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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.


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.

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.

Oakley Cycles moving to Mariemont, rebranding as Fifty West Cycling Company

Oakley Cycles will move to Mariemont Crossing in January to rebrand as Fifty West Cycling Company, part of Fifty West Brewing Company’s expansion plans as well as an opportunity for the cycling group to be on the Little Miami Scenic Trail
“We were looking for a new location that would give us the opportunity to offer more than just bikes and accessories,” says owner David Ariosa. “We wanted a location where we could offer customers a complete cycling experience.”
The Little Miami Trail connects to Fifty West Cycling’s parking lot and will allow Aroisa to provide all kinds of fun cycling experiences such as rentals, cycling lessons, corporate outings, charity events and specialty rides for casual and more serious recreational riders.
Fifty West Cycling will continue its bike advocacy programs, raising awareness about cycling in the community. The new space, located at 7669 Wooster Pike, will also have an outdoor seating space and offer drinks, energy bars and snacks.

Aroisa hopes that the new location becomes a center for family-friendly cycling fun.
“We’re very excited to be associated with Fifty West, which shares our passion for providing an experience to customers,” he says. “It’s not just a piece of machinery or a glass of beer. We’re on the same journey, and it made sense to team up.”
Oakley Cycles has been in business for 34 years and is known for its personalized, consultative approach to professionally outfitting cyclists of all ages and skill levels as well as repairing and selling bikes and accessories.

Fifty West expanding, adding larger production facility

Fifty West Brewing Company, which opened three years ago next month, recently announced an expansion that will add a larger production facility across the street from its brewpub and taproom at 7668 Wooster Pike.
The newly acquired property was formerly Hahana Beach, a bar and sand volleyball court complex. Fifty West plans to keep the existing volleyball courts and run its own leagues as well as open Fifty West Cycling. The cycling outfit will sell, service and in the future rent bicycles to customers who want to ride along the nearby Little Miami Scenic Trail.
Fifty West’s existing brewpub and taproom will remain as is. Its current brewery setup will be used as a pilot system for specialty, one-off or experimental beers, while the new production facility will focus on its large-scale core beers, which will be brewed in four 40-barrel fermenters.
The larger setup will allow for increased production — about 4,000-5,000 barrels annually, with room to grow. There are also plans to package about 10 percent of the brewery’s beer in 2016.
Construction is expected to continue early next year, with an opening date potentially in the late spring or early summer.

Roundup of neighborhood festivals through the rest of September

The temperature is finally starting to drop, and signs of fall are just around the corner. In response, Cincinnati gears up for the season with a plethora of arts, beer and music festivals.

Here’s a quick roundup of some of our September favorites!
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, Sept. 18-20
Grab your lederhosen and a stein and head downtown for America’s largest Oktoberfest, which was first held in 1976. The celebration of German-style beer, food and music begins Friday with the Running of the Wieners and includes other events like the Gemuetlichkeit (Goodwill) Games and the World’s Largest Chicken Dance.
Fifty Fest, Sept. 19
Fifty West Brewing Company hosts its third annual festival that celebrates not only its beer but beer from all over Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. For a $10 entry fee you can hear 10 bands on three stages and try beers from 20 local breweries. The event is noon to midnight at Fifty West HQ outside of Mariemont.
CliftonFest, Sept. 25-27
There are several new features for this year’s CliftonFest, which has been held along the Ludlow Avenue business district for the past four years. Food trucks, local restaurant specials and kids game areas have been added to the traditional lineup of live music, West Sixth craft beer, arts vendors and fun activities for the whole family. Plus it’s free!
MidPoint Music Festival, Sept. 25-27
Tickets are still on sale for MPMF, celebrating its 14th year in Cincinnati. The music fest takes place over three days on 10 stages in Over-the-Rhine and downtown, four of which will host all ages shows. Daily passes are $40 and are available on MPMF’s website and on site.
Cincy Summer Streets, Sept. 26
For the first time, Cincy Summer Streets will be held in OTR; there have been two events this summer already, one in Northside and the other in Walnut Hills. Pleasant Street will be car-free between Washington Park and Findlay Market 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and feature fun outdoor activities for the whole family as well as food and drinks.
Cincinnati Street Food Festival, Sept. 26
Food trucks have become the norm in Cincinnati, and Walnut Hills knows how to celebrate mobile food in style. The fourth annual event will include a number of local food trucks, live music and local craft beer. Keep tabs on the event’s Facebook page for up-to-date vendor information.
Art Off Pike, Sept. 27
Covington has become known for its growing community of artists, and the rest of the Tristate is taking notice. Art Off Pike allows art-lovers the opportunity to browse and shop the works of more than 60 local artists and creatives 11 a.m.-5 p.m. as well as join in on the art making. The event had been centered at Madlot at the corner of Seventh and Washington streets, but this year it’s expanded to the Duveneck Triangle and the Pike Street Overpass.

Nourish Yourself offers healthy, home-cooked meals to busy clients

After a 15-year career with P&G, Cherylanne Skolnicki became a certified health coach and started teaching people how to eat better. In January 2011, she started Nourish Yourself, a service that will cook dinner for you.
“The concept of a home-cooked meal resonates with busy families,” Skolnicki says. “Clients want to feed their families fresh, healthy, unprocessed, seasonal food, but struggle with the time and skills to cook those meals. We take the guesswork and challenge out of it.”
Nourish’s core team has three employees who focus on everything from customer care to menu development to marketing. A team of nine cooking partners go into clients’ homes and make the magic happen, Skolnicki says.
Clients are matched with a Nourish cooking partner in their area—they shop for and prepare meals in your kitchen. Meals are prepared all at once, and Nourish even cleans up afterward.
Nourish offers flexible pricing that starts at $159 per week plus groceries, and you choose the service date. Nourish’s winter menu is available on its website, with 50 entrée choices, many of which are freezable, plus fresh salad greens and homemade dressing.
The menu changes seasonally, but favorites include healthy makeovers of restaurant dishes, such as chicken enchiladas, Thai basil chicken and buffalo chicken meatballs. Skolnicki says both Nourish’s risotto with asparagus and peas and bison burger with Cabernet caramelized onions and white cheddar are also popular.
“Busy is the new reality for today’s families,” Skolnicki says. “We hope to make dining in the new normal for busy, health-conscious households. And cooking is one of the aspects of a healthy lifestyle that you can now outsource and still get all of the benefits.”
Today, Nourish serves the Greater Cincinnati area and northwest Arkansas (because of P&G employees), but Skolnicki hopes to expand to other markets in 2014.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Neighborhood Asset Mapping tool focuses on neighborhoods' strengths

The Community Building Institute recently partnered with Xavier University and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati to develop and launch the Neighborhood Asset Mapping tool. It’s an online resource that allows all 52 Cincinnati neighborhoods to create a profile of community-based assets and resources in the area.
NAT was made available to the public this spring,and was in development for six to eight months before that. It’s free, and it promotes engagement and resource-sharing among residents. Residents can add assets to NAT, and they’re immediately available to other users.
“If you’re new to the community or thinking of moving to a neighborhood, you can find what’s going on there,” says Trina Jackson, program director of the Community Building Institute. “You can find community councils and neighborhood associations. Lots of people don’t know about grassroots organizations, and Nat allows residents to connect with one another through smaller organizations.”
The United Way helps support community development and community-based organizations, and NAT is the community engagement arm for Xavier, Jackson says. “We were focused on getting people connected with each other, and helping them see what’s out there.”
For example, in Evanston, many people know about the employment resource center. But if you’re not from the neighborhood, you don’t necessarily know it’s there, so you turn to the computer or your phone to find the things you need.
NAT focuses on a neighborhood’s strengths, and doesn’t include crime data or vacant property statistics. It's intened to be used by new and potential residents, entrepreneurs and developers as a tool to help find the best locations to live, work and play.
The Community Building Institute plans to host a series of “data entry parties” where people can get together and enter assets into NAT and learn new things about the neighborhood they live in. The first one is planned for Walnut Hills, but the date is to be determined.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Phase IV of Mariemont condo development to begin next year

Construction on Phase IV of Mariemont’s condominium development is slated to begin in early 2014. The 23-unit, three-level condos will extend the historic Village Square along Madisonville Road to Plainville and Murray.
The currently unnamed project is being developed by Greiwe Development, which partnered with North American Properties, Sibcy Cline and CR Architecture + Design for the four-phase, 121-unit condo project. The condos—Jordan Park, which was completed in Nov. 2008; Emery Park, which was completed in Oct. 2011; and Nolen Park, which is slated to be completed in Dec. 2013—all feature Tudor Revival architecture and follow John Nolen’s 1921 village plan. Nolen’s plan landed Mariemont on the National Historic Register in 2006.
A continuous streetscape that begins at Village Square will connect Nolen Park and Emery Park, along with Phase IV of the development.
The two-bedroom units and two-bedroom units with studies will range from $350,000 to $600,000. The development will feature Tudor Revival-style design with courtyards, streetscapes and green space. The existing sycamore trees will be preserved, with the addition of new trees and formal landscaping, plus the village-owned easement along Murray Avenue will be maintained for a future bike path/sidewalk. Below-ground parking will be available for residents.
By Caitlin Koenig
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New online tool aims to keep Cincinnati residents engaged in their neighborhoods

On July 24, the City of Cincinnati adopted Nextdoor, a free, private social network for you, your neighbors and your community. The goal is to improve community engagement between the City and its residents, and foster neighbor-to-neighbor communications.
Each of Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods will have its own private Nextdoor neighborhood website, which is accessible only to residents of that neighborhood. City administrations and several city departments will also use Nextdoor to share important news, services, programs, free events and emergency notifications to residents, but they won’t be able to see who is registered to use the site or the conversations among residents.
Founded in 2010 in San Francisco, Nextdoor’s mission is to bring back a sense of community to the neighborhood. The site was tested in 175 neighborhoods across the country, and results showed that neighborhoods had some of the same issues, plus a variety of different issues.
“We all remember what our neighborhood experience was like as kids, when everyone knew each other, looked out for one another and stayed in the community longer," says Sarah Leary, co-founder of Nextdoor. “We want to invoke that nostalgia for neighborhoods.”
To date, Nextdoor is being used by about 17,000 neighborhoods across the country. In June, Nextdoor partnered with New York City and Mayor Bloomberg to communicate with the city’s 8.3 million residents. The site plans to roll out in other major cities like Cincinnati over the course of the next several months.
Nextdoor also recently released its iPhone app. “We’re really putting the lifeline of the neighborhood into the palm of the residents’ hands,” says Leary. “The common thread is an interest in using technology to make connections with neighbors. But it doesn’t stop there—once people have an easy way to communicate, they’re more likely to get together in the real world.”
You can sign up for Nextdoor on its website, or download the app in the App Store.
By Caitlin Koenig
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City Hall launches app as a community-organizing tool

The City of Cincinnati has taken out the back-and-forth that can occur when residents try to reach them to report issues in their neighborhoods. At the Neighborhood Summit on Feb. 16, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls announced that the Cincinnati City Hall mobile app is available to the public.
With the app, residents can look up trash, recycling and street sweeping days, and set reminders; locate and report problems by address; bookmark locations for quick reporting; and track the status of reports. City Hall mobile also has GPS, so users can report issues, even without an address. There’s even a searchable map with property owner information, which enables residents to see if a property is occupied or vacant.
A few years ago, residents had to use the Yellow Pages to look up the number for city departments to file complaints, says Kevin Wright, executive director of Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation. The city then implemented a hotline for all complaints, but residents never knew the status of their reports.
“It’s amazing how comprehensive the app is,” Wright says. “If you see a broken window, pothole, graffiti, hanging gutter or anything else that is physically wrong with your neighborhood, street or community, you can report it in an instant. It’s a great tool for neighborhood redevelopment.”
The app can also be used as a community-organizing tool, Wright says. For example, if there is a property owner who historically hasn’t taken care of his or her property, social media can help organize a community and target the property to enforce codes until the property is fixed, which is what neighborhood councils and organizations like WHRF do.
“We’re really putting power in the hands of the citizens of the neighborhoods,” he says.
As with most tech programs, the app has room to grow, too. In the future, it could be linked with Facebook or Twitter, so your friends and followers will know who reported problems and where they are.
Cincinnati residents can download the app in the Apple App Store or download it through Google Play.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Throwback barbershop opens in Mariemont

This weekend marked the grand opening of Roosters Men’s Grooming Center in Mariemont. It’s the chain’s second location in the Cincinnati area—the Mason location has been open for just over a year; Dub Nelson and his wife, Lisa, own both.
“We have three adult sons who were frustrated with where they were getting their hair cut,” Nelson says. “When I retired from Fidelity, I came cross the Roosters concept, which offers a great experience, and thought, ‘Why not?’”

The first Roosters location was opened in Lapeer, Mich., in 1999. Joe Grondin, Roosters' founder, wanted to re-establish the traditional barbershop of the 1960s. Today, there are Roosters locations in 19 states.
Roosters offers five different haircut options for men: the Young Men’s Cut, for those under the age of 15; the Student Cut, for ages 15 to just graduated from college; the Roosters Club Cut, for those out of college but under the age of 65; the Senior Cut, for those 65 and older; and the Hero’s Cut, which is the full Roosters Club Cut at a discounted price for members of the military, policemen and firemen.
And Roosters doesn’t just cut hair. They also offer shaving and waxing services, camouflage color to hide gray hair, manicures and shoe buffing. All of the haircuts except the kids’ cut come with hot towels and a light scalp massage during shampooing.
“It’s a very relaxing environment,” says Nelson. “Some guys that come in right after lunch fall asleep in the chair.”
During the grand opening, the Nelson donated money to the Mariemont Civic Center to provide scholarships for children who can’t afford to go to preschool.
The Nelsons have lived in Cincinnati for about eight years. They have always thought Mariemont was very community-oriented and wanted to be part of that. “We want Roosters to be a great partner in the community, providing community sponsorships and making Mariemont a great place to work and live,” Nelson says.
Nelson also wants a trip to Roosters to be a family outing, a place where fathers and sons can come in and get their hair cut, and bond, at the same time.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Wasson Way bike path advocates hope to transform rail spur

A group of residents from several Cincinnati neighborhoods spoke at the June 7 meeting of Cincinnati City Council's Quality of Life Subcommittee. Their subject? A recently closed railroad spur and a proposal to change it into a 6.5-mile cycling and walking path.

"This could really serve as an important connector for the many [multiuse path] projects Cincinnati has going on," said project advocate Jay Andress.

The proposed project would convert a Norfolk Southern Railroad spur into a path that would connect with the Little Miami bike trail in Newtown and run into the heart of downtown. Advocates at Tuesday's meeting pointed out that the path would only cross seven roads in its entire length, making it a true rarity: a nearly uninterrupted trail running through several neighborhoods in a major urban area.

But beyond the health benefits and transportation options that the path could provide, some residents at the meeting brought up another point: building the path could resolve a growing problem with the semi-abandoned line.

Hyde Park Neighborhood Council President Anne Gerwin said the point where the line crosses Wasson Road has been a maintenance and safety issue for years. "We struggle many times each year to have the city and railroad maintain it," she said. The neighborhood's council passed a resolution supporting the project.

Likewise, Hyde Park resident Lindsay Felder, who said her home is within sight of the track, said there's been a visible deterioration of it - and an uptick in people loitering along the weedy path - since it became inactive in 2009.

"We've always wondered about the tracks," she said, explaining that she began going door to door to drum up local support after meeting Andress and learning about the proposed project.

"We see it as a great upcycling of existing property that is underutilized," she said.

Subcommittee chair Laure Quinlivan said there are a number of details to clarify before the project moves further forward, such as determining if Norfolk Southern has future plans for the line, and if an arrangement can be made that would allow the city to adapt the path into light rail if that becomes a future transit option.

"This is really a great proposal," she said. "The best ideas don't always come out of City Hall. If we could make this happen, it would be such a great asset to so many residents."

Story: Matt Cunningham
Photo: Wasson Way Project

New Mariemont city schools use technology, green building to teach life skills

Mariemont City Schools are busy with several development projects, including building a brand new junior high school and updating two elementary schools that are scheduled for completion by August 2012. Groundbreaking for the new Mariemont Junior High School began a few weeks ago at the former Fairfax Elementary school site.

The new junior high will provide an up-to-date, hi-tech gathering place for students and residents. The community will have access to the school's new gym, media center, and commons area for gatherings. The goal is to not only serve students but the community at large, according to Kathy Ryan, Program Manager for Mariemont City Schools.

Construction of the building will follow LEED certified standards with the goal of achieving silver or gold certification. Some of the green attributes will include the use of sensored lighting, geothermal heating and cooling, and green materials. The building will take advantage of natural lighting from the windows by placing skylights in the gym with baffles to redirect light. If it is a bright day, the lights will be dimmed in order to conserve energy.

"It is important to design a LEED certified building," Ryan explained. "The school sets a good example for the kids as they learn about geothermal energy and how lighting works. It will be a living building that exemplifies what we are teaching. Everything we are looking at is for the future."

One of the important aspects of the new school includes upgraded technology to teach students the necessary life skills to survive in a working environment outside of the classroom. Classrooms will have docking stations where students can work with their laptops in a group and the library will have small rooms where students can do video presentations.

"We're including things that help evolve the life skills of a student by using technology. We follow what Fortune 500 companies say needs to be taught to produce a well-rounded student including being creative, thinking outside the box, knowing technology, and taking risks," Ryan said.

The new junior high will be a huge plus for Mariemont, but Ryan said it will also set a great example for other schools.

"Schools will want to come and see what we've done, just as we've visited other schools to see what is working well. We've put a tremendous amount of time in studying things, getting opinions from the experts, and talking to the community and we hope that everyone felt heard in the process."

Writer: Lisa Ensminger

Emery Park project follows Mariemont historic plan, builds new

Following the vision of Mary Emery's original town plan from 1921, Mariemont has three Tudor Revival design projects currently in the works. One currently undergoing construction, Emery Park, is a condo development by Griewe Development Group and North American Properties. The exterior of the developments will keep the Village's historic Tudor look with roof dormers and changing materials of brick and stone, but the interiors will encompass one-level modern floor plans utilizing energy efficient materials and incorporating modern amenities. The mix of old and new fits in well with the original town plan presented by John Nolen in 1921 that at its time was innovative and emblematic of new "urbanism" developments across the country.

Emery Park will feature 36 one and two bedroom units, conveniently located near Mariemont Elementary School and Mary Emery Park. Kurt Heinbecker, Senior Vice President of Construction with North American Properties, said the importance of furnishing the residences with energy efficient materials benefits the environment and will keep costs down for future residents.

"We do a lot of things in our developments to save and do our best to create a building that uses the least amount of energy," Heinbecker said.

Units are priced from $295,000 to $850,000. Developer Rick Griewe said he hopes to attract a wide age group of new residents.

"This kind of lifestyle appeals to everybody…people love to read the paper around the fountain, stop by the library, or go to a show. Mariemont is a walkable community that promotes a lifestyle that is becoming more important for today's baby boomers and young individuals," Griewe said.

Griewe added that an already completed development, Jordan Park, had its best sales yet and has served as a great reference for Emery Park - four units have already been sold. He anticipates the entire project will be completed by October 2011.

"New developments add to the quality of the Village because it matches the Mariemont style by building upon the identity of the historic village square. This development will also generate real estate taxes, new residents, as well as more business for nearby restaurants and retail." Griewe said.

Writer: Lisa Ensminger

Developers break ground on $12M condominium project in Mariemont

Greiwe Development Group and North American Properties broke ground on the $12 million Emery Park condominium project in Mariemont last week.  The development is the second phase of a larger project that will eventually create 121 new condominiums built according to the village's historic master plan and well-known Tudor Revival design.

"Mary Emery hired a great town planner named John Nolan to design Mariemont," explained Rick Greiwe.  "Nolan's plans show a very dense village center with retail surrounded by walkable residential areas.  Our projects are following that original plan that was finished in 1921."

Greiwe says that due to a number of factors, much of the plan was not fully realized.  As a result, his development team has been working to acquire land, tear down aging properties, and replace them with dense residential developments that adhere to the principles set out for Mariemont roughly 90 years go.

The 29-unit Jordan Park development was the first-phase of this effort, with Emery Park being the second.  Greiwe says that the development team decided to move forward with this second phase even before a single condo had been pre-sold.

"We are very confident in this location and the price point of these units," Greiwe said.  "You're only 15 minutes from downtown, you have a great retail district, good schools, and a park nearby.  As a result, we have already sold three units as of our groundbreaking last week."

This second phase of development is expected to be complete by fall 2011; at that time they hope to start work on the next phase of development, Nolan Park, named after Mariemont's original town planner John Nolan.  Greiwe says that in order for work to move forward on that phase, they must pre-sell at-least half of the total 35 units.

The development team hopes to then come up with a more definitive plan for the fourth and final phase of the total development, but they do have a vision for exactly the kind of end result they want.

"We have noticed that people appreciate walkable communities, and Mariemont is one of the most walkable communities in the nation.  We like to do infill projects close to healthy retail centers in walkable communities, and that is exactly why we're so bullish on Mariemont."

Tours of Jordan Park and Emery Park condominiums can be scheduled with Sibcy Cline at the Mariemont Lifestyle Sales Center (map) from 1pm to 4pm on Sundays.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Rendering Provided
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy

Issue 9 debate engages local businesses one month before the November vote

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful's biggest event of the year takes place on April 25 with a kickoff in College Hill, and the organization could use your help.

Great American Cleanup, the nation's largest community improvement project with an estimated 2.8 million volunteers, is aimed at boosting the quality of life in neighborhoods by planting flowers and trees, picking up litter, collecting discarded tires, painting façades, landscaping, and recycling

Because of the massive amount of work to be done, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful program manager Josman Rodriguez says that volunteers are very much needed.

Just last year, 8,352 volunteers collected 406,460 pounds of litter and debris; planted 13,500 flowers and bulbs; cleaned 578 miles or roads, streets and highways; and recycled more than 40,000 plastic bottles and more than 2,500 scrap tires.

"We're expecting 10,000 volunteers beautifying 90 communities, 25 parks, and 30 schools," Rodriguez says.

He also says that Give Back Cincinnati, community leaders, and Cincinnati council members plan to participate, and that United Dairy Farmers is serving as a co-sponsor.

To volunteer, contact Liz Bowater at (513) 352-4380 or at liz.bowater@cincinnati-oh.gov.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Josman Rodriguez, project manager/public awareness, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful

Mariemont Inn's multi-million dollar renovation puts new face on MM landmark

The Mariemont icon that is the old tudor Inn in the heart of Cincinnati's oldest planned community has completed a milestone renovation that may very well put the building on the road to receiving "luxury status."

"We redid everything from top to bottom, every wire, pipe and wall was replaced and relocated, as discreetly as possible. We started by building a prototype, then went out across the country to find everything we needed," says proprietor, Dan Spinnenweber

Renovations were substantial as the owners took the structure down to its s brick walls and foundation. The number of rooms dropped from 60 to 45, allowing the area of each space to expand by one-third. The new décor was meticulously designed with custom furniture, fixtures, moldings, and warm-glow fireplaces.

That meticulous design manifests itself in the form of exquisitely decorated rooms, each with its own fireplace, a desk complete with a Herman Miller chair, and a a roll-up tapestry picturing a historic Mariemont scene that hides the large screen television set.

"Our goal was to cater to the businessman and the businesswoman, the corporate traveler, primarily, while also making this just a great place for people to come in, relax, unwind and enjoy themselves," said the second-generation of Spinnenweber owner/operators, Spinnenweber's son Bill, now the general manager. "What that guest wants is plenty of room, peace and quiet, and a place to stay that's near the action. We've got it all."
Throughout the renovation, the Spinnenwebers were determined to maintain the original character of the building.
 "In the final analysis, what we're selling is a great place to come and stay, sleep, and have a comfortable, quite experience," Bill Spinnenweber said. "Everything that's been placed in the rooms is geared to accomplish this. That's why we exist. That's what are guests are paying for."

Writer: Jeff Syroney

New and improved CincySites makes site selection easy

The new and improved Cincinnati Commercial Site Portfolio, joint effort of the Economic Development Office of the Hamilton County Development Co. (HCDC) and the City of Cincinnati, has moved to cincysites.com.

The online database is a comprehensive inventory of Hamilton County sites available for redevelopment, including industrial, retail, office, warehouse, and vacant land.

The database also serves as a central source of information for those who might want to invest in the community, with layers of detailing population and workforce demographics, spending data, and information on nearby businesses.

CincySites is a cut above the average economic development website because it utilizes geographic information system (GIS) technology, allowing users to create maps and reports that would normally take weeks –and dollars – to collect.

Because more than 90 percent of initial site selection screening is now done using the Internet, it is hoped that the depth and ease of use of CincySites will help attract new business and promote economic development in Hamilton County.

"This tool is primarily used to make sure that we get looked at in the first place," says Harry Blanton, vice president and manager of the Economic Development Office.  "If we do not provide this tool, we may not get many looks, since many consultants will cut you out of the search if you don't provide this type of information online."

But CincySites is only one of the strategies employed by his office, Blanton says.

"We also make visits to site location consultants to sell the region, send e-messages to them with development items of interest, participate in the state's referral process, and market the region in foreign publications," he says.

Partners in CincySites also include Hamilton County, the Cincinnati USA Partnership, and the Cincinnati Area Geographic Information System (CAGIS).

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Harry Blanton, vice president and manager, HCDC Economic Development Office

Coalition formed to apply for up to $1M in brownfields funds

Greater Cincinnati's industrial history has left the region with a legacy of brownfield sites, abandoned or underutilized properties that are difficult to redevelop due to real or perceived environmental contamination.

In order to address the problem, the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, the City of Cincinnati, and Hamilton County have formed a coalition to jointly apply for $1 million in U.S. EPA environmental assessment grants.

The option of applying as a coalition is new this year, allowing the groups to receive up to $600,000 more than they may have received by applying alone.

The coalition is targeting 28 sites - 18 for hazardous substance contamination and 10 for petroleum contamination.

"If the grant is awarded, we will form a Brownfield Assessment Working Group that will include coalition members and representatives of community-based organizations to solicit applications for environmental assessments and jointly make the final decision on which brownfields will be assessed under the grant," says Christine Russell, director of brownfield development for the Port.

Russell says that these environmental assessment funds are key to seeing where the development potential stands on these properties.

"Some of the major barriers to brownfield redevelopment are the unknown environmental and financial risks associated with a brownfield property," she says.  "This grant will allow us to quantify existing contamination and develop an estimated clean-up cost.  Developers or communities can then better evaluate the feasibility of a brownfield redevelopment project."

The grant is expected to be awarded in spring 2009.

A public meeting will be held in Norwood tomorrow at 6 PM at the Hamilton County Development Company, 1776 Mentor Avenue, Suite 100.

A draft of the grant application is on file at all branches of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Christine Russell, director of brownfield development, Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority

Duke Energy hosts regional forum for economic development stakeholders

Duke Energy sponsored a forum yesterday at the Queen City Club that was an opportunity for consultants and governmental leaders to network and to learn the latest strategies in economic development in Ohio and Kentucky.

J.R. Wilhite, commissioner in the Department of New Business Development for the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, says that regardless of all of the innovations and new technologies on the horizon, it still comes down to "blocking and tackling".

"Economic development is changing," he says.  "But just like football has changed with its many rule changes, so must we."

Wilhite says that one of his state's strategies has been a greater focus on Europe, where the Kentucky has contracted with ROI to research the continent's firms and to make initial contact.

Steve Schoeny, director of the strategic business investment division of the Ohio Department of Development, says that Ohio not only needs to do a better job of telling its story, but of developing its workforce as well.

"Our services are of a national caliber," he says.  "However, the system for delivering those services is not."

Schoeny says that Ohio economic development will improve by attracting and retaining young talent through initiatives such as Ohio Means Home and the Ohio Young Talent Network, properly training state staff to focus on clients rather than individuals, and setting up a culture of customer service.

Marti Bremer, senior manager of state and local tax for KPMG, LLP, gave an overview of some of the domestic trends in economic development, including the targeting of industries, benchmarking, giving monetary incentives, public/private partnerships, entrepreneurship programs, development of shovel-ready sites, and workforce development.

Managing director Greg Burkart, of the Novi, Michigan office of Duff & Phelps, provided some insights on economic development websites from the client point of view.

"You may be ruled in or ruled out long before you know it just based upon what information is publicly available," he says.

The final speaker, vice president and director of Austin Consulting Don Schjeldahl, says that alternative energies such as photovoltaic, concentrated solar, and wind power are poised to make significant gains in the next 10 to 15 years, and the geographical pattern for how those industries will be defined has not yet been set.

"If you don't have your act together, you're going to miss the window," he says.

Schjeldahl says that there are still opportunities for Ohio, if they can create market demand for the new technologies and can create awareness of and preparedness for sustainability in the state's communities.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Sources: J.R. Wilhite, commissioner in Department for New Business Development, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development; Steve Schoeny, director of Economic Development Division, Ohio Department of Development; Marti Brenner, senior manager of state and local tax, KPMG, LLC; Greg Burkart, managing director, Duff & Phelps, LLC; Don Schjeldahl, vice president and director, Austin Consulting

Popular $10M Jordan Park true to Mariemont's roots

Residents and community members recently got an inside look at Jordan Park, a $10 million, 26-unit condominium development on Miami Avenue in Mariemont.

Twenty-one of the 26 condo units, with an average price of $650,000, have sold in just ten months with residents beginning their move in at the end of October.

"One of the reasons why it's so popular is its location," says Rick Greiwe of project developer Greiwe Development Group.  "That and the great architectural quality of the project.  We've built a legacy building in that village that will look great for generations."

Featuring unique floor plans, wood floors and high ceilings, the Cole + Russell Architects-designed development offers contemporary amenities – all while staying true to Mariemont's historical character.

"As promised, we delivered to Mariemont a building that fits right in with John Nolan’s original (1921) master plan," Greiwe says.

Jordan Park replaces a row of seven nondescript 4-flat apartments with a Tudor-styled structure complete with half-timbering and pitched roofs.

"Those apartments were built back in the 1940s, and they were pretty worn out," he says.  "There's a pretty big stock of apartments in the village.  We're able to offer a new housing type that's not available in Mariemont."

Mariemont's strong village center is the reason Greiwe chose to build Jordan Park, and he's currently working with the village in the hopes of developing condos with a broader price range and wider appeal.

"I try to build community with my residential developments," he says.  "It's paramount to the kind of development that I do.  There was already a strong community in place, which is why this area was so high on my list."

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Rick Greiwe, Greiwe Development Group
Photography by Scott Beseler

LandLOC roundtable to address vacant, abandoned properties

Community developers can learn of a new program that helps return vacant and abandoned residential properties to productive use during a roundtable meeting today from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM at Price Hill Will, 3208 Warsaw Avenue.

The Community Development Corporations Association of Cincinnati (CDCAGC) will host two staff members from the Finance Fund in Columbus to talk about LandLOC, a program that provides statewide financing to help non-profit community-based organizations regain control of these underused structures for redevelopment.

LandLOC provides a flexible line of credit to qualifying non-profits to pay for legal and acquisition costs and expenses related to the safety and stabilization of the property.

Projects are also required to be in alignment with or enhance a broader strategy or revitalization plan.

Patricia Garry, executive director of CDCAGC, says that the idea behind the roundtable is to get the word out to community development corporations (CDCs) about the new program, which began in May.

"I sent it to our entire community development list," she says.  "CDCs, banks, housing agencies, city and county officials, funders, for-profit developers, tech service providers like architects and planners.  All of those other folks work with CDCs in various ways to make projects happen, so we thought they should all be invited."

Garry believes that LandLOC will complement other community-based programs that address blight and neglect.

"It will tie in in many ways to the Neighborhood Homes Initiative we've been talking about," she says.  "And it can probably be used with other programs as well, like the City of Cincinnati's RFP coming out in early September."

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Patricia Garry, executive director, CDCAGC
Logo provided by the Finance Fund

Home builders voice support for energy-efficiency credits

Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati president Andrea Lucke wants Congress to extend the New Energy Efficient Home Credit, which expires at the end of the year.

Testifying last week before a House Small Business Committee meeting on how emerging green technologies can help stabilize and grow the U.S. economy, Lucke argued that the best strategy is for Congress to provide tax incentives instead of enacting energy efficiency mandates.

While the hearing focused mainly on energy production and conservation, Lucke, on behalf of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), spoke about how the homebuilding industry is working to protect our planet as the price of energy continues to skyrocket.

"By encouraging growth in green building, our nation’s home builders have the potential to profoundly affect energy efficiency and conserve precious natural resources and our environment," Lucke told the committee, noting that more than half of the NAHB's members are incorporating green practices into their new projects.

The tax credit, which was established in 2005, gives home builders a $2,000 credit for a new energy-efficient home that achieves 50 percent energy savings for heating and cooling over the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code and supplements.

"The credit allows home buyers to benefit from the advantages that green building provides, while builders to continue to build homes at affordable prices," Lucke says.  "Legislators could also increase the amount of the tax credit to pay for a larger percentage of the building costs that are incurred when making a home 50 percent more energy-efficient, because the costs associated with building an energy-efficient home are higher."

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Andrea Lucke, president, Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati
Photo of Congressman Steve Chabot and Andrea Lucke provided by HBAGC

Forum to explore strong, diverse neighborhoods

You can be a part of the creation of strong, diverse neighborhoods at a meeting being held on July 22 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM.

Steve Smith, president of The Model Group, will share the ways that his company is working to create an integrated and stable Over-the-Rhine by developing a mix of market-rate and affordable housing.

"I'll be sharing my experiences with working in a neighborhood in transition, from one that's at-risk to one that's more diverse, not only in population but economically," he says.

Smith says that the conversation will focus on the core areas of blight removal, clean and safe, and sustainable development.

Following Smith's presentation, attendees will be engaged to develop additional solutions that they can take back and apply to their own cities, villages and neighborhoods.

"I would encourage anyone who has an interest in Over-the-Rhine's continued revival to come, or people from other Cincinnati neighborhoods in an economic downturn," Smith says.  "This could include community leaders, homeowners, residents of those neighborhoods, or people possibly looking to buy in those neighborhoods."

If purchased by July 18, registration is $10 and can be purchased at the Citizens for Civic Renewal website.

Admission is $15 at the door.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Steve Smith, president, The Model Group

Transit restructuring getting a close look

Cincinnati City Council has adopted a motion that would restructure the finances and control of SORTA, southwest Ohio's transit agency. Councilmember John Cranley will introduce the Regional Transportation Act, a proposal that would create the Greater Cincinnati Transportation Authority (GCTA), reforming the governing structure of SORTA to better incentivize jurisdictions who contribute to public transportation and give fast-growing suburban communities more of a say on regional transportation issues.

Historically, the City of Cincinnati has held a minority on the SORTA board despite contributing the bulk of the operating fund.

"Cincinnati invests $43 million annually in public transit," Cranley writes in a statement supporting the motion. "Sadly, no other jurisdiction comes anywhere near this investment. Cincinnati taxpayers contribute over 90 percent of local transit dollars and that investment should be reflected in the amount of representation they have in the body that governs transportation."

Suburban counties have had no representation on the board, receiving bus routes through contract.

"A successful regional transportation system must include the fast growing Butler, Clermont, and Warren counties, which have a lot of jobs and currently are not formally part of the governing structure of SORTA," Cranley writes.

The GCTA board would be composed of between 11 and 19 members.  Each county would be able to appoint a representative, with the remainder allocated based on financial contribution.

The new agency would receive all of SORTA's assets, liabilities, and routes.

City administration is likely to report back to council on the proposal following the summer break.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Cincinnati City Council
Photography by Scott Beseler

Port, National City partner on gap financing program

The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority and National City Bank have announced a first-of-its-kind partnership to provide gap financing for small, minority-owned, and women-owned (SBE, MBE, WBE) businesses participating in brownfield development projects in the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Because brownfield projects are often funded by public dollars that have lengthy disbursement cycles, smaller firms without large cash flows or extended lines of credit can
often be effectively shut out of the bidding.

National City's participation will provide these firms with funds from which they can draw until the public money becomes available.

"This agreement will encourage some of the smaller firms to take part in our projects," Port Authority president Kim Satzger says.  "The issues with slow reimbursement have now been addressed."

The new program takes effect immediately.

Brownfield remediation and reclamation is one of the Port Authority's core functions.

In an effort to encourage wealth creation among all segments of the population, the Port Authority has established and Economic Inclusion policy and maintains a database of over 500 SBE, MBE and WBE suppliers.

They also work closely with the South Central Ohio Minority Business Council, Commercial Real Estate Women, the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce, and the Hispanic Chamber Cincinnati USA.

Of all dollars contracted by the Port Authority since 2001, the policy resulted in 33 percent participation by SBE, 26 percent by MBE and 8 percent by WBE.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Kim Satzger, president, Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority
Photography by Scott Beseler

Money Magazine rates Cincinnati among top 6 best places to buy a home

Citing a manufacturing-heavy economy that should benefit from the falling dollar, Money Magazine has rated Greater Cincinnati among the 6 "best places to buy a home these days".

The six cities chosen were determined to have home prices that should rise the most - or fall the least - within the next 12 months.

"Cincinnati has continued to be relatively stable amidst the nationwide housing crunch," says Jami Stutzman, a realtor with Sibcy Cline.  "We never saw the extreme highs other areas of the country saw, therefore our lows aren't going to be as dramatic either."

Peter Chabris of Team Chabris agrees, saying that speculative forces have been drawn out of the market.

"In this age of ridiculous appreciation and HGTV programming mania, people stopped seeing homes as homes and started seeing them as their 401(k)," he says.

But he says that for people who are serious about becoming homeowners, now is the time to buy.

"It's reasonable to expect the market to depreciate, or maintain it current level for the next 12 months," Chabris says.  "But you don't buy a house for 12 months, you buy it for years.  You should have every expectation that your home will gain value."

Stutzman says that while buyers and sellers seemed to have a negative outlook on the market over the winter, the tide seems to be changing.

"I believe it's more than just spring fever - buyers realize that low interest rates and lower home prices are going to last forever and right now is really a fantastic time to buy," she says.

Other cities making Money Magazine's list were Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit and Houston.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Sources: Peter Chabris, realtor, Team Chabris; Jami Stutzman, realtor, Sibcy Cline Realtors
Photography by Scott Beseler

BOOST! offers energetic, all-inclusive meeting space

"Sophisticated, yet playful" is how Jenny White describes BOOST!, her new meeting space in Over-the-Rhine.

The 4,600-square-foot space on the third-floor of 538 Reading Road is part of the Metaphor Flats project, a former warehouse restored by Urban Sites Properties.

After working in meeting planning within the corporate realm for the last 13 years, White finally decided "it's now or never" and took the plunge to create something unique to Cincinnati - and not at all like the office.

"BOOST!" signifies energy, an upward move.  Another level.

Natural sunlight, hardwood floors, exposed beams and an open, flexible layout makes White's project more home-like, and more energizing.

"The big draw is the environment," White said.  "The feel of the space, the uniqueness of the architecture - it awakens your senses."

An $80 per person, all-inclusive rental rate provides meeting organizers with everything they could possibly need: Complete audio and video capabilities, phones, office equipment and supplies, even refreshments.

And to feed the inner child, BOOST! has a custom-made cornhole set, Nintendo Wii and a karaoke machine.

White also says that, by April, clients will be able to unwind on a rooftop deck, and that a future "phase" may include some green retrofitting, such as solar panels.

Outside of corporate meetings, White has had inquiries about using the space for wedding receptions and parties.  She also plans to use BOOST! for community workshops to help groups in need throughout the neighborhood.

"I feel like I'm part of a community now," White said.  "And I like the fact that I can tell clients about restaurants and things to do in Downtown and Over-the-Rhine."

BOOST! officially opens on February 12 with an open house from 11 AM to 8 PM.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Jenny White, BOOST!
Photos courtesy of BOOST!
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