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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.

'Bearcat Bubble' adds practice space and energy savings on UC campus

The University of Cincinnati gained its very own 24/7 practice field with the addition of an air-supported "Bearcat bubble" for the cold winter months. Athletes now have the ability to practice year-round in the new 75-foot-high and 370-foot-long bubble covering the new Sheakley Athletic Complex.

"The football players are excited and grateful to have the opportunity to use it. It gives us the ability to practice all year round with consistent conditions every time you are in there," according to UC Associate Sports Communication Director, Ryan Koslen. The field also benefits other varsity sports such as soccer, baseball, lacrosse, and eventually track and field

Before the addition of the practice field and bubble, athletes had limited conditioning and practice space. During the winter months they only had the ability to condition inside with the weight-room facility and indoor track.

"The football team couldn't get out until the spring. During the winter months, they practiced outside when they could, " Koslen added.

The Bubble and field provides 72,200 square feet of usable indoor space for athletic programs but also allowed the school to build a chilled water thermal storage tank underneath the short field to assist the air conditioning systems throughout campus. The addition provides the University $750,000 to $1 million in energy savings a year and adds to the "greening" of campus.

According to the University project manager of the complex, Barrett Bamberger, the bubble is energy efficient and less expensive than a permanent structure. The dome consists of two layers that trap air between the two layers, which results in a 40 percent energy savings. Natural daylight also passes through the translucent outer layer, allowing the limited use of electric lights during practices.

Because the bubble is transportable, it will only be inflated from November through February, and will return to a normal open-air practice field in the spring.

Writer: Lisa Ensminger
Photography provided by UC

County sustainability series expands on infrastructure, takes aim at finances

The Hamilton County Planning Partnership held the second installment of its four-seminar series, Sustainable Hamilton County this November, at the offices of process management consulting firm TechSolve. The focus of this second event, "Trends that are Changing our Communities," built off the series' first seminar, "The Built Environment: Retrofitting Cities, Communities and Neighborhoods."

"It is important to acknowledge that 'sustainable' or 'sustainability' or any other variation of the term is used so indiscriminately that it has lost meaning," says Catalina Landivar, senior planner at the Planning Partnership. "We are talking about reinventing our communities, reaching a balance, using our resources in an efficient way and providing and maintaining a[n excellent] quality of life for all residents."

The Nov. 19 event featured presentations by experts in housing trends, the relationship between the physical environment and public health, and panel discussions on the relationship between these topics and infrastructure that supports multiple modes of transportation.

Attendee Mike Lemon said he appreciated the seminars' proactive approach to redefining the community. "We can't be "waiting for superman" to fix our problems," he said. "[We] need to reverse the trend of 'designing out' healthy lifestyles."

The third seminar in the four-part Sustainable Hamilton County series is scheduled for Jan. 21 at the University of Cincinnati's Tangeman University Center. Its focal theme, "Fiscal Sustainability and Quality of Life in our Communities," will expand even further the concept of sustainable planning in the Greater Cincinnati area, says Landivar.

"All those topics center on people," she says. "Putting it in other words, what do we want our communities to look like? What are trends telling us about our own situation and what can we do about it? How can we pay for the type of community we want?"

The Jan. 21 seminar will be followed by a final session, "Sustainable Hamilton County: We Can Do It!" which is scheduled to take place March 11 at Xavier University. For more information on the Sustainable Hamilton County seminar series, visit the Hamilton County Planning Partnership's website

Writer: Matt Cunningham

Lululemon clothes fitness buffs, educates about healthier lifestyles

Lululemon is not only a fitness-clothing store, but one focused on educating the public about living a better and healthier lifestyle. The store sells athletic clothing for any kind of fitness activity, including yoga, dancing, and running. Lululemon originated in Vancouver and has opened stores throughout the country including a new showroom in Hyde Park Square.

Jennifer Basa, the store manager, had to choose an area of Cincinnati to open the showroom, which is a smaller version of a regular store, in order to see if Lululemon would succeed. Basa researched the area and found that Lululemon's market was already in Hyde Park - an area with a number of health conscious residents. Not only does Lululemon fit the location with its boutique atmosphere, but Basa felt it was easily accessible from many areas in the city.

"Hyde Park is a great location for a boutique atmosphere with lots of local businesses. We all help each other out," Basa explained.

The store is open three days a week in order for customers to check out the store. The showroom also offers a complimentary yoga class every Saturday morning, taught by yoga instructors in the area from different studios. During the week, five employees seek out local studios and fitness locations to support and help build a fitness community. Lululemon hopes to be the education fitness hub of the city, informing their customers about the top places to engage in fitness activities. 

"We do the leg work and tell you who you can trust in the community. We want you to leave Lululemon with a great lifestyle," Basa offered.

Basa believes Lululemon will thrive in the Cincinnati because of the established fitness community. 

"All of the powerhouses working together is inspiring," Basa said. "Lululemon can be the catalyst and hub for the studios and business owners that get together and work for a common cause in the community."

Lululemon practices what it preaches by getting involved with the community, educating customers about living a healthier and longer life, and maintaining their culture about fitness and goals.

"We are here for the community, to educate and to help anyone we can. I am so excited to bring this to Cincinnati because there is so much potential in the city and now I can contribute," Basa said. 

Writer: Lisa Ensminger

More than a flip, Home Restart's take on renovation

Mention "real estate flipping," and many people will come back with a less-than flattering image. Maybe it's a shady businessman whose idea of a "rehab" is a new coat of paint and a 200 percent bump in his asking price. Maybe it's a semi-employed hairdresser with more money than experience, whose end product is all style and no structure. It's enough to warn friends and family away from the risks of home ownership, regardless of the many rewards.

But there are others involved in the real estate rehabilitation business; professionals whose work walks the fine line between building in value and preserving profit in a rehab project. And these rehab experts are quietly improving the faces of some of the Queen City's most desirable neighborhoods.

Locally based Home Restart, LLC, falls into the latter category. The company reports it rehabbed seven homes this year, in neighborhoods such as Hyde Park, Oakley, Edgewood and Fort Thomas, Kentucky. With gross profits on the projects ranging from $50,000 to more than $100,000 over the homes' purchase prices, one might wonder if the company simply "pretties up" the properties. According to vice president Anne Pond, the improvements are very real, and are meant to improve more than just the homes where they're installed.

"There are a plethora of homes on the market today, many of them short sales and distressed properties that bring down local property values," she says. "We saw an opportunity with Home Restart to help build property values in neighborhoods."

She explains that some of the homes Home Restart targets are foreclosed or abandoned properties. Others, however, may be homes where the owners, for various reasons, simply can't maintain a home of a given size or complexity. And while Pond notes that, in the end, the numbers have to make sense before they pursue a project, Home Restart looks for opportunities to make substantive improvements to the properties. They range from installation of high-efficiency windows and HVAC to converting an historic home from four-family back to single-family use.

Foreclosed, distressed and abandoned properties could well be considered the windows of Wilson and Kelling's "broken windows effect" - decay invites more decay, driving down the value of an area. No neighborhood, regardless of status, is safe from these problems. But work like that done by Home Restart goes beyond simple profiteering to do something much larger: it is a company tapping a lucrative market niche, for certain. But it's also a service, helping, house by house, to keep Cincinnati's neighborhoods beautiful.

Writer: Matt Cunningham

Tom + Chee goes full time on Court Street

When Corey Ward and Trew Quackenbush decided to sell grilled cheese and tomato soup to ice skaters on Fountain Square last winter, not everyone was convinced it would work. The operators of the Square were skeptical that Ward, a freelance designer, and Quackenbush, a professional chef, could succeed where others had failed.

"They knew that this was our first venture, and the two [food vendors] before us hadn't done well at all," Ward said. "They were looking out for us, but we hassled them enough that they finally said 'just do it.'" 

The deciding factor was a batch of freshly cooked grilled cheeses that the men delivered to the 3CDC offices, Ward said.

Now, one year after they sold their first sandwich, the two men and their wives have opened a permanent restaurant location for their business, called Tom + Chee, on Court Street. They will serve lunch there starting at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

The Tom + Chee menu offers simple grilled cheeses and tomato soups, but many of their sandwiches have a twist. Doughnuts are a bread option, and ingredients include bacon and barbeque potato chips. With the new space and an oven, Tom and Chee will soon offer pot pies and new sandwiches, including a complete line of peanut butter and jelly.

"It's comfort food for the masses," Ward said. "It's simple food that can be done well."

All soups, which are designed by Quackenbush, will have tomato and/or cheese as an ingredient.
Quackenbush's wife, Jennifer, and Ward now run the new location while their spouses work other jobs. Quackenbush said that their concept is successful because it's cheap, but most importantly because it offers food that makes people feel good.

"Some people walk by and they see 'grilled cheese,' and they giggle, then they walk back ten minutes later and order one," Quackenbush said. "If they don't know what they want for lunch, they can settle for some good, old childhood memories."

The new location is their first step towards a larger presence in Greater Cincinnati. They plan to eventually open other locations, specifically one near the University of Cincinnati Campus. There, Ward said, some of their more creative offerings will finally reach their full potential.

"Then you could get a grilled cheese with barbeque chips and bacon on a doughnut at three in the morning," he said. "That's the way it should be."

Writer: Henry Sweets
Photography by Scott Beseler.

Green Learning Station teaches sustainability in Avondale

Cincinnati residents looking to enhance the greenness of their green thumbs will soon have a new - and well-funded - resource. The Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati, an Avondale-based nonprofit organization that provides horticultural education to individuals, students and community groups, is receiving substantial support for The Green Learning Station, its environmentally oriented education program.

While the Civic Garden Center has offered gardening courses to the community and supported more than 47 active gardens in the city, the Green Learning Station takes its educational programming in a new direction. The Station's courses, seminars and actual construction will provide both training and research opportunities for those interested in sustainability through horticulture.

The Ohio EPA likes the idea; it recently awarded the Civic Garden Center a $50,000 general grant to fund field trips - including supplies and bus fees - for 60 middle school and high school classes.

"It has been our hope to be able to provide this hands-on, real world field trip and curriculum free of charge, and to provide funds for students to actually make a change at their schools," says Ryan Mooney-Bullock, program manager for the Green Learning Station.

She explained that while the Station's courses on gardening, green roofs and rainwater harvesting have significant value for gardeners, the hope is that they could sprout a grassroots solution to one of Greater Cincinnati's larger environmental problems: uncontrolled rainwater runoff that overflows sewers and dumps pollution into the region's waterways.

"We have all this water running off. If we can plant more gardens and bioswales, we're not only creating beautiful spaces, we're solving the rainwater problem," she says.

This falls hand-in-hand with the goals of the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati's Project Groundwork, a multi-year series of projects aimed at modernizing the area's runoff management system. In fact, the MSD is funding a series of sustainable control projects at the Green Learning Station. The efficacy of the projects will be measured, with the data made available to students and researchers investigating these green solutions to runoff problems.

Environmental quality organizations are not the only funders of this major educational initiative. The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is providing $50,000 to fund digital signage at the station, making its educational displays and information more accessible to the community.

"We funded the Green Learning Station not only because it is an innovative and collaborative project but it also gets the broader community involved in addressing the issue of storm water runoff," says LaToya Moore, associate program officer at the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

The Green Learning Station's facility is under construction at the Civic Garden Center on Reading Road, with funding support from PNC Bank, Social Venture Partners and a growing list of local and regional foundations. If the support continues, Civic Garden Center officials say they hope to open the Green Learning Station, and begin spreading the knowledge that could support grassroots sustainability in Cincinnati, in April 2011.

Writer: Matt Cunningham
Photography by Scott Beseler.

Downtown dog park breaks ground, plans for spring opening

Working, living, or visiting in the downtown area and need an open green space to take your dog? The Downtown Dog Recreation Area will be coming to the east end of Downtown soon. 

The Park broke ground this month after a long and difficult start - the project initially began three years ago with a budget of $325,000 - but after the economy faltered the project was put on hold. But a new project manager, Craig Beachler, and a revised budget, have downtown in line to finally get an off-leash dog play area.

The recreation area for dogs and their owners has been funded and supported by local companies, residents, and the City of Cincinnati. The City and the State of Ohio donated the land  along with ten trees for the park. The new budget of $75,000 has been supported largely by a $50,000 gift from Procter & Gamble, and $7,000 from the private funds of supporters. The Downtown Residents Council raised 76 percent of the park's annual budget but continues to look for funding from local animal lovers.

"For me and for the dogs, it is all about raising more money so we can do this right," Beachler said. "The goal is to spread the word and have peoples' love of dogs play out through their financial donations."

When Beachler moved to downtown Cincinnati in 2006, he started a pub-crawl, "Bars Around the Block," to spread the word about the recreation area. The pub crawls have raised $7,000 alone - Beachler will host the sixth crawl this February with all proceeds going towards the dog park. Beachler emphasized the importance of liability and trust with the donations.

"I publish the results so that the people who come and contribute know exactly where their money goes. I have accountability in terms of the public and getting the project done and spending the money in the right way," Beachler said.

Once completed in 2011, Beachler thinks the park will be widely used by new and old residents.

"We wouldn't do it if we didn't think people were going to use it," Beachler explained. With the help of donations and volunteer labor, Beachler loves seeing people come together with the common goal to accomplish something good for the city.

"We are helping create a city where people want to live and don't want to leave. It is a part of the rebirth of downtown Cincinnati," Beachler said.

Writer: Lisa Ensminger
Photography by Scott Beseler.

OTR gets first pop-up shop in time for the holidays

Cincinnati retail will receive an innovative twist this holiday season with the opening of the region's first pop-up shop in Over-the-Rhine on November 26.  As a short term, high profile retail venue, pop-up shops offer customers a new way to experience local businesses and products, and offer an ideal way to find unique goods.  This year, holiday shoppers will be able to visit the temporary location at 1213 Vine Street and buy products from a variety of locally owned businesses. 

Pop-up shops have gained in popularity in large cities such as New York and Los Angeles, and are benefitting from holiday foot traffic in walkable neighborhoods across the country.  They have proven to be perfect destinations for smaller vendors who might otherwise find the cost of a traditional storefront prohibitive, and also encourage a more interactive shopping experience.  Over-the-Rhine has proven to be the perfect spot for independent business opportunities, and the pop-up shop will add another dimension for the discerning holiday shopper. 

Local patrons of the already bustling retail community in Over-the Rhine as well as first-time shoppers will be pleased to see products ranging from the hand-crafted truffles of Chocolats Latour to rock posters designed by Newport's Powerhouse Factories.  Locally produced clocks, coasters, and magnets will be available from Studio Vertu, and the design duo behind Artfully Disheveled will offer a selection of accessories for the well-dressed man. 

Colin Groth, co-owner of Cincinnati-themed apparel company Nati Evolvement, sees their involvement in the pop-up shop as a way to bring energy and excitement to the downtown area during the holiday season. 

"The pop up shop is a fantastic addition this year and a great chance to showcase small and locally owned businesses who may not have a retail presence of their own," Groth said.  "This is a great chance for Nati Evolvement to have a single retail location that showcases all of our products.  Our company is all about the Cincinnati community so we also hope to use our portion of the space to highlight some of the other great initiatives and start-ups that our group is involved in, and to get people engaged even after they get home."

The pop-up shop will run for nine days over four weekends through December 19th, and will be located at 1213 Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine.   More details, as well as hours for the shop, can be found here.

Writer: Kelly Carpe
Photography by Scott Beseler.

Lunar first to open in new bar and restaurant complex downtown

The creative team behind popular bar FB's will unveil their next project, a two-story space-themed lounge and nightclub called Lunar, at 435 Elm St. on December 10.

According to Bill Foster, an owner, the plan is to add a restaurant and outdoor concert pavilion to the complex by next summer.

Foster's first foray into the bar industry was with FB's, the richly-decorated downtown Cincinnati lounge that also hosts a basement dance club called "The Rabbit Hole." To open the establishment, Foster partnered with Cincinnati nightclub veteran Scott Sheridan. Sheridan had developed the concept after years managing local nightclubs including Club Clau and Purgatory. Foster, who has built a national warehousing business from Cincinnati in the last decade, provided the drive to put it into action, he said.
"We started out small just to get the kinks worked out, and now we're ready for a larger project like this," Foster said. "We're going to have a whole campus on this block."

The men partnered with Ryan Goldschmidt and Ron Goldschmidt, the building's owners, to create the complex. Their fifth partner is Jimmy Gibson, who worked for a decade as a chef for Jeff Ruby. He will design the menu for Lunar Lounge and direct the upcoming restaurant. 

Lunar's lounge and nightclub will maintain a futuristic, space-travel theme. Foster said bare concrete walls and an expansive lighting system with a liberal dose of LED's and chandeliers will be the defining decorative elements.

"We're bringing a lot of new technology to the area," he said. 

Lunar will also blur the lines between social networking and real-live-partying as an employee will scan twitter feeds of Lunar's guests and display them on monitors throughout the bar. The men also have plans for a rooftop bar that would open in about two years, Foster said.

The downstairs portion of the bar, called Lunar Lounge, will be open seven days a week, with the larger upstairs portion open Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well as for special events.

Writer: Henry Sweets
Photography by Scott Beseler.
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