and how to stay ahead. Among the range of topics are a CEO panel, CFO panel, global panel, investments, conscious business leadership, emerging issues in information technology, the future of digital marketing, nonprofits and more. Speakers include Jonah Peretti (founder and CEO of BuzzFeed), Greg Wasson (former CEO of Walgreens) and Benno Dorer (CEO of Clorox). These talks will be reminiscent of TED talks and will be interactive.

Small Business Symposium:
The Small Business Symposium on Oct. 13 will give alumni the chance to connect, learn and showcase their work. An open-to-the-public trade show will be held later in the day to present new ideas and opportunities to Cincinnati residents and business leaders. The symposium is geared toward those that wish to leave the corporate world and focus on owning and running their own small business.

A gala dinner and reunion party will cap off the conference on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Happy hours will also be held each evening for both business and public interactions with P&G leaders and alumni.

The entire conference will be held at a variety of locations, including P&G Towers, the downtown Westin, Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine, Crossroads Oakley and Rhinegeist Brewery. For more information regarding the conference, click here or visit the Facebook event page.
 


Interconnected trails network to provide alternate means of transportation for region


What if there was a healthy, affordable, environmentally-friendly way to get to work? What if you could skip the headache of traffic every morning?

CROWN, formally known as the Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network, is a series of trails that loops and connects Cincinnati’s existing biking and walking trails. Interact for Health funds the promotion of CROWN, highlighting the collaboration of nonprofit, government agencies and transportation organizations to expand and promote the trail network.

Wade Johnston is the director of Tri-State Trails, a Green Umbrella initiative that's committed to connecting and expanding the region's trail system. Tri-State Trails is one of the many organizations working to make CROWN a reality. Johnston says that CROWN will connect neighborhoods, taking us back to the basics of transportation and recreation.

“What better way to connect neighborhoods than to connect trails?” he asks.

The CROWN network also keeps us competitive with similar efforts happening in Louisville, Columbus and Cleveland, which are also building ways to actively transport their citizens to their destinations.

The CROWN is founded on five pillars of benefits to our city:

  • Active transportation: “Forty percent of car rides in an urban environment are trips that are two miles or less,” says Frank Henson, the chair for Tri-State Trails. The idea is to get people safely between destinations without a car.
  • Economic development: “There’s already evidence that trails increase property values,” Johnston says, pointing out the examples of development happening along the Little Miami Trail.
  • Public health: “Ohio and Kentucky are near the bottom of public health rankings for cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” says Johnston. “If we can make it an easy choice to bike or walk every day, it can reduce healthcare costs collectively.”
  • Transportation equity: Providing biking or walking options to impoverished areas can provide additional connectivity to people who don’t have access to a car.
  • Environmental sustainability: “We have some of the worst air quality here in Cincinnati and fumes from cars contribute to that,” Johnston says. Walking and biking will have the added benefit of improving air quality and lowering the instances of pulmonary diseases.

The work for the CROWN network is ongoing, with 48 miles of the 104-mile network already built. The vision is to have the entire network completed in 5-10 years.

Meanwhile, citizens can enjoy the portions of the CROWN that already exist (check out the map below).



“It’s very appropriate for the Queen City to have a CROWN,” Johnston adds.
 


Northside-based station Radio Artifact is set to make a name for itself in independent music


The idea for a radio station in Northside that plays independent artists and brings prominent local people on air came about two years ago, long before WNKU went off the air.


The radio station, Radio Artifact, will be a 24/7 station based out of the Rectory, which is next door to Urban Artifact. It will broadcast all kinds of music — from independent artists on the local and national level to interviews with artists and prominent figures in the Cincinnati area. The brewery will also use this platform to market its beer.

 

Scott Hand, one of the founders of Urban Artifact, had an idea to start a small radio station that pays homage to the arts back in 2015 when the brewery opened.

 

“I think he just wanted a cool little pirate station to be able to feature all the good music that we have around town,” says Urban Artifact's booking coordinator, Jeremy Moore.


Urban Artifact is also a music venue. Moore has booked local acts like The Skulx and the Blue Wisp Big Band. Touring musicians include Emily Davis and John Nolan from Taking Back Sunday.

 

With many touring acts coming to Cincinnati, Moore wants to be able to get them on the radio “to better promote themselves,” he says.

 

Radio Artifact will not just play music, but will feature all sorts of content. “The main goal is to get as much music-like programming out there, but we also want to focus on all parts of the arts community and just the Cincinnati community in general,” Moore says.

 

The station will air in a 2.5-mile radius. For those who do not live within that radius, online streaming will be provided on its website.

 

Radio Artifact won't necessarily fill WKNU’s space, considering it will only broadcast throughout Northside, parts of Clifton, Westwood, Camp Washington, Mt. Airy and Norwood. WNKU had a much wider reach.

 

But Moore says, “We’re just really trying to do something very independently.”

 

Radio Artifact will eventually broaden its antennas to reach a wider audience, but it's heavily relying on reaching listeners through online streaming.

 

“That's kind of how people listen to stuff at work nowadays, anyway — it's usually on the computer,” Moore says.

 

The radio station has received many original music submissions, but it's been experiencing trouble with its servers. You can still submit original music, and the station plans to officially launch during the first week of October.

 


Four local nonprofits receive $101,000 each from Impact 100


Impact 100, a local organization that dedicates time, effort and resources to help the community, awarded $101,000 to four organizations during its annual awards ceremony on Sept. 12.

Started in Cincinnati in 2001 by Wendy Steele, Impact 100 was created with the idea of promoting philanthropy among women — if 100 women each donated $1,000, a grant of $100,000 could be awarded to a nonprofit community organization.

Since its inception, the group has become a worldwide name with more than 30 chapters in the U.S. and two in Australia. In Cincinnati, Impact 100 has raised more than $400,000 annually, enough to give $100,000 grants to four recipients.

This year's recipients were selected from a pool of more than 100 regional charities that applied for funding in five impact areas: culture; education; environment, preservation and recreation; family; and health and wellness.

The 2017 grant recipients include First Step Home, Lighthouse Youth and Family Services, NKY Community Action Commission and Ohio Valley Voices.
 
  • First Step Home, an addiction treatment center, will utilize its $101,000 grant for the expansion of its programming for opiate-addicted pregnant women and their newborn babies.
  • Lighthouse Youth and Family Services will be using its grant money to expand its experiential learning opportunities for children in foster care or the juvenile justice system. The organization will also start work on its Lighthouse Charter School Agricultural Learning Center.
  • The NKY Community Action Commission will put its award toward the Lincoln Grant Scholar House, as well as new computer equipment. Single mothers who wish to pursue a secondary education will not only have an affordable living option, but a chance to learn about generational poverty.
  • Ohio Valley Voices is looking to relocate, as well as add a new audiology clinic and purchase new equipment for infant diagnostic testing. Its long-term goal is to increase its services by 50 percent.
“It is a privilege to support these organizations — they are making a tangible impact on our communities,” says Donna Broderick, president of Impact 100. “While we could only choose four, as an organization we learn so much about all of the wonderful groups that are working so selflessly to make a difference.”
 

Past winners include Crayons to Computers, the Freestore Foodbank, Supports to Encourage Low Income Families and the Women's Crisis Center.

For more information on the Impact 100 grant process and how to apply for the 2018 round of funding, click here.
 


Design firm relocates to the heart of downtown Newport


Notice any changes on Monmouth Street near Ebert’s Meats? Following a historic building remodel in what used to be a pet grooming business, another firm has set its foundation in Northern Kentucky.

Eighty Twenty Design Group, owned by Fort Thomas resident Michael Smith, is now headquartered in Newport. The building was purchased last October, and renovations led up to a grand opening held earlier this month.

Eighty Twenty is a residential and commercial interior design company specializing in residential room makeovers, remodel planning and design and commercial design consulting. The firm was founded by Smith in 2013 and has grown with the area, becoming one of the most innovative and balanced design companies around. While the company isn’t necessarily new, the presence it will have in Northern Kentucky continues to highlight the area's business boom.

The design firm's core offerings include startup and commercial interior design, residential interior design, paint and accessories, furniture placement and installation, antique furniture restoration and custom-made furniture. A unique feature of Eighty Twenty is that it doesn’t rely on a single supplier, which allows for an infinite selection of styles and retailers. Smith prefers customers to be involved in the process so that they can learn simple techniques to upkeep the design over time.

Using design software, Eighty Twenty can implement the desired design techniques and know exactly how a room or home is going to look before the item is purchased and renovations even begin. High-definition, 3D and virtual reality renderings take customers on a virtual tour through their redesigned home or office space.

Eighty Twenty's portfolio is extensive, from exterior residential painting and hardwood floor restoration to house flips and custom made built-in furniture and storage. You can view some of its past interior design projects here.

The Newport location will house the firm’s office and design studio, along with a retail home store and event space, "Headquarters” will sell home décor, accessories and furniture, as well as host DIY workshops and other events. Products from the home store are available both online and in-store.

If you missed the grand opening on Sept. 2, be sure to catch a glimpse of the projects and products available when Eighty Twenty is featured on the Newport Beyond The Curb Urban Living Tour on Oct. 1. Tickets are available for the self-guided walking tour here.
 


Covington's Austinburg reigniting its 27-year-old plans to better the neighborhood

 

For the past 20 years, the Austinburg Neighborhood Association has remained dedicated to its neighborhood plan, which was created in the 1990s. The plan outlines expanding greenspace, restoring historic commercial buildings and returning character to the neighborhood.

The group is hoping to reignite those plans and is collaborating with organizations and local government to execute projects to better the neighborhood.

The plan, written in 1990 and initiated in 1998, centers on four main goals: removing the state highway designation for Greenup Street and Scott Boulevard; positively developing the almost five-acre property that was once St. Elizabeth Hospital to a mixed-use project; restoring the historic commercial buildings along the 20th Street corridor between the former St. Elizabeth property and Madison Avenue to a thriving business district; and further expanding green spaces.

The state highway designation of Greenup and Scott runs through four Covington neighborhoods, including Wallace Woods and Austinburg. Since the 1960s, Austinburg has tried to remove the designation to return the streets to a quieter, neighborhood feel.

J.T. Spence of the Austinburg Neighborhood Association is optimistic. Adjacent neighborhood Wallace Woods recently removed the designation. “Because of Wallace, I think the state will be more empathetic.”

The next project on the list is the utilization of the former hospital. The property has potential for a mixed-use project to combine housing and local businesses. “We don’t have a specific use in mind, but we’re thinking synergy with the neighborhood," Spence says.

There's an existing parking garage, which would add to the potential project and help showcase "the diversity of urban life."

Part of the unique character of Austinburg is its charming architecture. The corridor between the old hospital and Madison is comprised of historic commercial properties. The Austinburg Neighborhood Association is seeking to rezone the area for the expansion of businesses.

“We hope the rezoning will entice local businesses, serve the neighborhood and increase walkability,” Spence says. This rezoning would also create jobs for neighborhood residents.

A final project for the neighborhood is improving its green spaces. Spence describes Austinburg’s open space as both small and large, with space for active and passive recreation. There is an opportunity for a park at the end of Thomas Street, which could include a water feature. Its proximity to the schools could offer an expanded learning space for students.

Spence says that Austinburg has many desirable assets. “Its accessibility and proximity to Cincinnati, the bike trails and bus lines, affordable housing and open space make it a great place to live.”
 


Two engineers embark on entrepreneurial dream with poke restaurant


Two engineers are about to step into the foodie world with a Chipotle-style, Hawaiian poke restaurant in the heart of Over-the-Rhine.

Sally Lin, who works at P&G, and her fiancé and GE employee Baret Kilbacak, chose OTR as the location for Poke Hut because of the diversity in the neighborhood and a lack of fast-paced restaurant options for busy young professionals.

“We're trying to break the mold; we're trying to offer something that fits people's lifestyle,” Kilbacak says.

Poke is a traditional Hawaiian dish that consists of raw, cubed pieces of fish. It is usually served in a bowl with rice and veggies.

Poke Hut will serve poke with sushi rice and a variety of toppings and sauces. The menu will also feature cooked meat dishes. The restaurant will have a beach-theme mixed with a little bit of Cincinnati. There will be bubble tea, a bar (with alcoholic bubble tea), poke burritos and steamed buns for those seeking a healthy late-night snack.

The couple are first-generation immigrants — Lin’s family is from China and Kilbacak’s Armenian family is from Turkey.

“We grew up seeing our families in small businesses, which is typical of immigrants, and I think we kind of miss that,” Lin says.

The idea for a poke spot started when Kilbacak went on an impromptu trip to Hawaii with his brother and a close friend. After a long day of surfing, the group stumbled upon a poke shop in search of a quick bite.

“We went to a shop, and within just a few minutes we had a bowl in our hands and we went to the beach,” he says. “The lifeguards were off duty and there was a lifeguard shack. We went right up there, threw our feet over the edge and watched the tide roll in and ate our food.”

After a year of planning, Poke Hut anticipates a soft opening in October or early November.

Although owning and operating a small business is something the couple has wanted to do for a long time, they don't plan to quit their day jobs. Instead, a third partner will oversee the restaurant's day-to-day operations.

Poke Hut will be located across from Taft's Ale House in the Allison Building at 1509 Race St.
 


Vision 2020 works to offer CPS students real-world experience


The Vision 2020 initiative strives to improve the city's public schools by offering students real-world experience at an early age to better prepare them to be successful students and contributing members of the community.

Established in 2016, Vision 2020 started specialized programming at seven Cincinnati Public Schools with focuses based in the surrounding community — high tech, student enterprise and environmental science.

This year, nine schools have been added to the list, along with updated programming.

CPS asked stakeholders what they would like to see improved in neighborhood schools, and Vision 2020 was born.

The perception is that magnet schools are better, says Dawn Grady, public affairs officer for CPS.

Magnet schools with specialized programming were established in the 1970s to diversify and integrate Cincinnati’s public schools. Vision 2020 brings that specialized programming to neighborhood schools to help increase learning outside the classroom and strengthen the community.

The goal is that by the year 2020, neighborhood schools will offer improved programming that offers relevant programs to get students immersed in the community, while reinforcing what they’re learning in the classroom.

Near Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the Cincinnati Zoo, Avondale's Rockdale Academy specializes in global conservation. Students venture on field trips to learn about consciously taking care of themselves, their community and the environment.

Rothenburg Preparatory Academy in Over-the-Rhine learns from its proximity to the neighborhod's booming business district. Specializing in entrepreneurship, the school hosted a pop-up shop last year to sell coasters designed by students.

The West End's Hays-Porter School focuses on new technology to prepare students for the fast-moving technological world. Students work on designing and programming, along with the typical everyday classwork.

With the updates to Vision 2020, additional schools are beginning to specialize in subjects, including environmental science, high technology, expeditionary learning, contemplative arts and sciences, global environmental literacy and math and science discovery.

“Vision 2020 is about achieving equity, making sure everyone has access to programs at magnet schools,” Grady says. Hearing something in a classroom is only part of it. “If you can apply those skills, that means you can actually learn it.”

The initiative allows students to connect the dots with what they learn in the classroom to how it relates to the real world in an effort to better prepare them.

“It’s all about real-world experiences and starting it young,” Grady says.

The initial seven schools include Chase School in Northside, Woodford Paideia Academy in Kennedy Heights, Pleasant Hill Academy in College Hill, Gifted Academy West at Cheviot School, Hays-Porter, Rothenberg Prep and Westwood School.

The nine schools added to Vision 2020 this year are South Avondale School, Frederick Douglass School in Walnut Hills, College Hill Fundamental Academy, Mt. Washington School, Rockdale Academy in Avondale, John P. Parker School in Mariemont, Roll Hill Academy in East Westwood, Bond Hill Academy and Ethel M. Taylor Academy in Millvale.

 


Grocery stores adapt to the recent changes in Cincinnati's food landscape

 

Various Cincinnati neighborhoods are in transition, experiencing a shifting landscape with grocery stores either entering or exiting: Kroger closing in Walnut Hills, the proposed downtown Kroger development, the new Corryville Kroger, Clifton Market, Apple Street Market in Northside and the The Epicurean Mercantile Co. in Over-the-Rhine — among others.

In May, the owners of Findlay Market staple Fresh Table opened EMC on Race Street just across from the Market, as they saw a need for a full-service grocery store in the area.

“There was a real need [for a grocery store] in OTR, but also the Central Business District,” says Meredith Trombly, owner of EMC. “We always knew we were going to form a new business, whether that was a food truck, herb garden or what have you.”

The 5,000-square-foot store is also home to The Counter, a 1,000-square-foot restaurant that serves food for dine-in or carryout.

Trombly believes that being along the streetcar line offers a convenience to downtown residents and the surrounding neighborhood, and that including a restaurant sets them apart from others. She also sees a need for other grocery stores to offer something different in the current economic landscape.

“We wanted something unique for the neighborhood — something different but also functional. People are looking for that kind of convenience, that kind of spark.”

Similarly, Clifton Market, which opened in January, has since filled The Gaslight District’s grocery store vacancy following the closure of Keller’s IGA in 2010. The market’s model is also different than other grocery stores in Cincinnati, with its many shareholders making its opening possible.

The market’s board first met in Aug. 2013 to discuss opening the grocery store, which incorporated in Jan. 2014 and opened in Jan. 2017.

“We went to a co-op startup conference in 2014 and we told them we just got incorporated, and then we told them we wanted to open up in 2-3 years,” says Marilyn Hyland, founding board member of Clifton Market. “They told us, ‘No, you can’t do that. It takes 5-9 years to open up a food co-op.’”

Clifton Market began selling shares to the community in March 2014, and by Dec. 2015, it had raised nearly $1.65 million in owner shares and owner loans. It currently has more than 1,700 shareholders.

“A lot of why we felt it would be feasible to raise the money for the grocery store was in the Clifton tradition of rolling up your sleeves and planning and making happen the picture of the community that people have," Hyland says.

The market is beginning its third phase of fundraising, aiming to raise $100,000 this month and $500,000 within the next six months. This new round of fundraising will focus around a variety of events and share drives to provide a better startup cushion for the store.

Clifton Market is also preparing to offer online delivery at a cost of $2 to collect groceries in-store and $10 for delivery within a five-mile radius. There are future plans to extend the delivery service to anywhere within the I-275 loop. Hyland sees this as an opportunity to bring people from outside of the neighborhood into the area.

“The grocery store is a social space, as well as the heart of a community,” Hyland says. “But you don’t have to live in Clifton to love it. You can go there, shed your car and be a part of everything.”


Delhi looks to redevelop The Pike to attract young professionals


In 2015, Delhi Township’s Board of Trustees and the local business association created a 20-year plan that will help address the community's needs and drive the young demographic to the Delhi Pike area in the future.

Most of the buildings in the area have been around for years, and the Board is interested in revitalizing those buildings to attract new businesses and housing options for residents.

The route from Delhi's central business district to Mount St. Joseph University — referred to as "The Pike" — will become an area for restaurants, bars, grocery stores and housing.

The Board has been working to bring developers on to the project and zone the layout of the area. About 10 new businesses that are already in Delhi are joining the project, including a Waffle House and Verizon store. Although these chains will remain in Delhi, it is unlikely that others not already in the area like Target or Olive Garden will open due to no interstate access and the city's lower population.

“We would love to have them, but we're still trying to get a little bit of everything,” says Gregory DeLong, community development director for Delhi Township. A key part of the redevelopment will be to have businesses that appeal to existing residents, as well as businesses that will help draw in new residents. 

Residents are interested in microbreweries and more sit-down dining options; the plan for The Pike will have similarities between what you see in Over-the-Rhine and Oakley.

Even though Delhi is only 10 minutes from downtown, one major difference is that it's an auto-oriented community with little to no other types of transportation. There is a possibility for a bike path as part of a return investment study, which will run from Mount St. Joseph to the central business district on Anderson Ferry Road, just over one mile.

With planning already happening, current residents do not have to worry about leaving the area.

“What we're trying to do is keep them happy and keep them there with different housing options, but also try to attract new people and businesses into the community," DeLong says.

The cost of the project is still up in the air, but will cost in the millions. Delhi is looking to purchase land and raise funds for the project. But there are plans to apply for grants from the HCDC and other funding agencies.

Once funding lines up, construction will begin immediately, and Delhi's central business district will see the boom that DeLong and other members of the community are looking for.

 


What's all the buzz about the Great Ohio River Swim?


The Great Ohio River Swim is almost upon us. At 8:15 am on Sept. 24, participants will enter the water at the Serpentine Wall and swim about 900 meters to Northern Kentucky and back, ending the swim at the Public Landing.

Soapbox spoke with veteran swimmer Jennifer Mooney about how to prepare for this unique swim.

Mooney, who has participated in the swim more than seven times says, “Now is a good time to start preparing. If you’re a good swimmer and in decent physical shape and start training now, this is very doable.”

But what you shouldn’t do is go in without preparing.

Mooney explains that the swim is mostly for active swimmers and those who used to swim. However, the event is open for all ages and abilities — you just need to be a strong swimmer to participate.

Participants will need goggles, a comfortable suit, towel and an ID for registration. Required swim caps are provided, as well as an ankle time keeper. Mooney says that it’s best to arrive early and bring a friend that can wait at the Public Landing with a towel.

As far as eating before the swim, she suggests “whatever you feel you need,” the morning before the swim, but nothing too heavy. But afterward, you're going to need a high-protein meal.

A big question about the event is whether it’s even safe to swim in the Ohio River. Mooney says that she has never had a negative impact. Event coordinators check the water quality up to the week before the swim. They will reschedule the event if the water quality is unfit for swimmers, which has happened in the past.

The river is blocked off for the duration of the event, and a team of kayakers observes the water should swimmers need assistance.

On average, it takes swimmers about 20 minutes to complete the route, but the water remains open for about an hour.

What’s it like swimming in the Ohio River? This time of year, the water is usually warmer than the air. And while the visibility isn't great, Mooney says she hasn't encountered debris or strong currents. The route is triangulated, and the current pulls you in a relatively straight line, but it's not a strong current. The biggest obstacle is actually other swimmers.

The Ohio River Swim is gaining popularity and diversity. With an average of about 200 swimmers, organizers expect more participants this year, which always includes an influx of high school swim teams.

This year, the swim will honor Bill Keating, Jr., best known as the head of Cincinnati’s first swimming family. He was the first person to sign up for the inaugural event in 2007; he won the male swim but lost the overall title to his daughter, Caroline. Over the years, three of Keating's children and his father swam the event with him, and he was a big supporter of the event and convinced others to sign up. Earlier this year, he lost his battle with brain cancer.

The $40 registration fee ($25 for kids ages 12-18 and $35 for college students ages 17-23) goes to Outdoor Adventure Clubs of Greater Cincinnati, a nonpprofit dedicated to getting urban teenagers involved in outdoor programs.

You can register for the swim here.

“It’s a fun, tranquil experience,” says Mooney. “It’s a chance to see the city from a totally different point of view, a point of view you never get. It’s very beautiful. I like to take the time to experience it.”
 


Newly founded The Welcome Project integrates refugees into local community through art


Over the last few years, bringing new life to Camp Washington has been a challenge as businesses (and residents) face a different economic climate and lack adequate resources. However, many of the redeveloped areas of the neighborhood are focusing more on community values to build their businesses, including The Welcome Project, which is run by Wave Pool Art Gallery.

Artist Cal Cullen teamed up with Sheryl Rajbhandari, executive director and founder of Heartfelt Tidbits, to tackle a current local, national and world issue. Through this humanitarian effort, The Welcome Project has become a natural fit to provide solutions to the gaps many immigrants and refugees face within the community.

“Camp Washington's business district has been neglected for a long time and is pretty vacant,” says Cullen. “This endeavor brings a retail location and restaurant, as well as a third space for education, community gathering and cross-cultural development to the neighborhood.”

Empowering immigrants and refugees both economically and socially, helping them integrate into our community and giving a sense of positive contribution can help break down barriers that may naturally occur when dealing with other languages, backgrounds, etc.

“While the city has more than 80 providers that do a tremendous job in assisting with welcoming refugees, we recognize the need to expand this,” Cullen says. “Art enables them to share their voice without a common language, build friendships and provide economic opportunity for them. We think we can do all of this while revitalizing two pivotal storefronts in Camp Washington's business district at the same time.”

The refugees participating in The Welcome Project yield from many areas of the world, including Bhutan, Eritrea, Somalia, the Congo, Syria, Guatemala, Mexico, Sudan and Iraq.

Refugee service organization Heartfelt Tidbits focuses on the “long welcome,” and supports refugees and immigrants through the transition of moving and adjusting to a new cultural environment. It helps with housing, language, employment, education and everything else that is needed that they may not receive during the first 45 days of support from the government.

“We're doing programming 3-4 times a week, which includes art and sewing classes, as well as a gathering space for refugees and immigrants to socialize and learn soft skills while making friends, learning English and picking up talents like crochet, needlework, beading, ceramic, and more,” Cullen says. “Right now, we only have the boutique half of the endeavor open, and only part way.”

The end goal is to have a full-service boutique that sells refugee-made goods and is able to employ and train them in both product development, manufacturing, store management and sales, as well as have a kitchen/cafe that does workplace training for restaurant and cooking/kitchen skills.

As for funding, The Welcome Project recently received a grant from the Haile Foundation to start a pilot for the retail half of the project. The program will bring much needed employment and workplace training to local refugee and immigrant women while paying them a live-able wage and offering childcare during their work hours. Mid-range art objects will be available for sale from contemporary artists in an effort to continue to support the refugees.

“The pilot is just starting — we're hoping to have fabrication begin this fall and have items for sale in the winter,” Cullen says.

For more information regarding The Welcome Project, as well as upcoming events and ways to get involved as a community member, click here or visit its Facebook page.
 


Living walls blooming in two central neighborhoods


Urban Blooms is growing something beautiful in the heart of two Cincinnati neighborhoods. Last Friday, construction began on a 1,500-square-foot living wall at 4912 Reading Rd. in the Bond Hill business district. A similar project will begin in Corryville this fall.

Tyler Wolf, executive director of Urban Blooms, says the organization really wanted to connect its mission of sustainable green living to neighborhood development. The result is the Cincinnati Grows program, a $25,000 matching funds grant that gives neighborhoods the chance to apply for a living wall installation in their community.

Living walls are essentially a ‘wall of plants’ — a vertical hydroponic system with automated irrigation.

“It’s a great way to bring a natural aesthetic in any space,” Wolf says. “One of the big goals is to create more walkable communities.”

Seven neighborhoods applied for the installation but Corryville and Bond Hill were ultimately chosen. The walls in both neighborhoods will feature thousands of plants that will bring color to the neighborhood year-round.

“We wanted to make the largest impact possible,” Wolf says. Along with beautifying the space, the living walls have many other benefits for the community. They increase the biodiversity of urban areas by providing a safe haven for pollinators like butterflies and bees. The walls also create healthier environments for local residents.

“The walls are actually cleaning the air we breathe — they’re great at removing particulate matter from the air,” Wolf adds.

The living walls help keep the buildings they inhabit cooler, which reduces energy costs for the inhabitants. Brandon Gumm, a development associate with the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority says that’s great news for Bond Hill. “As we move businesses into Bond Hill, any cost saving measures we can provide are beneficial."

The living walls will also serve as educational opportunities for residents. “We want to open kids’ minds up to new possibilities and technologies,” says Wolf. “We see education going beyond any programming. We want to show that people don’t need to make sacrifices to live a more sustainable life.”

The living wall in Bond Hill will be unveiled at the inaugural Placemaker Pacer 5k Race and Fun Run on Aug. 26.
 


PassivHaus brings unique approach to Cincy sustainability


A 2016 Xavier University grad is shaking up the region’s building industry by dramatically reducing building energy expenses and consumption. And in a day and age where Cincinnati is gearing toward a future of sustainability and environmental savviness, this couldn’t have come at a better time.


Ronald Vieira, founder of PassivHaus, has been conducting research to figure out how to decrease the extra expenses people have to pay for in order to build a "passive house." While there are several passive houses currently being constructed in Cincinnati, they have yet to be certified.

What is so important about incorporating environmental consciousness into area homes? According to Vieira, PassivHaus is doing things a little bit differently.

“There’s a lot of people trying to figure this out, but what we are doing differently is approaching this issue with a cost-effective mindset without compromising ideal energy performance,” he says. “All of our efforts are in place to take away the champion title that buildings have for being the most polluting in the whole country; more than transportation and industry. To reach minimal (and zero) status, we are reducing emissions with innovative and efficient design and then generating electricity on-site as much as possible.”

So what is a passive house?

Vieira says that it's a series of building standards that, if followed properly, will reduce up to 90 percent of the heating load of your house, building or facility. Overall, it reduces up to 75 percent of a building's overall energy consumption.

The main principle behind a passive house is the use of super insulation — or continuous insulation — because the idea is to isolate the inside temperature of the house from the outside environment. Whether the outside is hot or cold, mild or humid, the goal is to preserve the indoor environment to the best of the indoor’s ability. In turn, this requires a high-powered, high-quality air filter to maintain the stabilized inside climate without the air getting stale.

Vieira says that one PassivHaus is already in the works, but many of the details are underwraps. It's the first in Cincinnati, and is a single-family building that will be at least 75 percent more efficient than a built-to-code home. “This project will depict how we believe that sustainability must come at no compromise.”

Implementing passive houses on a broad scale is more complex than it may seem. The houses require more material, as well as high-driven (and certified) talent to design the buildings. Most architects and builders don’t yet understand the new materials and ideas associated with a passive house.


Growing up in Venezuela and having experience with extreme poverty, Vieira felt he was more qualified to tackle a non-social challenge following his college career at Xavier. In researching energy efficiency, he wanted to know more about how to get people to generate energy in an environmentally-friendly way. 

The property tax abatement for 15 years on certified passive houses in Cincinnati is huge. Plus systems are bought in bulk thanks to the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance, and Cincinnati is one of the best cities for startups.

“We are designing customs homes in Cincinnati along with running research on construction techniques and materials to make green building affordable across the housing stock in the Cincinnati area,” Vieira says. “For the future, our objective is to make Cincinnati and the world cleaner places to live. We are tackling pollutants by their dimensions; in this case, buildings being the largest one. Getting a large organization like 3CDC in charge of redeveloping a lot of buildings is the goal.”

If you are looking for a new home and are curious about energy efficiency and how it helps you save money, check out PassivHaus or email the Vieira at ron@passivhauscincy.com.
 


Jen Meeks has a unique relationship with one of the Zoo's biggest stars


At 5:30 on the morning of Jan. 24, Jen Meeks, dive safety officer at the Cincinnati Zoo, received an alarming text message: “There’s a hippo in your office.”

Meeks’s first thought, “Am I being punked?”

She was not.

In fact, this little surprise was merely the beginning of an extraordinary interaction between Meeks and the Zoo's famous Fiona.

When the premature baby hippo was born on a cold winter morning, the staff needed to find the warmest place — and fast. That just so happened to be a room adjacent to the dive office, located in the same building as the hippo enclosure.

“That’s really why I had anything to do with her in the beginning,” Meeks says. “At first, I just stayed out of the way. I didn’t get involved until it was time to dive.”

Before Fiona could be reunited wither her mother, she needed to learn to handle herself underwater.

In the wild, mother hippos guide their newborns through the water until they are capable of independence. But hippos don’t technically swim. They're negatively buoyant so they can settle on the bottom and feed on grass. When it’s time to come up for air, their bodies have just the right amount of buoyancy to help them jump to the surface.

Fiona's swim lessons started in baby pools and gradually moved up to the 5-foot indoor hippo pool.

For these deeper swims, the Zoo needed a safety diver in the water should Fiona need assistance.

Although Fiona knew Meeks before that first dive, she turned and took off the other way, into the arms of her favorite keeper when she saw Meeks in her underwater dive gear.

This left Meeks with a problem to solve. Before working at the Zoo, she dove for the Newport Aquarium, where her interactions with fish, sharks and rays meant wearing gloves and a mask that hide your eyes. She was used to simply ignoring the animals to prove she wasn't a threat.

But Meeks knew Fiona was different. “A lightbulb went on. She’s a toddler. She’s a baby mammal. I came back with a clear mask, took off my gloves and talked through my regulator. This was completely new. Here I am under water going, ‘Come on girl.’”

And it worked.

“It wasn’t long before she started ignoring the gear and we started playing chase games.”

For one hour five days a week, Meeks and Fiona played tag under water. Then it was time for the big pool, which is outside and with a depth of 10 feet.

They took it slow. The plan was to let Fiona swim into the deep end and give her two attempts to jump to the surface before helping her out.

The first few attempts at a big jump didn’t go smoothly and Fiona panicked. The divers reminded her of their support. And before they knew it, they were playing chase.

While she ended up standing on a diver’s head at one point, she quickly got the hang of it.

“I’m fairly certain I’m the first person to knowingly dive with a hippo,” Meeks says.

In Africa, hippos kill more people every year than any other animal. But not at the Zoo. “I knew it was going to be a one-time thing. Everyone did such an amazing job. That was just my little job. I learned something too.”
 


New Herzog Music in the CBD much more than record store

 

As soon as you walk into Herzog Music, it’s obvious that this place is more than a record store.

Andrew Aragon describes himself as the “day-to-day guy” at Herzog Music, which officially opened July 22. Aragon says Herzog was the brainchild of Elias Leisring, the owner of Eli’s BBQ.

“Even though he’s known for the barbecue, music is a huge part of his life — it’s a huge part of everyone’s life,” Aragon says.

Herzog Music resides in the former Herzog Studio, the last standing space where Hank Williams Sr. ever recorded. Leisring is a member of the Cincinnati Music Heritage Foundation, an organization that managed the studio space before Herzog opened.

“We’re here so we can bring awareness to that space, the history and its importance to the city,” says Aragon. “The ultimate end goal is to make sure that space is not only preserved, but transformed back into a working studio so we can keep the music heritage of Cincinnati flowing.”

The store prefers an “adopt, don’t shop” policy, stocking vintage records and antique musical instruments that range from rare guitars to well-loved saxophones and an Omnicord. Aragon says Herzog will acquire new things, but they are fortunate to have a diverse inventory. Their records span genres that represent a little of everything: Christmas albums, comedy, indie, R&B, classic rock and more.

“Overall, we want to facilitate not only people that play music; we want to be able to help out people that just love listening to it. We want to grow that community in the central part of downtown,” Aragon says.

In addition to its eclectic merchandise, Herzog endeavors to be more than a store.

It's also home to the Queen City Music Academy, where student musicians of all ages can take lessons. In the future, the space will host other educational opportunities for the community.

“We’re going to have everything from a kids’ folk puppet show to a clinic on how to spot vintage guitars and how to use microphones properly,” Aragon says.

Herzog hopes to draw residents and tourists to experience Cincinnati culture in a different part of downtown.

“It’s just like any culture, you experience the most of it through the food and the music,” Aragon explains. “We’re trying to put the best foot forward of our culture here through the things that we know the best.”
 

 


Family movie nights return to Avondale area with PL grant project


FamilyFlickn, a newly funded People’s Liberty project, is bringing back movie nights to the neighborhoods of Avondale, Bond Hill and Roselawn. The first event of a four-part free movie series will happen on Aug. 12.

PL project grantee and Bond Hill native Amber Kelly noticed the lack of opportunity for families in these neighborhoods to go to the movies. After almost 20 years in business, Showcase Cinemas in Bond Hill closed in 2009, and since then, the area hasn't had a movie theater.

Kelly describes the joy of taking her children to the movies, but says that the biggest hurdle is that it's expensive. She wanted to create the opportunity for families in her former neighborhood to experience that same family event without the steep costs.

Although Kelly now lives in Kennedy Heights with her family, she's involved in and invested in community building and saw this idea as an opportunity to bring together families and strengthen communities.

The movies will be shown at Mercy Health (1701 Mercy Health Place), at the same location as the former cinema. The first of four free movie nights will be shown on four party buses rented for the occasion, each showing a different movie. Fitting 25 people per bus, about 100 people will be able to enjoy a movie at a time. Movies include Boss Baby, Red Dog, Smurfs and Sing.

The event is first come, first serve, but Kelly didn't want to hinder those latecomers from attending; an overflow room at the Mercy Health complex will allow for those who didn't make it on the bus to catch a film.

"Because this was directly for the people, it was easier to obtain a grant,” Kelly says. FamilyFlickn fits within PL's vision to address challenges and enact change in communities.

Showtimes for the first FamilyFlickn are from 12 to 2 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. The next scheduled event is Oct. 22, which will feature two party buses and two showtimes (12 to 2 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.). The third one is Feb. 3 and will be held indoors (3 to 5 p.m.); a date for the fourth event hasn't been announced yet, but will be an outdoor screening.

More information and updates can be found at FamilyFlickn's website. All moviegoers will receive popcorn, candy and a drink.
 


Pho Lang Thang owners team up with Eli's BBQ for East End roadhouse


The Lang Thang Group, which owns Pho Lang Thang and Quan Hapa in Over-the-Rhine, have teamed up with Elias Leisring of Eli’s BBQ to create a new roadhouse for East Enders called The Hi-Mark.

Located alongside Riverside Drive, the restaurant will reportedly be a laid-back affair, serving all kinds of beer — including local craft varieties — and highball cocktails, as well as bar food, with some food inspiration from Eli’s, Quan Hapa and Pho Lang Thang.

The current plan for The Hi-Mark menu is to develop items over the coming months, but some things we're working on are housemade dips to complement Hen of the Woods' chips, wings, fries and sandwiches,” says Mike Dew, a partner in the Lang Thang Group.


The Hi-Mark has about a 150-person capacity, and space includes a bar area, a second-floor mezzanine, an outdoor deck and a game room in the basement, which could open this fall.

Located at 3229 Riverside, it's right down the street from Eli’s, and was named The Hi-Mark due to its location and history.

After the 1997 flood, the whole East End was considered a disaster area. Therefore, the group had to raise the building out of the danger zone and remodel the entire space.

For us, this meant getting creative with the construction of the building and essentially gutting the entire inside, raising the floor out of the floodplain and designing an entirely new floor plan,” says Dew. “Our neighborhood's history with the flooding, coupled with the new building design, made the name a natural fit.”

Even through the group is focusing on its newest restaurant, Pho Lang Thang and Quan Hapa will remain open.

The slow roll out opening for The Hi-Mark started on July 27, with the hours of 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

The grand opening is scheduled for Aug. 14, and the hours will then shift to 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays and 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends.
 


OTR A.D.O.P.T. organizes clean-up of vacant West End church for new concept


Local redevelopment organization OTR A.D.O.P.T. has begun rehabbing the church at 1815 Freeman Ave. It's been vacant for over 30 years, and the hope is that it will become the first climbing gym in the city of Cincinnati.

On Saturday, volunteers gathered at the church to clear out the trash and begin basic refurbishment work.

Constructed in the 1880s, the intricate structure has sat vacant since the 1970s, and was filled with trash with graffiti covering the walls.

OTR A.D.O.P.T has been involved with the church building for about five years, but the project is just getting to the beginning stages. Brenden Regan, project manager for OTR A.D.O.P.T. says, "If it’s going to be anything, it’s got to be watertight. The main goal is to get the building stable, dry and secure by winter."

The development is in the very early stages, and the climbing gym concept is still young. The gym is the first viable offer OTR A.D.O.P.T. has received. Other options included a music venue and doctor’s office, but the stakeholders were unable to pursue the project.

A big room with 30-foot ceilings is a difficult space to work with. But a climbing gym could be just the right match for the historic building.

OTR A.D.O.P.T is a nonprofit organization that looks to historic buildings that have long been empty and ignored. To save these dilapidated structures, it takes notice of and fixes them up in the hopes that they will be more attractive to a buyer. According to its website, OTR A.D.O.P.T. matches "deteriorating historic buildings in Cincinnati’s core neighborhoods with new owners."

Right now, the organization is working with around 10 properties. And contrary to its name, OTR A.D.O.P.T. is branching outside of Over-the-Rhine, and has worked in a number of developing neighborhoods, including Covington, Mt. Auburn, Camp Washington and Walnut Hills.

As for the West End? "It has a lot of great buildings that deserve to be fixed up," Regan says.
 


Second location will allow Taft's Brewing Co. to ramp up production, introduce New Haven-style pizza


As part of a multimillion dollar expansion, Taft's Brewing Co. is opening a second location to function as a taproom, beer garden, brewhouse and distribution facility to keep up with demand.

The 50,000-square-foot space on Spring Grove Avenue, formerly occupied by a P&G testing lab, was purchased for $1.7 million in July 2016. Because it was previously occupied by a large company, the facility was almost move-in ready — this was necessary because the brewing setup at Taft's Ale House couldn’t handle the production increase.

The “Brewporium” will focus more on special releases and New Haven-style pizza, which is a crispier version of Neopolitan-style pizza that gets a little charred over coals before serving. Taft's plans on importing flour from Italy, making the dough the main focus.

According to managing partners of the brewery, a number of seasonal pizzas will be available daily with beer-infused crust. The menu will include six specialty pizzas, sandwiches and more. They also plan to offer special beers not available at Taft’s Ale House.

The plan for the kitchen and taproom is quick but with top-notch customer service, with orders placed at a counter and a picnic-like area for dining. Hanging string lights and glass garage doors will highlight the facility and allow for open air when the weather is nice.

The space will also feature a gaming area with custom-made tabletop shuffleboards and darts. Customers will be able to enjoy live music on occasion as well. Plans for an outdoor patio have begun, with hopes to open that portion of the space by spring 2018.

Current capacity is 15,000 barrels, but the brewery could expand to accommodate as many as 100,000 barrels. With the expansion to this location, Taft’s Ale House will be primarily used for experimental and test brews, with the new production facility handling the bulk of the traditional beer production.

While the brewery has been up and running since April, the 5,000-square-foot taproom and kitchen will open to the public later this summer. The taproom/kitchen will be open Wednesday-Sunday with a focus on dinner service, but lunch will be offered on certain days. Hours are still being determined at this time.

For more information on the new brewhouse and when regular hours will go into effect, visit Taft’s Facebook page.
 


Fifth Third focuses new Neighborhood Growth Fund on six Cincy neighborhoods


As part of Fifth Third Bank's community investment commitment, Fifth Third recently signed a five-year, $30 billion investment plan to help improve neighborhoods in 10 different states, including Ohio.

Eleven billion dollars will go toward mortgage lending, $10 billion toward small business lending and $9 billion toward community development lending.

More specifically, Fifth Third will be helping transform underdeveloped neighborhoods in the Cincinnati area.

In May, Fifth Third donated $100,000 in seed money to the Community Development Corporations Association of Greater Cincinnati to help build underdeveloped neighborhoods in the region.

Cincinnati is our hometown and we felt it was important to help spur revitalization and community development,” says Mark Walton, director of community and economic development for Fifth Third.

The CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati manages the Growth Development Fund and is an umbrella company that supports local organizations, such as the Community Development Corporations, Community Urban Redevelopment Corporations and Community Housing Development Organizations, throughout the city.

The money will be used to create the Neighborhood Growth Fund, which will help develop cleaner, safer and stronger neighborhoods.

Helping to build strong communities is part of Fifth Third’s DNA,” Walton says. “We are always looking for the most effective ways to support community growth.”

As part of that community growth, the CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati will target development in burgeoning neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods have not yet been announced, but they're working on the process for the development efforts.

“The grant is a good faith grant that demonstrates confidence in the CDC Association of Cincinnati’s ability to allocate resources to the communities that can most easily be helped,” Walton says.

Exact plans for these neighborhoods are still in the works, but development projects will be inline with work that the CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati has done in College Hill and Walnut Hills.


The organization helped spur develop at the intersection of Hamilton Avenue and North Bend Road, as well as get the ball rolling on the restoration of historical Walnut Hills buildings that are now apartments and restaurants.

Although this isn't an annual grant, Fifth Third will continue to support the community and the CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati.
 


Drink Local event to support businesses and engage the community


On July 29, Give Back Cincinnati will showcase an assortment of 25 locally made beverages at the Mockbee during its Drink Local event, which will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. The free event aims to introduce and promote local businesses, much like What's Feeding Cincinnati, which was held in 2015.

“We want to show the benefits of drinking local, and we’re trying to get people aware of how they can support local businesses,” says Brian McLaughlin of Give Back Cincinnati.

While Cincinnati's brewery scene is already a strong point of interest, drinking local doesn't just mean beer. It will bring together drinkeries from all over the city that specialize in a wide genre of beverages, including wine, coffee, tea, juice, kombucha, bubble tea and beer. More than 10 of these options will be non-alcoholic.

Attendees will be able to try wine from Skeleton Root, Skinny Piggy kombucha, Boba Cha bubble tea, Essencha teas, Smooth Nitro coffee and Rooted Juicery.

In terms of beer, the event will focus on smaller, lesser known breweries and some of their summer features. Woodburn Brewery will bring its Hans Solo, a coffee-infused blonde ale. Urban Artifact will have its Key Lime gose, and East Side breweries Streetside and Nine Giant will also be in attendance.

Give Back Cincinnati hopes to relay the benefits of drinking local and inform residents on how to do it. By drinking — and buying — local, residents and vistors alike are putting money back into the community and helping startups get a foot in the door.

Give Back Cincinnati is a volunteer nonprofit that strives to increase civic engagement between volunteers, local businesses and Cincinnatians. Its Civic Engagement Committee plans events that draw attention to timely issues in order to provide residents with a place to discuss and engage.

McLaughlin hopes that the Drink Local event will provide opportunities to forge new connections and fortify existing ones. A number of speakers will be on hand discussing their small business journeys and the importance of supporting local businesses.

You can register for the event and view a full list of participating local businesses here.
 


Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra to introduce new director during Summermusik festival


The Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s summer concert series, Summermusik, will help the group introduce and celebrate its new director, Eckart Preu. A variety of shows will be held in different locations around Cincinnati from Aug. 5-26.

LeAnne Anklan, general manager of the CCO says, "The CCO strives to make itself more assessable and relevant to different demographics."

While the CCO has maintained a loyal following over the years, it's gaining popularity. It's proud of the younger audiences that are now filling up the seats. Summermusik will include shows for both newcomers and seasoned audiences with opportunities to see shows in the evening and afternoon, as well as in and out of downtown.

Anklan describes the common misconception of chamber music to be very stuffy and boring. On the contrary, the CCO is hip and strives to produce creative and innovative music, offering a well-rounded experience for all. The musicians usually sit in a small venue or close to the edge of the stage to create an intimate experience for the audience.

Summermusik is unique in that it features three different types of concerts that are tailored to everyone's musical tastes.

For newcomers, Anklan says, the "Chamber Crawl" series is a good place to start. These events will be held at local bars like MadTree Brewing and The Cabaret at Below Zero. The short performances are about an hour long, and ticket prices include a drink and snack. After the performance, attendees get the chance to mingle with the musicians, including Preu.

This year's longer, more orchestral programs will be held at the SCPA and will include a prelude talk by Preu. These events coincide with themes and feature guest artists and speakers.

Lastly, the series "A Little Afternoon Music" is a softer option that will take place on Sunday afternoons away from downtown in neighborhoods like Mariemont and Covington.

The CCO's new director is also helping make the orchestra more accessible. “Eckart stood out in a number of ways, particularly for his creative approach to programming," says Anklan. "He is nice and down-to-earth, and the musicians play so well with him."

Check out the CCO's events page and purchase tickets ($25 for each show), as shows are quickly selling out.
 


Westwood and East Westwood make strides toward safer, healthier communities with NEP


The communities of East Westwood and Westwood have teamed up to make their neighborhoods safer, healthier and more fun. Through support from the city’s Neighborhood Enhancement Program, East Westwood and Westwood have introduced five projects.

The projects include:
- A KABOOM playground on the campus of Cincinnati Urban Promise on Harrison Avenue
- A KABOOM playground in Hawkins Field in East Westwood
- A community garden on McHenry Avenue
- An urban farm in Bracken Woods
- Jubilee Market, located at the corner of McHenry and Harrison avenues, which will sell fresh produce from the urban farm and will operate as a thrift store on the weekends

Shawnteé Stallworth Schramm, president of the Westwood Civic Association and owner of the recently opened Muse Café, says that the process began when members of both neighborhoods were concerned about the violence.

“We [WCA] had done a lot of work with Westwood Uniting to Stop the Violence in Nov. 2015 in order to stop gun violence occurring all over the community,” she says.

The work to end violence by the WCA, local faith groups, city departments, civic organizations and other community partners caught the eye of Ethel Cogan, the NEP coordinator for the City of Cincinnati’s Department of Economic and Community Development. Cogan approached the WCA and partnering organizations about participating in the NEP to help sustain the reduction in crime in that area.

One of the projects, Jubilee Market, resides in the former U.S. Market. Stallworth Schramm says U.S. Market used to be a “hotspot” for criminal activity. “U.S. Market had a lot of loitering and the ownership was sort of nefarious. They claimed they didn’t know what was going on."

Law enforcement eventually shut down U.S. Market and the space was made available for the Jubilee Market project. Stallworth Schramm says that the addition of the new market cultivates a safer and healthier environment for citizens.

“Westwood is a food desert for produce; it’s great to have another access to fresh vegetables,” Stallworth Schramm says.

Since the NEP projects began, Stallworth Schramm says that Westwood’s crime score has been cut in half, and East Westwood’s crime score has been reduced by 70 percent.

“It’s a quality of life issue. The projects have greatly changed those areas. The people living near there have more reasons to go out and there’s a positive reason to go out.”
 


Former marketing researcher takes an innovative approach to craft coffee trend


A former Neilson marketing researcher turned his love of coffee into a nitro brewing business. He’s now using his marketing and innovative skillset to operate his very first store in the heart of downtown.

Dan Thaler started handing out samples of his nitrogen infused coffee, Smooth Nitro Coffee, at festivals and markets in 2016.

He’s been selling his coffee at local breweries and restaurants throughout Cincinnati, including at DIRT: a Modern MarketFigLeaf Brewing, The Growler Stop in Newtown and Streetside Brewery.

It wasn’t until March that he opened up a store at 525 Vine St. between Macy’s and Huntington Bank in the Central Business District.

“It seemed like the perfect location; it’s the right size,” says Thaler. “I didn’t want anything bigger or extravagant, just a little bar that I could bring in kegs of coffee and sell from.”

The Xavier graduate came up with the idea of brewing nitrogen coffee because he wasn’t a fan of the morning coffee that his co-workers would brew at Nielsen. “So I was quickly inspired and decided on a whim, ‘I’m going to roast my own coffee, and I bet I can do a better job than this terrible office coffee.’”

Thaler bought unroasted coffee beans and a popcorn popper and started roasting his own coffee. The idea to bring nitrogen into the mix came from Thaler’s background in marketing trends — he realized that nitro coffee is very popular on the coasts and wanted to bring it to Cincinnati.

“Being a Cincinnati native, I am very aware that anything that’s popular on the coast, it takes like 5-10 years to actually make it to Cincinnati,” he says.

The nitrogen is what makes the coffee creamy and smooth, much like a beer that's served on nitro. The actual coffee beans are mostly from Mexico and are organic and fair-trade, and Smooth Nitro Coffee gets its coffee beans from nearby Urbana Café (located next to Nation Kitchen & Bar in Pendleton).

The process of brewing the coffee and adding the nitrogen takes at least 24 hours before it can be sold in stores.

Even with his own storefront, Thaler is continuing to sell coffee through his various retail partners to expand his business and continue to support those other local businesses.

“I would love to continue to grow with other coffees and help them have a nitrogen product,” Thaler says. “At the end of the day, there are a few big corporate competitors that can afford to lose a couple cups of coffee and not hurt them in any significant way.”

Smooth Nitro Coffee is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday. As an added perk, there is free 10-minute parking in front of the building.
 


Four CFTA members specialize in dishes that are done 'just right'


Our third and final phase of new food trucks focuses on trucks that are devoted to their craft. Whether it's Chicago-style favorites, wings, patriotism and good food or pizza, these trucks know how to do it right.

These trucks are also members of the Cincinnati Food Truck Association, which has grown from just 11 members in 2013 to a whopping 53 members today. It's an allied group that strives to represent the best interest of food trucks and owners. Not every food truck in town belongs to the group, and they don't have to — it's just the best way for best practices and concerns to be heard, and the group even hosts a yearly food truck festival.

Check out part I here and part II here.

Adena's Beefstroll
Known for: Chicago-style food like the Italian beef sandwich, Chicago dogs and Adena's fourth generation recipe for Ma's Meatball Sub & Ma's Sauce; most popular item is the Italian Beef Sandwich and Strolls, which won first place at the Taste of Cincinnati
Owners: Adena and John Reedy
Launched: Feb. 2016

How did you come up with the name?
My first name is Adena, and it's not a very common name," says Adena Reedy. "I told myself if I was ever to own my own business, my name would be included. The word ‘beefstroll’ is a play on words, when spoken out loud it sounds kind of like ‘bistro.’ I wrote a list of words I wanted to be known for: Italian beef, street food and the rolls that the beef is served on.”

What are you known for?
“We get a lot of customers that are originally from Chicago, or love the taste of Chicago. At first, these customers give us a hard time: ‘Are you really from Chicago? Is this a real Chicago beef?’ We ask them to try it for themselves and let us know. We are yet to disappoint."

What sets you apart?

“We are the only food truck in the area that sells Chicago-style Italian Beef and the true Chicago-style hot dog, using Vienna beef hot dogs. It's our passion to share the food we grew up on with our new hometown.”

What makes your food truck special?
“Our food and fast, friendly service, but also our design of the truck. My design won the silver award in the state of Ohio for best overall design out of 300 trucks in the state.”

Follow Beefstroll on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram (@beefstroll)

Bones Brothers Wings
Known for: grilled wings, Chicken Bomb Nachos and the Bones Burrito
Owners: Jim and Lauren Dowrey and Bryan Reeves
Launched: Nov. 2015

How did you come up with the name?
“We brainstormed and researched names, and narrowed it down to a few and chose Bones Brothers Wings because it reflects how our special method gets flavor throughout the meat down to the bone,” says Jim Dowrey.

What sets you apart?
“The signature flavor you can only get from us. We have a little something for everyone.”

Bones is known for its unique, original hancrafted signature wing sauces that are featured just about everywhere on the menu.

What makes your truck special?
“Our menu contains offerings that not many trucks have. Overall, we're a unique truck in a few different ways and that makes us special, but that's what food trucks tend to do nowadays — specialize.”

Follow Bones Brothers on Facebook, Twitter (@Bones_BroWings) and Instagram (@bonesbrotherswings)

Patriot Grill
Known for: Philly cheesesteak and the Patriot Burger
Owners: Chris and Angie Damen
Launched: March 2016

How did you come up with the name?
“I am a Marine Corps veteran, so my wife and I thought it would be fitting if we kept an American patriotic theme,” says Chris Damen. Patriot Grill is known for supporting the troops — active military members eat for free.

Patriot Grill is family owned and operated — Damen's wife and their four kids help out whenever they can. He says he couldn't do this without them, and appreciates all of their time and effort.

Follow Patriot Grill on Facebook and Twitter (@PConcessions)

Pizza Tower
Known for: fresh, fast slices of pizza
Owner: Robert Speckert
Launched: 2014

The Pizza Tower food truck is an extension of the local business, which has locations in Loveland and Middletown.

What makes your food truck special?
“Our service on our trucks is extremely fast,” says Speckert. “This benefit has allowed us to serve very large private parties, such as weddings and very large corporate lunches, without hiccups.”

Follow Pizza Tower on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram (@PizzaTower)
 


BBQ food truck expands its repertoire with physical location in Mt. Washington


Mt. Washington has a new spot to satisfy cravings for all things delicious, as Sweets & Meats BBQ made its mark with a ribbon cutting for a new brick and mortar location on July 12. The physical locaiton is in addition to its food truck, which has been operating since 2014.

Sweets & Meats is female-owned and specializes in smoked meats, homemade sides and desserts.

“My significant other has always had a passion for good food and BBQ in particular,” says Kristen Bailey, co-owner. “I, on the other hand, am a social butterfly and love to entertain. We started out hosting cookouts in our backyard, and what started out as a hobby developed into a business.”

The cookouts were followed by a setup on the weekends in the neighborhood Creamy Whip parking lot, then a food truck and a rented commercial shared kitchen. The new space will help Sweets & Meats expand to catering and carry out.

“We bootstrapped and kept reinvesting,” Bailey says. “Our partners have been tremendous resources for us, but all of this has required blood, sweat and tears — literally.”

Without traditional financing to get the ball rolling, Bailey says things have been in that “bootstrap mode” since the very beginning.

The store’s opening was even delayed as a result, but on the day of Sweets & Meats’ ribbon cutting, they served more than 200 customers in just two hours.

“It was an incredible day filled with love, anticipation and excitement,” Bailey says.

Pop-up restaurant dates will be posted to Sweets & Meats’ Facebook page, and the official grand opening is set for Aug. 6. Until then, the business will finish out the season catering and servicing guests via its food truck.

For Bailey, a sense of accomplishment has set in, and she says a huge weight has been lifted.

“We felt like vampires after working in the building with brown paper on the windows for nearly seven months as we figured everything out and built up the space,” she says. “Now the sun is shining, and our future is bright.”

Follow Sweets & Meats' Facebook page to keep up-to-date on the restaurant opening.
 


New establishments are filling in holes in the Pleasant Ridge business district


While seasoned staples like Gas Light Café, Everybody’s Records, Pleasant Ridge Chili, the Loving Hut and Queen City Comics have kept the Pleasant Ridge business district afloat, the strip of Montgomery at Ridge Road with its vacant buildings has remained somewhat sleepy.

In the past few years though, new establishments including Nine Giant Brewing, Share: Cheesebar, Casa Figueroa, Molly Malone's, The Overlook Lodge and Red Balloon Café + Play have joined the community. Over-the-Rhine restaurant Revolution Rotisserie recently announced it will be opening in PR.

Emily Frank of Share: Cheesebar, which is set to open in August, has lived in Pleasant Ridge for the past four years. After moving back to Cincinnati to be with her family, she started a food truck (C'est Cheese), and her love for all things cheese lead her to open the Cheesebar in her neighborhood.

These plans were put on hold after a horrific accident that led to a trying recovery. Yet, she was encouraged by her Pleasant Ridge neighbors. She says the “community was insanely supportive” throughout her long recovery. 

Frank is a self-proclaimed “Ridger” through and through and couldn’t be happier about the developments.

Brandon Hughes, co-owner of Nine Giant, landed in Pleasant Ridge in what he calls a “Goldilocks” situation. The space and the neighborhood were just what he and his brother-in-law were looking for. Huges felt that at the time, the business district was underserved.

"We wanted to be part of a community and liked the idea of a revitalization,” he says. Nine Giant recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.

While newer businesses are filling in the gaps, the senior establishments have been standing strong for decades.

Matt Parmenper who’s been with Queen City Comic almost since it opened in 1987, is encouraging yet skeptical of all of the booming new businesses. “It’s great. It does seem trendy. Hopefully they do well.”

Longtime resident Dave Smith grew up in Pleasant Ridge, and he still lives there with his wife Debbie. “I’m excited about the city in general. It’s fun to see it coming back to life; fun to see people and businesses moving back here.”

Smith has watched the business district thin out. Although it’s never been totally empty, he describes the Pleasant Ridge he grew up in as a vibrant business district that declined with the opening of Kenwood Mall.

"Gaslight Café is a favorite watering spot of the locals, and Everybody’s Records has been there a long time too." 

There are still open spaces and local businesses are showing more interest. While parking is tough, there are plans for more strategic public parking in the making.

The neighborhood is hosting its Pleasant Ridge Day/Night from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday. Check out the event's Facebook page for more info.


Entrepreneurs dream up tasty food trucks featuring best-of dishes


Cincinnati's foodie scene continues to expand, with long-time Vine Street staple Senate opening a second location in Blue Ash, and Thunderdome Restaurant Group branching out and opening local favorites in Indianapolis and Columbus. 

But not every food entrepreneur opens a restaurant — some go the food truck route. Our food truck culinary adventure started in 2014 at the beginning of the food truck frenzy, with a roundup of 30 trucks, carts and trailers. In just three years, that number has doubled, and we know we're only brushing the surface of the new businesses that have burst on the scene.

These mobile chefs are preapring top-notch best dishes out of some of the city's smallest kitchens. Here's our second installment of newer food trucks, featuring Venezuelan street food, unique comfort food and world-class BBQ. (Click here to read the first mini-roundup of food trucks.)

Empanadas Aqui
Known for: Bad Girl Empanada, The Hairy Arepa and tostones (fried plantains), all of which have received awards
Owners: Pat Fettig and Brett and Dadni Johnson
Launched: June 2014

How did you come up with the name?
“It means ‘empanadas here,’” says Fettig. “We sell empanadas, arepas and tostones — Venezuelan street food.”

What sets you apart? What makes your food truck special?
“The uniqueness of our food sets us apart from other food trucks. We also have fun, friendly, respectful owners and staff.”

Follow Empanadas Aqui on Facebook and @EmpanadasAqui on Twitter

Street Chef Brigade
Known for: Street Chef Burger and Fried Crushed Potatoes; more creative dishes like Porketta' bout it and the Insane Pastrami are close seconds
Owner: Shane Coffey
Launched: June 2015

What's next for Street Chef Brigade?
“The plan is to get the Street Chef Brigade brand out there and associate it with quality, creativity and edgy comfort food. I'm currently building my second truck, which will assume a new name as a part of The Street Chef Brigade along with my current truck.”

What sets you apart?
“A highly trained executive chef that headed very popular restaurants in New York City, Aspen and the Turks and Caicos."

Street Chef Brigade specializes in edgy comfort food that is showcased in its creative, diverse and veggie-friendly menu.

Follow Street Chef Brigade on Facebook, Twitter (@StreetChef513) and Instagram (@StreetChefBrigade) Facebook: Street Chef Brigade

Sweets & Meats BBQ
Known for: Sliced brisket and mac 'n' cheese
Owners: Kristen Bailey and Anton Gaffney
Launched: March 2016

How did you come up with the name?
“We were having drinks in our backyard at a cookout among friends in the summer of 2014 and were talking about our dream of opening a BBQ restaurant,” says Bailey. “We were talking about what it would look like and I remember saying how it would be perfect if our restaurant had really good desserts too. Everyone gets a sweet tooth and no other BBQ restaurant was really making it a focus. Hence, Sweets & Meats was born.”

What sets you apart? What makes your food truck special?
“We try to deliver the full BBQ culinary experience. Not only do we have the best in smoked meats, but we also focus on made-from-scratch sides and desserts. Quality is always important and customer service is second to none.”

Sweets & Meats menu features ribs and brisket, plus rotating dishes like smoked meatloaf, the BBQ 4-Way, the Triple Bypass Sandwich, smoked pork belly, rib tips and bacon wrapped pork loin. Homemade sides include mac 'n' cheese and sweet potato casserole, and you can't forget the desserts.

Follow Sweets & Meats on Facebook, Twitter (@SweetsandMeats) and Instagram (@SweetsandMeatsBBQ)

Stay tuned for our third and final portion of new-to-you food trucks next week!
 


Price Hill coffee staple relocating but staying in loyal neighborhood


The locally beloved BLOC Coffee Company in Price Hill is moving, but it won’t be going far. When the coffee house first announced the move in early 2017, residents worried about the potential loss of their award-winning coffee shop.

As proud Price Hill business owners for over a decade, BLOC has no plans to leave the community. It will move just a few blocks away from its long-time location at 1801 Price Ave., to 801 Mt. Hope, at the corner of W. Eighth St.

Since Roger Rose took over as general manager and executive chef of BLOC in Feb. 2016, sales have doubled.

He brought in new style, décor and a menu featuring famous breakfast sandwiches, overnight oats, house-made sauces and seasonal dishes.

Owners hope the new location will better fit the needs of both BLOC employees and patrons.

With a full kitchen, the new BLOC Coffee House will feature all-day breakfast, diverse styles of eggs, Sunday brunch and more. BLOC has also secured a liquor license to accommodate wines and bourbons, barrel-aged cocktails and local beers. The new location will also feature expanded hours.

But this won’t be a party scene. Rose aims to maintain the current comforting community feel of the coffee house with low lighting and small personal places.

The 2,000-square-foot historic red brick building boasts hardwood floors, tall ceilings and large windows for plenty of natural light.

Rose says relocating has been a journey. There have been lots of hoops to jump through — and some still to go — but BLOC hopes to open this fall in its new home.

The top floors of the building will hold residential lofts. Future project phases will include a small deck or patio.

The longer forecast includes a rooftop deck view that will add to Price Hill’s famous views overlooking downtown, Clifton, West End, Ohio River and Northern Kentucky.

The current location will remain open until the move is complete.
 


Food truck scene expands to include variety of frozen treat mobiles


It's been a few years since we feature 30 of Cincinnati's must-try food trucks, but that doesn't mean the mobile food trend is going out of style. Some of the city's most sought-after trucks often frequent the City Flea, local breweries and the Troy Strauss Market on Fountain Square. Plus, you can find a plethora of food trucks at festivals like Bunbury, the CFTA Food Festival, the Summit Park Food Truck Festival and Taste of Cincinnati.

We know all about cult favorites like C'est Cheese, Catch-a-Fire Pizza, Marty's Waffles and Red Sesame, but what about the trucks that are newer to the street scene?

The miniLDW
Known for: creamy soft serve ice cream
Owners: Rick and Teresa Morgan
Launched: April 2016
Most popular item: Chocolate lovers like the Chocolate Mountain; caramel lovers like the Turtle Parfait; and the Hot Fudge Brownie is also a winner

How did you come up with the name?
“It's a play on words, as our concession trailer is a mini Loveland Dairy Whip, which is our soft-serve ice cream shop in Loveland,” says Rick. “The miniLDW is not only a mini but it also offers the same desserts as the Loveland Dairy Whip, just a smaller menu.”

What sets you apart? What makes your food truck special?
"The mini LDW has an extensive menu, including ice cream cones, banana boats, six parfaits and kids' favorites like the Gummy Monster and the Clown Sundae."

Follow the miniLDW on Facebook and Twitter @the_ldw

Power Blendz Smoothie Truck
Known for: The Perfect Fruit Smoothie
Launched: May 2016
Owner: Power Blendz Nutrition
Most popular item: Strawberry and Banana Perfect Fruit Smoothie

How did you come up with the name?
“The Power Blendz Smoothie Truck got its name as an extension of the brand Power Blendz The Fitness Fuel,” says Sadie Boyle, account manager for Power Blendz. “Developed for the military as a great tasting, top quality, nutritional and performance supplement, The Fitness Fuel was the result of countless hours in the kitchen and in the labs, formulating a product that even our commander-in-chief would love.”

What sets you apart? What makes your food truck special?
“We developed and perfected our Pure Protein powder used in all Perfect Fruit Smoothies. The recipes were created and tested by us with the goal of great taste and your health in mind."

Follow Power Blendz Smoothie Truck on Facebook

Rhino's Frozen Yogurt & Soft Serve
Launched: July 2016
Owners: The Miller Family
Most popular item: vanilla ice cream

How did you come up with the name?
“We are a family owned business, and the truck is named after my brother Ryan,” says Rick Miller, manager for Rhino’s. “His nickname growing up was Rhino.”

What are you known for?
“We spent many months driving around to different ice cream shows to find the best quality and delicious product we could find. Our product is smooth, creamy and delicious.”

What sets you apart? What makes your food truck special?
“The customer has the ability to create their own treat just the way they want it. We offer six different flavors of soft serve and 25 toppings on the truck. We are sure to satisfy every taste bud.”

Follow Rhino’s Frozen Yogurt on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram @RhinosFroYo

Stay tuned for Part II next week!
 


Local coffee staple Deeper Roots moving to the West End


Deeper Roots Coffee, which currently operates a roasterie in Mt. Healthy and a coffee bar in Oakley, will soon occupy 2108 Colerain in the West End.

“We first looked at the building in June of last year; it’s been a long time coming, but it’s totally worth the wait,” says Adam Shaw, Deeper Roots' lead roaster.

While the Mt. Healthy roasterie served Deeper Roots well, it became too small for the budding business.

Shaw explains that the main issue of the Mt. Healthy roasterie was storage. There are machines and green coffee everywhere, and there is little space for meetings.

The new roasterie will take up a quarter of the 40,000-square-foot building, which is almost double that of the Mt. Healthy roasterie. 

On top of roasting coffee, Shaw also plays the role of green coffee buyer, buying from trusted importers and farmers from almost everywhere coffee is grown, including Guatemala, Colombia, Brazil, Ethiopia and Sumatra.

These resources are known for their artisan blends, and Deeper Roots knows that it's responsibly sourcing its coffee.

For now, the new location will center on roasting coffee and providing a meeting space for the team. Eventually, there could be more. Shaw explains that the opening of a coffee spot will happen “when the dust is settled and we think the neighborhood is ready.”

Until that time, West Enders will be able to purchase fresh beans during designated community hours at the roasterie. Deeper Roots is also looking to open another coffee bar on Race Street in Over-the-Rhine. It has a projected opening date of mid-fall, and will bring the distinct and diverse flavors of Deeper Roots' coffee to another neighborhood.

You can contact Deeper Roots for a tour of the new facility and stay tuned to its Facebook page for information on the new OTR location.
 


New residential and commercial projects are making Madisonville a destination neighborhood


As part of a major overhaul that is drawing attention in the area, more than $355 million is being put toward the redevelopment of Madisonville, making the neighborhood a hotspot for new residents and visitors alike.

According to the Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation, the transformation of Madisonville will be headlined with a $200 million project at the corner of Madison and Red Bank roads. The mixed-use space, all built on the 27-acre campus of the research company Medpace, will feature housing units and office and retail space.

“It’s really a gateway for a lot of people from Madisonville with tens of thousands of cars going through there every day,” says Matt Strauss with MCURC. “Maybe some of them that didn’t stop before will stop there now.”

Along with other city leaders, Strauss says that Madisonville isn’t trying to compete with other localities; they want to be recognized for being Madisonville, not Oakley, Hyde Park, etc.

The center of the new development will be the Dolce Hotel — renamed the Summit Hotel — a first for Cincinnati. The $80 million hotel is a high-end brand that will specialize in local conferences. It will feature 239 rooms with over 34,000 square feet of meeting space that will include 11,000 square feet of terrace and gardens. It is currently under construction on top of the former Medpace parking garage and the old NuTone factory.

Wyndham Hotel Management Group, which owns the Dolce Hotel brand, is already fielding calls from groups interested in using the hotel. The Summit is expected to be completed and will open in spring 2018.

Another large project in the transformation of Madisonville includes the redevelopment near Madison Road and Whetsel Avenue. The old Fifth Third Bank building, vacant for many years, is now home to restaurant space along with two second-story apartments. Lala’s Blissful Bites, a bakery and dessert shop, opened on the shared first-floor space in 2016.

For years, many of the properties along Madison and Whetsel were underused or vacant, acting as more of an eyesore to the area than a focal point. Since that time, Ackermann Group has worked on the redevelopment of three blocks within the area. This part of the project will include 185 residential units with 32 private residential garages, plus space for retail, amenities and leasable office space.

City Manager Harry Black and the City of Cincinnati city council outlined additions, including more public plaza areas, streetscape improvements and other public infrastructure improvements, in 2016.

Other areas of Madisonville are also seeing their own improvements, such as the addition of 20 homes within a subdivision off of Duck Creek Road, and the new Tap and Screw Brewery. It recenlty closed the doors on its Westwood location, but opened a microbrewery location on Red Bank Road last week.

Aside from major redevelopment projects that will provide jobs and a new spark to the neighborhood, Madisonville is also home to the Cincinnati Jazz and BBQ festival and the Madisonville 5K, both of which will be held at the intersection of Madison and Whetsel on Sept. 9.

Keep an eye out for more updates on construction and redevelopment in Madisonville, as well as local events and happenings, here.
 


Speakeasy-style cafe to join DeSales Corner business boom

 

An art deco style building located at 1535 Madison Rd. on the southwest edge of DeSales Corner will soon be restored to its former charm, welcoming a restaurant and speakeasy-style bar.

“A relaxed alternative to the OTR scene.” That’s how Michael Berry, part-owner of the new bar and restaurant, describes the emerging neighborhood of Walnut Hills. Berry is keeping the name of his new venture under wraps for now.

The owners of Northside bars The Littlefield and Second Place, operating under South Block Properties and LADS Entertainment, purchased the building as a response to the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation and the East Walnut Hills Assembly's solicitation for proposals.

The building, which has sat vacant for the past 50 years, was once the site of a bank. Its new owners will be tasked with installing updated mechanics, electricity and plumbing, and restoring the water-damaged coffered plaster ceilings. The team hopes to bring back some of the old bank building’s original style.

The finished product will be a comfortable restaurant serving food from Shoshannah Hafner, the brains behind The Littlefield’s selective menu. Berry says Hafner is excited at the chance to expand upon her culinary skills.

“She was given a tiny kitchen (at The Littlefield) and has created a menu that we believe represents the very best food you can get in a bar anywhere," says Berry. "The new place will be a full restaurant where Shoshannah will be given a proper kitchen to really expand our offerings.”

The food will favor The Littlefield’s approach to American cuisine accented with combinations of Mediterranean, Asian and Spanish flavors.

Below the restaurant will be an intimate, underground bar.

“Think speakeasy vibe with low light and a comfortable lived-in environment,” Berry says.

The bar will feature a robust wine list; a variety of draft beer; house-made cocktails and an extensive spirit selection with attention to vodka, gin and classic cocktails developed by John Ford, another of the bar's co-owners. Ford's creations at The Littlefield and Second Place have been praised for their one-of-a-kind flavors.

After they opened Second Place — appropriately named, as it was the their second endeavor — LADS and South Block felt drawn to Walnut Hills’ similar vibe to Northside.

“We’re mostly Northsiders," Berry says. "While we have a lot of affection for our neighborhood, we very much like the atmosphere of Walnut Hills. It has a lot of the same characteristics we like about Northside, like the strong art scene. The opportunity to create something in that bank building was too good to pass up. It is certainly a challenge, but when we are finished with the space, it will be one of the truly unique dining experiences in the region.”

The new addition to DeSales Corner is set to open next spring or summer, and organizers hope the new addition will complement the neighborhood and aid in ongoing efforts to breathe life back into the Walnut Hills community.


Deschutes Brewery brings its street pub concept to town for a one-day fundraiser


Breweries are abuzz in Greater Cincinnati. As independent labels, entrepreneurs and growing companies make their mark on Cincinnati with one-of-a-kind beers, one one out-of-town brewery is ready to make its mark.

Oregon-based Deschutes Brewery is bringing its Street Pub to Cincinnati this weekend. For one day only, beer lovers can come to this one-stop shop to try more than 50 beers on tap with food creations that pair perfectly.

While a large selection of Deschutes craft beers — such as Black Butte Anniversary Series, Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Fresh Squeezed IPA — will be on tap, as well as local favorites from Moerlein Lager House and Blake’s Hard Cider.

Deschutes’ Corporate Executive Chef, Jeff Usinowicz, is teaming up with Cincinnati’s own Chef Joe Lanni, co-founder of the Thunderdome Group, and Chef Jared Bennett of Metropole, to provide tasty cuisine for the event.

Over the past two years, the 400-foot-long bar tour across the United States has raised more than $835,000; that money has been spread among charities specific to the areas visited. While in Cincinnati, Deschutes will be raising funds for the Starfire Council, which focuses on connecting the community to people with disabilities, as well as The Schubert-Martin IBD Center at Cincinnati Children’s, which cares for patients with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

The brewery partners with organizations that share its philanthropic goals and culture within the communities the Street Pub visits.

Other cities on this year’s tour include Roanoke, Milwaukee, Portland and Sacremento. According to the marketing team at Deschutes, more than 140,000 people were in attendance among the seven events held on last year’s tour.

"All of the communities where we have taken Street Pub have responded with overwhelming support," says Joey Pleich, Deschutes' brewery field marketing manager.

Local bands will also be featured at the event, including The Buzzard Kings, HEBDO, CLUBHOUSE and Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas. The event is family-friendly, and activities like the Hydro Flask’s Skee Ball Challenge and Hydration Station (made by Black Dog Salvage of DIY Network’s "Salvage Dawgs"); Humm Kombucha’s Creation Station for collaborative art projects and activities; and KEEN Footwear’s activism center and lounge, photo booth, games and free shoe raffles will be scattered around the Street Pub. Karen Eland Art will also be on-site with a live art demonstration painted with beer.

While admission is free for all ages, $5 tokens will be available for purchase for those who wish to try the beers, which will be 14-oz. pours.

The event is from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on June 24 at The Banks (Second and Vine). A “soft-opening” will be held at 11 a.m. for pride parade viewing and a preview of some of the beers.

For presale tokens, VIP tickets and more information, visit the event page or the Deschutes Brewery Street Pub Facebook page. If you are interested in volunteering at the event, you can sign up here.
 


Preschool Promise: A Q&A with Anne Sesler


Cincinnati Preschool Promise is a burgeoning program created with the express interest of assisting families with the cost of early childhood education, while also improving the quality of eligible preschools. Anne C. Sesler, media relations for Preschool Promise, answered some questions readers might have concerning the program.

Describe Preschool Promise to a family of three with a household income of $36,000.
We all want all of our children to succeed in school, and a key to success in kindergarten is a good start at a quality preschool. Preschool Promise is kicking off this fall and may be able to help you pay for quality preschool.

Quality preschool will help your child learn, develop cognitive and social/emotional skills and succeed in kindergarten. Children who have quality preschool before entering kindergarten are more likely to enter school prepared, succeed in school, graduate from high school and become productive citizens.

Where does funding come from?
Preschool expansion is made possible thanks to a significant investment from taxpayers who approved a five-year Cincinnati Public Schools levy in 2016. The levy includes $33 million a year to strengthen K-12 education and $15 million a year to expand access to quality preschool. The taxpayer investment with this levy for both K-12 and preschool education is $5.35 per week for a home valued at $100,000. CPS will utilize expansion funds for preschool tuition assistance at CPS preschools, and Preschool Promise will utilize expansion funds for tuition assistance and quality improvement supports at community-based preschools.

How are those funds transferred to the eligible preschools?
Parents select a preschool and apply for tuition assistance. The tuition assistance is paid directly to the preschool.

What prompted this program to begin?
There are 9,200 3- and 4-year-old children in Cincinnati, and nearly half live at or below the federal poverty level. As our children enter kindergarten, more than 40 percent of Cincinnati’s children are not prepared. The gap is even greater for low-income children. While there is some public funding preschool tuition assistance available, it is not sufficient to meet the demand.

With a quality preschool education, children are ready for kindergarten, read successfully by the end of third grade, do better in school and graduate from high school prepared for college and careers. Investing in quality preschool also generates strong economic returns, conservatively estimated at $2-4 for every $1 invested by taxpayers. For these reasons, a coalition of educators, community and business leaders came together to advocate to expand access to quality preschool.

How is a preschool’s eligibility determined?
There are two options for preschool provider participation depending on the preschool’s “Step Up To Quality 1-5 star rating, as administered by the state of Ohio. Tuition Assistance reimbursements for qualifying students are for 3-5 star rated providers. Quality Improvement supports are for unrated and 1-2 star rated providers with a goal to get to and maintain 3-5 stars.

To apply, a provider must be located within the CPS district boundary, complete an application and comply with reporting and other requirements. The application and provider manual is available at AskPreschoolPromise.org or providers may request a copy to be sent via mail or email by calling 447-4CPP.

How will the quality improvement grants affect preschools in need?
Preschool Promise is designed to expand access to two years of quality preschool and to build the supply of quality rated preschool programs in Cincinnati — with the goal of helping every child enter kindergarten ready to learn. Preschool Promise will expand access to quality preschool for children in Cincinnati by helping preschool providers achieve and maintain high quality ratings.

Research shows that early childhood education is key to laying a foundation for success throughout life, and that quality is critical for preschool to be successful. A major component of Preschool Promise is to expand the number of quality-rated programs and seats that are available to preschool eligible children. Preschool Promise will award quality improvement supports to help providers currently unrated or not quality rated to achieve a high-quality rating — 3, 4 or 5 stars on Ohio’s Step Up To Quality scale.

What message is most important for you to share with our readers?
The time is now for parents and providers to apply to participate.

Talk with your preschool provider or call us to find out if you qualify. Families can apply for tuition assistance if their child is enrolling in a participating Preschool Promise program. Questions? Call us at 447-4CPP (4277).

How to get involved:
Tomorrow, help the United Way of Greater Cincinnati "Stuff the Streetcar." The nonprofit is chartering a streetcar from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to collect new school supplies for kids and items for preschool providers and their classrooms. You can drop off donated supplies at select stops along the route. From 4:30 to 7 p.m., volunteers will gather at Rhinegeist to assemble the donated items into preschool kits for distribution to local families and preschool providers. For more information, including a list of needed supplies and dropoff locations, click here.

On June 23, local band Over The Rhine is playing in Washington Park. Attendees are asked to make a suggested donation of $20, all of which will go to the United Way to help lift children and their families out of poverty. You can start coming down for the show at 4 p.m.; the show will start at 6. For more ways to help, visit the United Way's website.
 


New Montessori school will invest in more than just education


Caroline Caldwell imagined a school for her daughter where the focus was kindness rather than performance. “I just felt like I wanted something very specific for her,” she says.

Caldwell, along with Anna Ferguson, Brett Hornberger, Nayana Shah and Mark Stroud, founded Heärt Montessori, a school that will prioritize empathy and compassion, intertwined with core academics.

“It’s not that other schools don’t teach empathy and compassion but we wanted it to be the focus,” Caldwell says.

Heärt will educate children in a typical Montessori style, with an emphasis on developing higher self-esteem and high self-acceptance through yoga, meditation, mindfulness, art and music. Caldwell says it’s important for children to learn tools to be kinder human beings.

“The main impetus is for students to manifest the most exquisite version of themselves,” says Caldwell. “Now more than ever with kids being bullied and kids having low self-esteem, integrating practices like yoga, mindfulness and meditation helps kids deal with stress and pressure in a healthy way rather than taking it out on others.”

Heärt plans to start its inaugural pre-school/kindergarten learning group in Jan. 2018. Meanwhile, the school building, located at 268 Ludlow Ave., is undergoing renovations that reflect its philosophy of living in harmony with the earth.

“Sustainability is important,” Caldwell says. The renovations use sustainable, green materials whenever possible, like painting the interior walls with clay-based paint.

Green living and sustainability will permeate many aspects of the school’s programs and curriculum. After spending the first two hours of the morning on typical Montessori work, children will have extended “outside time.” Students can expect to learn using natural materials, exploring Burnet Woods and learning to tend the school’s garden.

“I get so excited for that opportunity for my daughter,” Caldwell says.

Heärt will provide healthy, organic, plant-based lunches and snacks for its students using the produce from the school's garden. Mark Stroud, one of the founders, is an acclaimed vegan chef who will prepare the nutritious meals.

“Optimally, we’ll be cooking food that we grow in season,” says Caldwell. “We’ll have healthy, plant-based meals that are organic and amazing.”

In the afternoons, students might take a nap, have one-on-one time with their teacher or take time for yoga, art, music or meditation.

Heärt is a private school and parents can enroll their children online via its website. Caldwell encouraged interested parents to attend an open house to learn more.
 


LEED silver townhomes add to ongoing resurgence of Court Street


Following a period where barren landscape and vacant storefronts dominated the area, new life is being brought to Court Street as many new businesses, restaurants and residential options are beginning to open.

In the last several years, Urban Expansion has helped bolster the redevelopment of Over-the-Rhine. The group is heading up a redevelopment project that will bring more residential opportunities to the area on and around Court Street.

Urban Expansion is a leading developer of LEED-certified projects, which focuses on green building leadership. Not only do these projects save money and resources, but they also promote renewable, clean energy within a development.

According to Chris Reckman, president of Urban Expansion, building a LEED home is not only good for the environment but an excellent selling point, one that has been the focus of Cincinnati projects over the last few years. “Generally, there are a lot of LEED benefits out there, which we as a builder/developer would certainly agree with.”

As another focal selling point for the project, Court Street is historically an underutilized connector between OTR and the Central Business District, something that Reckman believes is changing.

“There's a lot of potential here and a natural bridge to the CBD,” he says. “It's really ‘downtown-near,’ and this location in particular is close to Washington Park, the School for Creative and Performing Arts, Queen City Radio, the new YMCA, the streetcar, Cincy Red Bike and more.”

The newly renovated townhomes, located at 1008 and 1010 Elm St. near the Court Street corridor, are currently on the market for $575,000. Vertical in style, the 2,050-square-foot homes each boast three bedrooms, two full baths and two half baths. Fourth-floor roof decks and wet bars are at the disposal of the buyers.

Also featured in the refurbished homes are custom closets, second-floor master suites and large, clean basements that could act as storage or be turned into additional living space.

As just a small part of the green aspect of the project, upcycled joists salvaged from blighted buildings have been used as shelving, and the original staircases were refurbished.

As the area continues to grow, residential living spaces will be in high demand, something that Reckman and Urban Expansion plan to take advantage of.

New bars and restaurants are sprouting up on Court and Kroger is building the new apartment building/grocery store at the other end, as well as a test kitchen facility down the block from this project, and this area seems poised to take off," he says.

For more information on the townhomes, pricing, availability and the benefits of LEED homes, view the listing on Coldwell Banker or visit www.usgbc.org/articles/green-building-facts.
 


Walnut Hills selected as finalist for national placemaking grant


As part of its ongoing efforts to transform the future of Walnut Hills, the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation will compete for a highly competitive national placemaking grant.

The National Creative Placemaking Fund is made possible by ArtPlace America, a 10-year collaboration between 16 partner foundations, eight federal agencies and six financial institutions. This year, judges reviewed 987 applications from communities across the country that are investing money in arts and culture to help drive community development.

“The National Grants Program is actively building a portfolio that reflects the full breadth of our country’s arts and cultural sector, as well as the community planning and development field,” says ArtPlace’s Director of National Grantmaking F. Javier Torres. “Knowing that these projects, and the hundreds of others who applied, are using arts and culture strategies to make the communities across this country healthier and stronger is inspirational.”

Last week, Walnut Hills was announced as one of just 70 finalists for the award, based on the WHRF’s presentation of a plan that would use creative placemaking to tackle the issues surrounding Kroger’s departure from the community last year — a move that now classifies Walnut Hills as a food desert.

"Walnut Hills is an extremely resilient community and this proves that," said WHRF executive director Kevin Wright. "We're excited about this opportunity, it's the first of many steps were taking to ensure our residents have sustainable access to healthy food and groceries."

WHRF’s proposed project, CoMotion, will attempt to lessen the hardship of Walnut Hills residents post-Kroger through the use of creative placemaking measures that include providing a “welcoming, inclusive place within our $20 million Paramount Square project where people can get healthy, locally-grown produce, grab a nutritious drink with friends and hold community meetings, as well as participate in meaningful creative and social activities."

“This creative placemaking grant would allow us at the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation to build an inclusive grocery store and meeting place as part of the $20 million Paramount Square project,” says WHRF's healthy outreach coordinator Gary Dangel. “It will be designed by artists and be part of our strategy to address being a food desert.”

ArtPlace America director Javier Torres will be traveling for the next 12 weeks, visiting each of the 70 finalists and getting to know their projects prior to further narrowing the field of candidates.

“The National Grants Program is actively building a portfolio that reflects the full breadth of our country’s arts and cultural sector, as well as the community planning and development field,” says Torres. “Knowing that these projects, and the hundreds of others who applied, are using arts and culture strategies to make the communities across this country healthier and stronger is inspirational.”

Find a complete list of the 2017 applicants here.


The Mockbee is the place to be for local artists and musicians


In this dynamic time for Cincinnati, new bars, restaurants, parks and venues are popping up like weeds. But the venue at 2260 Central Parkway is a little different.

The first floor of the Mockbee Building, which is level with the Parkway, consists of two tunnel-like, white-washed rooms. Entering gives the sense that you're part of some hip secret. The walls trippily echo music unlike any other space in the city, and the white brick provides a stellar canvas for light shows.

While this isn’t the place to go for fancy cocktails, the bar features the best in local beers and weekly specials. The Mockbee hosts a variety of events, including music, comedy, art shows and community discussions — the intention is to provide a place for the local alternative.

The Mockbee has served Cincinnati in multiple ways before becoming the hub for local artists that is it today. What began as a brewery that sent its beer along the Miami-Erie Canal and hosted wine in its cool dark caverns, it then became C.M. Mockbee Steel.

Now in its next life, The Mockbee has morphed into a fluid underground artists’ space and is finally gaining stability and street cred. The unique and complex building on the hill is a one-of-a-kind venue. Its premise: locals only. While that rule isn’t law, it is the idea.

When Jon Stevens and Cory Magnas purchased the building in Nov. 2015, they wanted to contribute to the expanding culture of Cincinnati and focus on Cincinnati artists. “Weird art, weird parties, a local place,” Stevens says. “We’re not going to be a Bogart's. We’re not going to be a Woodward.”

Local musician Ben Pitz, who has been playing shows since before the reign of The Mockbee's new owners, says it’s continually his first choice. “By far my favorite venue in Cincinnati. The tough part is the draw.”

It’s not too well known — yet.

The Mockbee strives to be all inclusive. Stevens says that there is diversity from night to night and even within nights. Genres include but are not limited to electronic, EDM, hip-hop, ambient, some punk and rock. The cool thing, he says, is that some people are crossing over. People going to the hip-hop shows are going to the electronic shows and so on.

As the project expands, they are trying to get the word out. “Most people don’t even know we have a sound system. We have a sound system,” Stevens assures.

They are currently working to expand the venue to the second floor, which is larger with arched windows that overlook the West End. Stevens explains that all their energy is on that floor right now. Eventually, apartments will be available. They also have held some wedding receptions and private parties.

Those involved want The Mockbee to be the essence and the true heart of Cincinnati. Pitz thoughtfully comments: “This could be the start of the first truly dedicated artist space in Cincinnati.”

Upcoming events include:

  • Off Tha Block Mondays: A weekly open mic freestyle cypher
  • Speak: A monthly event held every third Thursday
  • Queen City Soul Club: All vinyl dance party held monthly
  • June 9: Prince’s Birthday Dance Party

And many, many more. Check out The Mockbee's Facebook page for a full list of events.
 


Old KY Makers Market returns to Bellevue for summer series starting June 17


A popular series of outdoor events will return to Bellevue this summer, celebrating community with locally made food, music, drinks, handmade goods for sale and more.

The Old Kentucky Makers Market was created by Kevin Wright and Joe Nickol, a pair of Bellevue residents who last year authored The Neighborhood Playbook, a field guide for activating spaces and spurring neighborhood growth. Nickol serves as senior associate for MKSK design firm and Wright is executive director of the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation.

"Development shouldn’t happen to a place, but with a place, and with the residents, and we're using The Neighborhood Playbook to make that happen in the town we love," says OKMM organizer Karla Baker. "What better way to showcase everything great going on in Bellevue than with a series of summer parties?"

Last year’s Makers Market events featured food from local favorites Eli’s BBQ, craft brews from Braxton Brewing Company, unique crafts and jewelry from local artisans and a chance for residents to gather and get acquainted in one of Greater Cincinnati’s most charming community settings.

"The goal is to create an event that brings together our Bellevue neighbors and friends, and also brings folks from all over the region to check out the awesomeness that Bellevue has to offer," says OKMM organizer Anna Hogan. “We've got great shops, restaurants, Darkness Brewing and new businesses opening all the time. We want people to know that all this exists, just five minutes from downtown."

This year’s series kicks off at 5 p.m. on June 17 and will feature the Comet Bluegrass All Stars and Kentucky-brewed beer from West 6th Brewing Company. The event will take place in Johnson Alley, behind the old Transitions Building in the 700 block of Fairfield Avenue.

Additional food and artisan vendors will be announced in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to the Old KY Makers Market Facebook page for details.

Interested vendors should apply here for OKMM events in June, August and October.
 


Upcoming Westwood Second Saturdays to showcase local flavor


Westwood is ready to party in the streets, thanks to the upcoming Second Saturdays festival series. Brought to Cincinnati’s largest neighborhood by the event organizers at Westwood Works, Second Saturdays aims to showcase local flavors and talent to the community and beyond.

The series, as the name implies, will be held on the second Saturday of every month on Harrison Avenue in front of Westwood Town Hall. Each month will feature a different theme, with this month’s theme of “Taste” promising to highlight a bevy of delicious treats and creations from local Westwood businesses.

Food will be provided by Avocados Mexican Restaurant and Bar, Diane's Cake Candy & Cookie Supplies, Dojo Gelato, Emma's All In One Occasions (Real Soul Food), Fireside Pizza Walnut Hills and U-Lucky DAWG food truck; beer will be provided by Blank Slate Brewing Company.

This year's events will feature a fun installment —  a 200-foot long table designed to encourage festival goers to forge new friendships. Guests who choose to participate have the option of assigned seating at the table, so as to sit next to new faces — all part of the community enrichment behind Westwood Works' mission.

Musical entertainment is courtesy of Young Heirlooms, Aprina Johnson and Skirt and Boots with Music MAN DJ Flyin' Brian Hellmann.

Second Saturdays comes at a time of revitalization for Westwood, with the neighborhood's central business district seeing a spate of new and exciting shops. Westwood Works, in conjunction with community stakeholders and donors, helps to connect locals with pertinent business strategies with an overall goal of further improving Westwood.

This party isn’t just for Westwood residents; admission is free to all. Second Saturdays aims to be a family-friendly event while serving the neighborhood and beyond.

This month's event is from 5 to 10 p.m. on June 10. The next Second Saturdays are July 8 ("Play"), Aug. 12 ("Splash") and Sept. 9 ("Create").

For more information on the Second Saturday series and future Westwood events, follow the group's Facebook page.
 


National Geographic Photo Ark on display at Cincinnati Zoo


Some of the most compelling photos of animals from zoos and aquariums around the globe are currently being featured at the Cincinnati Zoo.

National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore believes keeping the public engaged in the natural world through education, funding and other measures will help keep our most at-risk species alive. The photos Sartore took for the current exhibit — which will be on display now through Aug. 20 — were taken at Cincinnati Zoo, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and the Dallas Zoo.

Cincinnati is fortunate to have been selected for the debut tour of the Photo Ark. Sartore spoke at the zoo on May 31 about traveling the globe to photograph the unique animals that make up the exhibit.

“Joel’s work is phenomenal — he has an open invitation to photograph animals here,” says Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard. “His photos send the message that it is not too late to save some of the world’s most endangered species. This project has the power to inspire people to care.”

One unique aspect of this showcase is that it highlights conservation efforts that Cincinnati has maintained for several years. Six panels in the Cincinnati Zoo exhibition highlight conservation projects that the zoo funds or supports in other ways. These include:

- Sumatran Rhinos: The first Sumatran rhino to be bred and born in a zoo in over a century became part of the Cincinnati Zoo in 2001
- African Lion: The zoo runs Rebuilding the Pride, a community-based conservation program
- Western Lowland Gorilla: Through a partnership with the Republic of Congo, the zoo has helped to protect gorillas through research, education and more
- Cheetahs: The zoo is a leader in cheetah conservation efforts

Sartore estimates the completed National Geographic Photo Ark will include portraits of more than 12,000 species representing several animal classes, including birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. It will be the largest single archive of biodiversity photographs to date. More than 50 of these photos will be featured at the zoo.

While the Ark focuses mainly on conservation efforts in zoos around the world, it is built upon the idea that the public can continue to be educated about the species and how they can get involved. Free educational materials and activities are available to enhance the viewing experience during the exhibition, and photo books are available for purchase in the gift shop as well.

Entry into the exhibit is free with general admission into the zoo.
 


Recovering addicts celebrate substance-free life through Flying Pig Marathon


This year, 53 men and women recovering from addiction ran the Flying Pig Marathon, thanks to Step Forward, a program from City Gospel Mission.

“Our goal with Step Forward is to show men and women God’s love by training for the Flying Pig Marathon,” says Step Forward director David Pinson.

Participants train two days a week for three months with volunteers from the community. Pinson says that the relationships built during the practices are beneficial to everyone.

“The volunteers are telling me that this a part of my journey now,” says Pinson. “They say ‘I saw a life literally change in front of me.’”

One of those volunteers is former U.S. Representative Jean Schmidt. Though she has run more than 130 marathons in her 39-year running career, she says this program and race are special. “They’re giving back to me as much as I’m giving to them."

Amanda Graves never thought she would be a runner. After a three-year addiction to heroin, a family member encouraged Graves to apply to Having the Courage to Change, a women’s residential recovery program at City Gospel Mission. Graves says once she was there, she learned she could be loved and accepted.

“For the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged somewhere,” Graves says.

That sense of belonging inspired her to start running with Step Forward. After befriending a few volunteers, Graves says the group “tricked” her into running a 10K. Now she’s completed three Flying Pig 10K races.

“I finally got my life back,” she says.

Joseph Wright is also grateful to have his life back.

Two years ago, Wright was a full-time heroin addict. “My whole life revolved around heroin,” he says. “It was pretty hopeless, honestly.”

While spending time in jail for a probation violation, Wright applied to Exodus, the men’s residential recovery program at City Gospel Mission.

"My first week in Exodus was the first time I had ever ran,” says Wright. Building relationships with the volunteers helped him succeed. “They didn’t want to know about my past. They never held my past against me.”

During his time in Exodus, Wright completed the Flying Pig 10K. This year, he returned to Step Forward as a participant in the Flying Pig Half Marathon. He says running is the perfect metaphor for recovery.

“At the end of the day, we’re all trying to cross that finish line,” Wright says. “It doesn’t matter how fast you’re getting there or slow you’re getting there, what matters is that you get there.”
 


Hungry Bros. food truck to make Taste of Cincy debut


The 39th annual Taste of Cincinnati food festival will take place this Memorial Day weekend, featuring new additions and a goal of breaking last year’s record-tying attendance of 550,000.

More than 25 percent of Taste's offerings this year are brand new to the festival, with nine new restaurants and five new food trucks, according to festival director Cynthia Oxley.

Hungry Bros. food truck is one of those newcomers, and the popular mobile restaurant is coming strong out of the gate with three "Best of Taste" awards already secured.

With first-place finishes in the festival's food truck "Best Dessert" and "Best Go Vibrant!" categories, as well as a third-place finishin the "Best Appetizer" food truck category, Hungry Bros.' culinary director Matthew Neumann says he is “elated” and slightly intimidated by the honor.

This is the first year we have been invited to participate in the Taste, and we are beyond stoked to be a part of it,” says Neumann.

Festival goers who choose to sample Hungry Bros.’ winning fried cheesecake dish should also be pretty stoked, as Neumann himself is not hesitant to admit how good it is. It's a dish he and his partners wanted to put on the menu for quite some time, but it wasn’t until this year, when the team's third Taste entry was accepted, that they were forced to make it happen.

“It wasn't until two hours before (applying) that we actually dropped a piece of cheesecake in the graham cracker tempura batter and deep fried it," says Neumann. "We hoped, at the very least, it was going to be good enough that we weren't going to embarrass ourselves, but after tasting it, we knew we had just made something beautiful. It's real tragic for a chef to proclaim how good their food is — but this thing is stupid-good.”

Dishes from Hungry Bros. make up a fraction of the more than 250 menu items that will be available at this year's Taste.

Ohio’s oldest surviving municipal market, Findlay Market, will also make its first-ever Taste appearance, with vendors and “foodpreneurs” from Findlay Kitchen serving fresh, new flavors.

There will also be new beers, new signature cocktails and new, local sponsors.

For Neumann, it’s a chance for individuals to come out to see and sample everything that makes Cincinnati great.

“We want our food to show how much we love this business and how much we love the city,” he says. “Cincinnati is a constant theme in all of our lives, so how could we not be enamored with it and want to be a part of every cool thing and every event that's going on in this town?”

 


Historic Mohawk area the next up-and-coming section of OTR?


With the ongoing rehabilitation and redevelopment of Cincinnati, specifically Over-the-Rhine, the consideration of businesses, residents and growth opportunities are a must.

This was just one of the many aspects that became the forefront of the discussion for the Mohawk Area Plan, which is geared toward not only enhancing the Mohawk Area of OTR, but also to engage those involved.

Also known as the Mohawk District, the neighborhood runs the full length of Central Parkway as its western boundary with eastern boundaries running along Clifton Avenue, Zier Place and Klotter Avenue. The northern boundary is at Brighton Bridge Approach, and the southern boundary extends well into OTR along Findlay Street.

To coincide with a strategy already in place for properties, businesses and residences, the City of Cincinnati formed a committee to take on the task of forming maps, a collection of assets and opportunities and sections that need attention. The Steering Committee held three meetings between Nov. 2016 and March 2017 to draft strategies with the assistance of Brewery District leadership, city planning leaders and business executives.

The public was able to weigh in through a series of meetings — public forums were held between July 2016 and May 2017 to get input on both the progress of the neighborhood and the challenges it could face in the future.

According to the city, two "open house" working group meetings were held in July and Sept. 2016, where residents and stakeholders came together for an interactive mapping exercise. Using a variety of multimedia annotations, attendees identified where they lived, worked or owned property, as well as areas they felt were assets, opportunities or in need of help.

According to residents and committee members, one of the biggest challenges faced in OTR both past and present has been a concern of safety. The Mohawk Area Plan hones in on developing a safe and walkable entertainment district, making the area more pedestrian-friendly.

Construction will undoubtedly play a role in this part of the plan, as the Brighton Approach connector is set for demolition, and another connector route will need to be put in place. This also opened the table for discussion on how public transit could help to enhance the neighborhood. According to the Plan, ideas like Cincy Red Bike, bus stops and streetcar stops could be beneficial for visitors and residents. Additional surface parking lots are also being considered.

In terms of economic development, the goal is to show people why the neighborhood is the place to be. By highlighting neighborhood assets like parks (Hanna Park, Bellevue Park, Cincinnati Open Space and Fairview Park), breweries (Rhinegeist, Cliffside and Jackson), entertainment venues (the Imperial Theatre, which is readily undergoing renovations; Mockbee Arts Building; and Dunlap Café) and businesses (the APEX building, Rookwood Pottery and Robin Imaging), investors and startups could be more drawn to the area with the proper economic investment and amenities/space to grow readily available to them.

The residential goal is to make use of abandoned space along Renner and Hastings while maintaining the historic structural components of the neighborhood and establishing a network of open communication for residents

In alignment with the 2002 OTR Comprehensive Plan, and similar to the Brewery District Plan, the future of the Mohawk area is starting to take shape. The general timeline for approval by the city won't take place until later this summer, but residents and community leaders are ready to reshape the future of the neighborhood.
 


Gorilla Cinema is launching a new brand strategy that's sure to shake things up


Gorilla Cinema, the masterminds behind The Overlook Lodge, The Video Archive and Pop Art Con (its newest concept), have launched a possibly radical new marketing plan: abandoning the over-crowded newsfeeds of Facebook.

“It’s a process and evolution for how we use Facebook,” says Jacob Trevino, owner. “We’re moving away from regular posts toward more video marketing about the experiences we provide. We still want people to be actively engaged with the brand, we just don’t want to be the only ones shouting.”

Facebook users won’t see an abrupt departure but more of a gradual exit over the next year and a half. Meanwhile, Gorilla Cinema will ramp up its events and emphasize its uniqueness through other outlets.

“Life is hard, and we want to give people an escape from the every day — where the world can come to you,” Trevino says. “We want to create more experiences outside of our bars. Experiences that everyone wants to talk about because they surprise our audiences.”

For Trevino, it’s also about creating an expectation of excellence and an engaged staff. “We don’t hire ‘just’ bartenders. We look for creatives and forward thinkers who make people feel welcome and create amazing experiences, but who can also make picture-perfect drinks.”

Gorilla Cinema has several big announcements planned for the coming months, including more details on its largest cinema event to-date, which is scheduled for Aug. 2 at Washington Park, as well as more movie pop-ups and the 2018 Pop Art Con.

So if there will be fewer posts on Facebook, how will you know when there's an event?

“If people really want to be the first to know, they should visit the bars since we make announcements there first, plus the bartenders often let something slip early,” Trevino says. “We’re focusing our social media efforts on Instagram, but look for new videos on our website and Facebook too.”

For Trevino, movies are something that can bring people together to share common experiences. He's built his bars around cinematic concepts and creating a sense of community.

“We want to take people on a new adventure and get people into exploring new places,” he says. "But we also want our bars to be for the people who already live in the neighborhood. We try to be active in the community because it’s important that the neighbors and other businesses know and love us first.”

As Gorilla Cinema ramps up its new marketing efforts, Cincinnatians can expect to see more events and experiences outside of Pleasant Ridge and Walnut Hills (where The Overlook and The Video Archive are), as Trevino and his team bring their love of cinema magic to larger audiences.
 


Artist puts unique twist on house revitalization in Camp Washington


Tucked away in Camp Washington sits a small piece of paradise that a local artist spent about three years transforming.

Builder/artist and Cincinnati native Mark Dejong has been transforming the word “art” in Cincinnati for years. In 2012, he purchased a house in Camp Washington for a mere $5,000. It's now known as the Circle House for its overall theme of circles that run throughout the house's walls and décor.

Similarly, Dejong's renovation of the Square House in Northside turned it into a work of art, transforming the house into a thematic element.

His latest work of art, however, takes the cake. Dejong purchased a three-story house on Avon Place in Camp Washington a few years ago and began the process of transforming the house, this time removing all floors and walls.

You may be asking, “What kind of revitalization project is that?”

The house now contains a swing, something that captures not only the essence of its historic architecture but also takes you through “time and space." By removing all of the floors and walls, Dejong enabled the swing to float from the front of the house to the back in a fluid motion. Not only does the house provide a sculptural invention that hasn't been seen anywhere else in the country, but parts of it were repurposed as artwork and structures that highlight the history and material of the old three-flight staircase.

The inspiration for the design came from memories of Dejong’s childhood flat that overlooked Mill Creek but also sat below hillsides looking the other direction, giving a sense of vertigo. He wanted to convey this in the Swing House design.

As the focal point of the house and inspiration for the name, the 30-foot long swing is attached to ropes that are secured to an iron beam that runs across the ceiling. The floor boards are skewed at a 5-degree angle, giving the sense that the building is moving a bit while walking through it. Although it has only been open to the public for special occasions a few times, Dejong plans to further launch his innovative project via open houses this summer (to be announced via media and social media at a later date).

In lieu of the architectural masterpiece slowly but surely becoming the talk of innovative art in the area, the Swing House has also been selected as a feature in the Contemporary Arts Center's 2017-2018 season. This particular exhibit runs until May 20, 2018, and will showcase some of the unique structures formed from the salvaged materials during construction, as well as artist-led tours of the house.

The CAC claims that Dejong has “joined the lineage of artists like Gordon Matta-Clark, Georges Rousse and Theaster Gates in the illuminating re-visioning of built space into poetic and performative interventions,” something that few artists in the area have achieved.

While the Swing House isn’t regularly open to the public, special occasions and tours will be available later this summer. To keep up with the news and happenings regarding the Swing House, visit the CAC exhibition webpage or the pages specifically geared toward the Circle/5k House and Square house, and keep up with Dejong on social media.
 


All about the beer: Three more breweries coming online later this year

 

In the second half of our exploration into new breweries, we looked at those that are opening in late summer or early fall of this year.

You might have to wait a bit longer to taste these brews, but rest assured that the experience, flavors and distinctive interiors will be worth it.

 

Rebel Mettle, 244 W. McMicken Ave., Over-the-Rhine

Opening: Spring/summer, 2018
 

“The people of Cincinnati are beer drinkers; we are a melting pot that just likes to drink,” says Mike Brown, CEO and president of Rebel Mettle Brewery.

 

The idea for the brewery started with Brown and his friends Ryan Renner, Greg Goeke and Duane Donohoo sitting around a kitchen table.

“We wanted someplace that had character,” Brown says. “I was adamant that we open up in OTR for the heritage. It has the largest number of pre-Prohibition era breweries in the nation.”

 

Rebel Mettle will offer a selection of ales, lagers and sours; there are plans for ciders as well. Brown says that they hired a secret weapon — a mysterious master brewer he wouldn’t name. He says that combining the master brewer’s education and experience with his team’s home-brewing skills will set Rebel Mettle's beer apart.

 

Also known as the former Clyffside and Sohn Brewery, the 40,000-square-foot space will host the brewery, a tap room and the Clyffside Event Center.

 

 

Humble Monk, 1641 Blue Rock St., Northside

Opening: Late summer, 2017
 

Mike Kemp and his son Paul are the head brew master and CEO, respectively, for Humble Monk Brewing Company. As the name suggests, Humble Monk will utilize a process similar to the famous Trappist Monk style of brewing.

 

“My dad prides himself on full-bodied, in-your-face style beers,” Paul says.

 

Trappist style means that each brew can yield three different types of beer, known as partigyle. The partigyle used in this method of brewing guarantees that there will be a variety of flavors and gravities, or alcohol levels, in each beer.

 

The brewery and taproom will be in a warehouse space a block and a half from Northside’s main thoroughfare. The Kemps describe the space as “barren but cozy” with an industrial feel.

 

Sonder, Duke Boulevard, Mason

Opening: Late fall, 2017
 

Justin Neff, president of Sonder, started out brewing beer at home but had dreams of his owning a brewery. When he met his business partners Daniel Schmerr and Jennifer Meissner, those dreams came true.

 

Neff fell in love with the meaning behind the word sonder, which is defined as the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

“It became so much more than just a word — it’s a culture we started our company on. We believe every beer has a story just like every person does.”

 

With the help of New Glarus Brewing's Chase Legler, Sonder will focus on high quality and true-to-style beer.

 

“We’ll ensure that a German hefeweizen tastes like the same hefeweizen that was brewed in Germany generations ago,” Neff says.

 

Sonder is building its own two-story facility in Deerfield Township. The 6.5-acre property will include bars and outdoor patios on both floors. Neff says that they hope to grow their own hops on-site and the green space will be a gathering place for community events.

 

Neff says Sonder will be a place “where Mom and Dad can bring their kids and have a date night as well.”

The ambitious campus will include sand volleyball, a wiffle ball field, fire pits and a walking path where visitors can sip a beer as they go for a stroll.
 


Two organizations are teaming up to help nonprofits overcome fundraising obstacles


Any director of development or team tasked with fundraising understands the difficulty and frustration that can accompany asking for money.

In a world where nonprofits are forced to compete as they rely on fundraising or grant writing to achieve the monetary capacity needed to fulfill their missions, there is hope.

The Leadership Council for Nonprofits and the Association of Fundraising Professionals are teaming up to tackle fundraising difficulties head-on by hosting “Partnering for Breakthrough Philanthropy” on May 17.

“The conference is designed to maximize the partnership of people to achieve fundraising success — particularly through the powerful combination of staff and volunteers,” says Lori Asmus, AFP volunteer. “It will be interactive and informative — each team will walk away with an action plan to increase donations this year at their nonprofit.”

Ben Golding, chief operating officer at Advancement Resources — a consulting firm that works with some of the nation’s leading nonprofits, healthcare organizations and educational institutions — will deliver the keynote address.

“We are excited to bring Ben because he is a well-known national consultant that helps organizations move to the next levels with their fundraising programs,” Asmus says. “Access to his caliber of expertise would not be possible without the partnership between AFP and LC.”

Golding’s expertise also includes his work as a managing partner at Mindseye Project Partners, which provides donor engagement services intended to inspire philanthropy by capturing and producing impact stories that reveal how critical nonprofits’ work is and what can be accomplished when they receive the funding to initiate change for the better.

It’s through methods like storytelling, in addition to lessons describing the importance of making donors feel valued that will enable participants to brainstorm, work together and begin re-thinking the process of fundraising.

“LC and AFP are joined in the mission of strengthening organizational capacity at nonprofits,” Asmus says. “Funding is the biggest struggle for most of these organizations, but our goal is to demonstrate ways that the volunteer leadership and organizational leadership can work more effectively together to tackle funding challenges.”

The event will take place from 8 to 11:30 a.m. on May 17 at the Red Cross, 2111 Dana Ave. Tickets are $55 for AFP and LC members; $75 for non-members; and $25 for students. You can register here.

You can connect with the Leadership Council for Nonprofits on Twitter @LeadershipCoun and the AFP on Facebook and @afpihq on Twitter.


Local musician opening coffee shop and jazz club in Walnut Hills

 

Walnut Hills is quickly redeveloping into one of the top places to find food, beverage and entertainment in Greater Cincinnati. With that, it has become the foundation for many new businesses, making it a destination neighborhood not only for residents but also tourists.

In a move to make Walnut Hills the center of jazz in Cincinnati, Brent Gallaher and his wife are opening Caffe Vivace, a combined coffeehouse and jazz lounge, on the first floor of the Trevarren Flats development on E. McMillan.

Slated to open this fall, Caffe Vivace will provide drinks, bites and a constant flow of music, highlighting the rich jazz heritage in the area. "Caffe" is Italian for coffee and "vivace" is a musical term that means lively, so the literal English translation is "lively coffee,” a phrase that resides in the core of what the Gallahers hope to bring to Walnut Hills.

Their concept was inspired by Brent's own jazz career — he broke into the jazz scene at the former Blue Wisp.

He plays three instruments (saxophone, flute and clarinet) while also being a leader in the local jazz community by teaching, composing and leading a local band. He currently holds positions with both the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra and the Blue Wisp Big Band, which now plays Wednesday nights at Urban Artifact in Northside.

As the focal point of the business, jazz music will be constant, as Gallaher plans for live performances Monday-Saturday with local school groups and talent performing early in the week and more seasoned jazz musicians slated to play on the weekends. Students and other local talents will have the opportunity to showcase their skills and passion for music, something that the area is no stranger to.

From the first recordings of Louis Armstrong to the lengthy shows of Bix Beiderbecke and Walnut Hills' graduate Frank Foster, who wrote the hit “Shiny Stockings,” Cincinnati has seen many jazz greats shape the genre.

Walnut Hills is also home to longtime jazz club The Greenwich, maintaining not only the presence of jazz music but also poetry readings and visual arts over the last several decades.

Aside from being a jazz club, Caffe Vivace will also serve as a bar and restaurant. It will offer coffee and espresso drinks from Carabello Coffee, as well as maintain a full liquor license to serve mixed drinks and craft beers. In terms of a menu, the club will offer breakfast sandwiches and bagels in the morning and salads and sandwiches for lunch. There will also be a separate, smaller menu for dinner. Gallaher plans to keep it simple and use local vendors and bakers for most of the menu items.

For more information regarding Caffe Vivace or to keep up with announcements on an opening date, visit its Facebook page.
 

All about the beer: These breweries will be pouring near you this summer

 


It starts with a beer and a dream. Homebrewers and entrepreneurs around the Tristate are reviving Cincinnati’s heritage as a world brewery capital. Breweries are bubbling up all over town with unique flavors, nods to nostalgia and taprooms to suit every sort of hangout.

In a two-part series, Soapbox is taking you on a "tour" of the breweries that are planning to open before the end of the year.

Bircus Brewery, 322 Elm St., Ludlow
Opening: Spring 2017

“Real clowns subvert authority,” says Paul Miller, chief “goof officer” of Bircus. Miller and his team plan to disrupt the craft beer market by pairing beer with the circus.

Circus Mojo already calls the old Ludlow Theatre home, but they’re in the process of renovating the building to accommodate the brewery operation. The site is home to an eclectic assortment of events, including high school reunions, monthly square dances, professional wrestling and of course, circus acts. Miller says he’s excited to pour Bircus' own beer for these events.

Bircus’ brews promise to celebrate Ludlow nostalgia and the circus with its innovative recipes — and names. The Belgian blonde owes its namesake to another blonde, Anne Lee Patterson, a Ludlow native who won the Miss USA competition in 1931. Bircus also partnered with Blue Oven Bakery to create “The Breaded Lady”, a bread-beer hybrid brewed with an Old World process to referment bread into beer.

The debut of its beers around various bars in Kentucky will feature fire-eaters, live acrobats, jugglers and hula-hoop artists.

13 Below Brewery, 7391 Forbes Rd., Sayler Park
Opening: Early summer 2017

Doug Menkedick noticed that the homebrews from his friends Dick Busche, Ray Busche and Bob Luebbering got better year after year. He said they should talk if they were ever serious about starting a brewery, and that's how 13 Below was born.

13 Below will have classics like a West Coast IPA, a Belgian white and a Scottish ale. The brewery is also inventing its own kinds of beer, including a “darker beer with some sweetness to it — somewhere between a porter and a brown ale," says Menkedick.

13 Below occupies the riverside space that was once the Mariner’s Inn in Sayler Park. Its one-story taproom is fully handicap accessible with an area of the bar where guests using wheelchairs can sit and enjoy their beer. Menkedick says his team imagines their brewery will be a family-friendly place with views of the river and nearby marina. With easy access off Route 50, he says it’s the perfect place to stop on the way to or from a ball game.

16 Lots, 753 Reading Rd., Mason
Opening: Summer 2017

Mike Burton was the chief marketing officer at Sunny Delight until he decided to switch his focus to the hard stuff — or beer. His partner, who wishes to remain anonymous, has been home brewing for about 20 years.

“The consumer knows what they’re going to get when they buy our product,” Burton says.

16 Lots will emphasize a “focus on style,” and will feature six beers that will rotate seasonally. Although the brewery hasn't officially opened, it has already released its Warhorse IPA and will follow that soon with its Muddy Creek Oatmeal Stout.

The brewery will occupy the former Mason Pub in the heart of downtown Mason. Burton describes the taproom's interior as an industrial farmhouse with intimate bar seating, gaming areas and a full view of the brewery.

Burton believes that the community has to come first. In fact, the name of the brewery references the 16 lots of land purchased by revolutionary war hero Major William Mason that eventually became downtown Mason.

“If you satisfy the neighborhood, you can build a nice thriving business,” Burton says.

Stay tuned for next week's issue of Soapbox, where we'll continue our list of up-and-coming independent breweries.
 


Four Cincinnati icons chosen as CPC Impact Buildings of the Year


The Cincinnati Preservation Collective wants to save the historical architecture that makes the Queen City special.

Justin Leach, president of the CPC's board, moved to Cincinnati eight years ago from Columbus. “I immediately fell in love with the historic infrastructure of Cincinnati,” he says. “It defines Cincinnati from other Midwestern cities.”

Each year, the CPC chooses four buildings as part of its annual Impact Buildings Program. The program directs its advocacy efforts to the chosen buildings through promotion, fundraising and helping the community imagine the future with these historic sites.

“We’ve got a very diverse community with a lot of different talents,” Leach says.

In March, members of the collective were invited to a caucus at The Mockbee where representatives for each building could pitch their reasons why their site should be chosen. CPC members then voted on which four buildings they would focus on for the upcoming year.

Though the program in only a year in length, the CPC considers themselves “stewards” of the buildings and will often stay involved after the year has concluded.

Plans are still in the early stages for the four buildings chosen for 2017:

First German Reformed Church, 1815 Freeman St.
The CPC will focus on raising awareness and support for the church. Leach says the West End is a passionate and active community that grows every year.

The CPC is open to working with anyone who wants to develop the property, as long as they have a positive vision for the community.

Lafayette Bloom Middle School, 1941 Baymiller St.
Built in 1920, the Lafayette Bloom Middle School could also be a place for new businesses or organization to grow in the West End.

Cincinnati Federation of Colored Women’s Clubhouse (also known as the C.H. Burroughs House), 1010 Chapel St.
Built in 1888, the Cincinnati Federation of Colored Women purchased the house in 1925 after working for 10 years to secure a down payment. After another 20 years, the group paid off the mortgage. Leach says it was significant that the CFCC owned the building since housing policies and practices at the time often excluded African Americans. The next step is to coordinate with the CFCC to understand what their vision is for the building.

“The most ideal situation is reaching out to the owners and developing a partnership, hearing what their needs are and how our organization can help,” Leach says.

City of Cincinnati Island Lamps or The Turtle Lamps
Though not technically a building, the City of Cincinnati Island Lamps are known as Turtle Lamps, thanks to their dome-like shape. Leach says the unique light fixtures were recently added to Atlas Obscura, a website that aggregates local oddities and places of interest.

“Our plan is to get more information about the lamps from the city and to see what protections can be put in place for existing lamps,” he says.

The CPC is always looking for volunteers; contact friends@preservethenati.org for more information.


Fourteen Cincinnati projects chase after Ohio historic tax credits


With just one month remaining in the application review period, 14 Cincinnati projects are after over $26 million from the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program.

The program is highly competitive program and contributes to economic development all over the state. It provides a tax credit to development projects in order to influence the private redevelopment of the state’s many historic buildings.

In the previous 15 funding rounds of the program, tax credits have been approved for 284 projects to rehabilitate 398 historic buildings in 52 different communities. The program is geared toward owners of historically designated buildings who wish to undertake a rehabilitation project.

But what makes a building eligible?

A building is eligible if it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; contributes to a National Register Historic District, National Park Service Certified Historic District or Certified Local Government historic district; or is listed as a local landmark by a Certified Local Government.

The 48 applications received in the current round range from historic theater renovations to the restoration of a single storefront.

Notable projects that have requested tax credits in the Cincinnati area this round include:
  • The Traction Company building, a 60,230-square-foot building that Parkes Companies, Inc., plans to convert into a mixed-use property
  • Union Terminal, which is asking for the maximum $5 million in tax credits to assist with the $212 million renovation
  • First National Bank (under the ownership of NewcretImage, LLC.), which is also asking for the maximum $5 million to assist with converting the building into a contemporary lifestyle hotel
  • Smaller projects, like the conversion of 620 and 622 Vine St. into a large commercial space with upper apartments (Sieber Vine Holding LLC), are also in the mix

Other developments in major cities like Cleveland and Columbus have requested millions in tax credits in hopes of redeveloping and/or restoring buildings like Cleveland’s Terminal Tower, The Palace Theatre in Columbus, the Louis Sullivan Building in Newark and more.

Statewide, the total request of historic tax credits for the March round is over $75 million. Round 18 applications were due March 31, and approved applications will be announced on or before June 30. Applications will be received for the September round later this summer.
 


"Alternative" art fair at center of immersive art experience in Camp Washington


Although their neighborhood doesn't got a lot of local coverage, the Camp Washington Community Board has been working around the clock to build up and expand the Camp Washington community and what it has to offer.

On April 30, the Board is partnering with Wave Pool Gallery to bring an alternative art fair, studio sale, temporary mural unveiling and the grand opening of a refugee-run retail shop will put the neighborhood front and center in Cincinnati's arts-and-culture scene. This event, according to Wave Pool Gallery, won’t be your run-of-the-mill art fair.

Titled 9x18: The Parking Lot Art Experiment, the art fair will take place at 2927 Colerain Ave. and feature performance art, art actions, experimental engagements, ephemeral works and more.

Inspired by the growth of the Camp Washington community, Wave Pool curated the event in conjunction with Girl Noticed, the Camp Washington Community Board and the Welcome Project Café/Boutique.

The public will be able to enjoy an array of art from local artists who want to convey that art can be about immersion and not just about purchasing it. Artists will include Ingred Alexandra, Marc Governanti, Annie Brown, Elise Barrington, Nina Devine, Hugh Patton, Caravan, Erin Drew, POPP=D Art, Camp Washington Art and Mobile Produce and many more.

The range of work showcased by these artists will offer something for everyone. Alexandra and Governanti focus on visual arts with multimedia and video vignette performances, and CAMP provides a cart-and-bike produce and art immersion experience with fresh produce from the Camp Washington farm alongside coloring books with vegetables, recipes, etc. POPP=D Art runs under a mobile trend like CAMP, traveling in a repurposed rainbow caravan and bringing to the forefront that “it doesn’t have to be in a gallery to be considered art,” which is what the 9x18 event is all about.

9x18 aims to change the way that local (and national) art is perceived. Not all artists sell commodities to the general public; in fact, many artists run their careers on immersive experiences. They still want to showcase their work to a large audience, but until the idea of 9x18 came about, there has not been an art fair of this nature in the area.

In addition to the parking lot art fair, visitors can also view the studio sale in Wave Pool’s upstairs space (featuring gently used art supplies, home furnishings, etc.), the debut of a new temporary mural completed by Lori Practico from Girl Noticed (bringing awareness to the important role and the value of females in society) and the grand opening of the Welcome Project Café/Boutique, a storefront on Colerain for refugees and immigrants to sell their crafts and handmade goods. The new business was started by Wave Pool in collaboration with Heartfelt Tidbits.

The project was funded by a grant from The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation. The event will run from 1 to 5 p.m. and is free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://www.wavepoolgallery.org or call (513) 600-6117.
 


Beyond the Curb returns to showcase Covington's diverse and iconic spaces


For the second consecutive year, Beyond the Curb Urban Living Tour returns to Covington, and as Northern Kentucky’s largest city, the recent rehabilitation and redevelopment projects occurring in the area will be a major highlight of the event.

For one day only, self-guided tours will feature a variety of Covington’s finest urban living aspects, from completed and in-progress historic homes to luxury condos and apartment complexes that have created endless possibilities for living in the heart of Northern Kentucky.

“This is not your typical home tour,” says Jill Morenz of The Catalytic Fund, which sponsors the Beyond the Curb events. “In addition to beautifully finished homes, we included projects that are in progress to encourage visitors to imagine the possibilities in the gorgeous old buildings of Covington. We’re also highlighting the amenities that Covington has to offer, including world-class public art, quirky shops and charming gardens and trails.”

The recent redevelopments in Covington will likely make this one of the top Beyond the Curb tours to date. Madison Flats, the new 13 one-bedroom apartments that are set to open this summer also holds first-floor retail/business space for potential startups in the area. And since its grand opening in September 2016, Hotel Covington has seen a major influx of locals and tourists alike.

The self-guided urban living tour will focus on 16 unique homes and businesses in a wide variety of neighborhoods within the city. The mix of property types will offer viewers not only a different neighborhood vibe, architecture and amenities, but also a range of prices that makes Covington approachable for people from all walks of life.

Featured Covington neighborhoods will include:

  • Pike Street Corridor: 114 W. Pike St.; 10 W. Pike St.; 110 W. Pike St.; 902 Banklick St.; 317 Orchard St.; 115 W. Robbins St.; 605 Madison Ave.; 1023 Russell St.; 1 Innovation Alley; Hotel Covington, 638 Madison Ave.; 502 Madison Ave.
  • Historic Licking Riverside/Roebling Point: Boone Block, 420 Scott St.; 124 Garrard St.; Amos Shinkle Carriage House, 215 Garrard St.; The Ascent at Roebling Bridge, 1 Roebling Way; 124 Garrard St.
  • MainStrasse Village: 114 11th St.

Highlights of these buildings include a 10,000-square-foot Greek revival home built in 1847, Covington’s first skyscraper (1910), a 130-year-old row house and a former sewing machine factory.

Beyond the Curb will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 30. Early bird tickets are $15 and are available online at www.beyondthecurb.org until April 29. Tickets will also be available for purchase at Hotel Covington the day of the event for $20. All ticket holders must register at Hotel Covington the day of to receive a map of the route.
 


Tom McKenna creating own niche in OTR community with Allez Bakery


Allez Bakery, located at 1208 Main St., is the newest addition to Over-the-Rhine’s already impressive line-up of locally-owned restaurants, breweries and cafes.

Owner, baker and Cincinnati native Tom McKenna hopes to play a positive role in the community. His business approach is steeped in social conscientiousness and affection for the city he calls home.

“I genuinely want to be a positive force in the neighborhood by being a staple of people's diets and routines," he says. "Interactions, as small as they may be, can change someone's day, and if I can do that while making a living, I'm way ahead of a lot of people."

While Allez is new to the OTR scene, McKenna got his start years ago. He learned the ropes at the New England Culinary Institute and then did a stint at Blue Oven Bakery before branching out on his own to provide fresh bread to the community.

“I opened the bakery because there wasn't the job I saw for myself already in existence in the city," McKenna says. "I wanted more control over what I did for a living and I had a skill that wasn't very widespread at the time. A lot of people are very good bakers but they either have other successful jobs or just don't want to do it as a career. I needed a career and had loads of support from friends and family and was able to turn that into a bakery."

The menu includes variations of the classic sourdough, such as urban sourdough, seeded sourdough and rye sourdough, along with items like ciabatta, French baguettes and sandwiches.

Morning offerings will soon include scones, biscuits and toast. The afternoon menu will feature sandwiches and beer, in addition to fresh bread. The craft bakery’s signature items are its sourdough and whole grain breads .

Items are available at both retail and wholesale prices to local restaurants. Fresh bread and sandwich delivery are offered via bicycle courier service.

Allez is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.
 


Collective Espresso goes mobile to reach more Cincy coffee drinkers


Dave Hart is co-owner of Collective Espresso, a business that is synonymous with quality coffee in Cincinnati. It currently operates out of brick-and-mortar coffee shops in Northside and Over-the-Rhine, and just recently, a mobile coffee truck was added to the blend.

This development, called Collective Field Services, began around the same time Hart and his business partner Dustin Miller lost their lease at the Contemporary Arts Center. That was their third coffee shop; it was replaced with a second Bottle & Basket, a deli owned by the ever-expanding Wellmann’s Brands.

The coffee truck, a 1982 Chevy G30, made its first venture into the city at the first spring City Flea, and later that day, at the Pollination Festival in Northside. Hart spoke with Soapbox about what led to the acquisition of the truck and what it means for Collective Espresso’s presence in Cincinnati.

So what's the story behind the truck?
The truck also comes from Berlin, Ohio. It’s kind of an interesting story, how this all came about. It started in a very organic way. We had a meeting with the guys from Such and Such to fabricate a bike for us, and we’re building this bike — it’s a pedicab that’s going to haul kegs of cold brew — and it’ll just do weekend events. It’s not like a staple of the business or anything like that, it’ll just be for special events.

When we first started talking about this, we thought this could be the launch for a whole mobile food and coffee operation. At the time, this truck had been in the fold. Dustin’s brother had two delis up in the Berlin area and he does a hot dog cart during special events. He bought the truck to sell hot dogs, but he’s got a million things going on. Right around the time of our talks with Such and Such, we found an espresso machine, a Synesso, for a really reasonable price outside Philadelphia. It’s similar to what we have at Collective Espresso Northside but  smaller — it’s a two-group Synesso. We found a heck of a deal on it and we kind of just bought it with no real intentions. We knew at some point we would need it. It could have been a backup.

At this point, we have no CAC location and we have an espresso machine. We needed to do something. It was a week later when Dustin’s brother, Ryan, called and said he was selling the truck and asked if we wanted it. It all happened in the span of two or three weeks and it made perfect sense to us as a logical progression. We have a killer staff from CAC and we figured we could absorb them into something new that we do, so all signs pointed toward it as a no-brainer.

The truck is named after a bus that hauls Amish people from where Dustin and I are from, and it’s called Pioneer Trails. It takes Amish people from Berlin to Florida. A lot of Amish people go to Sarasota in the winter. We want to get “Pioneer Trails” painted on the front of the truck.

When did you buy the truck?
We bought the truck in November. It sat at my parents’ house for a while and we’d go up on weekends to work on it. We gutted the whole thing. It used to be a book mobile — growing up in the country, if your town doesn’t have a library, the book mobile will come to your school and once every two weeks, you’d get a break from class to go look at what’s in the book mobile. The truck had been decommissioned years ago and then it was owned by a television station.

What can customers buy from the truck?
It’s a basic coffee shop menu. We’re looking to do something with a keg for cold brew, but it’ll be just like any of our coffee shops. We’ll have light baked goods. Lots of food trucks have miniature espresso machines, but we have a full-sized espresso machine, so we’ll be able to work at the exact same pace as we do in any of our shops.

Are there any long-term plans where the truck can be found?
We’re going to start doing things to see what ultimately ends up being successful. The idea is twofold: to service the food truck areas — we have a customer base downtown from our CAC location, so it makes sense to stick near Fountain Square’s food truck space. Weekdays we’ll be there and also at Washington Park on nice days.

Weekends, it’s not just a mobile vending thing, it’s an opportunity for us to get in front of people we’re not normally in front of. If there’s a neighborhood that might warrant opening a Collective Espresso in it, this is a great way to go there, meet people and test market the business. We’d like to be in various different neighborhoods on the weekends: Walnut Hills, College Hill, maybe somewhere on the West Side. New people. Special events are also a given. We’ll see as it goes along.

Going mobile, what’s the truck’s maximum radius going to be?
If there was a big event, we could take it far out of town, but it’s an ’82 — an older piece of equipment. I don’t think it’s going to be taking trips to Louisville every weekend. We kind of exist in these little bubbles where everybody knows what Collective Espresso is, but then I go to some big event in town and realize there are all of these people out there who still have no idea. There are even people in OTR who ask when we opened and it’s weird to tell them almost five years ago. I think that the truck gets rid of that limiting factor of having to be in these little, obscure up-and-coming neighborhood situations. There’s nothing wrong with a bunch of people knowing what we do.

To keep up with the coffee truck, follow @collective_field_services on Instagram.
 


Increased focus on development creates stronger neighborhood vibe in College Hill


Over the past 15 years, many of the businesses in College Hill's central business district have closed or relocated, leaving vacancies and a struggling business district. But fresh ideas and new businesses have started to spring up in the neighborhood, bringing new life to College Hill.

In the midst of the current community transition, Jacob Samad, College Hill native and VP of the College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation, believes one of the constants has been a group of engaged residents that never gave up on revitalizing College Hill. Through organizations like CHCURC, the College Hill Forum, the College Hill Business Association, the College Hill Ministerium and College Hill Gardeners, invested members of the community have stayed involved, continued to work with the city and ultimately developed a plan to address the unique needs of the neighborhood's business district.

"Much of the redevelopment work has been aimed at creating opportunities for people to call College Hill home for the majority of their lives," Samad says. "By increasing walkability and working on creating spaces for people to interact, there is much greater opportunity for neighbors to live life together in their neighborhood. While it is not new that residents of College Hill have cared about their neighborhood, there is a sense that that caring is beginning to pay off.”

By focusing on the mid-district area and acquiring blighted properties, CHCURC and other community partners were able to begin redevelopment by helping to encourage the new Episcopal Retirement Services development, Marlowe Court. CHCURC has also been redeveloping aging buildings along Hamilton Avenue with the goal of drawing in new business.

The most recent success was the opening of Brink Brewing. One of Cincinnati’s newest breweries, Brink has become a community gathering spot; it's been open a little over a month, and its Fashionably Late IPA recently won Tour de Cincinnati's #CincyCraftMadness.

Ultimately, Samad hopes the concentrated effort to improve the mid-business district will attract a large-scale development to the corner of North Bend and Hamilton. The idea is to fill the vacancy with mixed-use development College Hill Station, which will break ground in fall. Plans include first-floor retail with three stories of market-rate residential units above.

Local leaders hope the proposed development will increase population density while providing new rental options in the neighborhood.

“There is a palpable sense of excitement and expectation as new businesses continue to open and be announced that did not exist 10-15 years ago," Samad says. "The new development is the culmination of years of hard work and countless hours of planning and executing. It has galvanized the community and forced various parts of the community to come together to accomplish this together."


Museum Center curates CurioCity events to reach a different crowd


While Union Terminal undergoes renovations, museum staff has had to get creative to make our community’s shared history available. The Duke Energy Children's Museum is open during construction, but the Cincinnati Museum Center wanted to tap into the 21 and up crowd too, so they designed the monthly CurioCity series, which aims to teach young professionals about history in a fun, informal way.

“A lot of young professionals want to learn about Cincinnati history,” says Emily Logue, manager of community festivals and events at the Museum Center. “Whether it’s beer history, little-known facts, the arts or pop culture.”

Rather than attending a lecture, CurioCity prioritizes interaction, experience and socializing. Six of the eight events from the inaugural season of CurioCity were held at local bars and breweries and featured an eclectic mixture of history and fun.

“The best quote I’ve ever heard is, ‘This is the most I’ve ever used my brain at a bar,’” Logue says.

The series started last September and really hit its stride in November when Arnold’s Bar and Grill hosted Wizard Meets Flapper to mark the release of the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Logue says the history of Arnold's, and the fact that it's the oldest bar in Cincinnati, makes it an ideal location to hold CurioCity events.

“Ninety-eight percent of guests were dressed as a wizard, a flapper or both,” Logue says. Attendees listened to jazz music and danced at the “speakeasy” style event.

Beer-centric events have proven popular with the young professional crowd, especially if centered around a local brew. CurioCity went hyper-local by partnering with Urban Artifact for Crafting Culture, where guests learn how beer is made. The event featured a specially brewed beer, the Union Terminal Bach — a beer brewed from yeast collected at Union Terminal.

In March, the Viking “Mead-up” at Arnold’s gave guests the opportunity to tap into their inner Viking with mead brewed at a local meadery.

The grand finale of the first season of CurioCity Throwback Thursday at 6:30 p.m on April 13. Attendees will relive their 1990s childhoods as they take over the Duke Energy Children’s Museum for the night. Guests will be able to make their own ice cream with liquid nitrogen, make friendship bracelets and enjoy '90s-themed coloring pages. The Children’s Museum’s famous wooden jungle gym and ball machine will be open as well.

Light bites will include childhood favorites like tater tots and bagel bites. Jenco Brothers Candy will have samples and local shop Full Frontal Nerdity will be on hand to sell buttons featuring '90s legends like Bill Nye the Science Guy. Logue says scrunchies and apparel with sunflowers are encouraged but not required.

The second season of CurioCity returns this summer. See the full schedule here.
 


NKU Six @ Six lecture series showcasing Appalachian arts, culture and talent


With success in its previous Six @ Six interactive lecture series, which began in 2010, Northern Kentucky University’s Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement is in the midst of its next series, held in conjunction with the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Titled Appalachia: An American Story, this series focuses on workshops, readings and discussions showcasing Appalachia’s traditions and ongoing contributions to the world of literature and art. According to the Center for Civic Engagement, the region has been an especially powerful artistic lens for novelists, poets, essayists, painters, photographers, musicians and others to interpret the American character and spirit.

The staple event of the six-part series will be a symposium at the CAM on April 28, when five artists who have depicted Appalachia in unique ways will take the stage. According to Mark Neikirk, the executive director at the Center for Civic Engagement, this is the fourth year that NKU has connected with the CAM for such an event.

“We began with a discussion of Machiavelli on the 500th anniversary of The Prince, the next year our topic was Moby-Dick and last year it was the environment as a muse to writers and other artists,” Neikirk says. “The topic changes each year. The constant is our collaboration with the Art Museum to host our discussion. The Art Museum symposium is a way for us to export the University’s intellectual capacity to community audiences — and to give the Greater Cincinnati community a taste of the rich life of the mind at NKU.”

Neikirk says the planning committee believes that the discussion of Appalachia, the mountains, mountain people and understanding mountain art should be of importance to people outside of the mountains themselves. The title of the series shows this as it reflects themes that are held by many Americans: love of kin, love of land, love of place, love of individual independence and love of neighbors.

Why Cincinnati and not the actual mountain area?

Neikirk says they hope to present a broader picture of Appalachia with more depth and a variety of voices. “No, I would not consider Cincinnati Appalachia, but yes, there are strong Appalachia ties here," he says. "Many of us, myself included, are descended from mountain families. People came here for jobs and opportunity, and we brought that heritage with us. There is a very active Appalachian community in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, including around the arts.”

While the CAM symposium is the main event of the series, there are other events scheduled that will feature poets, literature figures, artists and more. Some of these events are open to the public, while others are only offered to NKU students. The lectures and events are free of charge (with the exception of the photography workshop) as a method of getting people involved and interested in what the history of Appalachia entails.

Be sure to check out NKU’s Six @ Six lecture series in the events listed below:


• April 22, 1 p.m.: Readings by poets and writers and a discussion at Kenton County Public Library, Covington branch

• April 25-27: Malcolm J. Wilson photography workshop at Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center, Covington

• April 28: Robert Gipe, writing workshop, NKU (students only)

• April 28, 6:45 p.m.: Symposium, CAM (tickets are available here)

• May 2, 6:30 p.m.: Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman, reading and discussion, Grant County Public Library, Williamstown

• May 18, 7 p.m.: Poets' reading and discussion, Center for Great Neighborhoods, Covington

• June 17, noon: Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman, memoir writing workshop, Roebling Point Books & Coffee, Covington
 


New ocean-inspired Eighth and English brings more than fresh fish to O'Bryonville


Longtime Cincinnati chef Chase Blowers is branching out on his own, with his new restaurant, Eighth and English, and a plan to deliver seafood-centric fare and eccentric flair to O’Bryonville.

Last month, Blowers hosted a series of soft launches in the space at 2038 Madison Rd., most recently home to Enoteca Emilia — a choice of both neighborhood and building that the new occupant says was very much intentional.

“I love O’Bryonville,” Blowers says. “The space itself is historic. The building from 1861 originally served as Mary O’Bryan's house. It has a lot of character — the exposed brick is genuine, and the mezzanine and private room double the size of the restaurant on busy nights.”

Though still new, Blowers says Eighth and English has received a warm welcome, with visiting foodies offering feedback and suggestions that his team is keen to hear.

In his first venture as a restaurateur, Blowers taps into years of experience cooking at local institutions like Boca, as well as industry relationships he’s forged peripherally in wine and spirits, to bring guests an experience he hopes will be a refreshing change from overly rich and heavier menu options often associated with fine dining.

The menu — which, according to the restaurant’s website, is subject to “change with season or rhythm” — currently emphasizes ocean fare with a daily raw/oyster bar and dinner menu featuring items like smoked rainbow trout, Sardinian baby octopus stew and grilled lobster.

“I wanted to fill a void in the market,” Blowers explains. “Although the cost of seafood is high and, if not managed correctly, the waste involved can be truly damaging, I think we have the right team to make it work.”

But Eighth and English also offers much in the way of turf — and at a very manageable price point compared to other restaurants of its caliber. An extensive array of pasta dishes, roast chicken, duck and lamb options round out a playful-yet-deliberate spread punctuated by thoughtful wine, champagne and cocktail pairings.

Eighth and English is as much about the vibe as it is about the food. The space features rotating installments by local artists, as well as a chilled-out private dining option. Second only to creating good food, Blowers expresses a desire for visitors to treat his restaurant like a second home.

“I want the staff to know by name and listen to every guest, and I want every guest to know the staff by name,” says Blowers, who has no desire to cater to any one type of patron. “If you want to drink a $200-plus bottle of wine or if you want to throw back a few High Lifes and eat some bottarga fries before a Reds game, we are here for both.”

Rothenberg School's Rooftop Garden is hosting a unique fundraising dinner at Eighth and English from 5 to 9:30 p.m. on April 27. Thirty-five percent of the proceeds from the event will support the garden in providing enhanced education to its students in an outdoor classroom setting. Garden lessons integrate math, science and reading into hands-on experiences that complement the students' academic curriculum.

Reservations are required; call 513-386-7383 or visit Eighth and English's website to book a table.
 


Cincinnati Type & Letterpress Museum to celebrate city's rich printing history


Off Eighth Street in Lower Price Hill sits a piece of Cincinnati history, one that Gary Walton learned to operate in middle school and consequently, turned into a 40-year career.

Cincinnati's rich printing history and a passion for the craft led Walton, a long-time professor at Cincinnati State, to partner with BLOC Ministries to open the Cincinnati Type & Print Museum and the BLOC Letterpress Shop.

The museum, set to officially open to the public early this summer, is a hands-on opportunity for visitors to not only see what the history of the printing press was from a Cincinnati perspective, but also to experience it firsthand.

One of the goals of the museum is to showcase the history that is the Cincinnati Letterpress — from former printing companies to those that continue to show success in the area, such as CJK Print Possibilities.

Today, printing is more commonly seen on handmade cards and announcements, but there is a solid history behind printing both on a national and local level. The printing press, invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440, has evolved over the centuries from wood block type and print to large, heavy metal printing machines. According to Walton, the Cincinnati Type Foundry was a large manufacturer of typefaces, matrices and other type equipment from 1826-1892 (when it merged with American Type Founders).

Henry Barth, a German immigrant, was employed by the Foundry in the late 1840s/early 1850s and helped to make Cincinnati the center of the industry. He contributed to the invention of a number of special machines for the Cincinnati market, including the first cylinder presses, a double casting machine and an automatic casting machine. When the merge with the American Type Founders Company occurred, Barth’s work was exclusively owned and patented, as he was an expert in the field.

Aside from the historical nature of the museum, BLOC intends to make the print shop into a job creator, specifically for Lower Price Hill residents. In learning about the history of printing, the artistic character behind it and the skills required, both BLOC and Walton hope to see an increase in the number of students that wish to pursue a career in printing.

The building where the museum is located was renovated to the tune of $250,000. While this may seem like a thing of the past to some, printing is still a growing career. Plans to expand the facility, add more machines and historical context and offer classes are in the works as well.

For more information, visit the museum's website and stay tuned for more information as its opening nears.
 


Molly Wellmann opening second Bottle and Basket location in CAC


Later this spring, Molly Wellmann and Wellmann’s Brands will open another Bottle and Basket location in the Contemporary Arts Center.

Opening on the ground floor of the CAC, the restaurant will be a reflection of the partnership that Wellmann’s Brands has developed with the CAC over the years.


The space will be renovated in stages to accommodate the new concept. The café area was recently occupied by Collective Espresso, whose lease was up in late March. The coffee shop chose to close and focus on its locations in Over-the-Rhine and Northside rather than renew.

The café area of Bottle and Basket CAC will open at 8 a.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The menu will be similar to what is available at its other location in Over-the-Rhine — breakfast and lunch items, pastries, baked goods, coffee and other beverages. Wellmann’s Brands executive chef Lisa Kagen will oversee the CAC menu and plans to add to it over time.

Like its sister businesses, Bottle and Basket CAC will have a bar on the Walnut Street side of the Kaplan Hall lobby. It will open at 4 p.m. when the restaurant's menu will switch over to dinner. Many of the signature drinks and other cocktails found at other Wellmann locations will be featured at Bottle and Basket CAC. 

Other bar biz updates from Wellmann's Brands


Wellmann's Brands also owned and operated The Famous Neons Unplugged in OTR, which closed in mid-December after its lease expired. Plans to reopen are unknown, as the owners continue to search for a new operating space that will allow more seating, better access to parking and a larger outdoor space.

Another of its restaurants, Melt Eclectic Café in Northside, is moving from its long-time home next to Northside Tavern to a new, larger space in The Gantry. An opening date is yet to be announced, but you can keep tabs on its progress on Facebook. Until then, you can purchase a variety of Melt's menu staples on Wednesdays at the Northside Farmers Market.
 


Braxton Brewery announces second NKY location at former Ei8ht Ball space


Expect a totally different look inside Party Source's Ei8ht Ball Brewing space as Covington's Braxton Brewing Company takes it over this summer.

Braxton announced its plans last week, along with alerting consumers that the space will close for a few months for remodeling. This expansion comes just after Braxton celebrated its second birthday this past weekend.

The brewery will open Braxton Labs — a brewery and a taproom — that will become an innovation facility to make unique, small-batch beers, says Jake Rouse, co-founder and CEO.

Beers will be brewed in 15 barrel batches and available on tap, but only a limited amount will be packaged.

Much like its current location, the remodeled space will capture the spirit of the garage, which is where Braxton was born. That original garage on Braxton Drive in Union, Ky., was where head brewer Evan Rouse started his career.

"We'll definitely infuse some of our garage motif into the space, but the real point of emphasis in Braxton Labs will be the product that is poured from the taps, says Jonathan Gandolf, chief marketing officer for Braxton. 

While consumers are waiting for the new taproom, folks can find everything at Ei8ht Ball 50 percent off until they close April 1, says Hannah Lowen, general manager of New Riff Distilling Company, which owns Ei8ht Ball.

Even though Ei8ht Ball was doing well, Lowen says that New Riff wants to focus on distilling. It's beginning a $7.5 million project in Newport, which involves renovating the original Greenline Bus Building and building a 17,300-square-foot building for a rickhouse (where the barrels are stored for aging).

Rouse says that Braxton had to think about its next steps because the brewery wants to "push the envelope."

"We saw an opportunity to create an entirely new facility dedicated to focusing on experimenting and imagining new beers, and we can’t wait to share this experience with you in a few months," he says.

Experimenting is in Braxton's blood. A partnership with Graeter's lead to the creation of the Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip Milk Stout. They've also created a 1957 English Style Mild Ale to celebrate the baseball season.

Last year, Braxton partnered with Carabello Coffee in Newport to launch Bourbon-aged Starter Coffee from Braxton Brewing Co. Coffee, which is inspired by their dad Greg who liks his coffee black with lots of cream and sugar.

The new location will also allow Braxton to literally expand — as of October, the brewery was at full capacity for fermentation. They're planning on adding more fementers this year.

After Ei8ht Ball closes, Braxton will begin work on acquiring the necessary permits and making the taproom their own.
 


Q&A with Karen Arnett of the Mt. Healthy Renaissance Project


The Main Theater may be a treasured landmark in Mt. Healthy, but it needs renovations before new memories can be made under its roof. Karen Arnett of the Mt. Healthy Renaissance Project is part of a concentrated local effort to restore the theater to working condition after more than a decade of neglect. She answered some questions for Soapbox concerning the building’s ultimate fate and how The Main Theater can fit into a modern Mt. Healthy.

How and from whom did you acquire the property?
The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority acquired it in 2015 through the Hamilton County Land Reutilization Corp. (Landbank), which it manages, and spent nearly $41,000 on repairs — fixes to protect it from further deterioration, such as boarding up windows, gutting the interior and making roof repairs.

What was the Main Theater’s condition before your involvement?
The building had been empty for 10-15 years. Structurally, it is in surprisingly good condition. It was looking a bit rough around the edges when the Port did its stabilization. The Port had the front façade/cornice repainted, and it really glows now. The City has not done any work on the building as of yet, other than to replace a broken front window. We are still in the process of exploring possibilities for renovation, and haven’t yet developed a specific road map for funding or construction. Currently, we are moving forward to nominate The Main Theater for the National Register of Historic Places, and don’t want to do any construction work prematurely that might endanger our ability to secure the historic tax credits that will accompany the historic designation.

How much work and time has your organization invested in The Main?
When we learned that the City would be acquiring The Main Theater, the Mt. Healthy Renaissance Project put together a working group to lead the charge. Mayor Wolf and a Mt. Healthy city councilmember, Jenni Moody, are a part of the group, along with several members of the Renaissance Project. So it turns out that this won’t be a charge so much as a steady walk. Reclaiming and repurposing The Main Theater will be a long process, perhaps taking a few years.

Something rewarding last fall was that the UC/DAAP historic preservation class, under Prof. Jeff Tillman, included The Main and three other Mt. Healthy buildings in their practicum class. They took measurements and inspected the building and mapped current conditions.

What kind of work is still needed?
We are in phase one of this mid- to long-term project. Everything is ahead of us: getting an architectural plan in place and fundraising for the renovation. Phase I is a kind of friend-raising period. This year, we will be opening a pop-up shop in the intact storefront. We will be open weekly, hopefully a few hours each weekend, from May-September. The pop-up will be a fun experiment: we want to bring people to The Main, to let them know what’s in the works and to energize the building. We hope to have the work of local artists and artisans for sale, along with temporary art exhibits by our local community groups. In honor of Mt. Healthy’s bicentennial, we’ll offer some special wares. The pop-up will also be a performance space. We have some community members who want to bring spoken word, acoustic music and that kind of thing. We’ll also have some freshly brewed and locally roasted Deeper Roots coffee for folks to sip.

Another exciting thing in the works is that we are working with Elementz on a mural for the front entry wall of The Main Theater. The mural artist, Ben Thomas, is going to do the work, and it is going to make the place look vibrant. We expect that will be completed by the pop-up opening in May.

What is the plan for The Main's future use after revitalization?
Although things could change, our current vision on which the working group unanimously agrees is that we want the space to return to being an entertainment hub for our community. The theater was a mainstay in the lives of thousands of folks who grew up in and around Mt. Healthy, and those folks have many good memories of this theater. We think that Mt. Healthy deserves to have such a hub once again, though this time around, it will not be solely for movies. We envision it being a place for a mix of live theater, live music concerts, some film and other events. We’d be happy to find a theater group that might want to make The Main its home base.

What do you think is important for our readers to know about the theater?
The Main Theater had an incredibly long run — it was one of the longest-lived movie theaters in Cincinnati. The Blum family ran this movie theater from 1915-1971. It has a rich history and there are lots of stories. One fun story is that when the film broke during a movie, which it used to sometimes do in the celluloid days, the owner would go down to the front and play the banjo to entertain the audience until the movie resumed. And his cousin, who was a local Catholic church organist, played the piano for the silent movies before the talkies took over. The stories about The Show, as many locals still call it, are absolute gems.

You can follow the progress of The Main Theater, and find out more about the pop-up, by joining its Facebook group.
 


Second Sight Spirits looking forward to new products, expansion and the Bourbon Trail


This week, we're exploring the burgeoning craft beer and spirits industry in Ludlow, Ky. Check out our story about Bircus Brewing here.

Rick Couch and Carus Waggoner, founders of Second Sight Spirits, shared an innovative dream. They knew what it took to make a world-class product, as their earlier careers involved creating Las Vegas shows Cirque du Soleil LOVE and Viva Elvis. The sights and sounds of their roots are the inspiration behind Second Sight and the unique and creative experience it has brought to Northern Kentucky since it opened in 2015.

Second Sight originally offered white rum, but has since expanded to include spiced rum and bourbon barrel rum, as well as several flavors of Villa Hillbillies moonshine. New products and projects are in the works for 2017 and 2018, says Couch.

“We will be releasing several new products this year, including a smoked cherry rum, dark rum and bourbon,” he says. “We are also working with local officials and other businesses to develop a local bourbon themed experience.”

A recent expansion has allowed for Second Sight to further connect with other local businesses. The $70,000 expansion, which included turning the 1,200-square-foot facility into a 3,500-square-foot operating space, connected the distillery with neighboring Wynner’s Cup Café for special events. It was partially funded by a Duke Energy grant.

Driven by the passage of Kentucky Senate Bill 11 in July 2016 that allows distilleries to operate more like breweries (in terms of what they can sell and what size samples they can offer), the expansion will allow the distillery to operate an event space, meeting space, cocktail bar and more.

Second Sight has also recently launched a new bourbon program where customers can invest $500 in grain and barrels to make a batch of bourbon and be involved in the distilling process. In doing so, the customers can taste their product during the aging process and be part of the bottling party where they can sign each bottle of bourbon that they helped produce. The original $500 can then be used to purchase a bottle of bourbon and the barrel it was aged in.

This is just one of the many elements of Second Sight that set it apart from other local and national distilleries. The process, in addition to the atmosphere, help to build a one-of-a-kind experience for customers.

“We have taken the idea of craft distilling a step further by not only handcrafting spirits from high-quality ingredients but by constructing our own still and the theatrical elements in our tasting room as well,” Waggoner says. “We developed a theme based on the future and designed our still to look like a fortune teller with a custom crystal ball condenser. We think we may have created the world’s first themed art still.”

Couch says that Second Sight will be increasing its bourbon production this year in hopes of joining the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 2018.

Second Sight's tasting room is open from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays, and from noon to 8 p.m on Fridays and Saturdays. Tours are given at 12:30, 2 and 4 p.m. on Thursdays and at 12:30, 2, 4 and 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Tastings and tours are free. For more information, call 702-510-6075 or visit Second Sight's website.
 


Bircus Brewing serves first beer, focuses on community partnership

 

This week, we're exploring the burgeoning craft beer and spirits industry in Ludlow, Ky. Check out our story about Second Sight Spirits here.

A local clown is taking major steps to rejuvenate and nurture Ludlow's business interests, and he’s not joking around.

Paul Miller, a.k.a. Pauly the Clown from Circus Mojo, is a forward-thinking businessman. His newest venture into beer brewing, Bircus (pronounced beer-cuss) Brewing Co., is projected to be a means to an end for his already existing circus education program that provides both job training and entertainment to Ludlow’s residents.

Bircus thinks, acts and spends locally. Inhabiting the old Ludlow Theater, Miller and his troupe aim to invert the old idiom of “the circus comes to town,” and instead, bring the town to the circus.

“We are not going to worry about canning, bottling or putting Bircus on grocery shelves," Miller says. "The goal is to become a destination. For seven years, we’ve been doing events in Ludlow, but we’ve been selling other people’s beer. The margins just aren’t there.”

Mixing hospitality with live entertainment, this business model is nothing new. Miller has collaborated with Matthias Vermael of Circus Planeet, a similar brewhouse-circus venture in Ghent, Belgium. The intent is to mix the theatrics of circus performance and the concessions of a brewery to maximize showtime profits.

The first public batch of Bircus beers was recently sold in the brewery’s parking lot patio area during this past weekend's Shop in Ludlow event.

Crowdfunding is the primary source of income for the fledgling brewery, whose funds currently stand near $300,000 of the $500,000 goal. Bircus is the first brewery under a new section of federal law that allows crowdfunding investors to buy equity.

“I did that so I can maintain control because I don’t want to argue with someone about whether or not 'bellydance night' made sense, or something like that,” says Miller. “I’ve said no to money for a long time, where people have said ‘I’ll give you all the money you want, I just want 50/50.’”

The goal, he says, is to keep the heart of the business beating and to refuse any notions of straying from the best interests of his circus and his local community of investors.

“I don’t want to be a Rhinegeist, I don’t want to buy 8,000 kegs and 40 trucks, there’s no reason. I can’t depreciate what I didn’t spend and I don’t have any loans, so there’s no amortization. Our self-distribution will be the biggest turnaround. Instead of making maybe fifty cents each six-pack, we hope to be making four or five bucks a pour.”

Bircus has signed a three-year lease with Norfolk Southern for a parking lot near the brewery to ensure convenience for visitors. This was procured so the brewery’s adjacent parking lot can be utilized for outdoor patio space.

The brewery is still under construction with no established opening day yet announced. Keep tabs on its Facebook page for up-to-date information.
 


The Center hosting two-night pop-up restaurant featuring local home chef


On April 7 and 8, The Center for Great Neighborhoods will host a pop-up restaurant featuring Covington resident and home chef, Chako. It will be a culinary dining experience in omotenashi, or the Japanese art of hospitality.

“When people eat my food, I want them to experience omotenashi, a concept intrinsically attached to the Japanese culture,” Chako says. “In English, it’s translated as hospitality, but to us Japanese, it involves so much more. Cooking and baking are my passion, therefore, I want my customers to be pleased and feel satisfied in all of their senses. I want them to feel welcomed, excited, unique and special.”

The two-day pop-up restaurant is the culmination of The Center’s pilot Chef Fellowship Program, which was funded by a FreshLo grant from The Kresge Foundation. Grants were given to organizations that were developing programs to help create healthy, vibrant communities strengthened by the deliberate integration of creative placemaking and food-oriented development.

The Chef Fellowship Program is a two-month kitchen and art workforce development internship that gives a home-based cook who is interested in starting a restaurant the chance to experience what it would be like to run one.

The Center also partnered with the Life Learning Center to provide interns with a real-world hospitality training program that includes learning hospitality skills, cooking techniques and arts-related skills. The interns will be the ones running the popup’s front of house, as well as helping Chako in the kitchen.

“It’s important to us to support local entrepreneurs and help them get the tools and resources to turn their ideas into a reality,” says Kate Greene, The Center’s program manager for community development.

For $45, guests will receive an authentic Japanese meal featuring salad, miso soup, housemade Japanese pickles, Japanese-style potato salad, chirashi zushi (scattered sushi) and two entrée choices — pork cooked in black tea topped with a fragrant sauce or agedashi tofu, which is deep fried and topped with tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, fried eggplant and a green onion sauce. The main course will be followed by wasanbon mousse, which is a Japanese dessert made in the traditional Shikoku method.

Guests 21 and over will be able to taste different types of Japanese beer or they can purchase a handcrafted sake glass for an additional $10, which comes with a sample of sake.

Chako uses fresh products and ingredients sourced locally or imported from around the world to achieve the taste and texture that she’s looking for.

“When I cook or bake, I try to anticipate what it will take to please my clients: first their sight, then taste and touch,” she says. “When they eat, I strive to make them feel as never before. I want my food to be a special gift for each person individually.”

Seatings are at 5:30 and 8 p.m. each night, and are limited to 25 people each seating. Tickets can be purchased here until April 1.
 


Landlocked Social House to bring coffee and craft beer community spot to Walnut Hills


Anne and Andrew Decker have always dreamed of opening a place that would allow them the freedom to independently explore their passions while also running a business together. Their ideal venture would allow them to share information about their passions with others who share the same interest. Landlocked Social House, the newest craft beer and coffee bar coming to Cincinnati, will do that and more.

Located on E. McMillan Street in Walnut Hills, the bar will offer something for everyone, as the Deckers understand that coffee and beer are not necessarily for everyone. They plan to incorporate other talented food and beverage businesses into the bar, which is set to open early this summer.

The couple plans to have pastries from a few bakers around town, as well as curated meat and cheese boards and pickled items. They plan to work with two bakers and a bagel maker to fill Landlocked's pastry cases, and bring in cocktail veterans to create a small in-house list of drinks.

“Aside from those options, we will be a bring-your-own-food establishment and have the occasional food truck in our beer garden," says Decker.

Fifteen craft beers and an assortment of sodas, cider, white and red wine and cold brew coffee will also be available on the custom tap system.

The idea of having a neighborhood coffee bar where you can run into friends and family on a regular basis was an important aspect in the selection of Walnut Hills for Landlocked's location.

“We chose Walnut Hills in large part because it is being thoughtfully developed by people who love this neighborhood and that is something we want to be a part of,” Decker says. “I will say that it would have in fact been easier on us to open in another building and another part of town, but we like it here.”

Landlocked is just minutes away from Eden Park, Clifton, Pendleton and Over-the-Rhine, with easy access to I-71 as well. The diversity and history of the area led the Deckers to lay their foundation there. “There is a lot of heart and hard work in this part of town," Decker says. "We hope the neighborhood will feel the same about us as we do our best to be a positive addition.”

The Deckers started a Kickstarter campaign that ran from Feb. 1 to March 8 to provide financial stability — on top of private funding and bank loans — to get the Landlocked project up and running. The building, owned by Becki and Jeremiah Griswold (who also own White Whale Tattoo and are friends of the Deckers), was previously abandoned and needed a lot of work.

With the help of friends, the Deckers renovated the building, exposing the original brick interior, installing new flooring, the tap system, adding new landscaping and more. Remaining projects include a new storefront window, drain and sink installation, minor electric work and a few other small projects. According to the Kickstarter page, the projects should all be completed in time for the summer opening.

While the Kickstarter campaign has ended, Decker says that donations are still being accepted and will be put to good use as they wrap up the remaining projects before opening.
 


Demolition of its theater to bring about a season of change for Playhouse in the Park


The historic Robert S. Marx Theatre in Eden Park will be demolished following the Playhouse in the Park's 2018-2019 season, as part of an optimistic revisioning that will celebrate the theater's 50th birthday and help the venue better cater to modern audiences.

“The theater was built at a time when there was less technology and the goal was to use as little scenery as possible,” says Playhouse artistic director Blake Robison. “Theater has changed a lot over the last 50 years.”

Currently, the only way to move props on and off stage is through the floor via elevator systems. Compared to many modern theaters, this is highly limiting and can be a hindrance to those accustomed to more versatile theaters that offer clearance for large scenery and props to be navigated from all directions.

“At the time it was built, there was a very minimalist approach, but I think dramaturgy has changed since then and audience expectations have certainly changed,” Robison says. “One of the things that I think Playhouse is known for is its beautiful sets and costumes. You always walk into our theater and experience the surprise of what it’s going to look like next time. So, we want to stay ahead of the eight ball and make sure that we’re bringing Cincinnati the widest variety of plays and musicals that we can. We feel strongly that we need that upgrade in order to keep up with the times.”

While no specific location has been finalized, the Playhouse ensemble will continue to perform during demolition and construction. It’s estimated the construction will displace the troupe for only one season.

“This facility in Eden Park has been so meaningful to people," Robison says. "We want to reassure people the Playhouse is staying in the park where it belongs, but we need to upgrade our home. We’re leaving the shelterhouse completely as-is, except that we’re going to put in more comfortable seats. I guess you could say that in there it’s going from economy to business class.”

The Marx Theatre at Playhouse in the Park recently premiered Jane Eyre, which runs until April 8.

 


Brewing Heritage Trail moving along, new app on the way


Cincinnati loves good beer, and it turns out that that’s nothing new. Thanks to the droves of skilled brewers who immigrated from Germany and settled in Cincinnati prior to Prohibition, it's long been known as a mecca for beer aficionados.

The Brewing Heritage Trail, which will begin in Pendleton and weave its way through OTR and into the Mohawk area, is gradually nearing completion, and will help tell the storied past of the Queen City’s role in the world of brewing. The trail will showcase former brewery buildings, share brewery information and tie all of that beer culture it into Cincinnati history.

Steven Hampton, executive director of the Over-the-Rhine Brewery District Urban Redevelopment Corporation, took some time away from Bockfest festivities to provide updates on the trail and to give some insight to the motivation behind the trail.

How would you describe the Brewing Heritage Trail to a tourist who's never heard of it before?
It is a fun and engaging way to learn and experience our city’s rich brewing heritage through signage, art, digital experiences and guided tours through the streets and historic breweries. It is not just the story of how much beer we made and drank, which was a lot, but the story of Cincinnati and America told through the lens of beer.

Has construction started on the trail? What kind of work needs to be done to complete this project?
In partnership with ArtWorks, there are almost a dozen public art pieces along the trail already. The first 3/4-mile physical segment of the trail, including signage and bronze medallion way finding, will be under construction this summer with completion around September, thanks to funding from the State of Ohio and the City of Cincinnati. We are also just about to launch the first version of the smartphone app for iOS and Android to lead you along the trail digitally and share even more content.

How is the trail organized?
The trail has three initial story segments, of which we are building one plus small portions of the other two as key connectors. The segments generally tell the overall story of brewing beer in Cincinnati, with many sub-stories that are tied to specific locations and buildings along the route.

The first segment we are building is the middle segment, “Glasses and Growlers." During the second half of the 19th century, breweries began playing a controversial role in the proliferation of saloons in cities across the nation. The "Glasses and Growlers" segment of the trail will explore the role that Cincinnati’s hearty beer industry, unregulated saloon trade and thirsty population played in shaping Americans’ relationship with beer.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, the Brewing Heritage Trail will be accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Once the app launches, you can download it for Apple or Android here.


Local firm plans to overhaul entire Mt. Auburn street


A new development in Mt. Auburn will provide much-needed single-family homeownership in the community. Viewpoints on the Hill, a product of Unum Investment Group, will include the construction of four new, single-family homes at 305-309 Seitz St.

The $2.6 million project will feature three- or four-bedroom houses, all sized at about 2,770 square feet. The LEED-certified homes will start at $659,000.

Quante Ferguson and Renee Jefferson of Unum have about a decade of real estate investment and rental management experience under their belts. The pair started out flipping houses and upgrading rental properties, but when the land along Seitz came their way, they were excited for the opportunity to build from the ground up.

Before construction can begin, two of the homes need to be sold. Construction can’t start before that because all four homes will be built on the same foundation. Coldwell Banker is the listing agent for Viewpoints on the Hill; check out current listings for 305 Seitz, 307a and 307b Seitz and 309 Seitz.

Ferguson and Jefferson hope to redevelop the whole block; the next phase of that plan is to convert a number of nearby apartments into condos.

Unum has partnered with B2B Equities to serve as the project advisor and minority partner. B2B has worked on several well known developments in Over-the-Rhine, including B-Side Lofts, Mottainai Lofts and New City Lofts.
 


Orleans Development to bring 13 apartments and first-floor retail space to downtown Covington


In mid-February, a new apartment project was announced to help further enhance Covington's already booming downtown.

Set to open this summer, Madison Flats will be home to 13 one-bedroom apartments and five storefronts. The new development, located in the 800 block of Madison Avenue, is led by local firm Orleans Development.

Each apartment will be of modeled in a modern European style with crisp, clean lines and simple floor plans that will include hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, chrome fixtures and more. A courtyard and other amenities will also be available to residents of the apartment complex. Rent for each apartment is expected to run from $600-875 a month, depending on the floor plan.

One of the unique aspects of the project is the presence of a storefront, which will allow potential startups the opportunity to participate in a rent subsidy program that will refund payroll taxes annually for up to five years. This plan, targeted for new Covington businesses, provides an incentive for property and business owners to lend a hand in redeveloping the area.

Orleans Development, which was founded in 2005, hopes that the Flats will capitalize on the revitalization of downtown Covington, which has seen an increase in residential opportunities over the last several years. Principal Founder Tony Kreutzjans has helped the firm become a leader in rebuilding Northern Kentucky.

According to Kreutzjans, the recent shift from suburban living to being in the hub of a city like Cincinnati or Covington is appealing to millennials and other young professionals. The need for more urban housing is on the rise with startups and new businesses flocking to downtown Covington.

Other Orleans projects include Market Lofts, Pike Street Lofts, PikeStar and bioLOGIC, all of which are adaptive reuse projects that aim to the architectural and historical significance of each building.

Orleans Development is also involved in the redevelopment of the Boone Block building, converting it into nine 3-story townhomes. Although construction has just begun on the project, four homes have already been sold, a trend that Orleans Development expects to see when the Flats apartments are available for rent in a few months.
 


NYC-based traveling story gatherers stopping in Cincinnati


Fourteen years ago, Dave Isay, a reporter and radio personality by trade,  wanted to capture stories, but not by sticking a microphone in people’s faces. So, he installed a recording booth where people could record their own conversations in Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, and StoryCorps was born.
 
“In the beginning, StoryCorps was very grassroots, but the question came up of whose stores were we actually recording,” says Jordan Bullard, associate director of the mobile tour.
 
In 2005, StoryCorps launched a mobile tour starting at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The Airstream trailer is retrofitted with a professional recording studio and allows individuals and their loved ones to have honest conversations with each other, and walk away with a copy of those conversations in their hands.
 
The mobile tour has visited more than 200 cities and 49 states (they haven’t made it to Alaska yet) in 12 years. The bus will make a stop in Cincinnati from April 20-May 19 at a location that is still to be determined.
 
This isn’t the first time StoryCorps has been to Cincinnati — it was here eight years ago. In each city it stops, StoryCorps partners with an NPR affiliate radio station; Cincinnati Public Radio actually asked StoryCorps to come back and visit.
 
“Many of the cities we’re visiting now are on the upswing and are experiencing a renaissance,” Bullard says. “We want to capture the changing dynamic of Cincinnati, as well as the memories and history of the city.”
 
Sharing your story is totally free and open to the public. In each city StoryCorps visits, the Airstream is set up in a central location so it’s easily accessible to everyone. The team is able to record up to seven stories a day, five days a week — a total of 154 stories during their stay in Cincinnati.
 
After stories are recorded, there are multiple ways to access them. Participants receive a free, unedited, broadcast-quality copy before they leave the Airstream. Select clips are broadcast on local NPR affiliated stations, and some clips make it onto NPR’s "Morning Edition," which is broadcast every Friday morning.
 
All stories are archived, with permission, in the Library of Congress, as well as in a local depository, which is still being decided for this visit. The archives are used for academic research, and have increasingly become an important resource for all kinds of reasons.
 
“I hope that StoryCorps brings an opportunity for people to reflect on their own story and reflect on their value and self-worth,” Bullard says. “Maybe it will give people a chance to listen to each other, which is easier said then done. Listening is an act of love — how often do you not pay attention to others?”
 
If you want to have your story on tape, you can sign up online starting April 6. Appointments are on a first-come, first-served basis.
 
There’s also an app, which is available for free in the Google Play and App stores. It allows users to record their stories and archive them at storycorps.me.
 

Bistro Grace owner opens second concept in Northside's CBD


The Hamilton, a new wine bar on Hamilton Avenue in Northside, opened in early February across the street from its sister restaurant, Bistro Grace. Owner Suzanne McGarry had purchased three buildings across from the Bistro several years ago, and along with the Bistro's chef, David Bever, she decided to utilize one of the storefronts for a new concept.

It's a comfy space designed for sipping wine, sharing small dishes and socializing at the bar or in an overstuffed leather chair.

But The Hamilton is more than just a bar. Patrons can stop by to purchase a bottle of wine or craft beer to take home, or stick around and order some food. There's a $10 corkage fee if you stay and open the bottle, but the wine is priced to encourage just that.

The bar also offers a unique assortment of "crafty cocktails." The Kirby, for example, consists of Sauza, fresh lime and simple syrup, topped with Malbec. Or try the Blackberry Kentucky Mule, made with Jim Beam, muddled blackberries, sage simple syrup, fresh lime and ginger beer.

"People can start their night at The Hamilton and have appetizers and sharable plates, and then head over to Bistro Grace for dinner," says Lauren Bradford, dining room manager at the Bistro. "Or they can go to the Bistro first and then find they're not ready to go home, so they head over to The Hamilton."

The space at 4029 Hamilton Ave. was previously occupied by Tacocracy, which was artsy and had an airport theme. McGarry changed the decor to a comfortable industrial/modern feel with exposed ductwork and unfinished walls that reveal the brick underneath.

"It makes you feel at home," Bradford says. The small space only holds about 45 people, adding to the intimate atmosphere.

Chef Bever says that The Hamilton's food is meant to be flavorful and light, and that it's meant to complement the Bistro's menu. The small menu includes calamari and potatoes, tofu salad, salmon two ways, a trio of eggplant and a modern fondue. Prices range from $9-15.

The wine selection will eventually have over 50 wines, along with a mix of craft beers.

The Hamilton is open 4-11 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.
 

Annual festival to celebrate 150 years of the Roebling Bridge


This summer's RoeblingFest will celebrate 150 years of the iconic bridge that connects Covington and Cincinnati.

The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge opened in 1867; it spans a record 1,057 feet across the Ohio River. Roebling, who was selected by the Covington-Cincinnati Bridge Company in 1846 as chief engineer to design and build the bridge, estimated the final cost of the project to be $1.8 million. Until 1963, it ran under toll collection, and 10 years later, the bridge was purchased by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1975.

RoeblingFest, an annual event that celebrates the history and architecture of the bridge, aims to bring people to Covington to witness the bridge and learn more about the surrounding area.

The event was started by the Roebling Point Business Association, in conjunction with the Covington-Cincinnati Suspension Bridge Committee, the organization that's dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the bridge. The CCSBC has been recognized for the decorative lighting that lines the bridge, which was installed in 1984.

Historic and educational tours, exhibits from local museums, presentations, arts and crafts exhibits and sales, dancers and other personalities, food and drinks, live music by DevouGrass and more will be a part of this year's event. All tours and presentations will be free, including the Historic Walking Tours of Covington and historical presentations from regional historians and Kris Roebling, a descendant of the bridge's architect.

A silent auction and raffle will be held to win a “Trip of a Trip” of the bridge (with more information to come later). Also included will be the annual RoeblingFest Photo Contest, where locals and visitors can submit their photos of the bridge. There will be calendars for sale for $12, featuring photos of the Roebling Bridge taken by the community.

One of the special aspects of RoeblingFest is Hands Across the Ohio, where people link hands from the Kentucky side of the bridge to the Ohio side — now 2,162 feet from shore to shore — around noon. This human chain includes local organizations, schools, residents, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. A photograph will be taken to document the entire chain on the bridge.

In contrast with previous years, the CCSBC sees 2017's RoeblingFest as more of a gala event, marking 150 years of the history, architecture and preservation of the Roebling Bridge.

RoeblingFest 2017 will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 17, at Third and Court streets, with attendance estimated to be anywhere from 1,000-1,200 people.

Information on the event can be found here as it becomes available.
 

CDF/IFF nonprofit loan program leads to community reinvestment


In 2015, the Cincinnati Development Fund teamed up with IFF (and the JP Morgan Chase Foundation) to provide loans to nonprofits in Greater Cincinnati and Dayton. The facilities and equipment loan program was designed for nonprofits that served low-income neighborhoods and special-needs populations. 
 
“This has been an incredible opportunity, and we’ve lifted this partnership up as a model for CDFI collaboration across the region,” says Kirby Burkholder, vice president and executive director for the Eastern Region of IFF.
 
Eight area nonprofits — Bi-Okoto Drum and Dance Co., The Center for Great Neighborhoods, Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky, DECA Preparatory Academy, Findlay Kitchen, Kennedy Heights Arts Center, United Way and the Washing Well — have all received loans through the program, totaling more than $6.6 million.
 
Development highlights that were the direct result of these loans include:
  • The Corporation for Findlay Market borrowed $980,000 to buy, renovate and equip Findlay Kitchen.
  • The Center borrowed $1.75 million to convert the historic Hellmann Lumber building in Covington to a headquarters that now includes community meeting and event space and eight artist studios.
  • A $140,000 loan allowed Opportunity Matters to turn a vacant storefront into a nonprofit laundromat for Lower Price Hill residents.
The partnership has resulted in impact beyond the loan fund, says Jeanne Golliher, executive director of CDF. For example, IFF has brought $6 million in New Market Tax Credits to the area to help support the development of the Shelterhouse Men’s Center on Gest Street in Over-the-Rhine.
 
IFF also participated in a loan with CDF to help develop Market Square near Findlay Market.
 
“IFF has also opened the doors to a new funding partner, which resulted in $2 million in additional capital for us that can be used for additional IFF partner loans or for our direct lending,” Golliher says.
 
Initial grant funds have been expended, but Golliher and Burkholder both say that their respective organizations plan to continue their partnership. They’re also working with the community to help fill gaps and to better understand need.
 
“We want to continue to explore opportunities to refine and grow together,” Burkholder says.
 
Check out a video about the program here.
 

The Art of Food ignites nuclear-themed food and art


French chocolatier Shalini Latour, founder of Chocolats Latour and co-owner of Northside’s sweet shop The Chocolate Bee, faced a conundrum when she learned of the theme of The Carnegie’s upcoming event, The Art of Food.
 
“This year’s theme is the '50s, the atomic age,” Latour says. “Thinking about TV dinners, The Joy of Cooking — it was actually a hard theme for me because this is contrary to what I usually do.”
 
Latour has been in the chocolate business for seven years, and in that time, she’s been recognized for her commitment to locally sourced, fresh, natural ingredients. Her interpretation of 1950s cuisine was that everything was mechanized for ease and convenience, which is in complete contrast to her general culinary outlook and handmade chocolates. So, she partnered with Kate Cook, garden manager of Carriage House Farm, to accept the challenge posed by The Carnegie.
 
“The two of us sat down and brainstormed,” Latour says. “We’re going to be making Atomic Truffles, which will be real spicy, made with scorpion peppers Kate grew.” The truffles will be molded in the shape of atomic bombs. Latour is also planning to use unusual ingredients to make a chocolate that she might name "Radioactive Sludge."

The 11th annual Art of Food event will feature a total of 20 local chefs creating dishes around the 1950s theme, and guests will enjoy art exhibitions and performances that will bring the '50s to life. This is the second year that The Art of Food will be stretched over two nights, with the first night reserved for an intimate-style dinner. (Space is limited and reservations are required.)
 
"One reason I really like this event is because every year there is a different theme and it pushes us to try new things maybe I wouldn’t think of otherwise," Latour says.  “People are there to enjoy themselves and eat good food, so people are laughing and joking and enjoying music. It’s just a big party.”
 
The Art of Food takes place 6-9 p.m. on Feb. 23 and 24. Tickets for Thursday night are $100 ($75 for members); Friday night tickets are $50 ($35 for members). Tickets are available through The Carnegie's box office, open noon-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, by phone at 859-957-1940 or online.
 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ladling out cultural understanding and community building through soup


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Green Umbrella launches grant to continue growth of local food system


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

Nepalese cuisine now on Northside's menu


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

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

Gateway Tech now offering historic preservation arts classes


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEP targets 23rd and 24th neighborhoods in 2017


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

25th annual Ohio Sacred Harp convention keeps folk tradition alive


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Long-awaited Clifton Market to celebrate grand opening this weekend


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proposed Oakley transit center aims to improve rider experience


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

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


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

Upcoming event series at Know Theatre to focus on active citizenship


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Another restaurant concept coming to Pendleton neighborhood this summer


This summer, a new restaurant concept is joining the 1200 block of West Broadway in Pendleton. Boomtown Biscuit Bar, which is slated to open in June, will specialize in traditional American fare that was favored by pioneer settlers.

Boomtown’s menu was designed by head chef Christian Gill, formerly of the Terrace Cafe at Cincinnati Art Museum.

“The story we’re trying to tell through food and beverage is the life of prospectors,” says owner PJ Neumann. “From waking up at a campground at the base of the mountain, making a breakfast in cast iron, and going up the mountain and coming back to pass the whiskey around.”

Neumann says Boomtown will be a biscuit bar by day and whiskey bar by night, with an extensive whiskey selection and specialty cocktail list. The menu is still being tweaked, but is so far slated to include Pick & Shovel (fork and knife) biscuit sandwiches, Prospector plates (entrées) and Sweet Fixins (pastries and desserts), as well as a selection of Sundries (sides).

The menu will also provide alternative options for people with dietary restrictions, including a gluten-free griddle cake that can be subbed for a biscuit, and a mushroom and truffle gravy for vegetarians.

“No one will categorize us as health food,” Neumann jokes of the comfort food menu, “but we are hyper-focused on food quality.” He says that the restaurant will develop purveyor partnerships with distributorships to source local ingredients such as micro-greens, lards for biscuits and other key ingredients.

Neumann, a 17-year food-and-beverage industry veteran, says that he’s been wanting to open a biscuit restaurant for years and has been on the hunt for the perfect property. He formerly worked at the nearby Nation Kitchen + Bar, which opened in Pendleton in 2015. That location is what inspired him to look at properties in the neighborhood.

“I’m really excited to be a part of the neighborhood," he says. "There are so many talented people there."

The restaurant is part of the Broadway Square project being developed by Model Group at the corner of East 12th and Broadway streets. The restaurant will occupy a 1,400-square-foot space, with seating capacity for about 70 patrons. It will open at 7 a.m., offering breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week.

For updates on the project and its official launch date, keep an eye on its website, or follow @boomtownbiscuitbar on Instagram and Twitter.
 

Midwest Sustainability Summit helps start dialogue in Cincinnati and beyond


On June 9, Cincinnati will once again host the Midwest Sustainability Summit at Xavier’s Cintas Center. The event will feature a keynote speaker, awards ceremony and breakout sessions.
 
This year, the Summit will explore new areas of environmental sustainability while taking a deeper look at equity in sustainability.
 
The Summit’s goal is to bring together a broad audience of professionals — Fortune 100 businesses, small business owners, government agencies, academia and NGOs — who want to engage in thoughtful discussion, share best practices and celebrate the sustainability work that is currently being done throughout the Midwest. The Summit will also help identify areas for future regional collaborations.
 
Van Jones, a leader in building an equitable green economy, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Summit. He’s started problem-solving organizations like The Dream Corps, Green for All and Rebuild the Dream, and will share his wealth of knowledge and experience in linking the economy, environment and social justice.
 
A lunchtime awards ceremony will honor local small business leaders that have incorporated sustainability into their business practices. The breakout sessions will allow attendees to dive deeper into issues like energy conservation, water quality, local food access, outdoor recreation, sustainable business supply chains and waste reduction.
 
Tickets will go on sale in February. Early bird student admission is $15; Green Umbrella members are $45; and general admission is $65.
 

Kresge Foundation lends $5 million to Port Authority for CBD development


A new commercial real estate fund has been developed in Greater Cincinnati to rehab rundown properties and attract new businesses.

The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority established the loan fund and in return received $5 million in initial capital from The Kresge Foundation to supplement a 10-year span. According to Gail Paul, the director of communication strategy for the Port Authority, the loan project is part of a development to help bring revitalization to blighted residential and commercial areas in order to broaden arts and culture, retail and enterprise in the area.

“The Port Authority will administer the fund and develop the program through The Kresge Foundation donation," Paul says. "We will announce the first project in the next couple of months. It will be in a neighborhood in which we are already working — Evanston or Bond Hill."

Susan Thomas, executive vice president for the Port Authority, gave a presentation in mid-December detailing the commercial development loan fund to the Port Authority's board members. The meeting was successful, as the board members approved the establishment of the project.

“The overall goal of the Fund is to act as a unique financial tool, not compete with commercial banks or other local lenders,” Thomas says.

In redeveloping the neighborhood business districts in and around Cincinnati, the fund will be transformative in how capital is raised over time to lend a hand to further development.

The initial idea came about through Kresge, which is based in Detroit. Development finance agencies like the Port Authority and foundations can work together on projects (such as the loan fund) for investing in funds for important revitalization work. Kresge’s mission is to expand opportunities for low-income residents in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing.

Laura Brunner, president and CEO of the Port Authority, says the organization anticipates announcing a 2017 real estate project that is facilitated by this loan fund. Nationally, Kresge’s investment is among the first partnerships between a national foundation and a development finance agency.

Having previously worked in neighborhoods needing the attention, the Port Authority was on Kresge’s radar as a business alignment and source of encouragement. Striving to be the top development partner, the Port Authority is actively engaged in the Cincinnati area, frequently meeting with community leaders, business owners, shareholders and organizations on how to positively join and impact the area’s economic development.
 

Six Greater Cincinnati projects receive more than $2 million in state historic tax credits


Across the state, 18 organizations were awarded $22.8 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits to rehabilitate 33 historic buildings. The projects are expected to bring more than $225 million in private investment to 12 communities.

This round, six Greater Cincinnati projects received more than $2 million in tax credits, which will help developers continue work on pivotal projects in Hamilton and Over-the-Rhine.
 
509 E. 12th St., Pendleton
Received $150,000 in tax credits
Two buildings on the front and rear of the site have been vacant for about 20 years. They served as housing for about 130 years, and after catching fire in 2016, will be rehabbed into seven one- and two-bedroom apartments.
 
1810 Campbell St., OTR
Received $250,000 in tax credits
Located in OTR’s historic district, 1810 Campbell is part of Model Group’s Market Square project near Findlay Market. The building, which has been vacant for years, will be rehabilitated into commercial office space.
 
1925 Vine St., OTR
Received $249,000 in tax credits
This building, which is on the northern edge of OTR’s historic district, will be renovated into 20 residential units. Built in the 1850s and abandoned decades ago, the building will become a combination of studio and one-bedroom apartments. OTR A.D.O.P.T. helped save the building, and plans include preserving the original staircases, wood floors, wood trim and fireplace mantels.
 
Dollar Federal Bank Building, 2 S. Third St., Hamilton
Received $250,000 in tax credits
Built in 1958, the mid-century modern bank building will have two of the upper floors rehabilitated into commercial office space.
 
Liberty and Elm, 212 and 214 W. Liberty St., 1711 and 1713 Elm St., OTR
Received $1,358,772 in tax credits
This project will include the rehabilitation of five historic buildings, plus more than 100,000 square feet of new construction on currently vacant lots. When finished, the project will yield first-floor retail space and 109 apartments.
 
Market Square III, 30, 34 and 124 Findlay St.; 1821, 1834, 1936 and 1941 Race St.; 41 W. McMicken Ave.
Received $1,690,000 in tax credits
Near Findlay Market, Model Group will rehabilitate eight primarily vacant, historic buildings that once served as residential and mixed-use commercial storefronts with residential above. When finished, the buildings will house retail and office space, as well as 38 residential units. One non-historic building will be demolished, and a new commercial building will be built in its place.
 

Nine local nonprofits and individuals receive funding from NEA for creative projects


For its first round of grant funding in 2017, the National Endowment for the Arts doled out more than $300 million to nonprofits and individuals in 48 states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
 
This year’s grants cross all artistic disciplines, and fall into one of the four grant categories: Art Works, Art Works: Creativity Connects, Challenge America and Creative Writing Fellowships.
 
Nine local organizations and one individual received a total of $180,000 in this round of funding.
 
Center for Great Neighborhoods
The Center received $20,000 in funding, which will be used for the design and art commissions for the lobby at the new Hellmann Creative Center. The goal is to turn the lobby into a work of art; additional funds will be used for collaborative art pieces, open workshops and artist or resident-led classes.

Cincinnati Ballet
Hip-hop choreographer Jennifer Archibald, as part of the Kaplan New Works Series, will use the Ballet's $20,000 grant to help support the creation of a new piece. New Works is an all-female choreographic production that will explore poverty, hope, finding beauty in surprising places and shared connections between choreographer and artist. Performances will be held at the Aronoff Center for the Arts later in the year.
 
Cincinnati Opera
The $20,000 NEA grant will support the Opera's performance of “The Magic Flute” by Mozart. Music will come to life through larger-than-life animation and visual storytelling, and concerts will combine film, performance and music to give the traditional piece a fresh and unique look. Up to three performances will take place at the Aronoff this summer.
 
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
The $10,000 grant will go toward the premiere of “All the Roads Home” by Jen Silverman. The production will feature three generations of women and the legacies they inherit, which aligns with the Playhouse’s mission to produce new work to help support the evolution of the American theater canon, as well as its continued commitment to celebrating women’s stories and the issues they deal with. Performances will be held at the Shelterhouse Theatre this spring.
 
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company
The $10,000 in grant funds will be used for PROJECT38, an arts and education initiative. Throughout the year, students will explore Shakespeare’s canon, and students from local schools will work with Cincinnati Shakespeare’s Resident Ensemble of teaching artists to co-create 38 interpretations — dramatic, musical, visual and dance — of his 38 plays. The project will culminate in a weekend festival where students will come together to share what they’ve created with family, friends and the community.
 
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
The $40,000 NEA grant will support the CSO's Classical Roots concert, which will feature guest artists and the Classical Roots Community Mass Choir. The concert will be held at Crossroads Church, and will serve as a community-wide celebration of African-American musical heritage.
 
Contemporary Arts Center
The CAC received $25,000, which will be used for Ugo Rondinone's “Vocabulary of Solitude” series — an immersive experience that will combine a variety of materials and objects, gallery architecture and visitors as collaborators. The installation will feature a neon rainbow, colored gels on windows, floating mandalas, paintings, painted windows, life-sized clown sculptures and public programming that will be developed in partnership with a variety of community organizations. There are plans for the piece to be recreated in several other venues.
 
Contemporary Dance Theater
The $10,000 grant will be used to support the presentation of CDT’s 44th and 45th Guest Artist Series. In addition to performances, artists will share a variety of activities with the community, such as classes, lectures, workshops and receptions. Performances will be at the Aronoff in partnership with the Cincinnati Arts Association.
 
Corey Van Landingham received $25,000 for a creative writing fellowship.
 

Buzzworthy beginnings for the bee hives at the Cincinnati Zoo


Tucked away in Warren County is one of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s top conservation projects: bee hives. And according to Melanie Evans, one of the founders of the zoo’s Pollen Nation, the honey could become a source of homegrown revenue in the future. 

Established as a contribution to the area’s population, the bee apiary can be found on the zoo's 650-acre Bowyer Farm in Turtlecreek Township. Along with the beekeeping exhibit at the zoo, there are about 24 bee hives that hold over one million honeybees. The farm is owned and run by zoo staff and volunteers, but what makes the site so unique is the environment in which the bees exist.

“We chose to have our full-sized apiary on our farm since we had the pollen support for them to feed from," Evans says. "It would also be beneficial to the native wetland farming projects we have going on out there to receive the pollination services. The two on the zoo grounds are primarily there for exhibition and educational purposes.”

In addition to boosting the honeybee population, the farm uses the bees for pollination for one-third of its crops. In utilizing this natural system with the crops ranging from berries to zucchini, the use of harmful pesticides and the presence of parasites is greatly reduced.

More than 100 acres of the property are farmed organically. As news of the zoo's beekeeping spreads across the region and beyond, it has sparked an interest in backyard beekeeping and promoting an increase in the bee population. By planting more wildflowers and refraining from harmful pesticide use, individuals can impact bee conservation over time.

With the expectation of a large winter turnout and high survival rate, members of Pollen Nation expect that the honey will be for sale in the zoo’s gift shop sometime next fall. Once the colonies get going, hundreds of pounds of honey could be harvested. For now, Evans, along with VP of zoo facilities, planning and sustainability Mark Fisher, say that the few pounds of honey produced in 2016 were distributed to the beekeepers and a small handful of donors.

"Bee" on the lookout for more news about the Cincinnati Zoo’s honeybee conservation project later in 2017!
 

Creative placemaking efforts to launch in five Cincinnati neighborhoods


Throughout fall 2016, a coalition of local arts organizations, nonprofit leaders and community members came together to form a creative placemaking network that will bring arts and cultural events and initiatives to Cincinnati in 2017. Creative placemaking is the strategic shaping of neighborhoods around arts and cultural activities.

At its heart, creative placemaking is a collaborative process, and according to Kristen Baker, senior program officer with Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Cincinnati is on the cutting edge of creative placemaking efforts in the United States.

The network will focus its placemaking projects on five Cincinnati neighborhoods: Covington, Price Hill, Walnut Hills, Madisonville and the West End. Each of the participating neighborhoods are part of LISC’s Place Matters initiative, which is a citizen-led partnership to transform key Greater Cincinnati communities.

Lead project partners LISC and ArtsWave secured $35,000 in grant funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to make the creative placemaking work possible. Over the course of five months, interdisciplinary teams completed a project design process led by Design Impact, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit design firm. Project concepts varied by neighborhood, but each focused on using arts and culture to develop community:
  • Covington: The Center for Great Neighborhoods worked with Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton to develop the concept for a sculptural installation that incorporates the stories of community members.
  • Price Hill: Price Hill Will and other partners will help create opportunities for neighborhood residents to install art pieces on their properties.
  • Walnut Hills: Frederick Douglas Elementary School will partner with community organizations to activate a vacant green space beside the school, turning it into a community hub.
  • Madisonville: Arts organizations and neighborhood residents will equip the underutilized Bramble Park with materials to encourage play, music-making and increased engagement.
  • West End: Efforts will focus around increasing community cohesion through arts programming and public events.
Each participating neighborhood team received $4,000 to launch their projects, which will happen throughout 2017. Baker underscores the potential for good that creative placemaking can bring to Cincinnati.

“The great thing about creative placemaking is that it is not deficit-focused, it brings to light the cultural activity in neighborhoods that makes them good," she says. "It’s a positive thing for communities, and it’s an affirming message for communities that might see themselves negatively reflected in the headlines.”

To stay up-to-date on the launch of creative placemaking network projects, visit the events pages for ArtsWave and LISC. LISC will also post updates from the creative placemaking network on its Twitter and Facebook pages throughout the year.   
 

Catalytic Fund takes first steps toward redeveloping Covington's historic Bradford Building


The 15,000-square-foot Bradford Building is named for Bradford Shinkle, Covington’s wealthiest man, who died in 1909. He was the son of Amos Shinkle, a businessman and philanthropist who played a large role in developing the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky and Roebling Suspension Bridge.
 
The building has been abandoned for years, and its most recent tenants included a strip club and a restaurant. It was recently deemed a historically significant property, which prompted The Catalytic Fund to purchase it.
 
Purchasing the Bradford is the first step toward restoring and redeveloping the space. The Catalytic Fund’s initial plans include stabilizing and securing the building to help prevent further deterioration.
 
Although details aren’t official, proposed plans include five condos on the upper floors that will be available for sale, as well as street-level commercial space.
 
The Catalytic Fund is known for spearheading, planning and helping finance some of Northern Kentucky’s most important urban redevelopment projects, including the Boone Block and Hotel Covington.
 

Mecca creates artistic haven in the heart of OTR


In November, Mecca OTR held a quiet opening, which isn’t normal for a bar in the heart of Over-the-Rhine. However, owners Joe and Robin Creighton and Jon Mouch, who also co-own Cheapside Café, wanted to let people discover something new on their own.
 
The building, which is located at 1429 Walnut St., used to be the home of local developer Urban Sites, but when they moved to a new office on Sycamore Street, they asked Creighton if he wanted to open something in the space.
 
Mecca gets its name from the Walnut Street saloon where Boss Cox kept his office. It’s also used in the religious sense of the Holy City, which is a place that draws people together, regardless of their culture or background. And that’s what the Creightons and Mouch wanted Mecca to be for OTR.
 
In the 1800s, Cincinnati was called the "Paris of America" and was filled with artists. Now, many of those artists go to New York or Los Angeles. To strengthen Cincinnati’s current artistic community, Mecca’s owners worked with artists all over the city to cover every inch of the bar’s walls in murals, drawings, sculptures and art installations.
 
Each bathroom was designed by a different artist, and the tables have Sharpie drawings on them by Alex Frank. A giant metal bee perches on the building's façade, and lights are strung across the outdoor courtyard. Ferns hang from the ceiling in the indoor bar area, which is black-lit to create a 3D effect on the murals.
 
An outdoor bar area is in the works, and will include a deconstructed car tunnel entrance and a tree that will be done by Adam Sands of Elite Customz (who also designed the bee).
 
Mecca alo houses a vintage Americana apparel and memorabilia shop on the Walnut side of the building. Owner Matt Joy curates his collection from estate sales across the country, and has everything from vintage denim to license plates, boots and decorations. The shop is open from 4 to 8 p.m. on days that Mecca is open.
 
The cocktail program is simple, and shots of absinthe are available for $6. The signature drink is called the Chichunker, a can of flavored San Pellegrino served with a lime wedge and a tiny bottle of liquor in the mouth of the can. The food menu is small and basic: popcorn and corn dogs.
 
Mecca is open 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
 

Source 3 Development finalizes plans for redevelopment and infill project in OTR


At the beginning of December, the Cincinnati Planning Commission approved Source 3 Development’s plans for a new housing development in Over-the-Rhine. Freeport Row, which will be located at the northwest corner of Liberty and Elm streets, will break ground in March 2017.
 
The $25 million, mixed-use project will sit right in the middle of OTR, connecting the north and south portions of the neighborhood. The project will include four historic building renovations, as well as the construction of a new building on a currently vacant lot.
 
In total, Freeport Row will yield 110 apartments and 17,000 square feet of retail space. There will also be a two-phase parking garage with 155 total parking spaces.
 
Freeport Row is so named for Freeport Alley, which is at the center of the development site.
 
Initial plans for the 1.5-acre site were announced a year ago, but have gone through a number of changes since then.
 

Fab Ferments expands operations to include a taproom in Lockland


Since 2008, Jordan Aversman and Jennifer De Marco have been serving up traditionally prepared fermented foods with their company Fab Ferments. Over the past eight years, the duo has been hard at work building their “revolution for real food,” as De Marco refers to their company’s vision.

While they started with sauerkraut, they have since expanded their business to offer a full range of raw cultured veggies, hot sauce, a tonic drink called beet kvas and fermented tea, or kombucha.

In December, Fab Ferments opened a kombucha taproom at their Lockland production facility, which is in the same complex as Rivertown Brewery & Barrel House and La Terza Artisan Coffee Roasterie.

“We knew we always wanted to have a taproom,” De Marco explained. “We’ve been waiting for more and more people to find out what kombucha is. We’ve been doing basic education — what does it taste like, why is it good for you?”

For the uninitiated, kombucha is a beverage made of black or green tea brewed with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, also known as a SCOBY. It’s tangy, slightly sweet, carbonated and often features additional flavorings. Because it is naturally fermented using traditional techniques, some alcohol is present in the finished drink, but it is typically no more than 1 percent alcohol by volume. Proponents regard it as an overall health tonic.  

Fab Ferments' taproom offers a line of 12 kombucha flavors on tap, including rotating seasonal flavors like pumpkin pie and wild-harvested persimmon vanilla. Many of Fab Ferments' kombuchas, which are also available in bottles, incorporate fresh juices like the Perky Pink Grapefruit or the Go Go Ginger.

“We don’t use natural flavorings — if you’re going to buy something from us, it is fresh juice and ingredients, so you can enjoy all the benefits that come from those flavorings as well,” De Marco said.

She expressed excitement about bringing “high-quality, nutrient-dense foods” to the larger community through the opening of the new taproom.

To start, the Fab Ferments taproom will be open from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, with future weekend hours planned. Prices run $4 for a pint, $7 for a 32 oz. growler fill and $13 for a 64 oz. fill. Flights are also available. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own growler or purchase one at the taproom.

De Marco encourages patrons to stop by to try an authentic glass of kombucha or to purchase a gift certificate to give for the holidays or any occasion. To stay up-to-date on all things Fab Ferments, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.
 

Newport working to establish new historic district


In May, the City of Newport was awarded a $20,000 grant from the Kentucky Heritage Council to help start establishing a new historic district in the city. The city matched the grant with $13,000, most of which was donated through in-kind volunteer hours or private funds.
 
Starting in June, 1,000 buildings in Newport’s Buena Vista neighborhood from Eighth Street to 12th Street and York Street to Brighton Street were surveyed, with researchers looking at architectural styles and history.

National historic districts can help bolster building rehabilitations by making them eligible for historic tax credits. Newport is hoping that a designated historic district will help bolster rejuvenation efforts on the city's Westside. Much of the redevelopment efforts in Newport have been on the city's east side.
 
Newport currently has seven historic districts: Cote Brilliante National Register Historic District, East Newport National Register Historic District, East Row Local Historic District, Mansion Hill National Register Historic District, Monmouth Street National Register Historic District, Newport Courthouse Square Historic District and York Street National Register Historic District.
 
The Buena Vista neighborhood is home to 120 buildings, six religious buildings and a number of architectural styles.

Final decisions regarding the designation are still being made.
 

Three Cincinnati development organizations receive New Market Tax Credits


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

Look Here! photography project highlights Covington's architecture and history


Local nonprofit Renaissance Covington works to socially and economically revitalize downtown Covington for everyone. This effort takes many forms — from the installation of temporary micro-parks called parklets, to beautification projects to planning community-centric arts and cultural events.

From Nov. 2016 until April 2017, this effort also includes an innovative photography project called Look Here!

Look Here! is a free, outdoor photography exhibit scattered throughout Covington’s central business district and MainStrasse Village. Partnering closely with the Kenton County Public Library, Renaissance Covington selected 50 historical photographs depicting Covington landmarks that span a 100-year period. A total of 50 photos were selected in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, which created the National Register of Historic Places.

The photos are mounted at points of interest throughout Covington, available for discovery by passing pedestrians.

According to Renaissance Covington's Executive Director Katie Meyer, the project is a “low-cost, high-impact” way to promote walkability and elevate 100 years of architecture, reinvention and development in Covington.

Taken collectively, the photos serve as a tour through time, giving context to the present landscape of architecture and buildings that make up Covington’s core. “We’re very lucky that we have such a great inventory of historic buildings in good shape,” Meyer said. "Look Here! helps to change the narrative around Covington and highlight our assets."

The project was made possible through close collaboration with the City of Covington. Emily Ahouse, preservation and planning specialist with the city, got on board with the project right away and championed it at City Hall, helping Renaissance Covington to secure the necessary permissions to install Look Here! photos on durable signage that could hold up to the elements.

Look Here! Covington is the second installation of its kind. In late 2015 and early 2016, Anne Delano Steinert, a doctoral student of urban and public history at the University of Cincinnati, received funding from People’s Liberty to install the first iteration of the project in Over-the-Rhine.

She was inspired to bring the first Look Here! public history photography exhibit to the streets of OTR with the hope of promoting neighborhood exploration in a widely-accessible format that highlights the historical value of the neighborhood. Delano Steinert served as an advisor on the new Look Here! installation, offering her learnings and expertise to the Renaissance Covington team.
 
“My whole goal on the project was that it would be replicable and simple enough that any community could take it up,” Delano Steinert said.

Since completing the OTR project, she has spoken with historical preservation societies and groups in Maryland and Ohio, including community groups from other Cincinnati neighborhoods. Delano Steinert was thrilled to see the Look Here! project happen in Covington. “It came to life in the best possible way,” she said.

For a full map of Look Here! Covington sites, check out the Renaissance Covington website, and visit its Facebook page to stay up-to-date with Look Here!
 

Findlay Market plans City Kitchen pilot program for new year


In January, Findlay Market plans to launch City Kitchen, an eight-week workforce development program that will partly be managed by CityLink Center, the nonprofit’s partner in this new venture. The program will run from Jan. 16-March 11.
 
“There’s a great food scene here, but the barrier is the availability and reliability of a skilled workforce,” said Joe Hansbauer, executive director for the Corporation for Findlay Market.
 
Although Greater Cincinnati has a higher unemployment rate, there are restaurant jobs just waiting to be filled. The workforce doesn’t have the skills needed, so City Kitchen will help workers develop those skills.
 
City Kitchen’s first cohort will include 12 people that will spend one month learning soft skills and hard skills in a low-pressure environment. The second month of the program will continue the hard skills training and will culminate in running a pop-up restaurant at Findlay Kitchen each week.
 
Students will learn knife skills, kitchen vocabulary and math, as well as all the skills needed to run and work at a restaurant.
 
Findlay Market will manage the hard skills and restaurant portion of the program, and CityLink will manage and operate the soft skills and wrap-around services.
 
City Kitchen is modeled after similar restaurants and programs across the country, including Fare Start in Seattle, Café Reconcile in New Orleans and Edwin’s in Cleveland. Hansbauer says the goal is not to compete with programs like it in Cincinnati, such as Cincinnati COOKS! and Venice on Vine, but to complement them.
 
For example, students from Cincinnati Cooks could graduate from that program and come to City Kitchen to learn more about the restaurant side of the food world.
 
When the pop-up restaurant goes live, seatings will be held for four weeks in February and March on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with two seatings each night. You can purchase a seat for $45, a table for $250, a seating for $1,500 or an entire evening for $3,000.
 
The menu will be unique, with three courses and two options per course. Wine pairings will be available each week for an additional cost per person and can be purchased on site. There will also be a cash bar with local beer and wine by the glass.
 
“The goal is to learn as much as possible by leveraging the program and physical assets of CityLink and Findlay Kitchen,” Hansbauer said. “We want to ensure we can deliver on the promise and execute a great culinary and service experience. If we’re able to accomplish this, the next steps would be to ensure that we can operate in a sustainable and profitable way that serves the needs of Findlay Market and the community we are looking to assist.”
 
Sponsorship levels are available for City Kitchen. Please contact Hansbauer at jhansbauer@findlaymarket.org for more information.
 

First alcoholic ice cream shop opens March in Over-the-Rhine


Buzzed Bull Creamery, Cincinnati’s first liquid nitrogen ice cream shop, plans to open at 1408 Main St. in Over-the-Rhine in March. According to the owners, it will also be the world’s first alcoholic ice cream shop.
 
Owners Colten and Kaitlyn Mounce, Keith and Amber Ayers and Shane, Katherine and Cathy Mounce grew up in Mason and went to school together. The Mounces have been looking for a place to open their ice cream shop for about a year, after moving back home from out-of-state.
 
The group plans for the OTR location to be the first of several Buzzed Bulls in the area.
 
Buzzed Bull will be a traditional ice cream shop with a few twists. The first is that the ice cream is frozen with liquid nitrogen, and the second is that those 21 and older can add shots of alcohol to their creamy concoctions.
 
Freezing the ice cream with liquid nitrogen allows for each order to be fully customizable. It also presents a smoother, creamier texture than other ice creams.
 
Customers will choose a base ice cream or yogurt flavor like vanilla, chocolate, cookies and cream, strawberry or peanut butter. There will also be flavors designed to taste like cocktails, such as margarita, rum and Coke or whiskey sour.
 
From there, adults can add one to two shots of alcohol, either well or premium brands. The end result will be about 5 percent alcohol by volume. Everyone will be able to choose from the wide selection of add-ins: brownie pieces, chocolate chips, cookie dough, cookie pieces, graham crackers, Lemon Heads, Snickers pieces, etc.
 
Buzzed Bull’s menu will include a number of specialty concoctions, including the

 
The mixture is then frozen instantly with liquid nitrogen, which is liquid at -320 degrees. It makes a cloud of vapor when it freezes, and will freeze in a matter of seconds. The resulting ice crystals are much smaller than in typical ice cream, which is what makes the ice cream smoother.
 
Buzzed Bull will be open from noon to 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday.

Keep tabs on Buzzed Bull's Facebook page for details about its grand opening.
 

City officials looking for potential developers for two downtown sites


The City of Cincinnati is looking for developers who are interested in re-imagining two underutilized downtown sites. One is the western part of the Shillito’s complex at 137 W. Seventh St.; the other is a parking lot across the street from City Hall.
 
The western part of the Shillito’s complex once held the department store that later became Lazarus, which left the site in 1997 and moved to Fountain Square West — it is now Macy’s. The site is 400,000 square feet and includes a 10-story and a six-story building.
 
In 2000, a tech company considered Shillito’s West for a data center, but the company ultimately passed on the location. Before that, the site was considered for demolition to make way for a parking garage; in 1996, it was considered for potential Class B office space.
 
Towne Properties opened The Lofts at Shillito Place in the eastern part of the Shillito’s site in 1999.
 
The parking lot that is being considered for redevelopment is at the northwest corner of Ninth and Plum streets. The .8-acre site currently houses 98 parking space and a 17,290-square-foot building.
 
The city is looking for project proposals that will help boost quality home ownership and rental projects downtown.
 
Developers will be asked to compete in two different phases. The first is a submission of qualifications and preliminary concept plans. Then the city will choose finalists to design more detailed plans, and a final choice will be made. As part of the process, developers are required to talk with residents before submitting their final proposal.
 
City development officials are holding a briefing with potential developers from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 9 to discuss details about the two sites.
 

Downtown building to undergo renovations, solar panel installation


The former Strietmann Biscuit Building, which is located at 221 W. 12th St. in Over-the-Rhine, will soon undergo a $12 million renovation. The project received $1.2 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits; the building will be historically preserved.
 
The 117-year-old, 100,000-square-foot building, which was built in four phases between 1890-1910, was originally the home of the Strietmann Biscuit Co. It served as a bakery, warehouse and offices for the company until the 1970s. Since the 1990s, Western Interiors and Wegman Co. used the building for storage.
 
Renovation plans include 70,000 square feet of Class A office space and 15,000 square feet of street-level retail. The seventh floor of the building will become a conference center with full kitchen and rooftop terrace. The basement of the building will include locker rooms and bike storage.
 
Initial construction will focus on repairing or replacing any deteriorated structural aspects. During renovations, many of the building’s historical aspects will be preserved, including original hardwood, brick and exposed ceiling beams. Modern touches like marble, chrome, concrete and hardwood floors will be added too.
 
A new roof will be added, and Grandin Properties, the building’s owner, is planning to install 144 rooftop solar panels in order to receive LEED certification. The panels will produce about 61,000-kilowatt hours of electricity per year, and will offset lighting, heating and air conditioning needs.
 
HGC Construction is doing the renovation work, and SunRock Solar LLC will install the solar panels.
 
Blue Chip Venture Co. and Grandin Properties have already been named as tenants. Developers are courting marketing firms and other companies that serve Kroger and other Fortune 500 firms.
 

Craft beer enthusiasts opening West Side Brewing in spring 2017


Next spring, a team of four craft beer enthusiasts will bring West Side Brewing to 3044 Harrison Ave. in Westwood, which is the old KS Designs building across from the neighborhood's town hall.

Owners Joe Mumper, Jim and Kurtis Remmel and Brian Willet want to get away from the more experimental and over-hopped styles that are currently dominating the beer market and make beer for everyone.
 
Mumper became interested in craft beer about 15 years ago when his brother gave him a homebrew kit for Christmas. He started talking about opening a brewery, and even looked at the space that is now Rhinegeist. The Remmels and Willet have been working on opening a brewery for about the past two years, and when they met Mumper a year ago, they started to design West Side Brewery.
 
When it opens, West Side will have 12 styles of beer on tap — six of those are already nailed down, with the last six still up in the air and room to expand as more styles are developed. The beers will range in style and will be very drinkable with moderate alcohol contents and hoppiness.
 
The taproom will have a bar at its center that will connect two separate taprooms. One taproom will be close to the street to engage pedestrians and the neighborhood, and the second taproom will be near the brewing equipment, which will give patrons a look at the beer-making process.
 
West Side’s beer will be accompanied with small bites and bar food, but the owners also plan to partner with local food trucks to bring a wider array of dishes to the table.
 
The $1.3 million brewery will have the capacity to brew about 4,000 barrels annually with the ability to add tanks and expand to about 16,000 barrels annually. At launch, West Side will distribute kegs to local bars and restaurant, and the team plans to bottle or can in phase two.
 
Other plans for phase two include a large rooftop deck, which will be added in late 2017 or early 2018.   

Keep tabs on West Side's building renovations and beer brewing on Facebook
 

Holiday popup shops coming to downtown Cincinnati and Covington


This holiday season, shoppers on both sides of the river will have the chance to purchase goods from a number of new retailers. Downtown Cincinnati Inc. is bringing nine retailers to Carew Tower, and Renaissance Covington is helping five small business owners and one artist collaborative open popup shops in Covington.
 
Downtown Cincinnati:
As part of Cincinnati’s Downtown Retail Action Plan, DCI launched the Cincy Pop Shop Program for this holiday season. Small business owners submitted applications for a chance for a retail space downtown, and nine businesses were chosen.
 
The vendors are:
Barcode Glam
Chapeau Couture Hats
Davis Cookie Collection
Flying Pig Marathon
Jenco Brothers’ Candy
Maya Traders
The Sarah Center
Ten Thousand Villages
Tronk Design
 
Each business will receive free rent until Dec. 31 in selected retail spaces on the arcade level of the Carew Tower.
 
The Cincy Pop Shop Program seeks to catalyze retail offerings that are appealing to the diverse Cincinnati market, as well as provide small and unique businesses opportunities to grow and thrive.
 
Covington:
In Covington, five local makers will open popup shops as part of Renaissance Covington’s Make Covington Pop! program. The shops will be located at 33 W. Pike St., and will run from Nov. 26-Dec. 18.
 
A Squared Décor, LDV Vintage, Keep Your Shirt on Covington, Maverick Chocolate and Zip Zoo Apparel will set up their goods in one space, and a number of local artists from The Independent Northern Kentucky Artists and Artisans Education Program will showcase their pieces at the Pike Street Maker’s Mart next door at 31 W. Pike.
 
In previous years, the popup shop program has occupied a vacant storefront in Covington that were later filled with a business that participated in the popup. The goal is to still activate storefronts and support and mentor small businesses, but in a space that is already occupied.
 
Follow Make Covington Pop! on Facebook for hours, programming and special offers. Details about the Pike Street Maker’s Mart Art Gallery can also be found on Facebook.
 

People's Liberty, Brick Gardens


According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a "food desert" is an area where substantial numbers of residents live in poverty and lack access to affordable, nutritious food. Under this federal definition, Cincinnati has several neighborhoods that qualify as food deserts, including Avondale, Bond Hill, Evanston, Northside and South Fairmount.

Domonique Peebles, a 2016 People's Liberty grantee, wanted to do something about it.
 
Peebles first had the idea to activate vacant spaces throughout the city by turning them into urban gardens, and then share the resulting produce with those in need of fresh food. As he began to research his concept, he realized there are already dozens of urban gardens throughout the city, and he didn't want to replicate existing efforts.

Not only that, but traditional gardening has its limitations: the growing season is limited, the weather is unpredictable and garden spaces are not universally accessible. That's when Peebles decided to address food access issues in Cincinnati in a cutting-edge way: vertical farming.
 
Peebles, a resident of Over-the-Rhine, envisioned vacant buildings in his neighborhood as possible locations for vertical farming set-ups.

"There are all kinds of benefits," Peebles said. "Activating empty space in the city, getting rid of blight, getting rid of run-down structures, physically growing food that can be distributed and teaching people how to grow food."
 
Peebles traveled to Detroit to learn from an urban gardener who was using an innovative vertical farming set-up to grow produce year-round. Peebles spent over a year researching methods of how to build vertical farm "stacks," as he refers to them, and he received a $10,000 People's Liberty grant for his project, Brick Gardens.
 
Though vertical farming may sound complex and expensive, the whole process from building the stack to harvesting the produce can be learned in less than an hour. A stack includes trays for the plants, a growing medium, a water reservoir and standard fluorescent lighting. Stacks can be assembled from commercially available components for under $200. Ongoing maintenance of the system is minimal, and it also recycles water, so it is inexpensive to maintain the growing plants.

"It's really hands-off once you get the initial planting done," Peebles said. "It's really just a daily maintenance check. It seems like it's very technical, but once you do it once, you can do it the rest of your life."

Peebles said that a single stack, of a size that could be maintained within one's own home, is able to produce about 56 heads of lettuce in 21 days.

"A person might grow that amount of lettuce on an acre of land, with two harvests per year," Peebles said. With vertical farming, a person could get about seven harvests every three months.
 
Peebles has a working model of a small stack that's suited for home production in his shop Featured, which is on Main Street in OTR. People interested in learning how to create a stack are welcome to reach out and arrange a time to view the model and ask questions.

Peebles has also partnered with the agriculture department at Cincinnati State and has two stacks growing there. With these stacks, Peebles is experimenting with growing different types of crops that are less commonly grown indoors on vertical farms, such as tomatoes. He also maintains six stacks at New Prospect Church in Roselawn.
 
Vertical farming is so much faster and more efficient than traditional methods that Peebles had his first Brick Gardens harvest less than a month after starting seeds.

"I had no idea I would be so successful," he said. "But my very first time was a 100 percent success rate on sprouting."

The stacks continue to flourish: "Once a week we've been going to all the sites and harvesting one to three pounds per site." Brick Gardens donates the harvested produce to community members in Roselawn, to students who help to grow the produce at Cincinnati State and to Gabriel's Place, a nonprofit in Avondale.
 
Peebles has high hopes for turning Brick Gardens into an ongoing enterprise.

"It's something that could be done in multiple neighborhoods," he said. "These could be put anywhere — elementary schools, hospitals, nursing homes."

There are pre-made vertical farming systems currently on the market, but Peebles wants to encourage people to consider going the DIY route. He says that the system he designed is about half the cost of pre-built systems.
 
Peebles ultimately hopes to continue partnering with schools, universities, local neighborhoods and even restaurants in need of access to fresh, local produce year-round.

"The thing with growing food is there's not really competition," he said. "There's always going to be a need for food production. People are always going to need to eat."
 
Those interested in learning more about Brick Gardens are encouraged to visit its website.
 
Twice per year, eight grantees are chosen per grant cycle to prototype solutions to civic challenges. Project grantees are supported with $10,000, a launch event and access to People’s Liberty’s workplace and mentorship.

 

Newly renovated Memorial Hall now open to the public


The yearlong, $11 million renovation of Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine is now complete. Although finishing touches are still being added, Memorial Hall opened to the public on Nov. 25 for its first art exhibit, Brickmas. It will be on display through Dec. 30.
 
Memorial Hall sits between Music Hall — which will reopen next fall after a $135 million renovation — and the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s new, $17 million Otto M. Budig Theater, which will open in September 2017.

Built in 1908 by local architecture firm Samuel Hannaford & Sons, the 100-year-old Beaux Arts building was built to honor veterans of the Spanish-American War and the Civil War. The building is currently owned by Hamilton County.
 
It was once used by the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players and the MusicNOW Festival, but the building had been underused in recent decades because it lacked updated amenities like air conditioning, adequate restrooms and backstage areas.
 
Besides restoring the outward appearance of Memorial Hall, many historical details of the building were preserved. The original wrought iron décor is still intact, and the historic hat racks underneath the seats were kept. The building's reception areas feature original stenciling that has also been fully restored.
 
Updates include:
  • Wider seats, which reduced the total number of seats in the theater from 610 to 506. Padding was also added to the wooden seats. Handicap accessible seating areas have been added.
  • New theatrical lighting, a new sound system, a new laser projector and a screen for showing films have been installed. New cushions were added for sound absorption, as well as adjustable, sound absorbing drapes in some doorways.
  • The stage was extended five feet.
  • New glass doors were added to insulate the hall from noise in the marble stairwells.
  • The passenger elevator on the building’s north side remains, and a new service elevator was added. For the first time, a grand piano will be able to be moved on and off the stage with little difficulty.
  • A new outdoor patio area was added, as well as new bars throughout the building, which will allow for light bites, desserts, beer and wine tastings from local restaurants, craft breweries and wine distributors.
The theater itself is being renamed the Annie W. and Elizabeth M. Anderson Theater in honor of the foundation that is underwriting the upcoming concert series.
 
In February, the foundation will launch the Longworth-Anderson Series, featuring concerts from contemporary artists. The winter-spring season will open on Feb. 10 with Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Rosanne Cash, with musical collaborator and husband John Leventhal. Other artists include Pink Martini featuring Chyna Forbes on March 9, Richard Thompson on April 7 and Sarah Jarosz on June 9.
 
The Memorial Hall Society will also program up to 10 events each year. There will also be other programs lined up by 3CDC, which oversaw the building’s renovation and manages Memorial Hall, as well as community programs and event rentals.
 
The public is invited to Memorial Hall’s official ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. on Dec. 2. The ribbon cutting will be followed by tours of the building.
 

People's Liberty project grantee, 1Degree of Separation


Kailah Ware was attending a free concert at Washington Park, where she saw a man experiencing homelessness and a man in a suit sitting together on a bench. Although they were in close proximity, they couldn’t have been further apart.
 
That observation got her thinking. She began to brainstorm how to break down those barriers and get people talking to each other.
 
“Everyone has a story or something interesting about them,” Ware said. “Everyone has something to share and something to say.”
 
Ware’s project, 1Degree of Separation, uses community-sourced stories to answer the question: “What do you love about Cincinnati?”
 
When Ware moved back home from college, she knew she wanted to start her own business. She met with 3CDC to pitch her idea for a photography studio and learned about local business accelerators: OCEAN, MORTAR and People’s Liberty. She opted for MORTAR to develop her idea for 1Degree and applied for a People’s Liberty grant, which she received.
 
“I liked the idea of People’s Liberty because so many places only fund nonprofit organizations,” she said.
 
Her interactive project features a touchscreen tablet which plays a story of the viewer's choice. Originally, Ware sought out different types of stories: the overcomer, the success story, the historian, the athlete, the artist, the community leader. She researched organizations comprised of people with similar stories who, in turn, each connected her with another source.
 
1Degree launched at Rhinegeist, and now Ware is in negotiations to display her project at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
 
“Nothing is official yet, but I think it would be cool for people who are maybe moving back to Cincinnati or visiting the city to see why people love it here,” Ware said.
 
1Degree is evolving into something more organic. Ware is still collecting stories, but now there’s a video booth component where people can come and tell their stories. If you want to tell your story, you can email Ware at 1DegreeSep@gmail.com or call her at 513-748-0966.
 
Follow 1Degree on Facebook and on Instagram @1Degree__.

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

New bar concept coming to renovated Mutual Building in downtown Covington


The team that brought us Over-the-Rhine’s Rhinehaus and Pendleton’s Nation Kitchen and Bar is at it again, but this time, they’re opening a place in Covington. The Hannaford at Pike & Madison, which is located at 619 Madison Ave., will open at 4 p.m. on Nov. 23.
 
“The idea for the name came from our initial exploration of the neighborhood,” said Andrew Salzbrun, who along with Aaron Kohlhepp and Jack Weston, are the Hickory Wald Group. “At the time, the intersection of Pike and Madison was one of the busiest intersections in Kentucky, and we wanted to identify that in our brand.”
 
They’re also paying homage to the life of famed architect Samuel Hannaford, who designed the Mutual Building. The 100-year-old, three-story building is currently undergoing renovations, and will soon be home to upscale apartments, commercial space and The Hannaford.
 
“We saw a lot of opportunity to pay homage to Hannaford and to share some of his original expressions in the space,” Salzbrun said.
 
Hickory Wald is preserving different aspects of the space, including the original mosaic tile flooring and the foundation’s concrete walls. They’re also reusing scrap lumber from the old Coppin’s building — now Hotel Covington — in the bar’s interior.
 
The Hannaford’s drink menu will be seasonal, and will be based on generous, well-composed, traditional cocktails.
 
“Our mission with our venues is to plant flags in neighborhoods by building ‘clubhouses’ for adults,” Salzbrun said. “Just as with our past ventures, we intentionally seek out neighborhoods that are gaining steam in their development, but have an opportunity for a place that fosters conversation and relationship growth.”
 
Keep tabs on The Hannaford’s Facebook page for details regarding its opening.
 

Recently vacant Broadway Building could see apartments in 2017


In January, the Hamilton County Board of Elections is moving to a larger space in Norwood. The former home of the Board of Elections — also known as the Broadway Building because of its location at 824 Broadway — will soon be redeveloped.
 
Rookwood Properties has owned the site for 30 years, and wants to build on the redevelopment successes in Over-the-Rhine and downtown.
 
The Broadway Building could house 50-60 apartments, with additional units constructed in the rear of the building. Rookwood is also working to redevelop a parking lot at the corner of East Court and Walnut streets. The project, which would involve a grocer store, parking garage and apartment tower, could involve Kroger and 3CDC.
 
The proposed $7 million Broadway Building project will go before the city in January, and Rookwood will have a better idea then if and when the project will be moving forward.
 
 
 

People's Liberty project grantee, Your Productions


Robert Wilson, a 2016 People's Liberty project grantee, is also the owner of Sabercomm Productions, a company that handles video and media projects for local public access television, businesses and nonprofit organizations. He saw few  outlets for teen voices and decided to put his production expertise into creating youth media to affect social change.
 
As part of his People's Liberty project, Wilson developed a two-week summer camp called Your Productions to provide at-risk youth with the tools to share their voice through video production and audio public service announcements.

During the summer of 2016, a group of 11 teens from Avondale, ages 12-18, worked together to shoot, produce and edit four short public service announcements about topics that they felt were relevant to their communities.

"It was important to allow young people to talk about what affects them," Wilson said.

Ultimately, the teens selected four issues to focus on: immigration, health, litter and Black Lives Matter and the experiences of young African American women.
 
"They had a deep grasp of what they were facing in their community," Wilson said. "I was blown away by the amount of maturity that they held. So often we think that young people don't have that grasp, we don't even ask their opinions."
 
Wilson and fellow videographer and activist Lamonte Young facilitated the camp and provided technical instruction, but Wilson said that it was always intended to be a student-led effort.

"They vetted these things and worked through problems on their own," he explained. Wilson said that unlike other video camps, Your Productions did not provide a prompt or limitations on the topics they could explore. "A lot of people don't want to get into the hard subjects, so they give them something to do. It's not the freedom to create on their own."
 
Wilson has plans to offer another two-week camp in the coming year.

"We’re going to continue this program whether there is funding for it or not," he said. Ultimately, Wilson wants to use the success of Your Productions to develop it into a model for others who want to run similar programs. "We want to help other people empower young people. Our goal is to create a template with a syllabus so that other people can come to us from other cities, and we can hand it off."  
 
The PSAs from the Your Productions 2016 camp will be screened on local public access channels and can be viewed on Facebook and on the Your Productions website.
 
Twice per year, eight grantees are chosen per grant cycle to prototype solutions to civic challenges. Project grantees are supported with $10,000, a launch event and access to People’s Liberty’s workplace and mentorship. Stay tuned to Soapbox for profiles of this year's 15 other grantees.
 

Newberry Building reopening as lofts in December


In the next few weeks, Ashley Commercial Group will wrap up the rehabilitation of the historic Newberry Building, which is located at the corner of Sixth and Race streets downtown, near Fountain Square and right next to the Cincinnatian Hotel. Construction began on Newberry Lofts in 2014, and is slated to be finished in early December.
 
The 12-story building, which was built in 1912, is attached to a CVS, and has first-floor retail space. It will feature 14 different one-bedroom, one-bathroom floor plans, three of which include bonus lofts. The apartments range from 700-1,400 square feet, with rent starting at $995 per month.
 
All of the units will include luxury finishes like granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and washers and dryers in each unit. The building will be pet-friendly, and will include a fitness center, bicycle storage and community space. Residents will also have access to maid services, dry cleaning, laundry services and nearby parking.
 
Once completed, Newberry Lofts will earn its designation as a Certified Green Building.
 
Tours are currently underway of the $9 million project, and the deposits are now being accepted for December move-in. About one-third of the 62 apartments are currently reserved.
 

People's Liberty project grantee, Neighborhood Playbook


Kevin Wright and Joe Nickol have years of development experience under their belts from their years with the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation and MKSK, respectively. They decided to take that knowledge and create the Neighborhood Playbook, a development tool for neighborhoods and cities, with funding help from People’s Liberty.

“We saw through our work a common theme that is working in neighborhoods,” Wright said. “We saw a connection that others weren’t seeing or being highlighted — using neighborhood activation efforts to spur economic development.”
 
According to Wright, a lot of work has been done around tactical urbanism, which is more about planning and not about developing. The pair saw two problems: that neighborhood residents tended to create a plan, get together and put dots on a map, but then the planning stopped. On the other hand, developers want to develop, but don’t know how or where to enter a market.
 
The Neighborhood Playbook is a way to solve both of those problems.
 
“It’s a way for developers to take a more proactive approach to entering markets, and a way for neighborhoods to take a more proactive approach to spur development,” Wright said.
 
Wright and Nickol wrote a PDF called “Five Ways to Activate Your Neighborhood This Weekend,” which got lots of downloads and attention. From there, they decided to apply for a $10,000 People’s Liberty grant.
 
With the grant, the pair created the two-sided Playbook — one side for neighborhoods and the other for developers. The project officially launched on Sept. 21, where 50 Playbooks were given away for free. They’re now available online for $20.
 
“It’s interesting to see who is buying them and where they’re from,” Wright said. “It was really exciting when we got our first buyer we didn’t know.”
 
Community development corporations, consulting firms, developers and individuals from all over the country have purchased Playbooks.
 
The city of Bellevue is currently beta testing the Playbook for its Old Kentucky Makers Market. Residents are activating an alley and parking lot next to a vacant building, and are trying to develop the area into something positive.
 
“We want to find ways for developers and community members to grow neighborhoods,” Wright said. “
Development shouldn’t happen to a place but with a place, and this is a tool to make that happen.”
 
Wright and Nickol are currently working on the digital side of the Playbook. When a Playbook is purchased, that person gets a password for the Resources portion of the website, which provides them access to other organizations, vendor forms, etc.
 
They are also planning to create a national map of people and organizations who are utilizing the Playbook, and possibly creating a second project out of that.

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

Duke Energy awards $240,000 to 10 Greater Cincinnati development projects


The Duke Energy Urban Revitalization Program recently awarded about $240,000 to 10 area development projects. The funds will be used for predevelopment work like site analysis and architectural renderings. This year, the majority of the grant money went to projects in Northern Kentucky.
 
Bellevue:
Kent Hardman, who is redeveloping the historic Marianne Theater, received $40,000 through the Catalytic Fund to help with an energy assessment for the Energy Project Assessment District. Through the program, developers receive funds from the city that are then used to help improve energy efficiency. The 7,500-square-foot commercial space will become a special events theater and restaurant that focuses on craft beer and wine.
 
College Hill:
A $14,000 grant was awarded to the College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation for renovations to the National City Bank in the neighborhood’s central business district. Plans for the building, which is across the street from a new apartment complex, include a restaurant or high-end retail store.
 
Covington:
A former Frisch’s at 801 Madison Ave. received $20,000 through the Catalytic Fund, which hopes to move a business into the high-traffic space. The grant will assist with architectural planning and conceptual design.
 
The Center for Great Neighborhoods was awarded $30,000 for its “homes for makers” projects near the Hellmann Creative Center. Three properties along Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard will be restored and sold to small businesses whose owners would live/work on-site. The Center plans to renovate 12 homes like this in Covington.
 
Ludlow:
Through the Catalytic Fund, Second Sight Spirits received $20,000 to expand its offerings into next-door’s Wynners Cup Café. The café will become more of an event center and creative meeting space, with food and adult beverages from Second Sight. Owners Rick Couch and Carus Waggoner hope that the expansion will help them become part of the Kentucky Craft Bourbon Trail.
 
Madisonville:
The Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation received $5,500 for the renovation of the historic Metz building. Once completed, the building will house the neighborhood’s police substation and the MCURC. Both organizations need new spaces because of additional redevelopment nearby, and they hope to help spur additional development with the move.
 
Middletown:
Downtown Middletown, Inc., was awarded $20,000 for the renovation of a former JCPenney’s. The 38,000-square-foot building will become Torchlight Pass, a destination for dining, retail and family entertainment.
 
Newport:
A $25,000 grant was awarded to the rehabilitation of the Holzhauser Drug Store, through the Catalytic Fund. The building has been vacant at 10th and Madison streets for years, and is now owned by Millennium Housing Corporation. Plans include creating a historically accurate façade, and adding retail or offices.
 
Silverton:
The Hamilton County Business Center will use its $20,000 grant for small business coaching. This is the fourth consecutive year that the business center has received a Duke Energy grant. The money will go to providing one-on-one mentoring and coaching to small businesses, as well as efforts to attract, retain and expand small businesses in Silverton.
 
Westwood:
The Westwood Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation received a $45,000 grant for the revitalization and redevelopment of a building in Westwood’s business district. The building is slated for the future home of the West Side Brewery.
 
Since its inception in 2011, the Urban Revitalization program has awarded a total of about $1.6 million in grant money to 48 area projects.
 

People's Liberty funds Space Walk backyard solar system


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cohousing coming to Over-the-Rhine with Kunsthous


Next summer, a new kind of apartment community will make its debut in Over-the-Rhine called Kunsthous. Cofounders John Blatchford, Michael Fischer, Alyssa McClanahan and Barrett McClish are currently renovating two historic buildings in the neighborhood, and are creating co-living spaces within them.
 
“I’ve been renting for 10 years, and all of the places I’ve lived have had really strong communities,” Blatchford, CEO of Kunsthous, said. “People are moving back to cities and renting more than ever, but many apartments are too big and we’re living in buildings where we don’t know our neighbors. Kunsthous is trying to get away from that suburban seclusion.” Cohousing is popular on the West Coast and other urban areas. Typical cohousing has a smaller footprint, shared common space for building community.
 
The first building the team is renovating is 205 W. McMicken St., which they purchased through OTR Adopt. When finished, it will have six studio and one-bedroom apartments with a shared kitchen on the first floor and a co-working space.
 
Kunsthous units are smaller than typical apartments, and a bit cheaper when compared to other OTR apartments — the average rent for the first six units is $650 per month.
 
“We’re really trying to focus on the idea of co-living in Cincinnati,” Blatchford said.
 
In order to build intentional community, Kunsthous kitchens will have beer and kombucha on tap, and there will be public and private events throughout the year for tenants and the larger community.
 
“There is so much growth going on in Cincinnati, and a lot of that growth is focused in OTR,” Blatchford said. “You can look at larger coastal cities and see where OTR is going — rent is going to get more expensive, and more and more people will be moving in. We need to find a way to provide more affordable apartments, and ways for people moving in to meet others and build a network.”
 
Kunsthous will continue to grow, with seven more apartments planned for the building located at 509 E. 12th St. Blatchford said he and his team are planning to expand their idea within Cincinnati, and are looking at Walnut Hills and Northern Kentucky.
 
By the end of next year, there will be about 20 Kunsthous apartments, and although the buildings aren’t right next to each other and maybe not in the same neighborhood, that sense of community will be there.
 
“A lot of the best things in our lives are the result of the people that we meet,” Blatchford said. “Lots of people are moving back or just moving here, and we need to create more opportunities for people to meet other like themselves, or not like themselves. That’s what makes a city stronger and makes people happier.”
 
There is already interest from potential renters, and if you’re interested in living in Kunsthous, visit its website to sign up.
 

People's Liberty, Let's Dance Academy


Kathye Lewis and Gregory Norman have a shared passion for ballroom dancing, which led them to cofound Let’s Dance Academy in November 2015. They received a $10,000 grant from People’s Liberty to make their dreams a reality.
 
When the pair started Let’s Dance, they focused on teaching fifth and sixth graders at South Avondale Elementary School how to ballroom dance.
 
“We wanted to bring culture to the kids at South Avondale, and show them a different way to dance,” Norman said. “We also wanted to help them understand the history around the dance and where it came from.”
 
Norman has been ballroom dancing for the past 10 years, and was taught by instructors in both Detroit and Los Angeles. He has also studied ballroom dancing on his own to learn the history, various styles and importance to the African American community on a national and international level.
 
Lewis doesn’t have an official background in ballroom dancing, but has been a dancer for her entire life. She’s taken classes and workshops, and has come to know a national community of ballroom dancers.
 
Over the past 10 years, Dancing with the Stars has brought more exposure to ballroom dancing. According to Norman, the ‘70s and ‘80s saw partner dances like the hustle, but the ‘90s and early ‘00s didn’t have a lot of partner dances. Now there is a renewed interested in ballroom dancing.
 
“The dominant driving force for us is to get young people into ballroom dancing so that culture doesn’t die again,” he said.
 
Lewis and Norman did an initial two sessions with the students, providing meals and dance costumes for them through the People’s Liberty grant. They also held a graduation ceremony, where they handed out trophies and invited the students’ family members and the community.
 
At the moment, Let’s Dance is focusing on teaching adults how to ballroom dance.
 
“We’re trying to grow classes and are expanding our reach within the adult community,” Lewis said.
 
Ultimately, they want to expand classes and offer them at different locations throughout the city. Classes are $5, and are currently held at the College Hill Recreation Center.
 

PAR Projects opens new space to art installations


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

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

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

People's Liberty grantees create mammoth bean bag art installation


Amy Scarpello and Abby Cornelius share a unique love: bean bags.

“We’ve both been bean bag enthusiasts for the bulk of our lives,” Scarpello said. The two artists met while studying sculpture at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.

The pair were brainstorming project ideas one night when the idea to create a giant 20-foot bean bag as a pop-up public art installation was born. Though it was initially an off-hand idea, the concept persisted.

“We had both made small soft sculptures, but nothing to that scale, so we knew it would be a new endeavor," Scarpello said.

The idea continued to develop, but the duo also realized that the materials to create their giant bean bag would not be cheap.

On a whim, Scarpello and Cornelius decided to apply to People’s Liberty for a $10,000 grant to fund their project, which they called Plop! To their delight, they were awarded funding.

“We’re probably the least likely people that received it,” Scarpello joked.

Instead of a single giant bag, the idea evolved into a family of three oversized bean bags, affectionately named Hex, Pal and Wedge after the bags' various shapes. The bags were so large that creating them “was kind of a ridiculous process,” Scarpello said.

Designing the bags and determining the volume of filling for them required a thorough comprehension of geometry. “My high school math teacher would be proud."

After completing the design process, the pair ordered filler beads and marine-grade vinyl that is weather-resistant and anti-microbial. Rosie Kovacks, owner of the soon-to-open Over-the-Rhine furniture shop Brush Factory, helped them fabricate the shells using a specialized sewing machine that could stand up to the weight of the fabric.

Once the bags were created, the pair carted them around to public spaces where they were placed for up to five consecutive days. Plop! popped up at locations throughout the area, including Art off Pike in Covington, the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, Fountain Square and The Mockbee.


“It was really exciting to watch how different groups of people would interact with it throughout the day," Scarpello said. "We would have business people having lunch on it like a picnic, later kids would play on it and later in the evening people on dates would be eating ice cream on it. It’s so satisfying to see people actually use them and be excited by it.”

Plop! is now retired for the winter, but Scarpello hopes to continue the project during the spring and summer of 2017. To stay up-to-date on 2017 appearances of Plop!, visit its website or follow Plop! on Facebook or Instagram.

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

 

Local filmmaker screens films in OTR on sprawl, spatial segregation


On Nov. 2, local documentary filmmaker Andrea Torrice will showcase three of her films at the Mini Microcinema. Divided We Spra
wl,” The New Metropolis: A Crack in the Pavement and Trees in Trouble all have to do with issues that impact cities and suburbs in the United States.
 
Divided We Sprawl” focuses on spatial segregation in Gary, Ind., where much of the industry has left and moved to the suburbs. Torrice chose Gary because it’s a reflection of many cities in the Northeast and Midwest like it. In the film, she looks at how a city like Gary rebuilds, as well as the economic upheaval and abandonment by people, policy and government.
 
“I’m really interested in the meaning of a city or place, and how the meaning is changing,” Torrice said. “The intersection between place and income disparity impacts the community, and personal decisions and how decisions about transportation and economic growth dramatically impact our lives. We don’t always see that — I call it the invisible hand.”
 
The New Metropolis: A Crack in the Pavement” is about Cincinnati’s older suburbs, and the pattern of people moving to the suburbs, new suburbs cropping up and people moving out of the inner suburbs to the outer suburbs. Downtown is now going through a rebirth, and people are moving from the suburbs back to the urban core.
 
“I like to tell these stories because I like to put a human face on how public policies impact our lives,” Torrice said.
 
Cincinnati is also the case study for “Trees in Trouble” because like many Midwest cities, its streets are lined with ash trees, and the Emerald Ash Borer has invaded and is killing the ash trees in the United States.
 
Over the last 30 years, the city has planted about 12,000 ash trees, and they’re now all dead or dying. Torrice looks at how the city is responding to that, and the value of a tree in our community.
 
“Trees play important roles in cities for many reasons — they’re part of the infrastructure and quality of life,” she said.
 
Torrice is an award-winning documentary and public TV producer/writer whose work spans a range of contemporary issues, including spatial segregation and suburban flight.
 
“These films are important because it helps us understand more about our community and how we’re connected to other communities throughout the nation,” Torrice said. “We have some of the same problems, and these films will help spark dialogue on how to make all communities more vibrant and resilient places.”
 
Torrice made the film on Gary six years ago, but this will be the first time it will be shown in Cincinnati. The other two films have been broadcast on PBS, with “Trees in Trouble” most recently in April upon its release.
 
Doors open at 7 p.m., and the films will be shown one after the other beginning at 7:30.
 

People's Liberty grantee takes spirit of Carnival to the streets


Larry Malott is taking art and creativity to the streets with Amazing Urban Adventures. Earlier this year, he received a $10,000 People’s Liberty grant to help jumpstart his project, which had a soft launch at Northside’s Fourth of July parade.
 
Malott was inspired by Carnival and similar events that celebrate, parade and dance in the street while wearing a mask and costume.
 
“I sought funding from People’s Liberty because they fund individuals and projects that engage the public, and they’re willing to fund projects that are a bit out of the ordinary, so it just seemed like the perfect fit,” Malott said.
 
Amazing Urban Adventures features people dressed up in costumes made from reusable materials like trash bags, aluminum and cardboard boxes. It also encourages kids of all ages to get creative through mask-making workshops.
 
“This is the natural evolution of my public performance artwork, and builds upon my previous work by engaging more people and encourages them to join in the celebration and performance instead of just being a viewer,” Malott said.
 
The official launch was at Riverfest, where Amazing Urban Adventures performed on the P&G Pavilion stage and then paraded across the Purple People Bridge. Since then, Malott has taken his project to Art Off Pike and the most recently the Mini Maker Faire.
 
In the next few months, Malott will be doing parades and performances around downtown, especially around the holidays. There will also be a kids’ mask making workshop and parade on Dec. 28 at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Malott has a larger event in the works for the beginning of March.
 
Twice per year, eight grantees are chosen per grant cycle to prototype solutions to civic challenges. Project grantees are supported with $10,000, a launch event and access to People’s Liberty’s workplace and mentorship. Stay tuned to Soapbox for profiles of this year's 15 other grantees.
 

Wasson Way bike trail receives $750,000 to connect Hyde Park to Evanston


The City of Cincinnati recently received $750,000 in federal Transportation Alternatives grant funding for the construction of Phase 2A of the Wasson Way Trail. That portion of the trail will extend from Floral Avenue in Evanston to Tamarack Avenue in Hyde Park.
 
Previously, the city received grant funding from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for the construction of Phase 1 of the trail, which will extend from Tamarack Avenue to Madison Road. Construction of Phase 1 is slated to begin in 2017, and funding for Phase 2A will be available for construction to begin in 2018.
 
In June, the city committed to purchasing the right-of-way to a 4.1-mile stretch of railroad tracks that are part of the Norfolk-Southern Railroad Company. The tracks haven’t been used for years, and will become part of the Wasson Way Trail network.
 
Once completed, the Wasson Way will be 7.6 miles, extending from Victory Parkway near Xavier University, through 11 neighborhoods (Avondale, Walnut Hills, Evanston, Norwood, Hyde Park, Oakley, Mt. Lookout, Fairfax, Newtown, Mariemont and Madisonville) to eventually connect with the Little Miami Bike Trail. The Wasson Way is estimated to cost anywhere from $7.5 to $11.2 million.
 
With connecting trails, Greater Cincinnati will have over 30 miles of off-road bikeways that will go from Coney Island to downtown, from Lunken Airport to Milford and eventually connecting Cincinnati to northern Ohio.
 
In the near future, those living in the suburbs could be able to leave their cars at home and bike to work downtown. The Wasson Way won’t just be a source of recreation, but a main avenue for transportation that will allow 100,000 residents better access to education and jobs.
 
 

People's Liberty grantee takes his mobile science lab to streets


Aaron Greene has a passion for science. As the program chair for bioscience technology at Cincinnati State, his work “encapsulates everything from pharmaceuticals to environmental biology.” Bioscience technology is applied to things as varied as the creation of insulin for diabetics, techniques for cleaning up the Mill Creek watershed and the development of new foods and flavors.

Though Greene is well-versed in the many applications of science in our everyday lives, he recognizes that not everyone shares his understanding, and that many people regard science as intimidating.

“What I hear is that ‘science isn’t for me, I’m not good at it’,” he said. “But it’s not something for somebody else, and it’s not something you’re good at to start with. It’s for everyone.”

A desire to dispel the misconceptions about science led Greene to apply for a $10,000 People’s Liberty grant for a project he calls It’s Just Science.

“My main goal is to show people that it’s not scary," Greene said. "It’s much more accessible than people give it a chance to be.”

When he applied for the grant, he had to clarify exactly how he’d make science approachable for the general public.

“How do we get it out there and into the hands of people?” Greene briefly considered using a tent or a pop-up camper to house a portable science lab. “But we really wanted to reinforce the accessibility and make it as mobile as possible, so we settled on a tricycle.”

Greene worked with a custom tricycle company based in Oregon to create a collapsible lab on wheels. The trike includes fold-out shelves on the side, which Greene will pack with microscopes and DNA extraction kits as he travels throughout the city.

Greene is busy reaching out to local libraries, community centers, events and even breweries to bring his mobile lab to learners of all ages and experience levels. “The trike is to break down the initial barrier, lowering the hurdles to the public," he said.

“Demystifying science is at the heart of this whole project,” Greene said. The soft launch of the It’s Just Science tricycle will happen in the coming weeks, but Greene already has his sights set on big goals for the future.

“I’m looking at a physical presence in an unused storefront to do a larger launch,” he shared. Ultimately, Greene has dreams of establishing a community lab where people can explore science in a less stressful environment than the classroom, under the supervision of scientists and graduate students who know science and can answer questions.

“As a scientist, I already understand the uses for these technologies,” Greene said.

But he anticipates that engaging people from different backgrounds in scientific exploration could yield new approaches to old problems. “I’ll be interested to see what comes out of it. When you think outside the box and let new minds come in, that’s where you get a lot of new innovation.”

To get up-to-date information on upcoming It’s Just Science appearances and find out where you can catch it next, visit its Facebook page.

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

 

Ludlow mixed-use development to pay homage to region's past


At the Ludlow: Beyond the Curb event earlier this month, Hub + Weber Architects revealed its plans for a new mixed-use project along the railroad tracks in the city’s industrial east end. Ludlow Yards will feature residential, commercial and retail all in one spot to help create a more vibrant community.
 
The four-story development will be built on land across from Ludlow’s Municipal Building that is currently owned by the City of Ludlow. It will serve as a gateway to the city’s main business district, and will pay homage to the region’s railroad and industrial history.
 
Hub + Weber spent days looking at historic photos of Ludlow, including buildings in the former railroad yards, as well as photos of redeveloped warehouses like Longworth Hall.
 
Ludlow Yards will feature public plazas and street-level retail with residential units and offices on the upper floors. Hub + Weber also envisions a craft brewery, events center or history museum for the site.
 
A vacant lot across the street will be redeveloped to create 45 parking spaces for the development. There will be a train-viewing platform adjacent to the Norfolk Southern Line and a public area surrounding a city-owned fountain, as well as a tree grove with seating and a space that could be used for events.
 
The building’s plaza could feature an old railroad turntable that was used in the former railroad roundhouse that still stands in Ludlow.
 
An estimated cost isn’t currently available, and a timeline for the project hasn’t yet been announced. The City of Ludlow will work with the Catalytic Fund of Northern Kentucky to promote the project to potential developers.
 
If you’re interested in Ludlow Yards, please contact city administrator Elishia Chamberlain at 859-491-1233 or echamberlain@ludlow.org.
 

Historic downtown bank building to be redeveloped into 60 apartments


Indianapolis-based Anderson Birkla Investment Partners plans to buy and redevelop the Second National Bank Building, located at 830 Main St. downtown, as well as the adjacent parking lot. Both properties are currently under contract, with plans to close on the deal before the end of the year.
 
Anderson Birkla — the firm behind the AT580 building — says the price point on this project will be more affordable, and more geared toward millenials.
 
The 61,000-square-foot Second National Bank Building will be redeveloped into 60 apartments. As part of the project, an adjacent parking lot will also be redeveloped into a six-story parking garage with about 200 parking spaces. The public garage would be topped with an additional 40-60 apartments.
 
Built in 1903, the 13-story bank building is of the Beaux Arts Classic style. In May, the building was 64 percent occupied, but many of the 14 tenants are leasing month-to-month, which will make it easy to convert the building from office space to apartments.
 
Anderson Birkla is considering applying for state historic tax credits to help fund the project.
 
 

People's Liberty project grantee, Who 'They' Is


Jasmine Humphries is spending six weeks working with 20 teenagers from all over the city on a creative placemaking project in Avondale. Her idea, Who ‘They’ Is, was funded through a $10,000 People’s Liberty grant.
 
Who ‘They’ Is focuses on “they” as a singular entity, as in: “They said this…” or “They did that…”
 
“The goal is to use different ways to humanize and demystify ‘they’ to empower citizens,” Humphries said.
 
The project officially launched on Oct. 1 at People’s Liberty, and will wrap up with the big reveal scheduled for Nov. 5. During the six-week project, the teens will be exploring the world of planning and design, and will use what they learn to create a park within Lincoln Park in Avondale.
 
“Lincoln Park is underutilized, and I want to help make things happen,” Humphries said. “Other things will happen because of this project.”  
 
Who ‘They’ Is won’t culminate in permanent or semi-permanent construction due to time constraints, but rather in a placemaking event like Parking Day, called Space to Pla(y)ce.
 
Students will learn about the park designing process, including planning, designing, empowering a community and meeting stakeholders. Although Humphries doesn’t have a formal planning background — she has a degree in economics and spent a year as an AmeriCorps vista working at LISC — she believes that everyone should be introduced to planning and design and the different career paths available.
 
The first week, students worked on teambuilding, and the park will grow from those connections and teamwork. The second week included a site visit in Avondale.
 
“First we have to build a social community among ourselves and identify leadership styles,” Humphries said. “Then we will start talking about building the physical community, which is in this case, a park.”
 
Long-term, Humphries wants to focus on diversifying the workforce, and to start to mold socially responsible and culturally aware professionals. She also wants to show the people of Cincinnati and its organizations that young people are capable of designing, and that their opinions and voices are important and valuable.
 
“Through this project, lots of people will see these kids’ designs and their feedback; they’re going to be blown away,” she said. “I want to tap into the human capital, and I feel that kids have a lot of potential. We as adults are asking questions and trying to answer them, but imagine if you gave that problem to a 12-year-old. They will come up with an entirely different solution.”
 
Twice per year, eight grantees are chosen per grant cycle to prototype solutions to civic challenges. Project grantees are supported with $10,000, a launch event and access to People’s Liberty’s workplace and mentorship. Stay tuned to Soapbox for profiles of this year's 15 other grantees.
 

New festival focuses on Cincinnati's craft spirits scene


Overall, the United States beverage market is a $354.2 billion industry, with distilled spirits making up about 37 percent of the overall alcoholic beverage sales in the country. That doesn't even include bottled spirits that are purchased at the liquor store and taken home for consumption.

Before Cincinnati was a beer lovers paradise, it was home to a number of distilleries. But Prohibition ended much of the distilling (and brewing) that consumers had come to know and love. Local enthusiasts are just now taking their at-home cocktail concoctions to the next level by opening distilleries and bars — New Riff, Northside Distilling Co., Second Sight Spirits and Molly Wellmann's bars, just to name a few.

Cincinnati is taking that to the next level, and will be celebrating its spirits history on Oct. 22 at Proof Cocktail & Spirits. The first ever event will take place at Duke Energy Convention Center from 7-10:30 p.m.
 
Proof will include spirit sampling and small cocktails from 100 local, regional and national spirit makers and bartenders. There will be a number of different popup bars within the festival for ticketholders (except for the Speakeasy, which is for VIP ticket holders only).
 
  • The Tiki Bar will feature 8-foot flamingos and drinks from Wellmann’s Brands, as well as catering from Bottle and Basket.
  • The '80s Bar will have neon lights, day-glow and fun cocktails like cosmos, plus a DJ playing throwback favorites.
  • Bartenders from Scene Ultra Lounge will be serving up drinks at the Night Club, and a Silent Disco where you put on headphones and dance to music only you can hear.
  • 4EG and The Lackman are pairing up for the Log Cabin Bar which will feature snow-covered pine trees and mixologists from The Lackman, who will create cocktails with Absolut Vodka and Jameson Whiskey. Food will be available from Keystone Bar & Grill.

Proof is the largest cocktail and spirits event in the history of Cincinnati, and will have hundreds of spirits on-hand for guests to try. Hosted by Festivals Unlimited (the same company that’s behind Cincy Winter Beerfest), they will showcase the talent of the city's bartenders. 

Guests can sip and sample spirits and learn about the nuances of different spirits from the various brands.

Tickets are still available for Proof, but there are a limited number of VIP Speakeasy tickets, which are $95. Regular admission tickets are $65, and designated driver tickets are $35.

Stay tuned to Proof's Facebook page for more information as the festival gets closer.
 

People's Liberty project grantee, POPPED ART


POPPED ART mobile gallery is on a mission to “increase community interaction using the power of art within public spaces in a unique and vibrant way.” In early 2016, local artists Janet Creekmore, Ben Jason Neal and Melissa Mitchell won a $10,000 People’s Liberty grant to make that vision a reality.

Back in 2013, the trio was running a stationary version of POPPED out of a vacant space on Short Vine in Corryville. According to Creekmore, before POPPED started, that area of Corryville “was a ghost town,” lined with about a dozen vacant buildings. But after creating POPPED, foot traffic to the area increased as people came for openings and events.

Creekmore explained that the vibrancy the popup gallery brought to the area helped to build a sense of community, increase safety on the street, and drive economic development.

The gallery developed a following, but could no longer stay in the same building. “We had all this momentum,” Creekmore said, so they decided to apply for a People’s Liberty grant to take the gallery on the road.

The team converted an original 1963 rainbow camper that had been sitting unused in Neal’s driveway into a mobile art gallery. Mitchell, who has a background in art curation, filled the converted camper with consigned local art from about 30 artists.

According to Creekmore, the gallery highlights “outsider art, art from self-taught artists and more up-and-coming artists.” The majority of the pieces for sale are two-dimensional, such as paintings and drawings, but they also have paper sculptures and jewelry.

“There’s an approachability to our little venue,” Creekmore said. “Like our T-shirts say: it doesn’t have to be in a museum to be art.”

Through making a friendly, engaging space, POPPED seeks to expose local artists and bring artwork to people who haven’t experienced it in this way.

During summer 2016, POPPED appeared at a variety of local events in seven different Cincinnati neighborhoods, including the City Flea, Art Off Pike and the Mini Maker Faire. It also went out on “rogue stops”; the gallery appeared unannounced in a local neighborhood to provide an unexpected opportunity for people to engage with art.

Though the 2016 season has largely concluded, the POPPED team is working on plans to continue in the years to come.

“It’s been so well-received, it seems like it needs to evolve into something,” Creekmore said. “We’ll decide over the next few months exactly what shape it will take.”

Those interested in partnering or seeing if POPPED is available to come out to a specific event are encouraged to reach out. “We will entertain any conversation,” Creekmore said. “We want to continue it, but we need strong community partnerships and financial partnerships, which is what we’re looking for right now.”

To stay up-to-date on all things POPPED, visit its website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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

UC Blue Ash to host another Entrepreneur Speaker Series


JTM Food Group, one of the world’s leading food-processing companies, is sponsoring an entrepreneurial class at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash. The fourth installment of the Entrepreneur Speaker Series will feature Tony Maas, president of JTM, whose family started the company more than 50 years ago with a butcher shop.
 
The class is open to business owners, entrepreneurs and anyone who is interested in hearing from an international business leader. During the class, Maas will share secrets to his family’s success.
 
Maas will share details of how in 1960, his father founded Maas Brothers Meats and created a vision for the company and identified growth opportunities. Today, JTM products can be found in delis, restaurants, schools, convenience stores and grocery stores around the world. JTM also provides packaged foods to the U.S. military.
 
 Kent Lutz, UC Blue Ash business/economics professor will interview the speaker on stage and take questions from the audience in this interactive format.
 
Past ESS speakers include Patty Brisben, founder of Pure Romance; Craig Kurz, owner of Honeybaked Ham; Buddy LaRosa, founder of LaRosa’s Pizza; and Jeff Wyler of Wyler Automotive Group.
 
UC Blue Ash College Entrepreneur Speaker Series featuring Maas will be held on Oct. 26 from 7 to 8 p.m., with a reception to follow, in the Muntz Auditorium on the UC Blue Ash Campus. The event and reception are free and open to everyone.
 
Seating is limited and registration is required. To register, visit www.ucblueash.edu/ess, or call 513-936-1632 for more information.

You can watch past ESS events here, as well as view photos.
 

Five retailers to score free rent and $1,000 for holiday pop up shops


This summer, the City of Cincinnati released its Downtown Retail Action Plan. The plan outlines a series of strategies that will help create a more lively retail environment for residents and visitors.
 
Part of that plan includes Cincy Pop Shop, which will open up vacant storefronts during the holiday season to future business owners who may have had trouble finding accessible, affordable and flexible spaces. The city teamed up with Downtown Cincinnati Inc. to help business owners to create, expand and nurture their businesses with relatively low risk.
 
As part of Cincy Pop Shop, applicants will receive free rent from Nov. 1-Dec. 31 in individual or co-op retail spaces in the Central Business District. Exact locations will be announced in the next few weeks, but they will be near other active retail spaces, holiday events and Fountain Square.
 
The city has allocated up to $1,000 for each selected business, with a total of up to $5,000 available for the entire program. Applicants will be able to use the funds, which are made possible through the city’s Community Development Block Grant, for merchandising materials like racks, hangers, shelving, window displays and payment processing equipment.
 
Applications for Cincy Pop Shop will be accepted through Oct. 23, and winning applicants will be announced on Oct. 28. Applicants will be able to move into their retail space on Nov. 1, and a kickoff event will be held on Nov. 25.
 
Interested business owners can download the application here.
 
 

People's Liberty grants $10,000 for The Percussion Park


When drummer and percussionist Ben Sloan saw a video of a drum set made from paint cans, buckets and other reused and recycled materials, he decided to create his own version.
 
“I thought it would be cool to construct a drum set using these materials and techniques, and put it in a place where it would permanently live for people to use,” he says.
 
The Percussion Park will be located in a 12-foot-by-12-foot plot in a vacant lot at the corner of Warsaw and McPherson avenues in Price Hill, less than four blocks from the MYCincinnati firehouse. Sloan teaches percussion and electives to kids ages 5-10 at MYCincinnati, and thought his project would tie in nicely to a program that already exists.
 
“Having The Percussion Park in a neighborhood where there’s already a relationship with students seemed like the right idea,” he says. “It’s a natural extension of what’s already happening.”
 
Before applying for a grant from People’s Liberty — and qualifying for one — Sloan took his idea to Price Hill Will. They’re working with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful on Vacant Lots: Occupied, which includes restoring the lot at Warsaw and McPherson. In his PL grant, Sloan made sure to identify that The Percussion Park would be installed in that lot.
 
“I thought it would be a cool feature for the development of this vacant lot, and it just seemed like all of the stars aligned to make it happen,” he says.
 
Sloan dug the foundation for The Percussion Park last week, and will be pouring the base in the next few weeks. Final installation is scheduled for March.
 
“It’s really going to be a sensory overload, with so many different things to try,” he says, explaining that users will crank or strike objects to produce a sound or tone. “It’s going to be interactive and engaging."
 
The Percussion Park will feature slap tubes made out of different lengths of PVC pipe and metal that when slapped with a hand or paddle produce different pitches. A bass marimba will have a much lower range than the typical marimba, which mimics a piano.
 
Sloan is hanging old oxygen and propane tanks, which will produce long, sustained tones when struck. He’s also working on creating drums from wooden boxes that will have slits cut out of the top. Another feature will be bicycle parts that when pedaled will generate a noise or rhythm.

Sloan envisions The Percussion Park as a community outreach tool; the lot will be a symbolic gathering place that belongs to the community. He also plans to use it as a resource for teaching at MYCincinnati, incorporating it into classes and lesson plans, as well as using it for popup performances.
 
“I really hope The Percussion Park is a fun and exciting place for people to go and play music and connect with each other,” Sloan says.
 
Twice per year, eight grantees are chosen per grant cycle to prototype solutions to civic challenges. Project grantees are supported with $10,000, a launch event and access to People’s Liberty’s workplace and mentorship. Stay tuned to Soapbox for profiles of this year's 15 other grantees.
 

People's Liberty project grantee, Rachelle Caplan


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four Cincinnati buildings to be added to the National Register of Historic Places


Four Cincinnati buildings — the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Building, the First National Bank Building, the Reakirt Building and the former Eastern Hills YMCA — are on the short list to be added to the National Register of Historic Places. The City of Cincinnati already recognizes the four buildings as historic, but now they’re waiting on the national distinction from the National Park Service, which oversees the registry. The final decision is expected in the next three months.
 
While actual “landmark” designation is typically for buildings like Music Hall and Union Terminal, other buildings can be listed for their importance to American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture.
 
Brunswick-Balke-Collender Building, 130-132 E. Sixth St., downtown
The six-story commercial building was completed in 1891 for the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Co., which is one of the biggest manufacturers of billiards tables, billiard accessories, bar fixtures and bar furniture in the United States.
 
The building served as the company’s showroom until 1916, and is the only building in Cincinnati today that is associated with the firm. It has local architectural significance as an example of the 1890s Commercial style, with a riveted iron front and huge showroom windows on the second and third floors, as well as Romanesque details throughout.
 
First National Bank Building (Fourth and Walnut Centre), 105 E. Fourth St., downtown
Completed in 1904, the 19-story building was designed by Chicago architect and planner Daniel Burnham. It was one of Cincinnati’s earliest skyscrapers, and is one of the purest examples of the Chicago Commercial style. Its steel skeleton and masonry curtain walls, neoclassical details and distinctive three-part “Chicago-style” windows are all evident in early Chicago skyscrapers.
 
Reakirt Building, 126-128 E. Sixth St., downtown
Designed by Cincinnati architect Samuel S. Godley and completed in 1924, the Reakirt Building is an example of the early 20th century Chicago Commercial style. The 10-story, concrete-frame office building has brick curtain walls and limestone details, as well as stone ornamentation, copper cornices and large expanses of glass. It also has some of the best-preserved early 20th century interior features.
 
Former Eastern Hills YMCA, 1228 E. McMillan St., E. Walnut Hills
Completed in 1930, the former YMCA building served as a branch of the Cincinnati YMCA until 2011. The four-story, red brick building has limestone trim, a slate roof and a Tudor-style interior. It was designed by Cincinnati architect Charles F. Cellarius, who also supervised the architecture of the village of Mariemont from 1924-1941.
 
Being added to the National Register can help raise community awareness of the buildings, but it doesn’t obligate owners to repair or improve the properties. The listing also doesn’t prevent owners from remodeling, altering, selling or demolishing the buildings. However, owners of long-term tenants of the buildings who rehabilitate them can qualify for federal income tax credits. In Ohio, the state offers a 25 percent income tax credit for historic preservation projects.
 

People's Liberty project grantee: Nate May


2016 People’s Liberty grantee Nate May is a composer and pianist whose work is influenced by his Appalachian roots. Inspired by his upbringing, May received a $10,000 grant from People’s Liberty Project Grant II class that allowed him to compose a musical piece entitled "State: A Testimony to Urban Appalachia," which debuted in April at The Sanctuary in Lower Price Hill.


Though the live performance ran for only two nights, "State" was years in the making.

“I grew up in Huntington, West Virginia, and lived in Fayetteville,” May says. “While I was living there, I became really interested in Appalachian issues. I was looking for the next step to explore these topics.”

During that time, May wrote an opera called "Dust in the Bottomland," which focused on issues that Appalachians face.

That next step came when May was awarded an Appalachian Sound Fellowship from Berea College in 2015. He was funded to collect oral histories, and he planned to use that content as the lyrical text for a piece of music. May then connected with Community Matters in Lower Price Hill, which introduced him to Appalachians living in Cincinnati.

As May began to compose State, word spread about the project. May was told that MUSE: Cincinnati Women’s Choir had just moved into The Sanctuary along with Community Matters, and they, too, shared an interest in Appalachian history. May immediately reached out to discuss the possibility of collaborating on the piece, and the choir's director, Rhonda Juliano, enthusiastically took on the challenge.

“It was such a difficult piece,” May says. “They put a huge amount of work into it and pushed themselves.”

Classically-trained Cincinnati vocalist Kate Wakefield, whom May knew from school, sang the lead part, which tells the story of three urban Appalachian women using their own words. A trio of percussionists and a pianist brought rhythm to the piece.

“I’m really proud of the piece and it came across as I’d envisioned it,” May says. “And I can’t say that about every piece that I’ve written. This was the most ambitious piece I’ve ever undertaken.”

The experience of creating "State" opened many doors for May. He now works as a consultant for the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition, in addition to continuing to compose and perform regularly as a pianist. With the Coalition, May is helping to start an initiative for Appalachian college students in Cincinnati to explore their identities through research, advocacy and cultural events.

“On a creative level, having a vision that big, and that prone to failure, and then actually realizing it has given me a big head about the possibilities that I can undertake,” May says.

Buoyed by the success of "State," May says that he is now throwing himself into projects with a newfound enthusiasm and self-assurance.

“I’m taking on things I wouldn’t have undertaken before,” he says. He is now in the early stages of developing a collaborative musical project that will involve touring nationally. “It will be like 'State' in a number of ways, but even more visible nationally. I’ve found that my ego needs to be unrealistically large in order to actually accomplish what I need to accomplish. If it’s realistic, I’ll stop short of what’s possible, but if it’s unrealistic, I’ll push myself to the edges.”

May will be speaking about "State," and his other works surrounding Appalachian issues, on Oct. 6 at “Composing Appalachia: A Conversation with Nate May.” The talk is part of a series of literary salons organized by Pauletta Hansel, Cincinnati’s Poet Laureate. The event will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. at Lydia’s on Ludlow in Clifton.

A full recording of "State," as well as photos and video, can be found on May’s website.

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

 

People's Liberty project grantee, Access Cincinnati


Kathleen Cail and Nestor Melnyk have known each other for years. After working individually to make the world a more welcoming and accepting place for children and those with special needs, they realized their work wasn’t just about disabilities.
 
“We want to create an environment where everyone is accepted and no one feels singled out,” Melnyk says.
 
Two years ago, Cail and Melnyk spearheaded a program called LivAble Cincinnati as part of the ReelAbilities Film Festival, which was developed around a video short that highlighted the obstacles people with disabilities face when navigating a city.
 
“What was most striking was that most of the obstacles were very minor and were simple to overcome,” Melnyk says. “These were obstacles that if corrected, would benefit everyone. They were really issues of universal design.”
 
After the program, the group stayed active and tried to come up with ways to promote universal design. LivAble Cincinnati looked at ways to educate, promote and develop those concepts in the areas of live, work and play in order to make the city a more livable, welcoming place.
 
According to Melnyk, people with disabilities comprise about 20 percent of the nation’s population. There is a consumer market out there that many businesses and organizations are missing out on if they don’t embrace accessibility and universal design.
 
“With momentum growing in Over-the-Rhine, downtown and The Banks, one of our ideas was to see how we could create an information source for people who might want to take advantage of bars, restaurants and other venues in those areas, but are concerned about their physical conditions,” Melnyk says.
 
During their research, Cail and Melnyk found that there were people who had never gone to those areas because they didn’t want to take their chances of going to OTR and finding out they couldn’t get into a restaurant due to physical limitations.
 
Access Cincinnati was born out of that research, and helps provide objective information that allows people to make their own decisions about what bars, restaurants and venues will work for them.
 
Cail and Melnyk looked to People’s Liberty for resources and funding — they were part of its Project Grant III class and received a $10,000 grant to execute Access Cincinnati, focusing specifically on the area from OTR to The Banks, along the streetcar route.
 
The pair developed a strategy to survey about 300 bars and restaurants in the project area, and held a survey launch event in August to educate volunteers on what Access Cincinnati is. Over the next few months, they will assemble information and provide an interactive mobile website that is similar to Google Maps or Yelp, but with accessibility details. The locations will be graphically represented and communicated via icons; Cail and Melnyk are also developing window clings for the bars, restaurants and venues to display.
 
Access Cincinnati will officially launch in early 2017. A relaunch will happen just in time for the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, which is being held in Cincinnati. During the Games, over 600 wheelchair athletes will be staying in and around downtown, along with their trainers, coaches, officials, staff, family members and spectators.
 
Twice per year, eight grantees are chosen per grant cycle to prototype solutions to civic challenges. Project grantees are supported with $10,000, a launch event and access to People’s Liberty’s workplace and mentorship. Stay tuned to Soapbox for profiles of this year's 15 other grantees.

 

Cincinnati to host preservationists for third Rust Belt Takeover


On Oct. 7-9, Cincinnati will play host to about 70 preservationists for the third Rust Belt Takeover. The first event by the same name was held in Pittsburgh earlier this year, and the second was in Buffalo; this is the first time the event will take place over three days.
 
“The Rust Belt Takeover brings a wide net of people from cities all across the country,” says Diana Tisue of the Cincinnati Preservation Collective, which is partnering with the Young Preservationists of Ohio for the event. “There will be a good mix of people from Cincinnati, Ohio and beyond.”
 
The Rust Belt Takeover isn’t just a CPC event — it’s a group effort among preservation groups from Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, just to name a few. That collaborative spirit won’t stop at the end of the weekend, either.
 
Preservation groups support each other’s causes. When Tisue visited Pittsburgh and Buffalo for the first two Rust Belt Takeovers, she saw lots of “Save the Dennison” T-shirts. Before historic preservation meetings, words of encouragement have been passed back and forth from other organizations.
 
“It makes the preservation world more of a network where everyone is watching out for each other and offering support,” she says.
 
In turn, CPC has shown support for other groups, including preservationists in Fort Wright, Ind., who are trying to stop a developer from demolishing one of the city’s Frank Lloyd Wright buildings.
 
“This event is very timely for Cincinnati, and it brings together energized preservationists from all backgrounds and generations,” Tisue says. “It highlights that we’re all going through the same struggles, and we want to support each other as much as we can.”
 
Throughout the weekend, the preservationists will be taking a behind-the-scenes tour of Union Terminal with Grant Stevens, who has played an integral part in the building’s restoration. There will be a few other tours to, including one that will take people in buildings that are part of the OTR Adopt program, a downtown walking tour and a staircase tour.
 
CPC will take attendees to Walnut Hills to showcase what’s happening in the neighborhood, and there’s a scavenger hunt planned as well.
 
“This is an opportunity for us to really show off what’s going on in the city, especially in preservation,” Tisue says.
 
CPC also teamed up with Taft’s Ale House to brew a special beer — Preservation Ale — that will be available at a number of the weekend’s events.
 
This weekend, Cincinnati will also be the site of Heritage Ohio’s statewide conference, which many Takeover attendees will stay for.
 
There are a limited number of tickets still available for the weekend’s events. You can get yours here, as well as view a full schedule of events.
 
For more preservation events and to follow the Rust Belt Takeover and Heritage Ohio conference, search #preservetheNati on Instagram.
 

Fifth annual Cincinnati Street Food Festival brings food trucks and music to Walnut Hills


The Cincinnati Street Food Festival is in its fifth year, and will be part of the larger We Are Walnut Hills Weekend on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Seventeen of Cincinnati’s favorite food trucks will be on hand, and beer from the newly opened Woodburn Brewery will be available for sale.
 
“The festival promotes not only Cincinnati food trucks and local entertainers and artists, but it also shows the promise and potential of Walnut Hills,” says Sondra Palivoda, development co-op for the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation. “Change is happening in Walnut Hills, and we want to show that development is possible and necessary, but so is community utilization and celebration.”
 
One of the major areas for redevelopment in the neighborhood is along E. McMillan, right where the festival is being held.
 
This year, the Street Food Festival will include interactive artists from Chase Public, the Cincinnati Art Museum, Head Start, the Walnut Hills Historical Society in partnership with Cincy Stories, the Walnut Hills Area Council and WordPlay, as well as a stiltwalker and a screen-printing poster station.
 
Sledge from WNKU will be at the festival hosting games and handing out prizes, and there will be a petting zoo featuring a kangaroo and a camel. As for music, four bands will take the stage with DJ Carl Hunt entertaining in between sets.
 
Food trucks include: Adena’s Beefstroll, Andy’s Mediterranean, C’est Cheese, The Chili Hut, Contini's Pizza, Dojo Gelato, Empanadas Aqui, Hungry Bros., Just Jerks, Red Sesame, Slice Slice Baby, Street Chef Brigade, Streetpops, U-Lucky DAWG, Urban Vistro, Waffo and Wicked Hickory.
 
The Street Food Festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 1 on E. McMillan Street between Concord and Copelen streets.
 
Also that weekend is the Five Points Mural Dedication and Art Out Loud Biergarten at 7 p.m. on Sept. 30. There is an open call for artists and performance artists who want to showcase their work during the event. For more information, check out WHRF’s Facebook page.

An after party and Music Off McMillan will be happening at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 1 after the Street Food Festival. The biergarten will be in Five Points Alley and there will be music from HuTown Holler.
 

Cincinnati native helping to start church for everyone in Over-the-Rhine


A new church in Over-the-Rhine will hold its first official service at 11 a.m. on Oct. 2 at the Woodward Theater. But Sanctuary’s founders want Cincinnati to know that it’s not your traditional church.
 
Sanctuary is non-denominational, and wants to give anyone, no matter where they are in their faith of lack thereof, a place to belong.
 
“We like to say that this is a church for the rebellious, rejected and right-brained thinkers,” says co-founder and co-pastor Shawn Braley. “OTR is full of those types of people — the rebellious and the creative — and we want Sanctuary to become a place for them.”
 
In medieval times, the church was at the forefront of artistic movements, i.e. the Renaissance. But over the centuries it has stopped being a trailblazer. Braley hopes to break that mold and create a space for creative people to flourish.
 
When Braley was a student at UC in 2009, he started hanging out in OTR and fell in love with the neighborhood. He loved the diversity and the rich history, but didn’t find a church that he connected to. (He grew up in a conservative church where he was loved but didn’t feel that he fit in.)
 
He didn’t go to seminary but ended up working for a church in the suburbs. While working there, he realized he wanted to start a church in OTR and told his pastor that. In 2014, Braley met Greg Knake, co-pastor of Sanctuary.
 
“Our visions of what a church would look like for OTR were spot on,” Braley says.
 
Knake had started a get-together called Beer and Hymns that met at MOTR Pub twice a month. A bluegrass band would play traditional church hymns, and attendees bonded over beer tastings.
 
As Braley met more and more people who were interested in starting a community in OTR, he realized they needed to hold more events. The OTR Potluck started around that time, and in 2015, Braley started Cincy Stories.
 
Although the nonreligious Cincy Stories grew out of Sanctuary, Braley hopes it will do the same thing and still be its own thing.
 
“We want Cincy Stories to be raw and real, and create a sense of community within a community, just like Sanctuary,” he says.
 
Braley and Knake chose to hold services at the Woodward Theater because it’s a beautiful and historic building that has a lot of meaning for the neighborhood. It’s also a picture of revitalization and has been brought back to life, much like the majority of OTR itself.
 
“OTR has always been a great neighborhood,” Braley says. “I love the inside and out of the Woodward and what it represents. I wanted Sanctuary to be in a place where the neighborhood goes that is established in a safe, comfortable and hospitable place that has visibility and history. The authenticity of the Woodward shows that Sanctuary is here to be in the neighborhood.”
 
With its first established church service on Oct. 2, the Sanctuary team plans to continue holding its tried-and-true events. Beer and Hymns is at 5 p.m. on the first and third Sunday of each month at MOTR, and the OTR Potluck is at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at Rhinegeist.
 
Braley also helped start Sunday of Service — everyone meets at MOTR and heads to a community on Liberty Street in the West End. They serve the community in different ways and build relationships with residents and each other. Sunday of Service is held the second Sunday of the month.
 
“We feel strongly about OTR, and we don’t want to be a church filled with new or old residents,” Braley says. “We hope to be a church that really reflects the city, where people from all walks of life feel like they can come and worship together in bigger ways. 
 

Airstream trailer to house Camp Washington coffee shop


A new coffee shop, Mom N’ Nem, is slated to open at 3132 Colerain Ave. near Camp Washington Chili in early 2017. The shop will be inside of a 1969 31-foot Land Yacht Airstream trailer, and will have an adjoining coffee garden where patrons can enjoy a fresh espresso beverage and relax.

“There are plenty of biergartens, but you don’t really see a coffee garden,” says co-owner Tony Ferrari.

Mom N’ Nem will be the second coffee-related venture for Tony and his brother Austin Ferrari. The duo own another small coffee shop in San Francisco called Provender, as well as Hillside Supper Club with fellow chef Jonathan Sutton, also in San Francisco.

“My brother and I are doing this for my mom, Theresa,” Tony says. “She has been a contractor her whole life. We call her superwoman.”

Theresa Ferrari will be overseeing the trailer renovation and will also serve as general manager once the shop opens, which takes its name from a long-standing Ferrari family saying.

“When we were kids, whenever my dad would call he’d say ‘How’s Mom and them?’” The name seemed fitting for a family venture, and the shop logo will even feature a smiling characterization of Theresa’s face.

The Ferraris have yet to settle on the coffee roaster that will supply the shop with fresh beans. They plan to have one main roaster, but will also do a quarterly rotation of guest roasters to keep things interesting.

“We will have a focus on natural espresso,” Ferrari says. “We’ll serve minimally and naturally processed coffees, and there are only so many roasters that do this well and consistently.”

The shop will also serve baked goods from Tom McKenna. The menu will include toasts, pastries and an exclusive dish called “The Dirty ‘Nati,” which is a savory pastry featuring goetta.

The Ferraris have been working closely with architect Daniel Ewald to develop the rendering and design of the space, which will capitalize on the retro vibe that the trailer invites. Ferrari hopes that the space will serve as a community gathering place and a catalyst for new development in Camp Washington.

“This is a project for the community that we hope will bring more opportunity,” Ferrari says.

The Ferraris have worked closely with Joe Gorman, Paul Rudemiller and others from the Camp Washington Community Board throughout the planning process, and they're grateful for the warm welcome by the Camp Washington community.

The stationary coffee trailer will be the first of its kind in Cincinnati.

“I’m always taking a risk, but I know it will work,” Ferrari says.

Ultimately, Ferrari is driven by a desire to bring about new vibrancy to the West Side. “It’s important to give neighborhoods more opportunity, and we need to showcase this community," he says.
 

Cincinnati Design Week welcomes creatives to the heart of the design world


Cincinnati is home to some of the world’s most highly recognized design agencies and schools, and is at the forefront of global design. Cincinnati Design Week, which is Sept. 28-Oct. 2, is a chance for the city to showcase its creative minds. The weeklong celebration includes workshops, studio tours, panel discussions and a number of parties.
 
CDW is presented by AIGA Cincinnati and AGAR, and features speakers from all aspects of the design community. You can view the full schedule and list of speakers here.
 
Sept. 24: The preview activities kick off with the 16th annual OFFF Cincinnati creative conference. 9 a.m., School of Creative and Performing Arts, $25-50
Sept. 26: A Lunch n Learn panel, “Ignite Your Design Career with UX,” will teach graphic designers how to leverage user experience techniques in order to inspire their work. 12 p.m., Union Hall, free
Sept. 26: Five different female designers will share their best and worst work, as well as lessons they’ve learned, at KnowHer. 6 p.m., Gaslight Software, $15-25
Sept. 27: Freelance and independent graphic designers, copywriters and developers are invited to Indie/Breakfast Club. 8:30 a.m., The Hive, free
Sept. 27: Openfield Creative will discuss how design thinkers and makers can be so much more during Bending the Boundaries of Interface. 12 p.m., Openfield Creative, $15-25
Sept. 27: Building Bridges: Connecting our Design Community, a collaborative workshop that focuses on designing next year’s event, hosted by AIGA Cincinnati and Hyperquake. 6 p.m., Contemporary Arts Center, $10 seat holding fee, AIGA members only
Sept. 28: Designing and Prototyping with Adobe XD will focus on crafting a design with Adobe XD and using Photoshop, Illustrator and Live Preview. 2 p.m., Union Hall, $15-35
Sept. 28: Gaslight Software will give an inside look at agile design process during Agile Design: How to Fail Your Way to Success. 6 p.m., Gaslight Software, $15-25
Sept. 28: Networking, drinks and free food at Liquid Courage. 7 p.m., Igby’s, free
Sept. 29: Enjoy coffee and a chat with the developers of ArchiTour Cincinnati, a new app for self-guided architectural tours around downtown at ArchiTour Cincinnati: Coffee, Streetcar and App Design. Make sure to download the app first. 8:30 a.m., Coffee Emporium, free
Sept. 29: Print Talk with Mohawk will show you the ins and outs of the Mohawk Maker’s Field Guide. Lunch provided. 11:45 a.m., Contemporary Arts Center, $15-25
Sept. 29: Designing for a Virtual Environment: A Tale of Two Workshops will deal with the current state of VR. 6 p.m., Contemporary Arts Center, $10-20
Sept. 30: CreativeMornings: Jon Flannery. 8:30 a.m., TBD free
Sept. 30: AIGA Cincinnat will kick off its new In-House INitiative program with The Usual Suspects: Redefining In-House Roles. Cincinnati’s best in-house creatives will deliver practical workshops for Junior, Senior and Director Level creatives. 9 a.m., Art Academy of Cincinnati, $10-20

Sept. 30: The highlight of CDW is Alex Center, design director for Coca-Cola. He’s delivering the keynote speech, and will speak about his experience working within small and large organizations, and why he believes that the future of branding is in-house. 6 p.m., Woodward Theater, $15-35
Sept. 30: CDW Afterparty with Alex Center. 8 p.m., Woodward Theater, free for those who bought a ticket to the keynote
 
Tickets for all CDW events can be purchased here. Many of the events are free, but make sure to register for them!
 
 
 
 

NEST bringing tiny house movement to Northside


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


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

Carabello Coffee celebrates three years in Newport with expansion


Last weekend, Carabello Coffee kicked-off its anniversary weekend with the grand opening of its expanded coffee roasting space and Analog Slow Bar.
 
Three years ago, Carabello Coffee opened its coffee bar and roastery in a rented storefront at 107 E. Ninth St. in Newport. Once open, it only took a few months to outgrow the space. Owners Justin and Emily Carabello launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2014 to help with the cost of purchasing the building in advance of an eventual expansion.

With a boost from the Catalytic Fund and a Duke Energy Urban Revitalization Grant, the couple purchased the building and began renovations in early 2016.
 
With the addition of a new, attached storefront space and significant outdoor renovations, Carabello has doubled its space. There is now expanded seating in the original coffeeshop for daily customers, and the space now houses Carabello’s larger coffee roaster, a space for coffee and espresso professionals to learn on and test out new equipment and a large table that can be reserved for special events or meetings.

 
Unique for the area is Carabello’s new Analog Slow Bar that offers limited-engagement coffee tasting events for those interested in a more curated coffee experience. Similar to a wine tasting, the Analog Slow Bar features specialty coffees prepared and presented multiple ways during the five-course, hour-long events.
 
A highlight of the weekend was a visit from Nicaraguan coffee farmer Luis Alberto Balladarez. Carabello has been serving his beans for five years, and learning the ins and outs of coffee cultivation from him along the way.

During his stay, Balladarez helped curate the weekend’s Analog Slow Bar tasting menus using his own coffees.
 
As it expands, Carabello is committed to maintaining its philanthropic business model. Since the company’s beginning, the Carabellos have been committed to using a portion of their proceeds to support “works of compassion” locally and in coffee-producing communities in Nicaragua, such as an orphanage near Balladarez's home.
 
When to go
Carabello Coffee is open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Saturday. The Analog Slow Bar will be offering a “Taste of Analog Coffee Experience” during its first two weeks of business. Tickets can be purchased here.

After the first two weeks, the Analog Bar will be available by reservation.
 
Carabello Coffee is also served at multiple locations in the Cincinnati area and whole coffee beans can be purchased at the coffeeshop or at any of the locations where it’s served.
 

Development along W. Fourth Street brings about a resurgence for the neighborhood


A stroll down W. Fourth Street downtown felt very different at the turn of the 20th century. For the better part of the city’s history, W. Fourth between Vine Street and Central Avenue was the epicenter of a bustling and lively urban core. Luxury department stores like the George A. McAlpin Company, H&S Pogue and the Gidding-Jenny Company were the places to go for high-end fashion and home goods. 4th & Vine Tower, then the home of the Union Central Life Insurance Company, was once the fifth tallest building in the world, and the second tallest outside of New York City.

Much of the building stock on W. Fourth was constructed in the 1860s in the Italianate style. The architecture retains historical significance, and 32 of the buildings on the street were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Though the area is brimming with beautiful architecture and value, according to David Ginsburg, the CEO of Downtown Cincinnati Inc., it still experienced a period of decline in the 1990s.

The decline is linked to a variety of factors, but the move toward building less pedestrian-friendly environments was a big one.

“As the suburbs developed and people left the urban core, city centers tried to fight fire with fire by recreating the suburbs downtown,” Ginsburg says. “They did things like build skywalk systems that got people off the ground level, and they got slower moving vehicles like bicycles off the streets.”

Tower Place Mall, the former shopping promenade at the intersection of W. Fourth and Race, opened in 1991 and proved to be an unsuccessful attempt to bring that suburban shopping experience to the city center.

“The suburban model just doesn’t speak to the street,” Ginsburg says. The mall was finally shuttered in 2013, and the City of Cincinnati then purchased Tower Place, as well as Pogue’s Garage across the street, later that year.

In 2014, the former Tower Place Mall was given another chance at life when it reopened as Mabley Place, a 775-space parking garage and retail space (which will soon be home to a high-end health club called Inner Fire Fitness).

After an extensive four-year planning process, demolition began this month on Pogue’s Garage. The redevelopment at the corner of W. Fourth and Race is a long time coming, Ginsberg says.

“Pogue’s Garage had a negative impact on the street. The pedestrian experience involved walking under an overhang, and people never feel comfortable walking under overhangs. The ground floor was ignored, and there was nothing interesting to see as you walked by."

Once the demolition of the garage is completed, a new $82 million mixed-use building will be constructed. Ultimately, the project will add 700-spaces of parking and 23,000 square feet of commercial space, all managed by 3CDC. Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins Properties will own and operate 225 units of apartment housing on the upper floors of the building.

“This is a key strategic and historical location,” Ginsburg says. “Redeveloping the site will better connect east and west, and north and south.”

The resurgence on W. Fourth also extends to new retailers and offices coming to the area.

“We have this nucleus of interesting, unique retail springing up,” Ginsburg says.

Retailers along W. Fourth include a Bang & Olufsen electronics store; Bromwell’s fireplace, furniture and art gallery; the newly-opened Switch Lighting & Design; and Koch’s Sporting Goods. Next door is Main Auction Galleries, an auction house that was started in 1870 and is the oldest in the region. Sleepy Bee Cafe is slated to open their third breakfast and lunch restaurant at 8 W. Fourth in late 2016.

A number of offices are also located on W. Fourth, including the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the headquarters of FC Cincinnati.

All of this renewed attention to the street is part of what Ginsburg refers to as a move toward “walkable urbanity.”

“We are going back to an authentic, unique, dense, mixed-use city center,” he says. “You want a walkable city — the higher the walkability, the higher the value of the real estate and the more vibrancy there is. We are going back to the old days, and W. Fourth Street is the poster child for the process.”
 

International street artists creating mural in downtown Covington


This past week, a team of internationally acclaimed street artists worked on a mural for the north-facing wall of the Boone Block Lofts in downtown Covington. The London Police, who are from Amsterdam, will be incorporating their iconic “lad” character into the mural, which is part of the Boone Block Living Art Wall.
 
A team of four artists, headed by the two founders of the London Police, will create the 40-foot-by-40-foot mural. The three-story wall that will house the mural will also be a vertical garden for mixed-media installations of art and plants.
 
Funding from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation launched the mural component of the initiative, and fundraising for the remainder of the project is ongoing.  
 
A “lad” was previously painted on the building to mark that the London Police would be back to finish covering the wall. The first green elements of the installation will be built on a trellis at street-level as fundraising continues.
 
The mural will pay homage to Mike Amann, the founder of BLDG, who passed away in 2013. He helped start the international street art movement in Covington, and played a huge part in bringing artists like the London Police, Vhils and Faille to the city. BLDG is curating the Boone Block installation.
 
The London Police is known for their lad characters and precision marking, as well as encouraging public engagement. Their body of work spans 16 years and appears in over 35 countries all around the world. The London Police recently did installations at the Quin Hotel in New York, The Coney Art Walls project at Coney Island and Sun Life Stadium in Miami; they were last in Covington in 2013.
 
The mural will bring together two aspects of downtown Covington’s revitalization efforts: public art and the restoration of historic properties. Other public art installations include the Curb’d parklets; Hotel Covington, which opens on Sept. 27; and several other residential projects.
 

Art Off Pike celebrates all forms of art for its 12th year


On Sept. 25, Art Off Pike is celebrating is 12th year, and it promises to be bigger and better than ever before. The free event, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., celebrates art in all forms, and takes place along Seventh Street between Washington and Madison streets in downtown Covington.
 
Artwork will be available for purchase from more than 60 local and regional artists, and there will be live music, spoken word artists, performance artists and interactive art installations.
 
Here is what’s going on this year:
  • The Forealism Tribe will lead costume parades at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Before each parade, there will be costume-making workshops so event goers can make outfits to wear in the parades.
  • A mobile sound studio and popup instrument showroom will be on hand from Caravan Traveling Sound, and Plop! will have its three giant beanbags strewn about.
  • Durham Brand & Co. will be unveiling it is new mural on the arcade between Seventh and Pike streets, which is across the street from Braxton Brewing. The mural, funded by Cov10, features Covington native and Tony Award Winner and Academy Award nominee Una Merkel.
  • Music, food and live entertainment will be set up next to Braxton in the Madlot. Smoking Zeus will open the event and Baoku’s 10-piece band led by Baoku Moses will close the event. There will be local food trucks, and several Covington restaurants will be open for business before, during and after Art Off Pike.
Check out Art Off Pike's website for a full schedule of events.
 
 

Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic relocates, adds more foodie events to lineup


During the last weekend in September, the Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic will bring highlights from the Midwest culinary scene to the banks of the Ohio River. The event, which launched in 2014 at Washington Park, has relocated this year to Yeatman’s Cove, and is expected to accommodate a crowd of 9,000 people over the three days.

Co-founders Donna Covrett, the former dining editor for Cincinnati Magazine, and Courtney Tsitouris, of City Stories, established the CFWC to bring more attention to Cincinnati’s growing reputation as a foodie destination.

“Since our launch, our mission has been to capture the energy and enthusiasm of the Midwest's dynamic food and beverage scene, and to position the region as an exciting culinary nucleus,” Tsitouris says.

The CFWC will feature tastings from over 100 local, regional, national and international chefs. It will also feature wine and beer tastings, live cooking and kitchen demonstrations, an artisan marketplace and live local music.

The event kicks off with the Grill Invitational signature event from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday. Thirty chefs from across the country will be grilling live for a panel of judges and a hungry crowd. Along with the grill showdown, patrons will be able to enjoy desserts from one of three specialty pavilions and sip on a variety of 40 beverage options from the Wine and Beer Pavilion. The evening will be set to a live soundtrack, provided by the Northern Kentucky Bluegrass Band and the Buffalo Wabs & The Price Hill Hustle.

The party continues on Saturday with two grand tastings, featuring dishes from 30 restaurants, including live demos, seminars, guided tastings, author talks, panel discussions and live musical entertainment from The Soul Refugees with guests Eugene Goss and Bethany Whitten.

Also on Saturday is the Recipes and a Dream cooking competition, which will feature the three chefs from Soapbox's August Speaker Series. Mandira Jacob of Oh Little Mustard Seed, Chef Dionne McCaskill-Alston of All Day Kitchen and Pantry and Tyler Retyi-Gazda of Grind on the Rhine will compete Chopped-style for prize money.

The weekend wraps up on Sunday with the Rising Stars Brunch Grand Tasting, which is a brunch by-the-bite with dishes from about 24 up-and-coming sous chefs, chefs de cuisines, pastry chefs and spirits experts in Cincinnati. There will also be 12 different breakout sessions going on throughout the day, including the third annual Somm Slam, a competition and interactive blind tasting among five sommeliers.

Tickets are on sale now and will also be available the day of. Tickets are $95 each for one of the four grand tastings. After standard price tickets sell out, the price will increase to $115.

The CFWC donates a percentage of event profits to Freestore Foodbank and Findlay Market. There will also be a raffle for an ArteFlame Grill (valued at $1,850) during the event, with proceeds supporting Freestore Foodbank.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit CFWC's website.
 

John R. Green Lofts to add to growing number of residential units in Covington


The John R. Green building, located at 411 W. Sixth St. in Mainstrasse Village, and surrounding lots will soon be redeveloped into 182 apartments. A four-story apartment building — the John R. Green Lofts — will be built on top of a three-story parking garage, with commercial space as well.
 
The John R. Green building will remain commercial property, with plans for a boutique grocery store on street level with offices above and a banquet hall on the top floor. The neighboring warehouse, including a mural, parking lot and community garden, will be removed to make way for the apartment project.
 
Moody Nolan Architects is designing the $38 million project that will yield 182 apartments, adding to the growing number of residential units in Covington.
 
The 501 Main building and adjacent parking lot will soon be razed. Two new buildings will be constructed with commercial space on the first floor of one building, a parking garage in the other and a total of 200 apartments.
 
Duveneck Square, which is located at Seventh and Washington streets, will yield 170 apartments.

Phase II of Pike Star Lofts was recently completed, with four apartments and 2,300 square feet of street-level office space for Bad Girl Ventures.
 

AFC architecture tours app launches along with streetcar opening


The Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati released an app today that allows users to take their own self-guided tours of some of the city’s most architecturally significant buildings. ArchiTour Cincinnati gives users behind-the-scenes details of photos of buildings and places, as well as create dialogue between users.
 
“AFC exists to promote architecture in the community,” says Stephen Sendelbeck, executive director of AFC. “We’ve offered walking tours for years, but they’ve been a challenge to coordinate. We wanted to find a technology-based solution that would allow people to download our tours through an app, and take them on their own time.”
 
ArchiTour launched in tandem with the streetcar opening. AFC is advertising the app on the streetcar, and hopes that people who are riding it for the first time will download ArchiTour and take the time to take a tour.
 
The app currently features three self-guided tours: the Streetcar Route, which highlights significant architectural spaces and places along the path of the new Cincinnati Bell Connector; the Fourth/Fifth Street Corridor, which contains some of the most historically relevant architecture in downtown; and the Must See Buildings tour, which is a roundup of 20 must-see buildings in the downtown area.
 
“Everyone who comes to Cincinnati loves the city — it’s like an unknown treasure,” Sendelbeck says. “A lot of that has to do with the city itself, and its roots in arts and culture. But also in the buildings that surround us and the places that exist here. people come to love them.”
 
AFC’s ultimate goal through the app is for people to become advocates for good design and architecture.
 
Each building or place featured on ArchiTour solicits comments and video from users. If someone brings us an interesting fact not included in the background information provided, AFC plans to research that fact and expand the app to include that information.
 
If users have a passion for a specific building or place, they can create short videos and post them to the app. Future users can then access those videos and hear from a local or visitor who really connected with a specific site in Cincinnati.
 
For example, one of Sendelbeck’s favorite buildings in Cincinnati is the Gwynne building, which is a former P&G building. While doing research for the app, he met someone who shared that the grills on the upper floors of the building alternately bear the initials “G” and “V,” which stand for Gwynne and Vanderbilt. The building was originally constructed by the Vanderbilt family to pay tribute to Vanderbilt’s wife’s family, the Gwynnes.
 
“I never would have learned about that connection otherwise,” Sendelbeck says. “People are going to be intrigued when they discover things about buildings that they didn’t know.”  
 
There is room for growth too, with future plans for riverfront, northern downtown, University of Cincinnati and sites that have been used in movies tours. AFC plans to rollout a new tour every 2-3 months into 2017. Long-term goals for ArchiTour include a downtown residential tour, a community centers tour and an expansion into Northern Kentucky tour.
 
You can download ArchiTour Cincinnati for free in the App Store or Google Play Store today.
 

Community ReSoup to fuel community conversations and ideas


On Sept. 25, the Center for Great Neighborhoods, Cov10, LiveWell NKY and the Northern Kentucky Incubator Kitchen will host A Community ReSoup. The free event will provide community building and discussion, as well as soup made from seconds.
 
“This event is really three-fold: It brings the community together over a meal, gets insight from community voices, and provides grants to community members to keep the momentum going,” says Rachel DesRochers, founder of the NKYIK and Grateful Grahams.
 
Two NKYIK tenants —  Debbie Carpenter-Coulter of Passion in My Pans and Gary Leybman of The Pickled Pig — will prepare soup for 600 people from “gleaned” foods. They’re working with local farmers, growers and Suzy DeYoung from LaSoupe to get enough produce for the soup.
 
“I’m so excited to get my tenants involved in more of these community meals and ideas,” DesRochers says.
 
One hundred tables will be set up and covered in paper tablecloths. Attendees will be invited to write and draw on the tables, providing their ideas for Covington.
 
A Community ReSoup will culminate in a pitch night — eight finalists will present their ideas in 3-5 minutes for a chance to win two $500 grants. The competition is open to anyone with an idea that builds community, makes a difference or helps someone in Covington.
 
Applications are being accepted until Sept. 11; you can apply here. The board will choose the finalists, and everyone who attends A Community ReSoup will vote for the two winners.
 
“I believe Northern Kentucky is alive and welcoming to creatives, and in a huge way,” DesRochers says. “LiveWell is giving my tenants a new chance and idea to get involved. I really see them as a group that’s trying to bring multiple groups and ideas together, rather than a new group trying to start new ideas.”
 
A Community ReSoup will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 25 in Orchard Park. Visit the event’s Facebook page for more information.
 

Sushi burrito restaurant looking to open second location near UC


On June 8, Roll On In opened its first location in Lebanon, but the sushi burrito restaurant is already looking to open its second location near the University of Cincinnati.
 
Roll On In’s menu is based around sushi burritos, but there is the option to create a bowl or salad instead. The burritos are made with seaweed or a soy wrap, and contain sushi rice and your choice of protein — spicy or fresh tuna or salmon, shrimp, crab stick, crab salad, teriyaki chicken, panko chicken, panko salmon or tempura shrimp.
 
From there, you can add in traditional or not-so-traditional sushi ingredients: jalapeno, edamame salad, wonton strips, Asian slaw, corn salsa or cream cheese. Toppings include sriracha, spicy mayo, wasabi avocado dip and sesame oil guacamole. Sides include guacamole, corn salsa, Asian slaw and wonton chips.
 
Roll On In serves cold-brewed, nitrogen-infused coffee from Smooth Cincy Coffee; it is currently working on nitrogen-infused green and jasmine tea blends too.
 
CEO John Kallenberger plans to open five locations in the Greater Cincinnati area, and then franchise the concept. There are loose plans in the works for a third location in Dayton, and Roll On In already has a food truck that stops at local breweries and events.  
 

Vintage VW bus helps create photo memories for Cincinnatians


Cincinnati native John DePrisco worked as a photojournalist and commercial photographer before launching his mobile photo booth business, The Photo Bus, in Kansas City with his wife Cate. The concept combines DePrisco’s love of photography and vintage vehicles, and brings a new element to the traditional photo booth.

The Photo Bus is currently in eight cities: Atlanta; Austin; Dallas/Fort Worth; Denver; El Paso, Texas; Kansas City, which is where the DePriscos currently live; St. Louis; and Cincinnati. There are also plans to launch in two more cities in the near future.
 
DePrisco found his first vintage bus in a field in Spokane, Wash., and he restored the majority of it himself. The Cincinnati bus is a blue, fully restored 1970 VW Transporter named Betty.
 
Each bus is equipped with everything you would find in a traditional photo booth: backgrounds, handmade props and instant prints. The camera is controlled by a one-of-a-kind clicker system that allows subjects to decide when the picture gets taken.
 
The Photo Bus also creates customized logos for events, which allows clients to personalize the bus for their event.
 
DePrisco’s friends, Lyndsey and Aaron James and Lyndsey’s sister, Heather Pinto, own and operate the Cincinnati bus.
 
“We fell in love with The Photo Bus concept when we took our first photo in it a few years ago,” Pinto says. “We loved it so much that we asked to bring it back to our hometown.”
 
The trio has 35 events on the books for this year, including weddings, corporate events, private parties and a number of public events. You can follow the Photo Bus Cincy on Facebook and Intagram @ThePhotoBusCincy.  
 
“Seeing people step in to take photos and experience the booth for the first time is awesome,” Pinto says. “We love seeing them be creative with props and poses inside the bus.”
 
She also loves to hear stories from people who have VW stories, and seeing those memories brought back because of Betty.
 

Northside House Tour celebrates neighborhood architecture


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

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.
 

New riverfront developments coming to Newport


A number of new developments along the Newport side of the Ohio riverfront could mean exciting changes for Greater Cincinnati. Projects include a bikeway/walkway, widening of a major thoroughfare, new housing options and commercial space and a tourist attraction.

“It’s a great year for development for the city,” says Greg Tulley, development services director for the City of Newport. “There’s a lot of interest in the area, and you’re going to see a lot more projects coming up."

Soapbox rounded up five of the new projects that will continue to shape the future of the region.
 
Riverfront Commons
Southbank Partners is currently developing an 11-mile bikeway/walkway that will extend along the Ohio riverfront to connect Dayton, Bellevue, Newport, Covington and Ludlow. The project experienced a set-back in April when Gov. Matt Bevin struck down $300,000 in potential state funding, but portions of the trail in Ludlow, Dayton and Covington are slated to move forward without state funding.
 
KY Rt. 9 (AA) Highway
Construction is underway on the $38 million expansion of Kentucky Route 9, commonly called the AA Highway. This 1.5-mile expansion will ease traffic patterns, starting near the Licking Valley Girl Scout Bridge at 11th Street, running parallel to the Licking River past the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge at Fourth Street, then east to the foot of the Taylor-Southgate Bridge. The new road will provide improved access to the Newport riverfront area and will feature dedicated bike lanes.
 
Ovation
This mixed-use development by real estate company Corporex will be situated at the confluence of the Ohio and Licking rivers near the Taylor-Southgate Bridge. Once completed, the $1 billion development will include 108 townhomes, 726 condos, 192 senior housing units, 1.2 million square feet of office, 300,000 square feet of retail space, a 3,000-seat showroom, two hotels and 6,200 parking spaces.

The project was first announced in 2006 but has been stalled awaiting the completion of the AA Highway expansion that goes through the site. Completion of the new highway “will do a lot to jumpstart the Ovation property,” Tulley says.
 
Skywheel
St. Louis-based Koch Development has proposed a new Ferris wheel attraction for Newport on the Levee. The $10 million project will rise 235 feet above the Ohio River, offering sweeping views of the Cincinnati skyline.

The proposed wheel is currently pending approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency that manages the Ohio River flood system. Because the wheel would be built atop Newport’s earthen levee, the Army Corps must evaluate the structural integrity to ensure that the safety of the levee system is maintained. If approved, the project is expected to be completed by summer 2017.
 
Aqua on the Levee
Cincinnati-based Capital Investment Group Inc., whose other Newport projects include SouthShore Condominiums and The Vue 180 apartment complex, is nearing completion on the $80 million Aqua on the Levee. The development is directly adjacent to Newport on the Levee and features 238 luxury apartments that face the Ohio River.

In addition to new apartments, the mixed-use development will feature 8,300 square feet of retail space along East Third Street and an 800-space parking garage. The development also includes a new Starwood A-loft Hotel on the corner of East Third and Washington Avenue, which is being developed and managed by Louisville-based Musselman Hotels.
 

Seven NKY projects receive funding in first round of myNKY Nano Grants


In the first round of funding, Skyward and The Center for Great Neighborhoods awarded seven projects in Northern Kentucky with myNKY Nano Grants. The grants are to help support creative placemaking projects that help bring Northern Kentuckians together by building a sense of community, celebrating differences or fostering community pride.
 
The grants are part of a Center program already in place but expanded into three new communities that are part of Skyward’s nine-county target area for the myNKY Plan: Dayton, Florence and Pendleton County.
 
Each project received $250 to help bring its idea to fruition.
 
Dayton:
Dayton Storytime will encourage Dayton residents of all ages to gather to hear local stories in a series of evening events that are designed to increase civic pride and friendship among neighbors.
 
Take a Look @ Dayton KY will allow residents to create short videos about the city and enter them into a contest. The project will get many looking at the city differently and from new perspectives.
 
Florence:
Rose Buddies is a beautification, community engagement and education project that will keep the Knockout Roses along Mall Road blooming all season long.
 
Pendleton County:
A “Ewe-Nique” Art Hop will commission local artists to create artwork that will be displayed in vacant storefronts in Falmouth during the Kentucky Wool Festival. In conjunction with the unveiling of the art, pop-up galleries will open and local musicians will play during the festival, encouraging residents and visitors to enjoy local heritage, art and culture.
 
Imagine This… will expand existing leadership and community engagement programs for young students in Pendleton County Schools through an art and essay contest. The topic for the contest is the future of Pendleton County.
 
Little Free Libraries for PC is a more rural take on the Little Free Library craze. Small structures will be built for the free book exchange project at a number of locations throughout the county. The grant will be used to create signage to help direct people to the standalone libraries.
 
The deadline for a second round of funding for myNKY Nano Grants is Aug. 1. You can apply online here or download the application. All applicants will receive notification of funding decisions within 10 days of the application deadline.
 

Third annual Food Truck Fest moves to Summit Park in Blue Ash


Mark your calendars for the Cincinnati Food Truck Association’s third annual Food Fest 11 a.m.-9 p.m. July 29. This year’s festival is in a new location and will feature more food trucks than ever before.
 
Food Fest had been held in Washington Park for the past two years, but this year it’s moving to Summit Park in Blue Ash to accommodate more trucks and larger crowds. Thirty-four trucks will be present this year, and craft beer will be available from local breweries such as Ei8ht Ball Brewing, MadTree Brewing, Old Firehouse Brewery and Urban Artifact Brewery.
 
The event is set up so you can swing by on your lunch break, stop by for dinner or make a day of it. Live music will be playing throughout the day from Magic Noodle House, JDesiree, Joe Wannabee and the Mad Man’s Blues Band and DJ Nate the Great.
 
Food Fest is free and open to the public, and the majority of the dishes served on the trucks range between $5 and $10.
 
Trucks that will be present at this year’s event are:

Adena’s Beefstroll
Bistro de Mohr
Bones Brothers Wings
C’est Cheese
Catch-a-Fire Pizza
Cuban Pete Sandwiches
Dojo Gelato
East Coast Eatz
Eclectic Comfort Food
Empanadas Aqui
Fireside Pizza
Harvest Mobile Cuisine
Hungry Bros.
Joe’s Mojo
Just Jerks
Marty’s Waffles
Coldstone Mobile Creamery
Nonstop Flavor LLC
P&P Woodfired Pizza
Quite Frankly
Red Sesame
Remi J’s Barbecue
Roll With It Café
Slice Slice Baby
Street Chef Brigade
Legasea East Coast Café
Streetpops
SugarSnap!
Texas Joe
The Chili Hut
U-Lucky Dawg
Urban Grill
Urban Vistro
Waffo
Wicked Hickory
 
All food trucks present at Food Fest are participating members of the Cincinnati Food Truck Association (CFTA). If you’re unable to make it on July 29, follow your favorite truck on Facebook so you can catch it at the next event.  
 

Brewing Heritage Trail receives $300,000 in state/local funds, construction to begin early next year


The Over-the-Rhine Brewery District was recently awarded $200,000 from the state and $100,000 from the city to help get construction underway on the Brewing Heritage Trail. The $5 million project will include a 2.3-mile trail as well as a website and mobile app.
 
The trail will tell the story of Cincinnati’s beer culture by showcasing the city’s historic breweries and taverns through a series of plaques and murals. A number of the buildings that have served as breweries and taverns over the years are currently in use today by new breweries like Rhinegeist and reborn breweries like Christian Moerlein.
 
The trail will be split into three segments and will begin in Pendleton and wind its way through Over-the-Rhine and into the Mohawk area. Three murals depicting Cincinnati’s brewing history are located at 25 Back St., 1625 Central Parkway and 131 E. McMicken St. in Over-the-Rhine.
 
Construction is expected to begin on the middle segment in early 2017. The middle segment will showcase the history of lager, an industry that began in Cincinnati, and the bars and saloons that played important roles in the city’s politics and history.
 
The first segment of the trail will tell the story of Cincinnati’s early brewers and the cultural background of the English, French, Germans and Irish who settled the city. The third segment will focus on the growth of the city’s breweries and how they began shipping beer all over the world.
 
The website and mobile app, which were made possible by a grant from the Haile Foundation, are expected to launch this fall. They’ll help guide people through the trail as well as provide additional information.
 

Tarantino-inspired video store concept coming to Walnut Hills


The team at The Overlook Lodge is bringing its second concept, The Video Archive, to Walnut Hills. Jacob Trevino, along with co-owners Otto Baum and Katie Fraser, are aiming for a fall opening.
 
“We’ve always loved cinema, and with everything we’ve done it’s always about the experience of movies,” Trevino says.
 
The Video Archive will be a Quentin Tarantino-inspired 100-square-foot video store featuring Grind-house, Indie and cult classic videos for rent and purchase. Like Gorilla Cinema and The Overlook Lodge, this concept will have its surprises too.
 
“Tarantino is the ultimate lover of cinema, and we thought it would be a cool idea to incorporate him into our idea,” Trevino says. “The Video Archive is the full circle representation of everything we’ve done over the past two years.”
 
The 1,500-square-foot space, which will be located at 965 E. McMillan St., is being redeveloped by Model Group and Urban Fast Forward.
 
“Model Group was looking for something like us for the space, and when we pitched them our ‘interesting’ idea they jumped all over it,” Trevino says.
 
The Video Archive will add to the energy in Walnut Hills’ business district, joining the likes of Firehouse Pizza, Gomez Salsa, The Growler House, Just Q’in and Myrtle’s Punch House.
 
“We’re very excited for this next idea and hope it really surprises Walnut Hills and Cincinnati in general,” Trevino says.
 

Wiedemann Brewing owner now planning a taproom and beer garden in St. Bernard


Jon Newberry, owner of the Geo. Wiedemann Brewing Co., is taking another shot at opening a brewery in the Cincinnati area. Financing fell through on a leased space in WaterTower Square in Newport, but now he’s working on a location in St. Bernard.
 
“In a way, St. Bernard chose this venture,” he says. “After Newport fell through, I thought about looking for a space in Covington, but I figured if I was going to look outside of Newport I might as well look in Ohio too. My wife and I live in St. Bernard, and after talking to a neighbor I went to the City to see what I could do about a property.”
 
By partnering with the City of St. Bernard, Newberry was essentially given the property at 4811 Vine St. in exchange for his investment in the community and bringing jobs to the area. (Other deals like this have brought businesses like Streetpops and Woodstone Creek Winery & Distillery there.)
 
The four-story, 16,000 square foot building along Vine is a former funeral home, which Newberry plans to turn into a large taproom and tavern-like beer hall. Due to the ceiling height in the building, there are plans to build a two-story addition onto the back of the building for the beer tanks and other brewing equipment.
 
Newberry also envisions a deck to one side of the building with a beer garden below butting up to a city-owned lot located at the former site of the Miami-Erie Canal. The old canal wall is still visible, and Newberry says there are plans for a bike path along the canalway connecting St. Bernard to the Mill Creek Trail.
 
Wiedemann’s taproom will also offer food, but those plans are still up in the air. Newberry is thinking of partnering with an outside food source that would lease kitchen space or creating a small, manageable menu he could do himself.
 
Phase II of the development project might include renovating the two upper floors, which house two apartments and office space, into offices for Wiedemann and a meeting or banquet space. The basement will be used for cold storage, kegging and bottling.
 
Newberry hopes that construction will begin on the brewery in the next few months, with a potential opening date of February or early March of next year.
 
Newport was home for Wiedemann until 1983, when brewing operations were moved to Evansville, Ind. Newberry says that a future expansion could include another location in Newport, with continued operations in St. Bernard.  
 

Affordable housing and new retail coming to College Hill


College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (CHCURC) broke ground on a new mixed-use development on July 11. The $11.1 million project, Marlowe Court, is located between Elkton Place and Marlowe Avenue along the 6000 block of Hamilton Avenue.

The new development will add 3,700 square feet of street-level retail space and 53 units of affordable senior housing to College Hill’s business district. Project partner Episcopal Retirement Services is managing the recruitment of residential tenants, all of whom will be seniors ages 55 and older. Once the building is complete, ERS will also take the lead on ongoing property management.

Local consulting and real estate firm Urban Fast Forward is charged with securing ground-level business tenants. Urban Fast Forward is currently conducting a market feasibility study with community input.

“I’ve been working in community development for quite a while,” CHCURC Executive Director Seth Walsh says. “And I am very impressed by how much community involvement there has been in this process.”

The anchor tenant for the building is First Financial Bank, and the search for businesses to fill the remaining two spaces continues. The building is slated for completion by November 2017.

 “We’re looking for a mix of services that will be attractive,” CHCURC VP Jake Samad says. “Restaurants, bars, entertainment, offices.”

This development furthers CHCURC’s long-term goal of adding density and vitality throughout the six-block business district. According to Samad, CHCURC aims to create “a walkable, livable neighborhood that provides opportunities for people to stay in the community, and attract new business.”

In addition to Marlowe Court, CHCURC is also working on a $32 million development called College Hill Station at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and North Bend Road. College Hill Station will break ground in the fall, bringing an additional 12,000 square feet of retail and 162 middle-income apartments to the neighborhood. 

“We couldn’t develop one without the other,” Walsh says. “The success of Marlowe Court allows us to do College Hill Station and begin revitalizing the other parts of the district. It becomes a ripple effect.”
 

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


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

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

Mac n' cheese food truck makes its rounds about town


Jarod Maier, the former owner of J. Gumbo’s in Fairfield, decided to close his brick-and-mortar restaurant and launch a food truck. He wanted to take his food to his customers, rather than the other way around.
 
Chicken Mac Truck did a run at Bunbury Festival, where Maier served more than 2,500 bowls of mac n’ cheese. It officially debuted on June 30 at Rhinegeist for a five-day tour of Cincinnati to help support Fall Feast, a free Thanksgiving Day meal for local homeless families.
 
A portion of the proceeds from the five-day tour went to Fall Feast; Chicken Mac Truck raised a total of $1,000 for the event.
 
The menu features a blend of slow-simmered chicken over homemade mac n’ cheese. Chicken options include Bourbon Chicken Mac, simmered in a sweet butter and hoisin sauce; Zesty Chicken Mac, which is beer-stewed chicken with garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and spices; Spicy Chicken Mac, cooked in a spicy tomato sauce with garlic and crushed red pepper; Buffalo Chicken Mac, which is chicken, celery and onion cooked in buffalo sauce and topped with bleu cheese; Honey Sriracha Chicken Mac, cooked in sriracha with honey, garlic and cilantro; and Veggie Corn Stew, which is corn, stewed tomatoes, onions and black beans in a sweet and spicy butter sauce.
 
Over the next few weeks, Chicken Mac Truck has a number of stops on its calendar. It will be at the Low Cut Connie concert on July 21 at RiversEdge in Hamilton, the Robert DeLong concert on July 22 on Fountain Square, and the Buckle Up Music Festival on August 5 and 6 at Summit Park in Blue Ash.
 

Price Hill Will: Opening paths to homeownership


Price Hill Will now has a homesteading program that helps working families on their path to homeownership. Prior to establishing the program — which is currently in its pilot phase — Price Hill Will had rehabbed 61 homes through its long-standing Buy-Improve-Sell program.

Buy-Improve-Sell focuses exclusively on the Cedar Grove area and the Incline District, and aims to take abandoned homes “with good bones, and that are strategic to the street,” and turn them back into assets to the community, says Ken Smith, executive director of Price Hill Will.

The homesteading program is an extension of the agency’s existing real estate development efforts. The new program allows Price Hill Will to consider “homes that we wouldn’t otherwise,” Smith says.

Homes can be anywhere in the neighborhood, but must be near code compliance and close to move-in ready. Price Hill Will rehabs the homes to liveable conditions, and then works with partner organizations Santa Maria and the Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio to identify families that could be a good match for the property.

The program is open to families who would not qualify for a traditional mortgage. Families must be able to afford the monthly payments at 30 percent of their total income or less, and be willing to invest sweat equity into maintaining and further improving the home.

After reviewing their monthly budget with the referring organization, families then go through homebuyer education, which is provided by Working in Neighborhoods.

Smith says these steps are important in helping families understand the program requirements and expectations. “We don’t want to put people in a situation they can’t sustain.”

The homes are then sold to the families via a five-year land contract, which is repaid to Price Hill Will in modest monthly installments. The homes are sold at an affordable price that covers the nonprofit's initial investment into the property.

To date, the program has placed two families in homes in the neighborhood. Initially, Price Hill Will had aimed to complete 10 homes in the first nine months of the program.

“The challenge is finding the right homes that we can quickly get code compliant,” Smith says.

As the program moves forward, Price Hill Will is continuing to explore ways to scale it sustainably, while making sure that the homes are attainable for neighborhood families.

“We need people saving working class homes that are affordable,” Smith says. “We can’t let Cincinnati become a city where people who work here can’t live.”
 

The Center provides grants to seven more Covington creatives


The Center for Great Neighborhoods just doled out $30,000 in its fourth round of Creative Community Grants. Seven Covington-based artists and creatives received up to $5,000 to bring forth their ideas.
 
Over the next year, The Center plans to do two more rounds of these grants, with each round addressing a different community identified issue or top.
 
In this round, all grants focused on health and wellness.
 
Bi-Okoto & Dance Theatre will be using their grant award to provide access to B-FIT with Bi-Okoto classes in City Heights. The classes are a fun and interactive way to introduce kids and teenagers to a healthy lifestyle through culturally-inspired dance fitness. Classes aim to increase cardio, strength, endurance and flexibility while enhancing self-esteem, character development, and nutrition tips.
 
Over the span of two days at the new Hellmann Creative Center, Luis Laya and James Payne will host a Cultural Culinary Experience. The event will be centered around building community through entertainment and educational cooking techniques that involve open flame and the use of custom fabricated grills, which were created by the two artists. The focus will be on culinary health and educating the community on different cultural styles of cooking, as well as cooking and eating as a community.
 
David Rice, a Northern Kentucky artist, sculptor and metalworker, will build the world’s first bicycle powered stereoscopic kaleidoscope, entitled Colliding Light. The sculpture will encourage physical activity by captivating people with the synergy of light, color, shape and motion. Rice will work with students in The Center’s summer BLOCK program to gather materials and construct the inner workings of the kaleidoscope.
 
In partnership with The Center and the Kenton County Extension Office, Annie Brown hosted Healthy Mind & Body Day Camp, a free day camp for elementary kids. The camp was held for three days at the end of the school year and before the start of summer programs run by Covington Independent Public Schools. Kids learned about nutrition, exercise, gardening and composting, and did yoga and made healthy popsicles.
 
Kids Cook Too, an after-school cooking class that makes eating healthy creative and fun, will teach students the skills, knowledge and experience they need to plan and cook their own nutritious meals and snacks. Project head Laura Murphy aims to help kids take their health into their own hands, and teach them how to find fresh produce and healthy food options in their neighborhood. Kids will create a map, which they can use to teach others and raise awareness about disparities in food access and availability.
 
Emily Wolff and Make Goebel Great are planning a Pool Party at Goebel Pool in Mainstrasse Village. The goal is to make the pool a more attractive destination that encourages residents to come and enjoy an afternoon with their family. The City of Covington will provide matching funds to make sure pool improvements include large shade structures, picnic tables with umbrellas, a freshly painted pool house, and an artistic installation, which will be designed by Make Goebel Great and will be created and installed by the community.
 
Caroline Creaghead, a local comedienne, will be starting a podcast called None of Your Business, which will focus on the frustrating and funny parts of living as a working artist. It won’t be an advice show, but will help start important discussions. The Creative Community Grant will fund six episodes, and each will feature a Covington-based artist.
 

Five Cincinnati projects receive over $9 million in state historic tax credits


The Ohio Development Services Agency recently awarded $27.8 million in state historic tax credits. Twenty-six organizations across the state plan to rehab a total of 39 buildings, which on the state level, will leverage about $261.4 million in private investment.
 
Many of the buildings that received Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits in this round are vacant and generate little to no economic activity.
 
Five high-profile projects in Cincinnati received a total of just over $9.3 million in state historic tax credits.  
 
Crosley Building, 1333 Arlington St., Camp Washington
Received $5 million in tax credits
Built in 1930 by Samuel Hannaford and Sons, 1333 Arlington housed the headquarters of the Crosley Radio Corporation. The nine-story, 300,000-square-foot building (and an adjacent building) will be redeveloped into 324 market-rate apartments. This is the first state historic tax credit awarded to Camp Washington.
 
Film Center Building, 1632 Central Parkway, Over-the-Rhine
Received $1.07 million in tax credits
In its heyday, the Film Center Building was one of several buildings in OTR that served the film industry. Urban Sites plans to redevelop the first floor of the now vacant building into office and restaurant space. The upper floors will house 46 rental units with a mixture of studio, and one- and two-bedroom apartments.
 
Market Square II, 1807-1830 Elm St., 127 Findlay St., 1827 Logan St., OTR
Received $1.7 million in tax credits
The second phase of Model Group’s Market Square will include the renovation of 10 historic buildings, as well as one new build. This phase of the project will include 55 apartments, plus 24,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space.
 
Strietmann Biscuit Company Building, 223-235 W. 12th St., OTR
Received $1.2 million in tax credits
Built in 1899, these buildings used to house the Strietmann Biscuit Company. After the company moved to a new facility in the 1940s, the building became home to a number of mixed-use and small businesses. It now sits vacant, but Grandin Properties plans to rehabilitate it into office space for 10-15 businesses, with a first-floor restaurant space.
 
771 and 772 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills
Received $250,000 in tax credits
Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation and a few private developers will be working to redevelop three buildings, two of which are historic. The Hamilton Building, located at 771 McMillan, was built in 1883 as a single-family residence. It was converted into apartments, and has been vacant since 1981. 772 McMillan is a mixed-use building with three commercial spaces on the ground floor and apartments above; the apartments have been vacant since the mid-1970s, and the ground floor since 2004. Plans include seven apartments and a restaurant or bar at street level. The third, non-historic building is 2504 Chatham St., which will see the rehabilitation of six vacant apartments.
 
 
 

Newly opened Maplewood Kitchen and Bar offers a taste of California


A fresh new restaurant concept, Maplewood Kitchen and Bar, opened downtown on June 20. Located in the 84.51° building on Race Street between Fifth and Sixth streets, Maplewood offers quick but upscale fare that “you can feel good about eating,” says owner Joe Lanni.
 
Joe and his brother John, along with co-owner Alex Blust, have already brought three other popular dining options to Cincinnati. The owners are local natives, and they aren’t strangers to developing in Cincinnati’s urban core. The trio owns Thunderdome Restaurant Group, the company responsible for Over-the-Rhine staples Bakersfield, The Eagle and Krueger’s Tavern.
 
Their main offices are off Walnut Street in OTR, and they knew they wanted to open Maplewood somewhere in the area.
 
“We were looking for somewhere to do this concept, and we were looking for weekday and weekend breakfast business mixed with a strong existing evening crowd," Lanni says. “We just really liked the 84.51° building, and we wanted to be in a spot where the businesses around us are first quality.”
 
Maplewood is on the same block as two still-new downtown restaurants, Americano Burger Bar and Mita’s.
 
The restaurant is billed as a “California upscale cafe.” Notable menu items include an avocado Benedict, quinoa cakes with poached eggs, and a living-lettuce salad with freshly shaved vegetables. Entrees range in price from $8 to $14. The menu, designed by general manager and executive chef Bhumin Desai, incorporates superfoods, grains, greens and antioxidant-rich foods throughout.
 
“We’ve got a healthy slant, but it’s not pure health food,” Lanni says.
 
Weekend brunch service features a roving mimosa cart stocked with a variety of champagne and Prosseco, freshly pressed OJ, and cold-pressed sweet green juice. The drink menu also includes a specialty Super Green Margarita made with blanco tequila, Cointreau, sour mix, agave nectar and a healthy dose of Super Green juice.
 
The restaurant currently offers breakfast and lunch Monday-Saturday, with plans to add dinner service by mid-July.
 

Plans announced for The Skeleton Root, the second winery coming to Over-the-Rhine


In the 1800s, prominent lawyer and banker Nicholas Longworth helped develop the Cincinnati hillsides into vineyards, which were known for growing Catawba grapes. By the 1850s, before California was a state, the Ohio River Valley was the largest grape growing region in the country.

The Civil War and the temperance movement hurt Cincinnati’s grape growing industry, and it hasn’t seen a rebirth until now.
 
The Skeleton Root is the second new winery — along with Revel OTR — that has been announced for Over-the-Rhine. The Skeleton Root will be located just east of Rhinegeist Brewery at 38 W. McMicken Ave.
 
Before the space on McMicken, The Skeleton Root had a small cellar space on Court Street downtown. Kate MacDonald converted a garage into a winery/cellar space, where she made the winery’s Vintage 2014, which will be released once The Skeleton Root opens. The 2015 harvest was done in the new space.
 
“Over-the-Rhine chose me in a way,” MacDonald says. “This area of the neighborhood is prime for development, with so many large warehouses that could be converted to produce interesting things.”
 
Engineer by trade, MacDonald has lived and worked in wineries in Napa Valley as well as locally at Valley Vineyards in Morrow. After moving back to Cincinnati, she knew she wanted to open a winery.
 
“I love the history of the city, and I’m intrigued by the wine history and how deep and prominent of a region this was pre-Prohibition,” she says. “My goal is to retell the story of the heritage we had, and demonstrate the ability to make it a great grape region again.”
 
The Skeleton Root will produce all of its wines on-site from grapes straight from local vineyards. Grapes will be harvested and crushed on-site too.
 
All of the wine-making areas will be accessible to the public in order to give people a connection with the process. A 1,500-square-foot barn located just beyond the tasting room will hold all of The Skeleton Root’s barrels for aging and will lead into the actual winery.
 
The tasting room won’t be like a typical winery where customers belly up to the bar to taste and buy bottles of wine to take home. The main room, which will be about 2,000 square feet, will be like a comfortable living room with communal seating, couches, laptop bars and Internet. An upstairs loft area will serve as overflow for the tasting room.
 
“We want people to come in and stay a while,” MacDonald says.
 
The Skeleton Root will also hold events in the barrel barn, winemaking space and separate conference room for off-site corporate meetings.
 
All wines served in the tasting room will be The Skeleton Root’s own wines, but MacDonald also plans to support local craft beer. There won’t be a food menu, but she wants to work with local chefs and food trucks to offer demos that focus on pairing food and wine.
 
The Skeleton Root will have heritage wines from the American Grapes, including a Heritage Catawba and Norton. MacDonald focuses on classic wine production with minimal intervention, which preserves a higher acidity level and has more pronounced fruit. There will be other wine programs too, with a focus on French and European style wines.
 

Micro-granting organization provides dinner and instant funds to projects


Cincinnati SOUP, a new micro-granting organization, is helping fund ideas locally. But it’s not just a pitch night — it’s a community dinner where attendees provide a small donation and then get to vote on who receives the grant. The funding comes entirely from the night’s donations.
 
Unlike other funding avenues, presenters don’t need business plan, just a sustainable plan.
 
“Cincinnati SOUP is extremely grassroots,” Executive Director Herschel Chalk says. “Most of the presenters are community activists, and they have a small project coupled with a burning desire to make their neighborhood or city a better place to live and work.”
 
Cincinnati SOUP is based off the successful model of Detroit SOUP, another micro-granting dinner that celebrates and supports community initiatives and projects. Its mission is to promote community-based development through crowdfunding, creativity, collaboration, democracy, trust and fun.
 
“After seeing and hearing more and more about the Detroit concept, we felt that it was something that could work well in Cincinnati too,” Chalk says. “We figured it could be a great way to allow people to establish new relationships and networks, promote action and change, foster dialogue and instill neighborhood pride.”
 
For a donation of $10, attendees receive a dinner of soup, salad and bread. Before dinners, attendees listen to four project proposals that cover different topics, ranging from art and urban agriculture to social justice and technology. During the meal, votes are cast, and at the end of the night the winning project receives $8 from each attendee’s donation.
 
There have been three Cincinnati SOUP events so far, with the latest held on June 26 at the Kennedy Heights Cultural Arts Center. Past winners include Karen Davis of Storybook Entertainment, who received $780, and Hope Godfrey of The Butterfly Club, who received $1,120.
 
“SOUP doesn’t get involved in all of the minutiae and accepts people as they are, where they are,” Chalk says. “It’s based on a simple philanthropic recipe — bring a group of change agents and community activists together, and everyone goes home full, fulfilled and with a renewed sense of community.”
 
Stay tuned for more information regarding the fall Cincinnati SOUP event. Once it's announced, you can buy advance tickets here.
 

Local winemakers take their hobby to the next level with OTR winery and wine bar


Winemaking is in Anthony Maieron’s blood. His parents are from Italy, and when they moved to the U.S. his father continued to make wine in the garage.

“I remember all of my dad’s friends coming over and crushing the grapes together and telling stories,” Maieron says. “When I moved back to the area after college, my dad asked me if I wanted to take over the winemaking, and I’ve been making it in Cincinnati for 12 years now.”
 
He and his wife Jodi, along with friends John and Amy Coleman and vintner Alex Sena, have turned that Italian winemaking tradition into Revel OTR, an urban boutique winery and wine bar. Their goal is to create a space that makes wine more approachable while still sticking true to the old-school Italian winemaking process.
 
“Everyone in Over-the-Rhine is focusing on making food and drink accessible,” Maieron says. “There’s this perception of wine being an upperclass drink or for the older demographic, but we’re really breaking down those barriers and showing younger people that wine is for them too.”
 
They purchased a building at 111 E. 12th St. so they could really invest in the community. Wine production will be in the basement, which has the capacity to hold 44 barrels at a time. The first floor will have a wine bar and high-top tables as well as a rail along the outside wall. The second floor will be a more intimate space with casual seating.
 
Phase II, which Maieron hopes to have ready by next summer, will be a rooftop terrace with additional seating.
 
Revel OTR’s interior will have a raw and rustic feel with many of the building’s original aspects intact, including the stone cellar walls, exposed brick and plaster and hardwood floors. The bar was also custom-made from salvaged material in the building.
 
“We’ve done much of the salvage work ourselves and have salvaged everything possible from the building to preserve that historic character,” Maieron says. “We wanted to restore the building and bring it back to life while reusing elements of the building.”
 
The Maierons and the Colemans want to create a sense of environment that caters to everyone. Revel OTR will be somewhere people can meet up for a glass of wine before or after dinner or enjoy a bottle while waiting for a table at a Vine or Main street restaurant.
 
Revel OTR will showcase other small-batch, family-owned wineries. It’s hard for small wineries to sell their product at big box stores and still have it be affordable and turn a profit, so Maieron wants to be able to give exposure to those wineries and build partnerships.
 
Revel OTR plans to open in late August or early September with up to six of their own wines available, including their flagship Sangiovese, with an average bottle price of $26. On any given day, there will be about 20 different wines available by the bottle, carafe, juice glass or flight.
 
There won’t be an extensive food menu, but Maieron plans to serve traditional Italian wine accompaniments like olives, meats and cheeses.
 

Annual Northside Music Fest adds hip-hop to lineup

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

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

Newport meatball restaurant adds food truck to feed Cincinnati foodies


Packhouse Meats, the meatball-centric Northern Kentucky restaurant with a no-tipping policy, launched a food truck on June 13 to serve at events around Cincinnati and work with different companies to provide lunches for employees.
 
Packhouse opened in January 2014 in Newport and is known for its inventive meatballs and creative sauces such as the sushi meatball packed with imitation crabmeat, rice, Asian vegetables and sauce wrapped in seaweed. Sauces include habanero cream, basil pesto, mango salsa and a fruited cream cheese, plus the basics — marinara, Parmesan cream, burgundy wine, buffalo and hunter.                                                        
 
The truck will have two standard meatballs — beef and turkey — and three rotating options as well as vegetarian options. The menu will be similar to the brick-and-mortar Packhouse, which features meatballs served in a bowl over linguini, mashed potatoes, spinach and mushrooms, Brussels sprouts or sautéed broccoli. Meatballs are also available on sliders and salads.
 
More creative meatball combinations include flan (made with sausage, bacon and flan custard topped with a cinnamon sauce) or peanut butter and jelly, which is a peanut butter and beef meatball topped with a strawberry pepper chutney. These combos will make an appearance on the truck’s menu too, depending on the event.
 
Keep tabs on Packhouse’s Facebook page for where you can find the meatball food truck.
 

What's on Tap: When the next round of craft breweries will open their doors


Over the past year or so, the Development section has provided the lowdown on new craft breweries that are planning to open in the Greater Cincinnati area. A few have come to fruition — sometimes even ahead of schedule — while others, it seems, have kept us waiting for beer for way too long.
 
We’ve rounded up the updates and opening dates for breweries closing in on the finish line.
 
Darkness Brewing, 224 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue
Darkness opened to the public for the first time on June 10, but its grand opening won’t be until mid-July, when its first batch of beer will be tapped and ready for drinking. Darkness plans to open with a Kentucky common ale, a black IPA and a milk stout. Until then, the taproom will be open 4-11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 1-8 p.m. on Sundays. So head on over to NKY to check out the space and have a pint from Darkness’ curated list of guest taps.
 
Nine Giant Brewing, 6095 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge
Opening day is June 25 at 12 noon. Nine Giant will have a number of beers on tap as well as guest taps from local breweries, plus wine for those who don’t love beer. The brewery’s kitchen, The Snackery, will be serving upscale bar eats, and there will be special events throughout the day featuring unique one-off beers from Nine Giant and other breweries. Be there!
 
The Woodburn Brewery, 2800 Woodburn Ave., Walnut Hills
You may have visited Woodburn Brewery during a Walk on Woodburn or gotten a sneak peek during the Flying Pig Marathon, but it won’t be officially open and pouring its own beer until later this year. The 4,000-square-foot space will have 36 taps, and beehives for Queen City Bee Co. were just added to its roof.
 
Bircus Brewing Company, Ludlow
Bircus took a unique angle to fund its venture, utilizing the crowdsourcing platform Seed Invest, and was approved last week to officially produce beer at the Ludlow Theatre. Head brewer Alex Clemens will begin brewing soon using Belgian-inspired recipes. Bircus is also dedicating sales from 26 Mondays to community organizations and the other 26 Mondays to the Circus Mojo Foundation to help fund innovative circus programs and scholarships. (The Ludlow Theatre is owned by Paul Miller, founder of Circus Mojo, and is also a shared practice space for the circus and the brewery.)

Brink Brewing, 5905 Hamilton Ave., College Hill
Announced in February, Brink began the remodeling of its 3,200-square-foot taproom and brewery last week. It’s currently under construction and is slated to open in September.
 

Tiger Dumpling relocates to The Banks, continuing parade of new tenants


Tiger Dumpling closed its original location in Clifton Heights several weeks ago and plans to open downtown in the fall next to Tervis at The Banks Phase I.
 
Tiger Dumpling, which had been located next to The Brass Tap at U-Square across from the University of Cincinnati since early 2015, is known for its edamame, soups and dumplings, which are served steamed or pan-fried with a spicy or mild sauce.
 
The original location was fairly small, with an ordering counter and a few tables for dining in. The new location will be three times larger and will allow Tiger Dumpling to expand its menu. New machinery will be added as well and will automate the last step of dumpling making, quadrupling what the restaurant was able to produce each hour.
 
Tiger Dumpling is the eighth new retailer announced for The Banks since December. Other new tenants include Tervis, which opened in April; Taste of Belgium and Pies & Pints, which are scheduled to open in Phase II of the development later this summer; and Howl at the Moon/Splitsville, The Stretch and BurgerFi, which all plan to open by the end of the year.
 

myNKY nano grants to fund creative placemaking projects in Northern Kentucky


A partnership between the Center for Great Neighborhoods and Skyward (formerly known as Vision 2015) will soon yield nano grants for creative Northern Kentucky placemaking projects that will be available for those who live, work or study in Dayton, Florence or Pendleton County.
 
Vision 2015 changed its name to Skyward last year to better reflect Northern Kentucky’s current five-year work plan, myNKY, the purpose of which is to make Northern Kentucky thrive by connecting education, wellness, business and culture in innovative, inclusive and productive ways.
 
The grants, which will be available in amounts up to $250, are part of Skyward’s vibrancy goal. The organization wants to help build a region where people from all backgrounds feel included, connected and welcome.
 
Project ideas could include art walks, music making, bicycle tours, art installations or community parties. But projects can be anything that will incite community building through creative placemaking.
 
Workshops were held in Pendleton County and Dayton on June 6 and 7, respectively, to provide more information regarding the grants. There is still a workshop for Florence residents on June 21 before the city council meeting in the Florence Government Center, 8100 Ewing Blvd.
 
Applications and full eligibility details can be found here.
 

Riverfront bike center offers tours, rentals and other services


Since opening in 2012, the Cincinnati Bike Center has signed up about 30 commuters who ride their bicycles to and from downtown on a daily basis. That number continues to grow and has allowed the CBC to educate the public on its services.
 
The CBC is underneath the Schmidlapp Event Lawn at Smale Riverfront Park, just at the base of the Walnut Street Steps. There’s a bike runnel so bicyclists can get from the top of the park to the bottom easily. Originally built as a commuter station for downtown workers, the CBC also serves tourists and locals who want to ride along the riverfront or to other neighborhoods.
 
Members have 24-hour access to a secure, camera-monitored space with bike racks and locker rooms as well as discounts on repairs, apparel and other services. Memberships are available on a daily, monthly or yearly basis and are a great way to try living a less car-dependent lifestyle.
 
A variety of bicycles are available to rent by the hour or for the day, including cruisers, road bikes, electric assist, kids’ bikes, tandem bikes and bikes that can be driven by a hand-powered crank for the disabled. There are also small, large and extra-large “Quadcycles,” which have four wheels and can seat up to nine people.
 
The CBC also offers daily bicycle and Segway tours that run along several routes throughout the downtown area and even into Northern Kentucky. Bike tours are 2-3 hours and are $30 for adults, $25 for kids and free for kids 12 and under. Segway tours are 2-2.5 hours long and are $60 per person.
 
In the near future, the CBC plans to host monthly group bicycle rides, which will be open to the public. Stay tuned to the CBC on Facebook and on Instagram.
 
If you’re interested in reserving a bike or taking a tour, send an email to info@cincinnatibikecenter.com.
 

Artichoke cookware store hosting series of cooking classes, demos


Artichoke has been open north of Findlay Market for only about 12 weeks, but owners Brad and Karen Hughes have already had an overwhelming number of inquiries about cooking classes. But they’ve offered only demonstrations so far, not structured classes.
 
“We’ve done a number of different demos, including brunch, ice cream and strawberry pie,” Karen says. “All of the demos have featured the products we sell and talked about the basics of preparing the dishes, but nothing real in-depth.”
 
On June 25, Artichoke will host its first summer school cooking class, which will be taught by Chef Anthony Jordan of Invito Personal Chef. Jordan worked under Jean-Robert de Cavel for a few years and then started his own company to focus on healthy eating and tailoring menus and meals to his clients’ dietary needs.
 
“Findlay Market is a resource no one else in the region has, and it’s so great to be able to partner with the vendors and show it off for this class,” Brad says.
 
The class will meet at Artichoke and then walk over to Findlay Market, where Jordan will introduce students to market vendors and talk about ingredients. Then the class will go to Market Wines, where they will learn how to select a wine pairing for the menu and purchase a bottle to go with their meal. Back at Artichoke, Jordan will lead the cooking demo around a four-course light summer menu.
 
The cooking class will be held 4:30-8:30 p.m. and is $65 per person. If you’re interested, contact Brad and Karen at 513-263-1002 or visit Artichoke, 1824 Elm St., to reserve your spot. The class is limited to 10 people.
 
The goal is to host one cooking class per month, Karen says. But there are a number of other opportunities to come in and see something being prepared in Artichoke’s demo kitchen. A free Father’s Day demo and tasting of bulletproof coffee, which is made with coconut oil and butter, is scheduled for 11 a.m. June 19.
 
Artichoke partnered with concert:nova for a demo of Julia Child’s Le Gateau au Chocolate, which is being featured in the organization’s one-woman opera Bon Appetit! The demo is at 4 p.m. July 17; tickets are $30 and are available here.
 

Center for Great Neighborhoods to launch food-based creative placemaking initiative in Covington


The Center for Great Neighborhoods is known for its creative placemaking initiatives in Covington, and in the next few months it will begin a food-oriented creative placemaking initiative.
 
The Center received a $75,000 Kresge Foundation grant — Fresh, Local & Equitable: Food as a Creative Platform for Neighborhood Revitalization, or FreshLo — to support project management, partnership development, community engagement, strategic communications and policy development related to the project. It was one of 26 organizations chosen to receive the grant out of 500 applications.
 
As part of the FreshLo community, the Center will create and enhance paths to opportunity for people in low-income urban neighborhoods. The project will focus on Covington’s Westside and include a four-step planning process to increase resident engagement.
 
The first step in the process is a series of food mapping events that will identify the priorities of Westside residents and business owners. As a community development tool, food mapping is a way to creatively map out food sources as well as start conversations about personal healthy, community, economic and ecological impacts of food systems.
 
After that, the Center will launch pilot projects that will incorporate artists into the food system to help tackle the priorities identified by the community. Projects could include cooking classes, place-based marketing or training youth in gardening and agriculture.
 

ArtWorks adding 23 more murals to Cincinnati this summer


ArtWorks staff and youth apprentices will work on 23 mural projects around Great Cincinnati this summer. A project kickoff will be held on June 20 on Pleasant Street in front of the future home of the Rosemary Clooney mural.
 
New murals coming to a wall near you this summer include:
 
Annie “Little Sure Shot” Oakley Mural, 3211 Madison Road, Oakley
The mural will pay homage to Annie Oakley, who performed in a number of sharp shooter contests in Cincinnati (though Oakley is not named for her). It’s supported by Voltage Furniture and Vandercar Holdings, and the community can donate to a matching funds campaign with Sara M. and Michelle Vance Waddell here.
 
Female Legend Vote Mural, 1606 Pleasant St., Over-the-Rhine
This mural will honor singer and actress Rosemary Clooney, who was born in Maysville, Ky., and won a spot to sing on WLW radio with her sister Betty back in the 1940s. The mural will be part of the Cincinnati Legends Series, is in partnership with 3CDC and is supported by School Outfitters. The community can donate to a matching funds campaign with 1919 Investment Counsel here.
 
Kennedy Heights Art Center Annex Mural, 6620 Montgomery Road, Kennedy Heights
Lead artist Casey Millard and 14 youth apprentices will create a multi-medial mural on the facade of the new Carl, Robert, Richard and Dorothy Lindner Annex at KHAC. The community can donate to a matching funds campaign with American Scaffolding here.
 
Prost to Cincinnati Installation Series
ArtWorks once again partnered with the Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation on this series of six murals that will help drive development along the Brewing Heritage Trail. The multi-media pieces will depict love and honor for the city’s brewing history and will be installed by a variety of artists. The community can donate to a matching funds campaign through Power2Give here.
 
Walnut Hills “This Is 5 Points” Mural, 2429 Gilbert Ave., Walnut Hills
This is the final mural in a series of five wayfinding pieces that identify and enliven the redeveloped Five Points Alley. It will be completed in partnership with BLDG.
 
Winsor McCay Mural, 917 Main St., OTR
McCay moved to Cincinnati in 1891 and created the first comic strip for The Enquirer in 1903. Panels from his most famous cartoon, “Little Nemo,” will be recreated on the Main Street building in partnership with 917 Partners. The mural is part of the Cincinnati Masters Mural Series, along with work by Charley Harper, John Ruthven and Tom Wesselmann.
 
Other mural projects this summer include a new Cincinnati Heritage Series that honors Kenner Products and the city’s toy design history; an art installation in the main lobby of Duke Energy Convention Center that will explore the theme of Cincinnati or the Ohio River; and a mural by local artist Jim Effler that will span two walls on Central Parkway to depict the creation of Ohio’s canal system.
 
Through a partnership with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, ArtWorks also plans to create 12 new murals — New Lines OTR Alleyways Project — in Over-the-Rhine alleyways in an area bordered by Main, 13th, Sycamore and Liberty streets. The goal is to transform the more neglected spaces into works of art while making the alleys safe and more walkable.
 

Small-batch distilleries making a comeback across Greater Cincinnati


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

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

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

Towne Properties adding second phase to DeSales Flats project


A new $13.5 million apartment project is in the works for Evanston. Towne Properties is planning Phase II of DeSales Flats at the northwest corner of Lincoln and Woodburn avenues next to the original DeSales Flats, which is actually located in East Walnut Hills.
 
The project will yield 92 market-rate units: 44 one-bedroom apartments, averaging about 740 square feet; 36 one-bedroom-with-den apartments, averaging about 825 square feet; eight two-bedroom apartments, averaging about 1,115 square feet; and four two-bedroom-plus-den units, averaging 1,215 square feet.
 
All apartments will have high-speed WiFi, full-sized stacked washer and dryer, quartz countertops and soaking tubs in the bathrooms. Towne is also seeking LEED Gold certification on the development, which would be its first building with that LEED level. Rent hasn’t been set yet but will be similar to rates at DeSales Flats.
 
DeSales Flats Phase II will also have a 119-space parking lot with bicycle parking and an electric car charging station. Other community amenities include a clubroom with fireplace, full kitchen and coffee bar, fitness center, outdoor saltwater pool with sundeck, outdoor firepit and outdoor lounge area with a water feature.
 
Construction is slated to being this summer, with units available as soon as spring or early summer 2017.

Check out the project's layout here.
 

10th annual Ride Cincinnati raises money for breast cancer research


Ride Cincinnati is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and the June 12 event promises to be the best yet, with a number of updates to celebrate. To date, Ride Cincinnati has raised more than $2 million for breast cancer research at the Barrett Cancer Institute at the UC Cancer Institute.
 
The event includes a number of different routes: 63-, 45-, 26- and 18-mile routes along Route 8 in Northern Kentucky and an 8- and 16-mile route on a closed-road loop course along Eastern Avenue in Cincinnati. All routes begin at Sawyer Point, and helmets are mandatory.
 
New this year is a 3-mile Fun Walk, a non-competitive walk for friends and family who aren’t avid riders but who want to support the cause. The course takes walkers around Yeatman’s Cove into Friendship Park, ending at an after-party where Fifty West will be selling its beer.
 
“Fifty West is a very passionate support of local cyclists, and with the opening of its new cyclery across from the brewery it’s a natural partnership,” says Allison Brinkman Schroeder, spokesperson for Ride Cincinnati.
 
There will also be honor miles along the bike routes to celebrate the strength and story of those who have been impacted by breast cancer. Each sponsored mile is a $500 donation and includes a large photo of the honoree and brief background information about his/her fight with cancer. Friends, family and coworkers are encouraged to meet at that mile to celebrate their honoree and cheer on riders. If you’re interested in an honor mile, contact Kathryn Macke at Kathryn.braun@gmail.com.
 
Like last year, Ride Cincinnati has partnered with Cincy Red Bike. A day pass for Red Bike on race day is $8; if you email randy.evans@cincyredbike.org right after the event stating that you participated, any overage fee will be waived. Bikes are available on a first-come, first-served basis — the nearest stations are at Sawyer Point, Fountain Square and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
 
Ride Cincinnati starts at 6:30 a.m. June 12 with the 63-mile ride, and riders can sign up online until June 10 and can register in-person that morning. The cost is currently $40 for adult bikers, $30 for adult walkers and $15 for kids 12 and under.
 

Cincinnati State continues beer industry class as local craft tradition grows


Last fall, Cincinnati State added a beer brewing industry class to its curriculum, which it will offer again this coming school year due to demand. The class is geared toward those who are interested in pursuing a job in the region’s growing craft beer industry.
 
BREW 100 teaches students the brewing process and the different styles of beer. The class tours a brewery and works with that brewery to develop a class beer — in the fall, the class will team up with Urban Artifact in Northside. Urban Artifact will then brew the beer and tap it in December during the last week of the semester.
 
Last fall, two sections of BREW 100 worked with Rhinegeist and Christian Moerlein. The Rhinegeist class beer was an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie stout called Gramma, and the Moerlein class beer was a black IPA called Brewschool 100 or Curve Ball. This past spring, the class worked with MadTree on a strawberry rhubarb American Hefeweizen, which will be brewed soon and should be tapped in July.
 
Cincy State is also offering BREW 160, or the Sensory Evaluation of Beer, for the second time. Jeremy Roza, assistant quality assurance manager at the Boston Beer Company in Cincinnati, will teach the class.
 
The college is currently seeking approval from the Ohio Department of Higher Education to offer a certificate program in Brewing Sales and Marketing, which would start this fall, as well as an associate degree in Brewing Science.
 
Registration is currently open for the 2016-17 academic year, and students can sign up for classes online. BREW 100 is also available for non-degree seeking students but is not intended for hobbyists or homebrewers.
 

Cincy Stories launches new community-building project through storytelling


Cincy Stories storytelling producers are launching a multi-media website project, Street Stories, to feature stories from each of Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods, starting in Walnut Hills in partnership with Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation and LISC.
 
“When Cincy Stories started, our plan was to build community through story, which has given us room to grow and evolve and innovate in ways we didn’t originally anticipate,” founder Shawn Braley says.
 
Cincy Stories originated as a series of live events in order to get people together to share stories. As it has grown, Braley has been cataloging stories of the city in short, documentary-style segments for the website. Cincy Stories also recently launched a podcast, and now Street Stories will expand the program’s reach even further.
 
“We’re hoping that we can gather more stories from more people, especially those who maybe aren’t going to find us but still have stories to share,” Braley says. “We see this as continuing to get our hands dirtier, digging deeper into the exploration of how story and community are intricately connected.”
 
The Walnut Hills portion of Street Stories will feature an interactive Story Gallery at 961 E. McMillan St. It will be an art gallery for storytelling, complete with video gallery, timeline of the history of Walnut Hills and a place where people can get together and share stories.
 
The gallery is being made possible through a LISC placemaking grant, and Model Group is providing the gallery space.
 
The Story Gallery is a way for Cincy Stories to engage the community on the ground and invite them into the space for events and to share stories.
 
Cincy Stories will capture Walnut Hills stories over the next few months, and then in July there will be a party to unveil the website. The next neighborhood hasn’t been announced yet, but it needs to be a partnership between Cincy Stories and the community.
 
Braley says it made sense to team up with the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, which is working to connect people and build a diverse, inclusive and vibrant community, and doing it creatively.
 
“We have this crazy notion that if we all just shared our stories, any tension or wall or misconception that hinders the community would fall, and empathy and understanding would be built in its place,” he says.
 
The gallery will open on June 1, with regular hours of 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. There will be a Street Stories gallery opening party from 6-10 p.m. on June 10.
 

Hellmann Creative Center receives grant for outdoor community space


The National Endowment for the Arts recently announced more than $82 million in grants awarded to help fund local arts projects and partnerships, and three Cincinnati area organizations, including the Center for Great Neighborhoods, received a total of $45,000.
 
The Center received $10,000 to help design the public space outside of the Hellmann Creative Center, a new creative placemaking hub in Covington. Hellmann Creative Commons will be a gathering space for the community that will further help tie the arts and the neighborhood together.
 
Not only did the Center preserve and repurpose a vacant building, but it’s also working to make the arts a more prominent part of the conversation in Northern Kentucky. Covington is a city of makers, which the Center wants is celebrating through business mentoring and a May 21 public event.
 
The Hellman Center grant will go toward the first phase of the project, which includes gathering community input and working with design professionals. Once fully funded, Hellmann Creative Commons will feature sculptures designed and installed by local artists from a new apprenticeship program that will collaborate with established artists doing a one-month residency in Covington.
 
Work on the Hellmann Creative Center is to be completed this summer. Stay tuned the Center for Greater Neighborhoods’ Facebook page for ways you can give your input into the design of the outdoor space.
 

Adaptive reuse development helps promote bicycle-centered lifestyle in Pendleton


With the addition of bicycle lanes around the city, ride services like Lyft and Uber and the coming streetcar, more people are turning in their car keys for bike helmets. Many local businesses are jumping on board too and are teaming up with organizations like ArtWorks to help design bike racks.
 
A new Pendleton apartment building — designed, developed and rehabilitated by BiLT Architects — is the first to be named an official “Bicycle Friendly Destination” by Queen City Bike. Located at 512 E. 12th St., Abigail@512e12 has a number of amenities that make it bicycle-friendly.
 
Dedicated bicycle lockers are available for tenants, and there is also a fully outfitted bicycle workstation complete with bicycle stand, pump and repair tools. Tenants can also purchase a membership to Cincy Red Bike for half price.
 
Abigail@512e12 is a member of Queen City Red Bike, and tenants can enjoy the organization’s membership benefits as well.
 
There are no dedicated on-street parking spots for tenants, which helps promote a more bicycle-centered lifestyle.
 
The seven one-bedroom apartments began pre-leasing in April and should be move-in ready within a few weeks. Rent ranges from $840 to $880 per month, or $1.50-$1.60 per square foot.
 

Outdoor bar and beer garden to be first along Central Parkway bike lane


Queen City Radio will open this summer in the former automotive service and repair shop at the corner of Central Parkway and West 12th Street. But it’s not a radio station — it’s an outdoor beer garden.
 
The auto body shop also installed car and satellite radio systems, and the new QCR will celebrate that history by keeping the name.  
 
Louisa Reckman and Gabriel Deutsch, her brother and business partner, think another outdoor dining and drinking space in Over-the-Rhine will do well, and they want to pay homage to their German heritage.
 
“Both Gabriel and I have dual citizenship, and I lived in Germany for over 12 years,” Reckman says. “I actually had my first sip of beer in a Dusseldorf beer garden.”
 
Environmental remediation on the property began last June, and historic and building permits were issued in March. Reckman and Deutsch have been working on the building ever since.
 
QCR will feature gas fire pits, wooden tables and benches, lots of greenery and garage doors that will open when the weather permits. Reckman says it will be a place to tailgate or watch a game as well as enjoy a pint with friends, family, coworkers and pets.
 
“We hope to bring a sense of community and celebrate Cincinnati’s beer culture while restoring a local landmark,” she says.
 
QCR also plans to dedicate one day each week to help promote and support local charities, nonprofits and other causes. It will also be the only bar/beer garden located directly on the Central Parkway protected bike lane.
 
“I hope we are an integral oasis and rest stop for the local bicycling community as well,” Reckman says.
 
As for the menu, there will be a rotating list of local, regional and national best-selling beers as well as a full bar with wine, cocktails and boozy slushies. Beers will include 50 West, Blank Slate, Braxton Brewing, Listermann’s, MadTree, Moerlein, Rhinegeist, Rivertown and Taft’s Ale House as well as national brands.
 
Beer and wine will also be available to go, and QCR is also working with 53T Courier to offer a beer and wine delivery service.
 
Keep tabs on QCR’s Facebook page for updates.
 

Listermann partnering with Renegade Street Eats for permanent cafe within brewery


Renegade Street Eats has been rolling up to food truck rallies, festivals and other events across Cincinnati since 2014. Later this year, owner Kris Buening plans to open a brick-and-mortar cafe in the newly renovated Listermann Brewing across from Xavier University.
 
“When I started my truck, this wasn’t something I thought I would want to do,” Buening says. “I didn’t want to worry about attracting enough customers in a brick-and-mortar space, and being mobile means that I can go where the hungry people are.”
 
Renegade has partnered with Listermann for about one and a half years now for Wing Night on Thursdays, as well as Xavier basketball pre-games and festivals. When Listermann approached Buening about possibly having a kitchen in its taproom, she couldn’t pass it up.
 
The numbers work for both parties — having food keeps taproom visitors around longer, and the additional customers drum up more profit for Buening. With the added kitchen space, she plans to keep operating the food truck and using the kitchen for prep and storage space.
 
The menu will be much the same as on the truck, but where the truck can carry just four to five items per day, the taproom cafe will be much larger. Customer favorites like wings and the gyro burger will be there, as well as a number of new items. Buening plans to offer snack-type items too, plus more options for dinner. She also wants to have special menus for events like beer dinners and collaborations with other food trucks.
 
“I hope to bring another option for lunch eventually and dinner that isn’t a chain, with scratch-made food from quality ingredients,” Buening says.
 
There isn’t a concrete opening date yet, but Buening is aiming for anywhere between June and September. Plans are still being drawn up, and permits have been applied for.

As soon as the space is remodeled and inspected, Renegade will open with limited hours and then expand them once everything is established.
 

Panino food truck owner opening restaurant in OTR


Another food truck owner is adding the title of “restaurant owner” to his resume. Nino Loreto, who started serving charcuterie and artisanal sandwiches to Cincinnatians in 2013, plans to open a brick-and-mortar location for Panino in the Union Hall facility at 1315 Vine St. in Over-the-Rhine.
 
Loreto is committed to sourcing meat and produce locally, and his menu will feature handmade, cured meats. His food truck has had a presence at Taste of Cincinnati for the past two years and has also appeared at a number of events around the city.  
 
The casual deli/restaurant will feature a meat counter serving made-on-site salami and charcuterie. The menu will be small, with the option to dine at Panino’s patio or take it to go. There will also be a bar and dining room that will be open for dinner. That menu will include wine and craft beer as well as charcuterie plates, crostinis, bruschetta, paninis and a small selection of entrees.
 
Loreto hasn’t announced an opening date for Panino yet, since once the meat processing facility is set up a number of the meats will take several months to cure.
 

Covington event to give the public a look into "maker" culture May 21


The Center for Great Neighborhoods is hosting a “meet the makers” event in Covington’s Orchard Park from 1 to 4 p.m. May 21. The event will also serve as a launch party for Westside Makers, who are also releasing an independently published book, Westside Makers.
 
Over the past four months, Calcagno Cullen has interviewed and photographed about 30 local makers for his book, which includes neighborhood recipes, designs and instructions from Westside Makers as well as photos and portraits of those entrepreneurs.
 
The event calls for all residents who consider themselves makers to move their practices outdoors in order to interact with visitors and each other. Orchard Park will serve as home base for the event, but there will also be a map of the neighborhood so the public can tour the Westside and meet makers in their homes and studios as well.
 
Participants include DC Sonix, Gutierrez Deli, Lil’s Bagels, Pique, Skool Aid, Wunderbar, Yogi and the Farmer and more. Keep tabs on the event's Facebook page for more information.

The Center for Great Neighborhoods has been hosting a six-month small business training program for local makers, including some of those participating on May 21.
 

Entrepreneur plans to open deli/retail storefront in Walnut Hills


Gary Leybman, a trained chef, has been smoking meat and pickling vegetables for years. In 2013, his hobby grew into Smoky Bones, all-natural beef femur bones that are slow-smoked for dog treats. That business evolved into The Pickled Pig, which specializes in smoked meats, pickles, fermented vegetables and the smoked dog bones.
 
For the past few years, Leybman has been selling these items at a number of retail locations and farmers markets in the area. Leybman and his wife Libby recently purchased the building at 645 McMillan St. in Walnut Hills, and they plan to open a deli/retail location for The Pickled Pig within the year.
 
“It’s an up-and-coming neighborhood and due to its location is a great fit for us,” he says.
 
Leybman recently moved The Pickled Pig into the Northern Kentucky Incubator Kitchen. He had been utilizing a restaurant’s kitchen, but the building was recently sold, so he had to find a new location. Once his own space is up and running, The Pickled Pig won’t have to move around.
 
The 1,300-square-foot building will have a deli counter where everything will be made from scratch. Leybman plans to focus on smoked pork and chicken, which can be served on locally made breads. There will also be space for The Pickled Pig’s fermented Napa kimchee, carrot kimchee, caraway kraut, dill kraut, sour pickles, kimchee pickles, garlic beets, Georgian cabbage and pickled cauliflower.
 
“Even with the storefront, I would love to still have a presence at the farmers markets,” Leybman says. “It’s great to be in the community and getting the word out about our business.”
 
In the back of the building is a patio, which will house Leybman’s smoker. He plans to set up picnic tables and have an outdoor seating area to give the building a sense of place and atmosphere.

Stay tuned to The Pickled Pig's Facebook page for future announcements.
 

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


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

Former veterinarian switches careers to open online bakery


Ryan Carneson, a former veterinarian, moved with his family to the U.S. from South Africa on a medical visa. While living in Los Angeles, Carneson decided to switch careers and attended the Art Institute of California, where he graduated with honors with an Associate Science Degree in Baking and Pastry.
 
“I’ve enjoyed both of my careers very much,” Carneson says. “I loved being around animals and working with them, but pastry gives me a chance to express my artistic side. I have the freedom to create and design beautiful things. I love taking the raw ingredients and turning them into something beautiful.”
 
Carneson grew up helping his mother in the kitchen, but culinary wasn’t really an option for him in South Africa. But once in the U.S., he had the chance to start his culinary education and he began in savory and then moved to pastry.
 
The Carnesons relocated to Cincinnati in 2015 to be near Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for their son’s medical treatments. Carneson decided that he wanted to establish himself in the community and decided to start his own business, Indulgence by Ryan.
 
The online bakery is operated by Carneson and his wife Lydia and specializes in custom cakes, cupcakes, cookies, desserts and a variety of chocolate creations. Carneson’s favorite things to make are chocolate eclairs and children’s cakes.
 
Carneson says that in the future he’d love to open a brick-and-mortar bakery that features all types of baked goods, including homemade breads. It might be a sit-down coffee bar, where customers can come in and order a coffee and enjoy a pastry too.
 
There isn’t a timeline in mind, but Carneson says maybe early next year, as they’re still getting their young family settled in Cincinnati.
 

Five Points Alley mural pays homage to Walnut Hills


Five Points Alley in Walnut Hills has undergone a major facelift over the past year. The area was resurfaced with a stable, pervious aggregate, and electricity and lighting were installed. It hosts the Five Points Alley Biergarten, it will soon be the home of Gomez Salsa and it’s the site of a new mural from BLDG.
 
The mural, titled Wind!, portrays chaste and stoic faces of Walnut Hills residents that over time are chipped away by wind to reveal the windblown faces of the same residents. BLDG knew of a similar project by local photographer Jon Bob; designers blew it up and created a larger-than-life project that’s now installed on the walls of Five Points Alley.
 
Wind! is a reminder to look underneath what is readily apparent in order to find the bright, playful and whimsical potential underneath,” says Sarah Dotter, events and public outreach coordinator for Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation.
 
Before its redevelopment, Five Points Alley was a forgotten space that has been reclaimed and rejuvenated by Walnut Hills.
 
“Under all of the litter, brush, illegal dumping and criminal activity was a space waiting to become a place,” Dotter says.
 
More art will be coming to Five Points Alley in the next few months. BLDG plans to paint a large mural on the side of Gomez Salsa, and this summer ArtWorks will paint the last of its five wayfinding murals (designed by international artists and installed by BLDG) on the side of the Race Refrigeration building, which faces downtown.
 
The mural will be unveiled May 5 during the Cinco at Cinco at Cinco event at Five Points Alley. There will be tacos and turtles from Gomez Salsa, Rhinegeist and Urban Artifact beer for sale and live music by Mambo Combo from 5 to 9 p.m. The Walnut Hills qualifier of Supersize Jenga for the Cincinnati Neighborhood Games will also take place during the event.
 

ReNewport calls for mini grant applications


The city of Newport unveiled its ReNewport Quality of Life Plan earlier this year, outlining six categories that the community wants to see improvement upon by the year 2025: education; healthy, safety and wellness; housing; economic development; parks, recreation and beautification; and community engagement. After two years of planning, these goals were announced to the public in March.
 
Newport has now established a mini grant program to help start the process of implementing ReNewport. The grants will help fund community engagement efforts for Newport residents who want to help advance the program’s goals.
 
Applications are now being accepted for the first round of mini grants. All projects must center on improving the quality of life in Newport, and all applicants must either live or work in Newport. Grants are available in amounts up to $500. Two or more groups that work together on a single project can submit one grant application and request a maximum of $750 for their joint project.
 
Funding for the mini grants is made possible through LISC Place Matters.
 
The first round of mini grant applications are due by May 31, the second round of applications by Aug. 31 and the third round by Nov. 30.  

If you have a project idea, download the mini grant application here.
 

Good Food Fund gives grants to six local food-related projects


The Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council recently awarded six local food-related projects a total of $39,500 through its Cincy Good Food Fund, which is designed to support innovative and promising projects that can make a positive impact on Cincinnati’s food system.
 
Cincinnati Public Schools received $6,600 for its Aeroponic School Garden Pilot Program, which will test the potential of incorporating education about nutritious food into its curriculum by using indoor aeroponic gardens. The gardens will help students learn how to grow and harvest fresh food year-round. 
 
La Soupe’s Cincinnati Gives a Crock Cooking Classes received a total of $8,800. The grant money will allow La Soupe to expand its high school education program, which helps kids from food insecure families learn to create tasty, fresh and nutritious meals from food donated from local food businesses and farmers.
 
Northside Farmers Market’s Summer SNAP Outreach Pilot Program received $9,000 for its multi-pronged approach to reduce the barriers for those who use SNAP benefits to access fresh food at Northside Farmers Market.
 
The Ohio Valley Food Connection received $5,000 to help increase the availability of fresh, locally produced food through an online food hub that will facilitate the logistics of farm-to-table.
 
An $8,000 grant was awarded to Our Harvest’s Winter Harvest Day Food Access Program. Through the grant money, Our Harvest will increase the availability of its Harvest Day Program, which provides affordable fresh fruit and vegetables at natural distribution points like schools, churches and community centers.
 
A grant for $2,100 was awarded to the St. Leo the Great Church Community Garden. The project will help address food insecurity and community engagement by establishing a community garden in North Fairmount.
 
The Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council helps bring together multiple stakeholders from the region’s food system to develop position statements, recommend policies and support initiatives that promote a healthy, equitable and sustainable food system.
 

Cincinnati Public Schools announcement puts Vision 2020 plans into motion


Seven Cincinnati Public Schools are getting updated curriculum for the next school year, the first changes in a five-year plan, called Vision 2020, to help bring greater equity, access and opportunity for all district students.
 
Traditionally, CPS has been divided into magnet schools and neighborhood schools. Magnets are harder to get into and often involve a citywide lottery for admission, while neighborhood school enrollment is based on where students live. Vision 2020 intends to break down these divisions and add specialty programming to neighborhood schools as well as some magnet schools.
 
Next year, Chase Elementary School in Northside and Woodford Paideia Academy in Kennedy Heights will have new art and culture programs. With the new fine arts initiative throughout the district, students at Chase will play in a band and students at Woodford will play in an orchestra.
 
An environmental science program will be enacted at Pleasant Hill Academy in College Hill. The school has access to about 18.5 acres of green space, and students will spend a lot of time learning outside.
 
A high-tech program will start at Hays-Porter Elementary in the West End, which will include online learning paired with traditional learning, and students will begin studying coding, robotics and gaming.
 
A gifted program will begin at Cheviot Elementary School, much like the gifted program at Hyde Park School. Student enterprise programs will also start at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy in Over-the-Rhine and Westwood Elementary School, where students will learn marketing and networking skills while designing and building new products.
 
Vision 2020 will expand during the 2017-18 school year and beyond, with other new programs starting across the district. A few ideas include building a high school ROTC program and creating a gender-based elementary school.
 
Program costs are being figured into CPS’ budget, but specific numbers won’t be available until May when the district presents its annual budget. 
 

Howl at the Moon returns to town to fill another empty space at The Banks


A new concept from an old favorite will open this summer at The Banks in the former Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill space along Second Street. Howl at the Moon music bar is collaborating with Splitsville Luxury Lanes to bring an entertainment venue and bowling alley to downtown.
 
Howl at the Moon was founded by Jimmy Bernstein in Greater Cincinnati, with its first location at Covington Landing opening in 1990. The Banks' location will be the company’s 18th across the U.S. and its second in the area. It will also be its second Howl at the Moon/Splitsville location, with the other one located outside of Boston.

"This is like a homecoming for Howl at the Moon," says Maggie Kmiecik, digital marketing coordinator for Howl at the Moon. "The show has changed so much since Howl was originally in Cincinnati, and so has the city. It's exciting to be back."

Howl at the Moon started out as a dueling piano bar, with two piano players who interacted with the crowd while playing covers. Things have changed, and the Howl at the Moon of today is an ever-changing show with two grand pianos and a full-time band that plays hits from the 1970s, '80s, '90s and '00s as well as other dance tunes.
 
The 16,000-square-foot space will be renovated into a bowling alley with live music and dueling pianos. The venue will be more family-friendly and event-driven than before, with the ability to host private events too. There will also be a food menu highlighted by hand-tossed pizzas, burgers and gourmet appetizers.
 
Keep tabs on Howl at the Moon & Splitsville’s Facebook page for updates. You can also sign up to get invited to the VIP Grand Opening here.
 

Entrepreneurs utilize Findlay Market to develop sandwich shop concept


Josh Dickerson and Tyler Retyi-Gazda have something in common: Their pipe dream is to open a restaurant. But before that happens, they’re looking to get honest feedback about their restaurant concept, Grind on the Rhine, which served at Findlay Market for the first time on April 16.
 
“Our concept involves cooking on the spot,” Dickerson says. “We’re focusing on fresh food and fresh ingredients.”
 
When dreaming up their concept, Dickerson and Retyi-Gazda knew that renting commercial kitchen space would be expensive, so they turned to Findlay Kitchen as a cost-effective alternative to make their dream happen.
 
The focus of Grind on the Rhine is po’ boys, a sandwich invented in New Orleans during a streetcar strike. With the streetcar coming soon to Over-the-Rhine and downtown, Dickerson and Retyi-Gazda thought po’ boys belonged in Cincinnati too. 
 
Ideally, Grind on the Rhine’s storefront will open within the year, but Dickerson says they want to focus on perfecting their menu first. That menu is small right now, but once a brick-and-mortar restaurant opens it will be expanded upon.
 
The Showcase Grinder is shaved sirloin, caramelized onion, arugula and honey mustard on a ciabatta baguette from Shadeau Breads. Another menu highlight is the Pulled Pork Shoulder, which is pulled pork shoulder topped with a mango habandero BBQ sauce and apple slaw, also on a ciabatta baguette from Shadeau. There’s also a Chicken Muffeleta, which is ham and salami finished with an olive tapanade.
 
Grind on the Rhine also has an All-Day Breakfast, which is bacon and egg that can be topped with tomato and arugula. All of the seasonings and sauces are made from scratch by Retyi-Gazda, who is the chef. Sides include homemade Saratoga chips made from sweet potatoes and purple potatoes and rice and quinoa with walnuts, craisins and lemon zest.
 
Dickerson says right now they’re focused on serving on weekends at Findlay Market until they get their sandwiches perfected, and then they’ll expand from there.
 

Civic Garden Center celebrates 74 years, builds community through gardening


Now in its 74th year, Civic Garden Center (CGC) is focused on building community through gardening, education and environmental stewardship. A number of different programs help educate the public about sustainable gardening and conservation at the grassroots level, which in turn improves Cincinnati’s little corner of the environment.
 
Its main program, community gardens, helps build community garden plots throughout Cincinnati’s core in mainly low- to moderate-income neighborhoods. There are about 60 community garden plots in the city, and volunteers who are mostly residents of those neighborhoods operate them.
 
“It takes more than one person to build a community, and it also takes a lot of people to garden,” says Jared Queen, director of development and marketing for CGC. “When people come together to do something bigger than themselves, it can give them a sense of purpose.”
 
The focus of the community garden plots is on fruits and vegetables, not flowers — the plots yield thousands of pounds of fresh produce each year, and a lot of it is in turn donated to Freestore Foodbank.
 
Along with the community garden program, CGC operates a school garden program at 90 different schools, churches and community organizations throughout Greater Cincinnati. The gardens are living and learning labs where students have the opportunity to leave the classroom and go into the garden to learn about nature, where food comes from and the life cycle of plants.
 
On top of that, CGC offers teacher education that’s free and focused on school gardening. The organization also donates seeds and other materials so schools can operate the gardens themselves.
 
“The mission of the school garden program is to help provide positive experiences in nature for students and teachers so they can become lifelong learners and lovers of nature,” says Mary Dudley, director of children’s education at CGC.
 
This fall, Mt. Auburn International Academy will receive a new $10,000 garden with 20 seeder raised beds. CGC is helping to restart the garden at Covedale Elementary School and adding two new beds at Silverton Paideia Academy. Shine Nurture Center in Mt. Airy is also receiving a garden courtesy of CGC. By next spring, there will be about 100 school gardens inside the I-275 loop.
 
When CGC moved to its current Avondale location in 1949, there was a gas station adjacent to the property that closed in the 1950s or ‘60s. CGC purchased the site in the 1980s but wasn’t able to raise capital to fix up the blighted property until 2007. The Green Learning Station opened on the spot in 2011 and is a fully functioning educational tool that helps teach kids and adults about sustainability and environmental science.
 
For example, the Metropolitan Sewer District contributed $600,000 so CGC could help educate the public on combined sewer overflow. Through the efforts at the Green Learning Station, Queen says that Cincinnati’s total amount of sewage dumped into natural freshwater ways has been decreased from 14 billion to 11 billion gallons.
 
In order to operate all of these programs free of charge, CGC has to receive grant money or hold fundraisers. Its largest fundraiser, THE Plant Sale, will be held May 6-8. This is the 56th year for the plant sale, which started as a plant swap between gardeners.
 
“This sale really speaks to our organization because it started at the grassroots level,” Queen says. “To this day, it’s still run by hundreds of volunteers and shows our humble beginnings as an organization.”
 
The sale starts Friday night with a ticketed preview event, which sells lots of tickets because the event doesn’t restock. Once a plant is gone, it’s gone. The sale continues Saturday and Sunday and is free to attend and open to the public.
 
There will be a wide variety of plants available, including herbs, fruits and vegetables, sun perennials, hastas and donated perennials at 17 different booths. In the tradition of how the event started, you can split a plant you grew at home and donate it to the sale, with all the profit going to CGC.
 
The Green Flea, which is a nod to City Flea, will be held the same weekend, featuring new and gently used gardening implements and decorations available for sale.
 
Tickets to the Friday preview event start at $75 and can be purchased here.
 

Neighborhood eateries are jumping on the outdoor dining bandwagon


Arnold’s Bar and Grill has been around since 1861, and with that long history comes a number of firsts, such as being one of downtown’s first outdoor dining spots. The courtyard between the two buildings has a retractable roof allowing the space to be open pretty much year-round.
 
Many other Greater Cincinnati restaurants have followed Arnold’s lead and now offer sidewalk, patio or rooftop dining. These are just a few of our favorites. Where do you go for outdoor eating?  
 
Downtown
One of Cincinnati’s newer restaurants, Americano Burger Bar, opened its patio just in time for baseball season. Plus it’s the only restaurant in the 84.51 building with outdoor seating. 545 Race St.
 
Over-the-Rhine
Che, which opened in January, recently added a tree-lined patio to its offerings. 1342 Walnut St.
 
Krueger’s Tavern is the only restaurant in OTR with rooftop dining. The space offers diners respite from the often-crowded neighborhood restaurants. 1211 Vine St.
 
Lachey’s Bar is known for its food as well as multiple TVs airing sporting events. Soon it will also be known for its patio, which is still under construction but slated to open soon. 56 E. 12th St.
 
Just when you thought Rhinegeist couldn’t get any better, they went and built a rooftop deck complete with a bar. The space is huge and includes heaters and great views of OTR. 1910 Elm St.
 
Uptown
Hang Over Easy boasts a back deck and lawn located between it and Bogart’s. Most days it’s just a lawn, but during special events it can host bands and different programming. 13 W. Charlton St., Corryville.
 
Mecklenburg Gardens, which recently celebrated 150 years in business, is the oldest operating restaurant in the area. Its outdoor beer garden has become a mainstay for regulars and newcomers alike. 302 E. University Ave., Corryville.
 
Northside
Under new ownership, Django Western Taco has seen some changes, but the back patio remains the same. Kick back, relax and enjoy a margarita and some tacos. 4046 Hamilton Ave.
 
The Littlefield is home to a wide variety of bourbon and small plates as well as a multi-level patio complete with fire pits for chilly nights. 3934 Spring Grove Ave.
 
Melt’s eclectic menu and community atmosphere pour out into its semi-covered patio at the back of the restaurant. 4165 Hamilton Ave.
 
Price Hill
Incline Public House sits at the top of the old incline route up into Price Hill, and so its covered outdoor patio offers great views of downtown and Northern Kentucky. 2601 W. Eighth St.
 
Hyde Park
The patio at Dutch’s has a backyard feel to it, complete with fire pits and a bocce court. You’ll feel like you’re having a cookout at home but somebody else made the burgers. 3378 Erie Ave.
 
Mt. Adams
The Rookwood’s multi-level deck, firepit and swings for adults adds to the historic charm of the former pottery factory, plus the patio has a great view of downtown. 1077 Celestial St.
 
Columbia-Tusculum
Pearl’s Bar doesn’t serve food, but its large outdoor patio surrounded by pine trees makes it just right for beer drinking. 3520 Eastern Ave.
 
East End
Eli’s BBQ has a backyard, lawn and picnic tables, which make lunch or dinner into a real picnic. If you’re there on the right night, you might catch some live music. 3313 Riverside Dr.
 
Newport
Hofbrauhaus is all German, inside and out. If you have a big group, head to the outdoor beer garden, where there’s additional seating and a lot more standing room. 200 E. Third St.

Pompilio's patio is home to the best bocce court in town, with the new season getting ready to start, and hosts live music on weekends. 600 Washington Ave.
 

Downtown Hamilton market rebrands with new owners


Stephen and Sheri Jackson opened Jackson’s Market and Deli last September at 160 High St. in Hamilton. Not only was the market one of the first tenants in the redeveloped Elder Beerman department store, but it also filled the fresh food gap in downtown.
 
The Jacksons recently sold their business to Kyla Rooney, a manager at Jackson’s since it opened, and her husband Jim, who rebranded the business as Alexander’s Market and Deli.
 
The city of Hamilton was named for Fort Hamilton, which was named after Alexander Hamilton. The Rooneys took that namesake one step further and named their business after him as well.
 
Alexander’s offers a selection of fresh produce and items to fill in the gaps between grocery trips, such as milk and eggs. The deli side of Alexander’s offers a variety of salads, sandwiches and wraps that are made to order for dine in or to go.
 
Menu highlights include the Hamilton Joes Club, which is turkey, ham, roast beef, American cheese, spring mix, onions, banana peppers and spicy brown mustard on your choice of freshly baked bread. There’s also the Alexander’s Club wrap, a whole wheat wrap filled with ham, turkey, American cheese, bacon, romaine lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo. You can also create your own salad, sandwich or wrap.
 
Besides the change in ownership, the Rooneys plan to bring in more locally produced items and increase the amount of organic produce offered. There are also plans to update the look and feel of the market and offer new programming to attract more customers on nights and weekends.
 
Alexander’s is open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday. The deli is open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday.
 
Stay tuned to Alexander’s Facebook page for updates and events.
 

Casual Pint craft beer bar opening next month in Oakley


Cincinnati has seen a craft beer resurgence over the past few years. With about 20 breweries operating in the area now, it’s hard to imagine there’s room for more, though it can still be hard sometimes to find local craft beer favorites around town other than at their taproom.
 
Craft beer bars are filling that niche, and another one plans to open at the end of May. Casual Pint will be located at 3200 Vandercar Way in Oakley by the new Kroger, with the goal of becoming “where beer lovers meet.”
 
“Casual Pint wants to be the local spot where people who love beer meet up to have a glass of beer and talk about beer,” says Jillian King, who franchised the Oakley location along with her parents and her husband Matthew.
 
The first location outside of Tennessee opened at Loveland Station earlier this year.
 
Casual Pint is a craft beer market that first opened in 2011 in Knoxville’s Bearden neighborhood, with another location following in 2012 in downtown Knoxville. There are currently 10 Casual Pint locations in Tennessee and Ohio, with 10 more coming online soon.
 
“Matt and I were customers at the original Casual Pint, and we grew to love craft beer,” King says. “We got my parents into it, and we thought Cincinnati would be a great market for Casual Pint.”
 
Customers can sit down and order a pint or two of beer or get a growler to take home. There’s also the Pick 6 option, where customers can choose six different bottles from the cooler or shelves to take home.
 
The Oakley location will have 36 ever-rotating taps featuring a number of local beers as well as regional and national favorites. There will also be a small food menu so customers can grab a bite to eat.
 

New U-Square restaurant puts a fresh spin on French fries, hopes to grow into national chain


Scott Nelowet spent 20 years as an educator but decided that he wanted to branch out into the food business. While on a trip to Europe with his wife, Nelowet saw that Belgian fry stands and herring stands were everywhere.
 
“I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel but bring something back to the States that was working well over there,” Nelowet says.
 
He launched his Belgian-style loaded fry business at a vegan festival, where he concocted a vegan cheese sauce that festival goers loved. Nelowet outsold all of the other food booths at the festival and did a few others to get experience under his belt.
 
He launched French Fry Heaven as a snack brand in Jacksonville, Fla. in Fall 2011. It featured frozen fries and a variety of toppings and succeeded as such in shopping malls. But he wanted to think bigger.
 
“I got together a group of consultants who suggested that we get out of malls and do everything fresh,” Nelowet says. “So that’s what we did.”
 
French Fry Heaven’s menu now features fresh hand-cut fries, potato chips and baked potatoes that are topped with a slew of toppings, sauces and salts, all of which are sourced from local produce and made fresh in-house.
 
The restaurant at U-Square adjacent to the University of Cincinnati is about 2,600 square feet and features an expansive dining room as well as a to-go and delivery option. Menu highlights include the Buffalo Chicken, Garlic Chicken Parmesan and Pulled Pork, which is smoked in-house and topped with jalapenos and French Fry Heaven’s homemade cheese sauce. And it’s not all French fries — they’re also known for chicken tenders and smoothies.
 
You can customize any dish with any of French Fry Heaven’s 20 different dips and sea salt add-ons, including the spiciest option: a ghost pepper salt.
 
There’s a separate vegetarian menu that replaces the meat with cheese curds, which Nelowet says has the same flavor profile as the meat but within their dietary restrictions.
 
“Cincinnati will be the birthplace of the new French Fry Heaven,” Nelowet says.

From here, he hopes to franchise locations all across the country and revamp the existing snack stand locations to include this new menu. Many of the restaurants will feature a local craft beer list, but because Ohio's beer license and liquor license are one and the same Nelowet chose not to offer alcohol at the Cincinnati location.
 
French Fry Heaven is open 11 a.m.-3 a.m. daily at 206 Calhoun St.
 

Center for Great Neighborhoods hosts six-month "makers" class with small business specialist


Covington’s Center for Great Neighborhoods hosted a makers workshop last weekend for small businesses led by Ashley Berger Heyburn of Makers Megaphone, who is also an Etsy Small Business Specialist. Over the next six months, she will work with 11 Covington-based businesses to help them better market and grow their brands.
 
“This is the first time The Center has done an event like this, although other groups have done or are doing business training,” Program Director Sarah Allan says.
 
Most of the businesses enrolled in “How to Make Your Creative Business Thrive” have a few years of business under their belts. Going forward, Berger Heyburn will do one-on-one Skype calls with each business to provide further mentorship to address each business’ specific challenges; another group meeting in the Fall will wrap up the class.
 
“We’re excited about the class and are looking forward to the outcome,” Allan says. “We’ve worked with a number of these businesses before and are continuing those relationships, but we’re also working with some that are new to us and building new relationships.”
 
The businesses enrolled in the class are:
A Squared Decor
Erica Watson
Eye Candy
Fritz Kulhman
Meddling with Nature
Pique on Pike
Sharon Roark
Steven Sanders, CVG Made
Tess Burns, Wife of the Chef
Ties by Scotti
Yogi and the Farmer
 
The business coaching was made possible through a grant from LISC to help grow maker businesses in Covington. It was also held in conjunction with some of the work being done at Hellmann Lumber Mill, as several artists based at Hellmann are taking the class.
 

Neyer Properties to begin redevelopment of Baldwin Piano site in May


Plans have been in the works since 2014 for renovating the almost 100-year-old Baldwin Piano buildings located at 625 and 655 Eden Park Dr. in Walnut Hills. Neyer Properties purchased them at auction for $17.1 million and has been working with a number of organizations, including the Cincinnati Park Board and neighborhood groups, to determine the buildings’ best reuse.
 
The $100-million project includes the redevelopment of the two buildings — the 180,000-square-foot Grand Baldwin building and the 200,000-square-foot Baldwin 200 office tower — that sit on about five acres, as well as a 1,250-space parking deck. Neyer plans to redevelop the site into 190 loft-style apartments, a hotel, restaurant space and pocket park.
 
Construction is slated to begin in May, with apartments move-in ready by Spring 2017.
 
Dwight Hamilton Baldwin started out as a music teacher, opening a piano store in 1862. He began manufacturing pianos in Walnut Hills in the late 19th Century and built the seven-story Italianate Renaissance building in 1921.
 
The building that is today known as Grand Baldwin served as the company’s headquarters until 1984. Covington-based Corporex Cos. converted the building into Class A office space in 1987 and developed the adjacent 12-story Baldwin 200 building in 1990.

 

Louisville-based breakfast spot to open location in downtown Cincinnati


Queen City Square at 301 E. Fourth St. will soon be home to one of Louisville’s most popular breakfast and brunch spots. Wild Eggs plans to open its first Cincinnati location there later this summer.
 
The 4,400-square-foot restaurant will serve breakfast, brunch and lunch. Menu highlights include Southern-inspired dishes like biscuits and gravy and chicken and waffles and classics like French toast, omelets and Eggs Benedict.
 
Signature dishes include the Kelsey “KY” Hot Brown, which was created by one of the Wild Eggs chefs. The restaurant is also known for its custom-blended coffee, espresso bar, Bloody Marys and housemade mimosas.
 
There are plans for two more Greater Cincinnati locations by the end of 2016, one of which will be in the Oakley Station development.
 
Wild Eggs’ hours will be 6:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
 

Beyond the Curb hosts third housing tour in Bellevue and Dayton


The Catalytic Fund will host its third Beyond the Curb event April 24, this time in Bellevue and Dayton. The self-guided tour, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will highlight a number of condos and private residences in the two cities.
 
Beyond the Curb kicked off in April 2015 in Covington, with another event in September in Newport. The tours help showcase the urban renaissance happening in Northern Kentucky’s river cities — Bellevue, Covington, Dayton, Ludlow and Newport — as well as give tourgoers the inside scoop on the variety of living options in the urban core. A future event in Ludlow is to come later this year.
 
Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door and are available here. Admission includes the behind-the-scenes tour of 10 properties in Bellevue and Dayton as well as month-long business discounts and free parking throughout the tour.
 
Tour goers can walk, bike or ride the route, which will start with registration at Manhattan Harbour, 1301 Fourth Ave., Dayton. Other properties included on the tour are WatersEdge (209 Eden Ave., Bellevue), condos at Riverpointe and a number of rehabilitated single-family residences.
 

Gomez Salsa owner opening brick-and-mortar store in Walnut Hills


Andrew Gomez, owner of the Gomez Salsa walk-up window in Over-the-Rhine, is investing in his own neighborhood and opening a second location in Walnut Hills. The restaurant will be in the old Angst Coffee space at 2437 Gilbert Ave. and will open onto the Five Points Alley public gathering space.
 
Gomez, a self-taught cook and University of Cincinnati graduate, started Gomez Salsa by hosting mobile taco nights in Mt. Adams and Montgomery. From there, he toyed with the idea of a food truck, but an opportunity came up for the kitchen space at HalfCut and he jumped at the idea.
 
Now he’s taking his walk-up taco window to new heights. The menu in Walnut Hills will be the same, including chicken, fish, carnitas, tofu, fajita and chorizo tacos; taco bowls; chips and salsa; and Gomez’s signature Turtle Shell, a tortilla stuffed with rice, beans, cheese, a tostada, sour cream, lettuce, meat and salsa and then wrapped up.
 
The restaurant will also have a liquor license and will serve beer, and there’s a beverage program in the works that might include wine and liquor.
 
The Gomez Salsa window in OTR is recognizable by its mural painted by BLDG. Gomez is thinking of having BLDG paint a mural on the north wall of the Walnut Hills restaurant as well.
 
Gomez hopes the new restaurant will be open by June.
 

New entertainment, food and drink options at GABP for the new Reds season


Opening Day brings the start of a new Cincinnati Reds baseball season and a number of changes at Great American Ball Park, mainly new food and drink offerings.
 
An all-you-can-eat concession stand is now located on the View Level down the first-base line, behind Section 530. $20 gets you a wristband for unlimited chips, hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts and soda, limit four items per visit to the stand. Game tickets aren’t included in the all-you-can-eat pass, and wristbands are limited to the first 1,000 fans per game.
 
A variety of new foods are available at concession stands around GABP. At the Machine Room Grille in left field you’ll find the mixed fry topped with chili, queso and banana peppers. There’s also a new fajita bowl, which consists of a flour tortilla filled with rice, beef or chicken, peppers, onions, queso and a guacamole salad.
 
Instead of smoking its own meat, Mr. Red’s Smoke House will be selling Montgomery Inn chicken and pork. It will also offer the Montgomery Inn chopped brisket sandwich all season long, as well as rotating dishes for each series.
 
On the first-base concourse, Fry Box will have the Crab Box, which is fries topped with lump crab, cheese and seafood seasoning. Porkopolis’ two locations — one on the main concourse level and the other on the third-base concourse — will have The Flying Pig, a bacon-wrapped brat. The Teppanyaki Grill, which was popular during the 2015 All-Star Game, is coming back this year and will have Kobe beef and pork belly cooked to order as well as Banh mi sandwiches.
 
For those with a sweet tooth, Taste of Belgium on the third-base concourse will have the Reds Velvet Waffle, which is topped with a cream cheese-based whipped topping. Coat It, Top It, Drizzle It, Get Nuts will have offer a make-your-own ice cream bar on the third-base concourse.
 
A variety of new beer selections will be available for purchase, including Braxton Brewing Co. Storm, West 6th Brewing IPA and MadTree Brewing Rounding Third.
 
There’s also a new entertainment district in left field, the Fioptics District, which includes a full-service walk-in bar that serves domestic and imported craft beer, wine and mixed drinks on the View Level. A $15 general admission ticket for sections 408-410 includes the first drink in the Fioptics District as well as admission to the new rooftop bar.
 

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.”