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Cincy receives over $800,000 in historic tax credits for four rehab projects

 
Although state historic tax credit programs across the country recently experienced cutbacks, Ohio communities plan to make the most of the funds from the most recent round of funding.


The State Historic Preservation Office and the Ohio Development Services Agency awarded projects across the state $28.4 million in historic preservation tax credits to rehabilitate 22 buildings in 11 communities, including projects in Over-the-Rhine and College Hill. Cincinnati projects received a total of $818,000.

The hope is that these credits will catalyze development and attract millions of dollars in additional private investment.

Local projects receiving tax credits include:

  • The former Engine Company 22 firehouse at 222 W. 15th St. in OTR, which received $250,000. Developer Jim Daniels plans to restore the property into a mixed-use office space with a parking garage and an upper floor rental unit.
  • Two other vacant buildings in OTR at 57 E. McMicken Ave. and 1662 Hamer St. received $225,000 for rehabilitation into nine apartments and ground-level commercial space.
  • College Hill is receiving $188,000 in tax credits for developments at 5901 Hamilton Ave. — the former Dow Drugstore, which will be converted to commercial space and four apartment units. 
  • Also in College HIll, $155,000 will go to 5917 and 5932 Hamilton Ave., a former bakery/restaurant known as the Dollhouse and a bank building, respectively. Plans include first-floor commercial space and apartments.

As the city continues to grow, the need for more residential and commercial space increases. State historic tax credits help complement the city's historic buildings, while making room for continued growth and migration.

 


Woodward Theater won $150,000 national grant to restore its historic marquee


When MOTR owners Dan McCabe, Chris Schadler and Chris Varias opened the Woodward Theater in 2014, there wasn’t enough money left after renovations to paint the place. But they didn’t let that stop the grand opening. Instead, they held a “Pints for Paint” event, which with the help of the community, they raised the funds they needed.

This community spirit and participation continues to guide the Woodward, which recently won a $150,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Vote Your Mainstreet contest to facelift the building and restore its original electric marquee.


With the help of the Cincinnati Preservation Association's executive director Paul Muller, the Woodward applied for the grant. The national contest pitted the Woodward against 25 other main street communities around the country; it required organizations to get daily community votes in support of their projects.

“The local music community really got behind this and voted diligently, and the other businesses on Main Street were supportive as well,” says McCabe. “The support of our staff, most of which have been with us since we opened MOTR in 2010, was fantastic. They mobilized their friends and people voted daily.”


The grant will allow the Woodward to complete a total exterior facelift, including improving structural elements, updating wiring and sockets, repairing the crumbling plaster rosettes and returning the original lightbulb sign to its 1913 glory. With the help of local metal fabricator Kate Schmidt, as well as an architect and structural engineer, the Woodward's marquee restoration project should be completed by the end of 2018.

The sign will be constructed of copper, maintaining the original beaux-arts (think pre-Art Deco) aesthetic. “It’s going to be an attraction,” McCabe says. “I expect people to get off the streetcar and walk up. It’s going to be bright and shiny and a destination for people exploring OTR for the architecture.”

Cincinnati is rich in architectural heritage, especially period Italianate architecture, which is part of what McCabe attributes to the community support for the project. “Cincinnati loves its history,” he says.


The permitting process is expected to take some time, but McCabe is confident in the project, which he says will include some fun and surprising touches as they ramp up to the big reveal. Stay tuned to the Woodward's Facebook page for progress updates and for announcements related to the reveal. “It’ll be worth celebrating,” McCabe promises.
 


Soapbox Picks: Projects to watch in 2018


At the end of each calendar year, we at Soapbox like to draw up best-of lists (check back next week for our top-read stories of the year). But we also like to give you, our dear readers, a look at what's in the development pipeline for the new year.

Riverfront Commons
Connecting the Northern Kentucky neighborhoods from Ludlow to Fort Thomas, Riverfront Commons is an 11.5-mile walking and biking path that will run along the Ohio River.

The project aims toward ecosystem restoration, riverside stabilization, economic development and recreation.

Connecting Ludlow, Covington, Newport, Bellevue, Dayton and Fort Thomas, this path will allow runners, walkers and bikers from both local neighborhoods and Cincinnatians crossing the river via the Purple People Bridge. The project is underway and will be completed in sections.

Downtown Kroger
A new mixed-use, 18-story tower at the corner of Court and Walnut streets will feature 139 residential apartments, a 555-space parking structure and a two-story Kroger with a beer and wine bar. The project is expected to reach completion in summer 2019.

This will be downtown’s first supermarket since 1969 and will service residents in downtown, Over-the-Rhine and the West End.

Fourth and Race Street development
At the northwest corner of Fourth and Race streets, 3CDC and Indianapolis-based developer Flaherty and Collins are working on a new mixed-use building. The structure will include 264 apartments, a 700-space parking garage and 21,000 square feet of commercial space. The project is slated for completion next summer.

The project promises to offer more living space for residents migrating downtown and a new place for existing residents.

Uptown Innovation Corridor
The newly opened interchange at the intersection of Martin Luther King Drive and I-71 brings more opportunities to the Uptown neighborhood. Three projects involving 51,000 residents are already underway to host Uptown’s medical, research and innovation industries.

Uptown Gateway, an office, retail, residential and parking garage at the southeast corner of Reading Road and MLK is expected to be completed in 2020. The University of Cincinnati’s Gardner Neuroscience Institute, a treatment, research and teaching center, began construction in June. And lastly, the 1819 Innovation Hub in the former Sears building will be a place for UC startups to expand their work. Opening in 2019, it will also serve as a place for private and public collaborations.

Shillito’s redevelopment
The former downtown Shillito’s department store is slated for a long-awaited redevelopment. Local commercial real estate company Neyer Properties is planning to turn the western half of the building into a 450-space parking garage and 100,000 square feet of office space and street-level retail. The firm plans to preserve a level of the historic structure, but updates like larger windows are in store.

Duveneck Square
The urban infill project on Washington Street between Seventh and Eighth streets in Covington will house apartments and retail space. Across from Braxton Brewery, the project is expected to be finished in March 2018 offering new, modern housing for the neighborhood. One highlight local beer aficianados will love is the outdoor beer garden adjacent to Braxton that broke ground a few weeks ago.

MLS Stadium
FC Cincinnati, which currently plays home games at UC's Nippert Stadium, is in talks to obtain a stadium of its own. But the road hasn't been easy: The outcome rides on the MLS decision for its next two expansion teams.

A 16-acre lot in Oakley, which once held a manufacturer called Cast-Fab, is one of the proposed sites for the new stadium. On Dec. 14, the MLS will announce the two expansion teams — Cincinnati must beat out Nashville and Sacramento for one of the spots.
 


You'd better not pout: Six events to get you in the holiday spirit


With Thanksgiving over, it’s now time for frenzied holiday shopping, gatherings with loved ones and making as much merry as possible before winter settles in and stays a while. Soapbox rounded up some of the biggest and best events that Cincinnati has to offer this holiday season, and sprinkled in a few fun and unexpected ideas for a little extra festive magic.

Victorian Holiday Village
Dec. 1, 2, 7 and 8, 6 to 8:30 p.m.

For 16 years running, Ohio National Financial Services has hosted a festive holiday event at its headquarters near Kenwood. The family-friendly, walk-through display features thousands of twinkle lights adorning fully decorated miniature Victorian homes, cookies and cocoa, live entertainment and photos with St. Nick. The event is free and open to the public. Visit the Facebook page for more information.

Over-the-Rhine Holiday Home Tour
Dec. 1, 6 to 9 p.m. and Dec. 2, 3 to 6 p.m.

Get out and work off some Thanksgiving calories at the Over-the-Rhine Holiday Home walking tour. The self-paced, family-friendly event, now in its fourth year, offers an exclusive peek at some of the neighborhood’s most historic homes. Tickets are $25, with proceeds benefitting Future Leaders OTR, a nonprofit working with neighborhood youth. Visit the Facebook event for more info and tickets.

Crafty Supermarket
Dec. 2, 11 a.m.

Held in the newly renovated Music Hall, this year’s Crafty Supermarket is a must for one-of-a-kind holiday shopping. The huge flea market-style event brings together more than 90 vendors from throughout the region, offering handmade goods to delight even the hardest to shop for relatives. The free event also features food offerings from local restaurants like Eli’s BBQ and Fireside Pizza, a live DJ, cash bar and craft activities. Visit the Facebook page for details.

Visits with Krampus
Dec. 2 and 9

Cincinnati’s German history runs deep. The city hosts two German-themed holiday markets, Germania Christkindlmarkt and Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt, and Krampuslauf Zinzinnati will be at both. Founded in 2014 with the goal of “putting the ghoul back in your Yule,” the group’s mission is to spread the German tradition of Krampus. Krampus, a legend that predates even Santa, is a creature said to punish bad children and whisk them away to the woods. Unlike the stories about Krampus, Krampuslauf Zinzinnati states that its intention is not to frighten children but to keep this bizarre slice of Bavarian heritage alive. Check out the group's website and Facebook page for upcoming appearances to get a photo with Krampus.

Mt. Adams Reindog Parade
Dec. 9, 12:30 to 4 p.m.

Hosted by SPCA Cincinnati, the annual Reindog parade is a fun outing for pups of all ages and their human families. The parade is free to enter and features a festive costume contest, street food vendors and is led by Santa Claus himself. Visit the Facebook event for all of the details.

The Naughty List starring OTR Improv
Dec. 12-28, 7:30 p.m.

When you’re ready to put the kids to bed and have a few much-needed chuckles to break up the holiday stress, look no further than The Naughty List. This holiday-themed improv show held in the courtyard at Arnold’s Bar and Grill will bring off-the-cuff laughs based on audience suggestions. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased on the Know Theater’s website. Check out the Facebook page for more info.
 


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.
 


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.
 


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.
 


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.
 


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.


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.
 


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.
 


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.
 


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.
 

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