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Duke partners with Chatfield College to teach sustainability, help communities

Duke Energy has partnered with Chatfield College, a Catholic liberal arts college based in Over-the-Rhine, to offer a free course for students and community members in environmental sustainability. This course will allow students to learn about environmental issues and solutions, how to apply and develop this information in everyday living, and prepare for professions in the field of sustainability. 

Chatfield College developed the curriculum, presented it to Duke Energy, and they jumped on board. Because the Duke Energy Foundation Community Sustainability Grant Program funded this course, students and community members now have access to important information that can affect their future. Duke Energy offers grants for those participants that are going to help the community to understand and to be energy efficient.

"By offering this course for free, thanks to the Duke Energy Foundation, we are opening doors to an environmental education that some students and community members may have never had the opportunity to receive. This course will help not only our Chatfield students, but the community as a whole," said Chatfield academic dean, Dr. Roger Courts.

The class will be offered at Chatfield's St. Martin campus due to the great interest in urban farming expressed by their students. Britney Grimmelsman, a social media and special events coordinator at Chatfield College, explained the hopes and goals of this sustainability course.

"We are hoping it takes off and the students that are exposed to it take it and expand it. St. Martin's is a tight community therefore they can take what they learn and use it for their businesses or in their own personal house." Grimmelsman said.

The course will provide information to students about prolonging the life of energy sources and reducing the amount of pollution created. Students will not only learn about issues and methods about environment sustainability, but they will also have hands on experience by researching potential projects to reduce energy consumption at the St. Martin campus.

Eric Davenport, the instructor of the course, expressed his excitement and importance of the course.

"It is a wonderful opportunity to be able to inform and assist those who want to know more to improve their own lives and directly/indirectly improve the health of the environment at the same time," Davenport said.

Writer: Lisa Ensminger
Photography by Scott Beseler.

Knickers brings menswear to Hyde Park Square

A new men's clothing store, Knickers XY, has opened in Hyde Park Square, across from its sister clothing company for women, Knickers. The store offers niche brands of underwear, under garments, swimwear, and skin care for men. The store also offers a special and unique service with a licensed barber.  Austin Lutz, store manager, says the new shop is something Cincinnati has never seen before.

"We are on the cutting edge and we are trying to bring something new to Cincinnati," says Lutz.

Knicker's hand selected unique brands from various cities in the U.S. Some lines include merchandise from an organic yoga line out of Las Angeles and an organic underwear line out of San Francisco. They are also the first company to carry a new company called Rise, which carries merchandise geared towards poker players.

"We are not afraid to take a risk on a new line of clothing," Lutz said. "It's a new store and we have a great vibe with energetic young people who aren't afraid to sell the products."

Lutz fell into the position as store manager after running across independent storeowner Dian Edwards in Hyde Park Square. Originally from Philadelphia, Lutz attended Xavier University and never felt the need to leave Cincinnati. Edwards is from England and recently retired from Procter & Gamble after thirty-two years.

Lutz explained that Hyde Park was the best location for the new store due to an abundance of retail, restaurants and foot traffic in the area. Unfortunately, the economy did claim some of the established businesses in the square, but it gave Knickers XY the chance to set up shop next to supportive neighbors this past December.

"We have great reception from the neighbors in the Square. The area is going through a change and we're happy with our success so far," says Lutz.

Writer: Lisa Ensminger
Photography by Scott Beseler.

Old factory in Oakley gets massive overhaul, movie theater

Once a major employer for the residents of Oakley, the old Cincinnati Milacron factory has been vacant for years.

Past efforts to build something on the site failed in the sluggish economy, but a recent deal between the City of Cincinnati and Vandercar Holdings will bring 850,000 sq ft of new mixed use development to the site.

Demolition is expected to begin as early as next week to make way for the $120 million complex at the corner of Marburg and Ibsen roads.

Preliminary plans include a 55,000 square foot movie theater, 200 residential apartments, up to 350,000 sq ft of retail or restaurant space and 250,000 sq ft of office space. The theater, apartments and more than half of the retail space is to be completed by the end of 2012. The developer intends to get LEED certification for the entire project, the agreement says.
Patrick Ewing, the interim director of economic development for the city of Cincinnati, said the development is projected to bring in $800,000 in annual tax earning revenues to the city; funds that can pay for sanitation, police, and other city services that desperately need more cash.

"Ever since Milacron left the site to go to Clermont County, we've been tying to find a way to put something there to make up for the loss of that tax base," Ewing said.

The city will provide $9.9 million in tax relief funding to the project, and help Vandercar apply for a $3 million grant from the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund.

Oakley residents expressed concern at public meetings on the project about the rise of "big box" development in their district. Oakley Community Council member Brent Van Lieu said the concerns were addressed in the plan.

The agreement says the project can only build 175,000 sq ft of "big box" retail space out of the possible 350,000 sq ft of retail.

Ewing said he had never seen a "big box" stipulation in a development agreement before, and it is too early to tell exactly how this stipulation will guide this development.

"It's been a fairly recent term that nobody has really defined," Ewing said. "It's like an obscenity, everybody knows it when they see it but nobody can define it."

The agreement contains no definition of what a "big box" development is, but says that no single retail space can be larger than 75,000 sq ft.

"You have to set a limit on how big these things can be," Ewing said. "That's what we've understood to be the concerns of the neighborhood."

Writer: Henry Sweets

The Grove offers new menu at old diner in Northside

2010 was a big year for Terry Vincent. He got married, bought his first house and had his first child. But the year had more in store for him.

After being laid-off last summer, he began a four-month job search that turned up no good leads. Then a friend told him about the old Kay's Diner. Someone had spent two years bringing the place up to code for a Mexican restaurant that never opened, so any new venture would require very little overhead.

Vincent signed a lease on the space and a month later he opened The Grove, which serves an eclectic menu of sandwiches, soups and salads at 3938 Spring Grove Ave. Slightly more than half of the menu items are vegetarian.

Everything at The Grove is made from scratch, down to the mayonnaise and salad dressings. They offer a $5 lunch and have a few daily soup options and sandwich specials. Freshly cooked, homemade potato chips are served with all sandwiches. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Vincent is always there.

He said he doesn't mind the long hours. He's been in the restaurant business for 20 years and is just glad to have his own place.

"I started when I was 13 at Steak & Shake, washing dishes and bussing tables," he said. "I went from pizza parlors to fine dining to bars, wherever the work was."

Vincent has spent the last five or so years opening and managing restaurants for chains like Dave & Busters and Quizno's, and relishes the opportunity to cook the kind of food he likes to eat, along with some with meat options for those who are so inclined.

"We wanted to do something that the whole neighborhood could enjoy," he said.

Vincent said that residents who frequented the old diner were a bit apprehensive when they saw black bean burgers and raspberry-shallot vinaigrette on the menu, but in the month since The Grove opened traffic has more than tripled.

He plans to launch a joint marketing effort with The Painted Fish, a sushi and steak restaurant that opened across the street in October, and is hopeful that the new ownership next door at Casablanca Vintage will also drive more traffic to the "South Block."

He plans to eventually stay open until 3 a.m. for the Northside bar crowd and also serve breakfast. By that time each menu option will be named for a famous Cincinnatian. He regretfully pulled the Jerry Springer Open Faced Turkey Sandwich off the menu the other day, because not enough people were ordering it.

Writer: Henry Sweets
Photography by Scott Beseler.

Cozy Pups, Bellevue's first urban dog care center

Bellevue's urban renaissance now includes a dog day care center: Cozy Pups Doggy Day Care. Owners Minette and Doug Staab made use of an industrial area in downtown Bellevue for their new business.

Jodi Robinson, assistant city administrator of Bellevue, said that the space was vacant for a number of years due to the difficulty of finding a business that could utilize it.

"Because we found something that works beautifully for the vacant building, it gives all of us in the urban core and suburbs the message that there is hope and opportunity for most vacant structures," Robinson said.

Now residents and workers in Northern Kentucky or downtown Cincinnati have a convenient place for dogs to play and interact with other dogs in a spacious indoor and outdoor environment. Cozy Pups focuses on keeping the dogs happy and healthy with exercise and various activities. The Staab's plan to add different themed rooms such as an agility training room, do-it yourself dog bathing room, and grooming salon.

Part of the Staab's focus includes partnering with the Bellevue high school tennis team who supply used tennis balls for the daycare. Robinson believes the daycare will promote positive changes in the district by bringing new visitors to the urban core.

"It provides a needed service and is also locally and independently owned, which every community wants to have," Robinson said.

A grand opening was held this Sunday, January 9. Cozy Pups partnered with SAAP (Stray Animal Adoption Program), a non-profit organization for stray and abused animals in the local area to organize a fundraiser and adoption day as well.

"When you get a new business owner that jumps in to be a part of the community instead of just own a business, there is a big difference there," Robinson said. 

Cozy Pups is now scheduling evaluation visits during the hours of 8:30am-1:30pm Monday through Friday. Dog owners can call 859-291-2699(COZY) or email: info@cozypups.net

Writer: Lisa Ensminger
Photography by Scott Beseler.

Daisy Mae buys building, expands downtown produce delivery

Daisy Mae's Market, the largest produce retailer at Findlay Market, delivers fresh produce to downtown businesses and restaurants weekly for a healthy break room option. Due to the overall success and high demand for deliveries within the past year, owner Barry Cooper decided to expand the storage space to a location near Findlay Market with more space for storage and preparation.

"We can carry more inventory and have a place to assemble and sort the orders," Barry said. "It is difficult to manage everything in a tent outside at the market. Now we have a place for storage with a cooler and assembly tables for the daily twenty to thirty orders."

Daisy Mae delivers to the Downtown area without any delivery charge and will travel as far as Norwood. If the need arises for further locations, Cooper says he is willing to entertain any sizeable office. Daisy Mae offers a few set packages of fresh fruits and vegetables, but will also customize orders to fit client's needs. Clients vary from large insurance, engineer, and architectural firms, to smaller businesses in the area.

The company also offers personalized orders for employees at businesses to take home, allowing customers to complete all of their produce shopping at the same time of the business drop off. Many business clients receive orders once or twice a week. Daisy Mae delivers Tuesday through Friday.

Cooper expressed his excitement for the delivery and market's future as they expand further in Over-the-Rhine.

"There is quite a buzz in OTR.  There is a sense that things are changing a bit with a lot of urban professionals moving in and new shopping arriving at Findlay Market."

Daisy Mae has also introduced new product lines to cater to different ethnic groups, which also brought in new clients.

"We are right on the crest of the idea of healthy living and people trying to eat better. Now we're filling a niche," Cooper says.

Writer: Lisa Ensminger
Photography by Scott Beseler

Mixologist brings craft cocktail lounge to Main Street

In the same way a passionate teacher can inspire their most reluctant pupil, Molly Wellman can make you love what you're drinking.

The self-taught mixologist is literally obsessed with cocktails. Her face lights up if you ask her a question about what you are drinking and she'll tell you where and when it was invented, and why. 

Last Thursday, standing inside Japp's, a turn of the 20th century wig shop at 1134 Main Street that was a bar during the 90s, Wellman described the new bar she'll be opening there this summer. It will give her a chance to practice her craft in a room which was built in what she calls "the golden era of craft cocktails."

Wellman and Michael Redmond, an owner of The Famous Neon's Unplugged - another Main Street bar mainstay that was revived in the past year, recently signed a lease on Japp's. They will re-model the space and re-open it this summer as a classic craft cocktail lounge.

The new Japp's will serve craft cocktails (no shots, Wellman says) and have period decor, with the help of a trove of wig signs and posters original to the shop. The expansive glass case behind the bar will be stocked full of liquor and the copper bar will be brought back to its original shape, Wellman said, so that its glow will make patrons look more beautiful. She said Japp's will feature some of the historic cocktails in her repertoire, but also give her a venue to get creative with new recipes.

Wellman's passion for cocktails began two and a half years ago, when she returned from San Francisco to "settle down" in Cincinnati. She landed a job at Chalk in Covington, where she was tasked with learning how to make classic cocktails. As she describes it, she immediately became obsessed.

"I was like a sponge absorbing as much knowledge as I could - living, eating, breathing...drinking these cocktails," she said. "Any bar I could get behind and make a fancy cocktail, I did."

Since then she has become a sort of celebrity bartender with over 2,000 friends on Facebook who are kept abreast of her guest bartending appearances, and her reputation landed her the deal at Japp's. Wellman is grateful for her popularity, but she says it's the liquor that people love so much, and the stories behind the drinks.

"Some people go to the bar and they'll order a gin and tonic and slurp it down and get another one," she said. "But with me, before they know it they're like 'oh wow, I'm drinking something that was invented by British soldiers to ward off malaria,' and they hold the glass a little differently when they walk off."

Writer: Henry Sweets
Photography by Scott Beseler.

Iconic Price Hill building gets new life

Bill Kiffmeyer remembers how huge the players from the Cincinnati Reds looked to him as an eight year old boy when they visited his father's Price Hill dry cleaning shop. He also remembers how the sight of the shuttered shop would nearly bring his father to tears five decades later, after the neighborhood lost its luster and he had no choice but to close.

The Kiffmeyer's family business was located on the ground floor of an elegant apartment building originally called the Robinson. As Kiffmeyer recalls, it was the largest building around and was the centerpiece of a thriving West side neighborhood.

Today it stands as an eyesore, and the largest reminder of the neighborhood's decline. But a recent partnership between Price Hill Will and Model Group aims to change that. They have purchased the building and will turn it back into an apartment building.

"This is something that's sort of been the biggest drag on neighborhood, and when it's done it will be one of the biggest success stories," Price Hill Will's marketing director Matt Strauss said.

The building located at 8th and Elberon will be converted into 37 units of affordable housing for senior residents of Price Hill. The project will use several funding sources including a federal tax credit which requires the units to be available as affordable housing. The units will house seniors who are currently neighborhood residents, but will not be a care facility.

In addition to renovating and selling single family homes, Price Hill Will organizes an array of community outreach efforts ranging from litter pick-ups to neighborhood surveys. The Elberon building has been on their radar since before the group's inception, Strauss said, but was a far bigger project than any they had ever taken on.

"We've gone out of our comfort zone to get something really important accomplished," Strauss said.

Their partnership with Model Group, a private development firm with years of experience in affordable housing, allowed them to take on the project. Though Model owns the building, they will consult with Price Hill Will about design decisions and neighborhood impact, Model's development director David Thompson said.

For proud Westsiders like Kiffmeyer and current residents the project is heartening. Kiffmeyer recalled his first reaction when Strauss told him the building would be renovated was, "Can I move in?"

Writer: Henry Sweets
Photography by Scott Beseler.

Swap Shop and Last Bites pop up in OTR

Share Some Sugar Pop Up Swap Shop and Last Bites Bakery set up a "donation or trade" shop Main Street every Saturday. Located in the space next to Park + Vine until Model Group leases the space, you can bring unwanted items to donate, sell, or trade with others in the community. Items leftover are donated to Churches Active in Northside (CAIN), who is affiliated with five local drop-in centers, which donate items to families at the center in need.

Items range from clothes, books, old copiers, toys, and random household items. People come in looking for something different and usually find what they need. However, the shop is a different concept from Goodwill, as donations are free for those unable to afford everyday needs. The space not only gives back to the community, but also provides a space for people in the community to come together and socialize.

Jess Prussia, the owner of Last Bites Bakery, started to contribute to the donation shop in December after Park + Vine owner Dan Korman asked her to be a part of this charitable event. Prussia sells her bake goods as well as gives free samples every Saturday, and immediately fell in love with the concept.

"Recently a family came in to look for warmth," she recalls. "They asked how much the toys cost and they were shocked when they found out it was for free. The dad started crying because the free items gave the family a Christmas." 

Prussia hopes that the pop up shop concept will continue throughout the city in order to encourage charity and help vacant spaces be rented. She notes the great support of the Main Street area in enabled the pop up shop to happen.

"Main Street has grown massively and it is for the people who live there," she says. "Because of the desire to build Over-the-Rhine, the pop up shop has been a huge success.

Writer: Lisa Ensminger
Photography by Scott Beseler.

Mannequin brings charitable boutique to Gateway Quarter

Mannequin, a new local charitable boutique located in Over-the-Rhine, brings a unique idea to the local retail market. Owner Moe Rouse drew on several inspirations in coming up with the idea.

As a member of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), Rouse was part of NCJW's annual one day sale of donated clothing that raises money for various charitable projects. Rouse decided she could do more by turning this one-day sale into a continuous event. The merchandise in Mannequin will be either donated or bought from New York City and feature women's vintage and contemporary clothing, accessories, art, and antiques.  All of Mannequin's proceeds will go to various charities, such as Stop Aids, Tender Mercies, and Lighthouse Youth Services.

Rouse has the Mannequin space in the Gateway Quarter for free for one-year courtesy of the Northpointe Group in Cincinnati. Rouse expressed her satisfaction with the area as she connects with people who live and work in the area.

"People in the street have been totally pivotal in making this happen. I have made a lot of friends in the streets, which makes it very special. I am really connecting with those who live and work in the area," Rouse said.

Rouse notes that an important Cincinnati woman, Bobbie Corbean, also inspired her. A former stylist, model, and coordinator, Rouse says Bobbie Corbean always concerned herself with helping young women grow to their full potential. A fund for young women in Over-the-Rhine will receive money from the proceeds of sale items in the "Bobbie Corbean Corner" of Mannequin.

"I was captivated by Bobbie's Store. She had many of the same objectives that Mannequin has and we are fulfilling Bobbie's wishes," Rouse adds.

Mannequin's official grand opening will take place January 7, and the store will be open every Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm. Jim Rauth, a local author of the book "Mannequin," donated fifty copies of his work to the store and will offer a book signing on the opening day. 

Writer: Lisa Ensminger
Photography by Scott Beseler.

Washington Park construction will be in full swing for 2011

The bodies have been removed, the trees have been pruned and the massive renovation of Washington Park in Over the Rhine can be shifted into high gear this year.

By the end of this week the construction fence there will expand south to 12th street, capturing the entire park as a construction zone except a small section near the south entrance, Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) Vice President for Development Chad Munitz said. Sometime in February, that small area will become a construction zone too.

Crews began working in the park in August, excavating human remains from old cemeteries there and making other preparations for the park's transformation. Construction began November 23. Since then, trees have been trimmed, fertilized and fenced-off so that construction equipment won't trample or damage their root systems during construction. Some existing features, including an old swimming pool, were demolished to make way for a new parking garage.

Later this week, after the fence encompasses the southern portion of the park, workers will begin demolishing the old pathways and installing new path, sewer, electric, and water systems. Thirty-foot-deep holes will be dug to accommodate a dry-well system that will prevent storm water runoff from entering the city's combined sewer system, Munitz said.

In the north end of the park, cranes are now lowering the outside walls into a 450-space, two-level parking garage. Excavation of the garage will continue for the next month and a half, and then its construction will begin, Munitz said.

Once the roof has been put on top of the garage, an events stage and 37,000 square foot lawn will be built on top of it. The lawn will be flanked to the south by an interactive water park with 350 programmable spouts that will spray water on those playing inside it. The northern end will also include a playground and dog park.

In February or March of 2012 the garage is slated to open to the public. The rest of the park will open, weather permitting, sometime in the spring of 2012, Munitz said.

Weekly updates on the construction progress will be released on 3CDC's website throughout the project.

The Washington Park renovation project is on a similar scale and construction timeline to the 2005 Fountain Square renovation, Munitz said. Both projects provided underground parking, cost just under $50 million, created a major events space and were completed on a roughly 18-month construction timetable.

Writer: Henry Sweets
Photography by Scott Beseler.

Express yourself, Plan Cincinnati holds public sessions on neighborhood development

As part of Plan Cincinnati - the comprehensive city plan currently underway - the city planning department is working with BBC Research & Consulting and Starboard Strategy to develop a housing market study and needs your input.

The City has already hosted several working group meetings related to housing and neighborhood development for Plan Cincinnati, but is now seeking specific input related to the housing and neighborhood needs, wants, and desires of Cincinnati residents through three public sessions.

The goal of the public outreach sessions, according to planner Alex Peppers, is to learn what Cincinnati residents like best and least about living in the City's neighborhoods, what would make the residential experience better and more competitive with surrounding areas relative to housing, and to understand what housing types and costs residents desire. 

"We plan on having a large group discussion as well as a small group discussion to hear from residents and stakeholders.  We have also developed sets of questions to begin discussion and will have comment books for people to write down any ideas or thoughts as they come up.  A housing bingo game has been developed as an ice breaker (match a photograph of a housing type to a Cincinnati neighborhood in which it can be found). Also, a visual preference survey has been developed as an individual activity," Peppers said. 

The information gleaned from the sessions will be collected and included in a Housing Market Study produced by consultants BBC Research and Starboard Strategy.  Peppers says the study will be a major driver in the writing of the Housing and Neighborhood Development portion of Plan Cincinnati.

"Since this is a Comprehensive Plan, it will not be neighborhood specific, but the goal is to talk about our City's neighborhoods as a whole... [and] there will be some talk about different housing types in different neighborhoods, but overall this is meant to be comprehensive for all of Cincinnati." 

No matter what your level of expertise or interest, Peppers is encouraging all interested parties to attend one of three sessions being offered to the public.

"Homeowners, renters, interested residents, home builders, rental associations, housing authority representatives, developers, bankers, non-profits related to housing and neighborhood development, city representatives, young professionals, you name it.  We would like to see an array of representation at each individual session so that all opinions and thoughts are given," he said.

All three outreach sessions include the same content and format. To attend an upcoming session, please RSVP with your first meeting time/date preference and your second meeting time/date no later than noon on January 5th, 2011 to: alex.peppers@cincinnati-oh.gov

The scheduled sessions are:
Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 – 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM or
Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 – 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM or
Thursday, January 13th, 2011 – 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM.

Writer: Sean Rhiney
Photography by Scott Beseler.

Designers envision sustainable future for Cincinnati icon

A group of budding designers, architects and urban planers from the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning are helping to breathe new life into one of the Queen City's most notable landmarks.

Thanks to a collaborative effort between Cincinnati Museum Center, DAAP and UC's Niehoff Urban Studio, 28 undergraduate and graduate students spent the fall quarter developing proposals in the aptly named course, "Envisioning a Sustainable Future for Cincinnati Museum Center and its District."

"They're looking collectively at this," says course co-instructor Michael Zaretsky, assistant professor of architecture at DAAP. He explains that the students split into five working groups, with each focusing on different aspects of sustainable development in the Queensgate neighborhood, where the Museum Center is located. Some students focused on the area itself, developing plans for an eco-industrial district complete with an urban greenspace that flows from the district's center to Cincinnati's downtown business district. Others focused on the Museum Center's home, historic Union Terminal.

Whether planning for the building or the area, all focused on sustainable design, multimodal transportation (think bike lanes, park-and-ride access, and walkable greenspace) and transforming Queensgate from a peripheral light-industrial wing of the city to a core neighborhood with a range of business and social attractions.

Architecture graduate students Erica Stauffer and Gary Williams took on Union Terminal as their project. Their proposed redesign of the famous structure includes reopening its signature ramps to pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and a three-tiered internal layout that allows the building to serve as museum, gathering place and retail/social destination.

Both students said they understand their ideas may never make it past the finely-crafted architectural model and design proposal that they drafted. But an exact execution of ideas isn't the point, they say.

"The important point is envisioning an idea," Stauffer says. "It can really be the start of what the design can be."

Williams added that he gained a lot from the wide-open nature of the project.

"I think part of the point was not having budgets, and having less limitation than if we were on contract," he says.

And according to Zaretsky, that's a key to the project. Officials from Cincinnati Museum Center interviewed the students early in December to incorporate their proposals into their long-term planning for the facility. And the students' work is on display in the Union Terminal Rotunda, giving those most affected by the space - the people who use it for work and pleasure - a chance to consider, discuss and envision these students' sustainable ideas for the Cincinnati icon's future.

Writer: Matt Cunningham
Photography by Scott Beseler.

Yes brings fresh art and events to Main Street

Andrew Neyer doesn't want people to feel intimidated when they walk into his art space, or feel awkward when they leave.

So when he opened Yes gallery on Main Street in October he held a big game night - literally - with an 8-ft wide connect four, over-sized pickup sticks and a Cracker Barrel golf tee game the size of a twin bed. Each piece was labeled with a card like any sculpture at a gallery opening would, but guests played with them all night.

"It was a way to get people that aren't involved with art a chance to see things and interact with things they wouldn't have otherwise," he said. "But also art people can approach these objects as art pieces, and engage with them that way."

Yes, located at 1417 Main Street in Over the Rhine, is equal parts art gallery, events venue and pop-up shop. During their regular business hours - Thursday and Friday 4 to 10 p.m. and Saturday 12 to 4 p.m. - customers will find tables full of zines, racks of clothing and screen prints hanging on the wall. A "Print it Yourself" station allows them to print four existing designs onto shirts and aprons. Hand crafted tree ornaments, including a 3-inch wooden likeness of the Kroger Building, will be available through the holiday season.

"The initial mission statement or goal for the space was to basically create opportunities for artists to display their work and create opportunities for people to see new art, and acquire it at an affordable price," he said.

After graduating from art school in Baltimore, Neyer decided to move back home to Cincinnati and open an arts space on par with the ones popping up in New York or Los Angeles, and bring work from national and international artists here. He and two other local artists, Evan Halter and Alex Jameson, operate the space and use it as their studio.

Events, which occur most Friday nights, range from traditional gallery openings to a monthly grindhouse double-feature called Cincinnati Psych-OTR-onic Night. They have also held a pi๑ata party and the release for the latest issue of local literary zine Milk Money.

The traditional monthly gallery shows at Yes will always include something interactive, Neyer said, like a three-dimensional element or mini publication.

"When we represent artists we'll be collaborating with them in some way, instead of just hanging them on the wall," he said.

Writer: Henry Sweets
Photography by Scott Beseler.

Pleasant Ridge wins Community Entertainment District designation

Like many neighborhood business districts, the main drag of Montgomery Road in Pleasant Ridge has lost a lot of life to big box developments by the expressway. But last week a group working to reverse that trend won five liquor licenses that they think will attract new restaurants, and new life, to Pleasant Ridge's old town center. 

The Pleasant Ridge Development Corporation (PRDC) succeeded in making Pleasant Ridge an official "Community Entertainment District" of Ohio last month, a designation that includes up to five liquor licenses from the State of Ohio. 

The licenses would typically cost a restaurant between $25,000 and $30,000 apiece through a broker, PRDC project manager Bryn Lewis said. This designation will allow five restaurants to save that entire cost.

The designation is the latest step in an ongoing collaboration between Pleasant Ridge and Kennedy Heights to create a destination arts and dining district on the two-mile stretch of Montgomery road that runs through the two neighborhoods. While Kennedy Heights has seen success attracting arts groups - most recently the Cincinnati Art Museum - Lewis thinks the Entertainment District designation will fill a crucial piece of the puzzle by adding more dining to the mix.

The first application for a license was turned in by Sam Yhdego, co-owner of the Ethiopian restaurant Emanu in Pleasant Ridge, the very day the designation went through.

"The profit margin when you have a liquor license is so much higher than when you don't." Yhdego said. "But if you go to the bank and ask for a loan to buy a liquor license, they will laugh at you. We were trying to find the cash to buy one, but it was too much."

Yhdego told Lewis about Emanu's efforts to secure a liquor license last March while Lewis was having dinner there. Afraid Emanu would close if they could not secure a license, Lewis began brainstorming ways to keep them in the neighborhood, and possibly attract more restaurants like it.

"I walked down the street after the meal, and store after store was vacant," he said. "I thought 'this would be a lot nicer if people were out here on the street at night,' and I looked at ways we could attract restaurants."

Lewis began researching liquor licenses, and he found the entertainment district designation which had been created in 2005.

The PRDC couldn't afford the application fee of $15,000 (the designations are typically won by for-profit developers,) but councilwoman Laure Quinlivan worked to change Cincinnati municipal code and make the fee downwardly flexible. That allowed the PRDC to apply without outside funding.

"This is a citizen-led action that's not dependent on an angel investor to come in and make it happen," Lewis said. "This is bootstrap ingenuity."

Writer: Henry Sweets
Photography by Scott Beseler.
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