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Greenhouse shares office space and resources with non-profits

Executive Service Corps of Cincinnati (ESCC) has partnered with CMC Office Center to launch the Greenhouse, a shared office space and resources for non-profit organizations. ESCC works with nonprofits, schools, faith-based organizations, and government agencies by providing technical assistance and consulting services for success.

"When people start non-profits, they struggle with the basic essentials, like writing grants or administrative support. Having training areas in one location allows the organizations to grow," explained LaDonna Althawadi, marketing representative of CMC Office Center.

The newly renovated and refurbished office space provides many amenities and shared services including free parking, Wi-Fi, a print shop, a post office, an on-site deli, a day care, and a professional management company. Not only does the Greenhouse have exceptional amenities, but it also provides outstanding administrative and bookkeeping services on site. These services will help nonprofits grow together to be a success and also save money with many other expenses. The office space is conveniently located on Reed Hartman Highway with easy access to I-71 and I-275.

Executive Director/CEO, Andy McCreanor, has been actively involved with non-profits and joined the ESCC team in May, noted the limitations nonprofits encounter with locations, services, and budgets. McCreanor said that many non-profits do not have conveniently located office spaces or enough funds to have all of the amenities that Greenhouse will provide.

"Greenhouse is positioned as a shared space and office space with training rooms and conference rooms for nonprofits that are struggling and having to deal with operating expenses. This is an opportunity for them to lower rent in some cases where they might have space but no access to conference rooms or training rooms." McCreanor said.

Rent is planned to be below market rate with training and amenities included for non-profit organizations. CMC Office Center also has many partnerships and sponsors that will help provide items for the office space. Partnerships include ESC, the State of Ohio, University of Cincinnati, Score, and the City of Blue Ash. Staples and Costco are providing office supplies and appliances for training services done by ESC.

"This is more geared towards being beyond the same building. We are making an effort to share space, control expenses and to help the non-profit industry become more sustainable." McCreanor said.

A free grand opening for Greenhouse will take place October 28, 2010 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. providing a tour, refreshments, and a ribbon cutting of the new office space.

Writer: Lisa Ensminger
Photography provided.

Green Homes Summit celebrates second year with new events, residential focus

Area residents, homebuyers and residential homebuilders interested in shrinking their carbon footprints and cutting their energy bills have an opportunity to significantly advance their knowledge of green building this November.

The second annual Green Homes Summit will feature seminars, vendors and home tours aimed at one purpose: making green technology a viable option for residential construction and renovation.

"We've realized we really need to reach the consumer," says Libby Hunter, residential committee chair for the US Green Building Council's Cincinnati chapter. "Probably one of the biggest planks of our mission right now is to educate."

To that end, she says this year's summit is mainly focused on the common questions of homeowners looking to green their existing homes, or consumers thinking about building a new home that incorporates environmentally friendly features. A series of three workshops will give attendees a chance to learn about a wide range of topics, from "Greening Your Old House" by Margo Warminski to "Solar Photovoltaics" by Dave Boezi. A tradeshow, open to both ticket holders and the general public, will feature more than 50 green building product vendors, and keynote speaker Randy Florke, a nationally known real estate and design expert, will give a presentation based on his recently published book, "Recycle, Restore, Repurpose: Create A Beautiful Home."

"It's for professionals and residents, with the bulk of the educational events aimed at residents," says Hunter.

One of this the most unique events at this year's summit is a four-location tour of homes incorporating green technology. Ticket-holding attendees will get the opportunity to visit a LEED Silver-certified home in Hyde Park, homes in Northside's Northwind and Rockford Woods developments, and a condominium in Over-the-Rhine's Belmain building. Contractors and vendors will be on hand to answer attendees' questions about the green technology incorporated into each of these buildings.

"We realized there's such a need to get the word out to the residential public," says Hunter. She and the summit's co-organizers are hopeful the event will take a major step toward educating Cincinnati's homeowners about how they can incorporate a little - or a lot - of green technology into their homes and lives.

The Green Homes Summit is presented by AIA Cincinnati's Congress of Residential Architecture, U.S. Green Building Council's Residential Green Building Committee, AIA Cincinnati's Committee on the Environment and Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati, and scheduled for 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. November 13 at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.

Writer:  Matt Cunningham

Photography by Scott Beseler.


Bridging Broadway opens first of three community engagement sessions

Bridging Broadway, an organization that evolved out of the anticipated development of a downtown casino site, is hosting the first of three community dialogues this Saturday, from 12:30-4pm, at Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine. Saturday's half-day session is designed to gather feedback from residents, businesses and landowners of the historic neighborhoods surrounding Broadway Commons with the goal of contributing to the recommendations ultimately made to the city.

No ordinary design charette, the session includes a guided walking tour of Pendleton developed by University of Cincinnati Professor and Planning Commissioner, Michaele Pride.  Pride says the walking tour, which will take several different routes to ensure all aspects of the study area are observed, is an important part of the process.

"The idea comes from an established body of best practices from the community development industry and is used as a tool for residents and stakeholders together, to inventory the possibilities, problems and opportunities of their neighborhood."

Pride says the tours will concentrate on areas that are within a direct impact zone of the casino development and are the greatest to benefit from - and also to be concerned about - the kinds of new interests and attention that will come with the casino's development.

"Rather than just gathering information from census data and aerial photos and GIF databases, we acknowledge the role of personal, direct experience, directed view and feel as a valid dataset and so we're mining the experience and views and perspectives of the community," Pride adds.

Following the tour participants will discuss their observations and findings in small groups. Jeffrey Stec, Executive Director of Citizens for Civic Renewal, will help to integrate and conclude this part of the process. The second and third dialogues will take place this winter.  Pride, an Over-the-Rhine resident, noted the importance of these early sessions.

"The process helps build community capacity for addressing change," she said.

The next steps will be getting information collected from the dialogues into the hands of decision makers. To that end, Stephen Samuels, Bridging Broadway's founder, says the City of Cincinnati - who funded a substantial portion of the study - is "eagerly awaiting our results."  Bridging Broadway is also a member of the city's Casino Stakeholder Group which meets semi-regularly with the developers who are also getting involved in the dialogues.

"Rock Gaming and Harrah's will participate in the study and meet at two to three critical points throughout the research to provide their feedback," says Samuels.

But getting residents and interested parties to the table early is key to the study's effectiveness, according to Samuels.

"There's no good point to develop a vision and implementation plans for this new destination unless everyone is at the table and has taken a role in shaping this collective future."

The community dialogue is free and open to the public and takes place this Saturday October 23 from 1-4pm at Memorial Hall. You can register here.

Writer: Sean Rhiney
Photography provided.

Know's Jackson Street Market creates community arts connector

To kick off it's thirteenth season, Know Theatre, which gained its permanent performance space in 2006 in Over-the-Rhine, is launching a series of programs geared toward building and retaining Cincinnati's local artist community by simply sharing their space, expertise and resources.

According to Producing Artistic Director Eric Vosmeier, Know hopes to provide a series of programs that can help up and coming individual artists and fledgling arts groups in Cincinnati that don't have their own permanent space. The goal of the initiative - dubbed the Jackson Street Market - is to "provide opportunities to local artistic entrepreneurs, to leverage Know Theatre's resources on their behalf, and to build upon the strengths of our artistic community by creating a space where they can experiment and play with new ideas." 

"All too often," Vosmeier says, "artists leave the Cincinnati area because of the perception that there isn't enough opportunity to keep them here. I don't believe that's true and we're hoping through the implementation of these programs to provide an opportunity for those up and coming individual artists, and emerging arts groups, to be able to stay here and make it on their own." The community space sharing initiative also puts new groups in the heart of Cincinnati's burgeoning 12th Street Art's corridor where the Know is located - an area already bolstered by the presence of Ensemble Theatre, the Art Academy, Artworks, ArtsWave, and the galleries of Main Street.

To kick off the Market, Know will launch a resource sharing website during their 2010-2011 season that will list all available physical resources that the Theatre can share. In addition, the bARTer lab will be an ongoing program led by local dance troupe, Pones Inc., and Know, that seeks to create a forum for multiple artistic disciplines to merge and jointly explore creative change in Cincinnati.

Vosmeier also noted that local artists, including Artemis Exchange founders Chris Wesselman and Paul Lieber, have already agreed to present regular workshops, performances, readings, and events in the Know Theatre's first floor space, the Underground. The Know will also make both of its performance spaces available to newer groups during the weekends that it's not hosting its own performances.

Ultimately, Vosmeier envisions a self-sustaining cooperative theater community which mirrors Cincinnati's self-sustaining music community - a community where people don't feel they have to leave to succeed. Vosmeier adds, "The two communities may not look the same, but the intent is the same."

Writer: Michael Kearns
Photography by Scott Beseler.

CMHA lands $100k for innovative home-ownership program

The Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority has landed a $100,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank.  This American Dream Home-ownership Grant will go to support CMHA's Family Self-Sufficiency Program which works with qualified individuals to purchase their first home.

The grant works by providing a $10,000 down payment for minority home-buyers within CMHA's self-sufficiency program.  The program is designed to move people out of the cycle of poverty and into a more rewarding life that otherwise might have been out of reach without the down payment assistance.

"This grant helps the participants get a leg up on moving toward self-sufficiency," explained Stacia Buck, CMHA's Family Self-Sufficiency Manager.  "We want to help them become economically self-sufficient, and this program allows the participants to do just that."

CMHA officials say this is the first time they have received this grant, and that it is the largest grant received for the program.  To date, the program has assisted approximately 40 families move into homes; 75 percent of which utilized down payment assistance.

To qualify, participants must go through home-ownership training classes before and after they move into the home to make sure the new homeowners understand the costs involved.  Home-buyers must also be approved for a loan before they are eligible for down payment assistance through this program.

"Our participants tend to come from a long line of renters, and the first step toward home-ownership can often be quite daunting," said Buck.  "We're helping them to take that first step, and we're helping a family move into a better situation that they might otherwise not have been able to afford."

The $100,000 grant expires in 2012, but CMHA officials hope that demonstrated success through the Family Self-Sufficiency Program will help them earn this grant award again.

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

Daisy Mae's expands reach with delivery service throughout center city

In an attempt to bring more fresh produce, and expand Findlay Market's reach, Daisy Mae's Market is now delivering throughout much of Cincinnati's center city.

The new business endeavor first started a couple of months ago with their Healthy Breaks program that delivers 30 servings of seasonal fruit to offices in the downtown area for just $20.  But as the program settled in, owners at Daisy Mae's realized that the demand was a bit greater than they originally thought.

"We make a few of the Healthy Breaks deliveries each week, but we learned that many of those customers thought it would be nice to be able to order produce and take it home with them," explained Barb Cooper, marketing director at Daisy Mae's Market.

As a result, Cooper says that the program now brings custom, grocery list-type orders to office workers downtown who want to bring fresh produce home with them and not have to worry about making an additional trip on their way home.  She says that it's all part of their effort to make getting fresh, healthy produce as easy as possible and promoting Findlay Market as a central point for doing so.

"Whatever we're doing, whether it's Healthy Breaks, produce deliveries, or quick-pick produce where you can drive by and pick up your order on Race Street, we're doing it to promote Findlay Market," explained Cooper.  "Findlay Market's historical importance is a critical element of the urban core and we need to do everything to preserve that."

Those who do not take advantage of Daisy Mae's Healthy Breaks program can still have fresh produce delivered to their address as long as it is within the 45202 zip code.  Cooper says that those orders must be at least $15, but that they will deliver the order the next day.

Those interested can place an order online, call (513) 602-5601, or email their order to daisymae@daisymaesmarket.com.  The produce offerings will change on a weekly basis so stay tuned to Daisy Mae's website.  Once the order is placed, Daisy Mae's will then respond with a price and a tentative delivery time.

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

New report discovers faster initial travel times for Ohio's 3C Rail system

A new report released by the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) shows that initial speeds for the proposed 3C Rail Corridor could be faster than first thought.  The ORDC worked with Woodside, an industry leading railroad modeling firm, to produce the report and find new travel efficiencies.

The report included a draft schedule that showed passenger trains traveling the corridor's entire length, 259 miles, in just over five hours.  The five hour travel time equates to average speeds of 50 miles-per-hour.

According to Amtrak, the initial travel speeds are some of the fastest of any recently developed system, and the third fastest since 1980.

"All statewide intercity rail systems in the United States were first introduced at lower speeds and evolved over time to higher speed service," explained Ken Prendergast, executive director of All Aboard Ohio.

Trips between Columbus and Cleveland are projected to be even faster and boast average speeds close to 60mph.  This would result in a two hour and twenty minute trip from downtown Columbus to downtown Cleveland - about the same as driving an automobile.

Project officials say that negotiations with the freight railroads are ongoing and could result in even faster speeds.  For now though, Ohioans should expect a system that has top speeds of 79mph and average speeds between 50 and 60mph.

Cincinnati's service would include three daily trains.  Based on service to a proposed Lunken Airport-area station, northbound departures would leave at 6:30am, 12:30pm, and 4pm.  Southbound arrivals would roll into town at 12:01pm, 6:01pm, and 9:31pm.

The 3C Rail Corridor is part of a larger Midwest regional rail plan that connects most major cities throughout the mega-region with one another.  Officials say that the $400 million 3C Corridor could be operational as early as 2012 and create more than 8,000 jobs.

Stay connected to ongoing progress and news on Ohio's 3C Rail Corridor by becoming a fan on Facebook.

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

Taqueria Mercado grows downtown location

Luis Leon grew up in Chicago and lived there with his family for twenty-five years. Luis says, "My father worked in a factory and my mother was a secretary. They were good years, but my mother wanted something else, she had a dream. She wanted to own a restaurant."

So when the family left Chicago and moved to Cincinnati they opened Cancun Mexican Restaurant. A year and half later, the Leon's opened the first of three restaurants bearing the name Taqueria Mercado. The first was in Fairfield, just east of Jungle Jims. The second opened about a year and a half later in Erlanger. That store eventually closed and relocated to its present location in Florence. And then, earlier this year, Leon's family opened the third Taqueria Mercado at 100 E. Eighth Street in the space formerly occupied by Javier's Mexican restaurant.

Asked if he was worried about opening a Mexican Restaurant in a space where another had just failed, Luis smiles and says, "No, not at all."  He then explains, "Many of our customers in Fairfield were from Downtown and they would ask us, all the time, to open a store downtown, so I knew if we opened it people would come."

The restaurant serves as a welcome addition to the downtown dining community. To mollify long time fans of the Fairfield restaurant, and to ensure continuity, Leon brought Alfredo - his favorite cook - with him from Fairfield. Which is not to say that all three stores will be identical.

Taqueria Mercado Downtown will soon offer amenities beyond those at the Florence or Fairfield locations. For instance, Luis has hired long time music promoter Jody Steiner (who held similar responsibilities at The Madison and Stanley's) to book music.

Steiner says live music will start the weekend of October 15 and will eventually feature a myriad of musical styles including Latin, Rock and Roots. Prior to that, physical improvements- including the hanging of acoustic panels- will be undertaken to ensure a pleasant listening environment. 

For Luis and Steiner, both of whom live downtown, the Eighth Street location represents an opportunity to do something special for the ever growing downtown population. As a result, the Downtown restaurant will also be open extended hours, till 11:00 weekdays, 1 am on the weekend, and offer an extended happy hour (11am to 9pm).

Writer: Michael Kearns
Photography by Michael Kearns

District 'A' festival highlights arts district in two neighborhoods

The District A Festival is a day of art, dance, music and food in Kennedy Heights and Pleasant Ridge that highlights those communities' efforts to band together and brand themselves as a destination arts district.

"We are doing a progressive party building on our arts assets, moving from Kennedy Heights in the morning to Pleasant Ridge in the afternoon," District A's board chair Maria Kreppel said. "Then we're having a community art party in the middle."

Kreppel said the festival, this Saturday, mimics a typical Saturday in "District A" where Kennedy Heights' arts organizations offer programming in the morning and restaurants and shops are open in Pleasant Ridge during the afternoon and evening.

At this year's festival, dance classes and art demonstrations begin the day at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center and Arts Innovation Movement (AIM) Cincinnati (formerly Ballet tech.) During the course of the day artists from the neighborhood (of which there are many) will sell works along Montgomery Road while art activities and a book sale will be offered at the Pleasant Ridge Library. Also, AIM will present a dress rehearsal preview of TwiNight, a dance performance premiering next Friday at the Aronoff. The event ends with indoor/outdoor concerts and dinner at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pleasant Ridge. 

A non-profit, all-volunteer organization, District A grew out of a years-old effort in the two neighborhoods to keep their business districts vital despite businesses moving out. 

An arts renaissance in Kennedy Heights was sparked five years ago when community members turned vacant buildings into "arts anchors" like the Kennedy Heights Arts Center and later Ballet Tech Cincinnati (now AIM) and the Green Corner and Giving Garden - a market and garden.

Pleasant Ridge, a district with restaurants, bars and shops, joined the effort when its community councils joined with Kennedy Heights' to establish the "Montgomery Road Arts Collaboration." It became "District A" in 2008 with assistance from design agency LPK. Kreppel said the name reflects the effort to be "not your typical arts district." The organization currently works to foster communication between artists, businesses, building owners and neighbors to promote community and economic growth, Kreppel said.

District A recently helped Pleasant Perk, a coffee shop, through a change in ownership. They have also placed artwork by local artists in vacant commercial spaces at the corner of Montgomery and Ridge roads. Plans for the next big "arts anchor" in Kennedy Heights - the conversion of an abandoned Kroger's supermarket into the Kennedy Heights Cultural Center - will be unveiled at the event.

Information on the festival, including times, can be found here. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Writer: Henry Sweets
Photography by Henry Sweets

Cincinnati's bikers, scooterists will get more city parking free of charge

The City of Cincinnati took a big step last week to help out the two-wheeled motorists traveling in its borders.

They voted to set aside funding to maintain, improve and expand a free parking program for motorcycles and mopeds in Cincinnati. The next two spaces will be built in Clifton; one on McMIllan and one on Calhoun streets, in the next two months.

A pilot project begun in 2009 provided a few parking spaces for motorcycles and mopeds downtown, mostly near Fountain Square. The spaces were striped for three or five bikes at time but motorists quickly maximized the use of that space, packing in as many as 10 and sometimes overflowing onto the sidewalks or adjacent spaces.

"Basically every spot was having twice as many vehicles parked in it as we anticipated," Melissa McVay, a planner in the Transportation and Engineering department who works on the project, said.

The overwhelming response encouraged the department to expand the project, and propose two-wheeled parking fees to fund construction of new spaces. The council was adamant that the spaces remain free, McVay said, and they opened access to another funding source last week.

The new corral-type spaces will allow motorists to "self-regulate" the layout of their bikes in the most efficient way possible within a painted border, she said.

"Riders are very respectful towards each other," McVay said. "They pack them in as closely as they can."

The city's director of transportation and engineering, Michael Moore, said his department plans to install motorcycle and motor scooter parking spaces downtown and in surrounding neighborhoods as new streetscape and sidewalk improvement work allows.

Three more spots were planned during the pilot phase, but the city will contact two-wheeler communities to see if they still consider the new locations to be ideal before they are constructed, McVay said. One is slated for Central Parkway near the Coffee Emporium, a second on Main Street behind the Aronoff, and a third near the intersection of McFarland and Elm Streets.

McVay said the project was begun because riders are not allowed in most parking garages downtown. She said she thought the program has already encouraged people to choose their two-wheeled mode of transit over their car.

A map of current locations can be found here - anyone interested in suggesting locations for new spots, or providing feedback on the three mentioned above is encouraged to email twowheeler@cincinnati-oh.gov.

Writer: Henry Sweets
Photography by Scott Beseler

Park + Vine partners with Building Value in move to new space

Cincinnati's premiere green general store, Park + Vine, is moving from their location at 1109 Vine Street to a new location at 1202 Main Street in the historic Belmain building. The new space will be more than twice the square footage of the previous store, totaling 2,563 square feet.

The new location will include a concrete bar serving La Terza coffee, fresh squeezed juices and grab-and-go food items with products from local healthy food producers including Fabulous Ferments, Picnic & Pantry, Lucky John Market and Five Star Foodies. Seating will be available for customers to gather with views of Main Street to enjoy refreshments and create community conversation.

"People want to hang out with us and the previous space wasn't designed that way," says owner Dan Korman. "We survey our customers every January and the majority said they would like a drink bar."

To stay true to their green roots, Park + Vine has organized two people-powered brigades with dollies and bicycles to transport the merchandise and goods from the old store to the new one without using gas-powered vehicles.

Korman is also lobbying to have standard bike racks installed on the sidewalk in front of the store and for a bicycle corral to be placed in a metered car parking spot to accommodate cyclists and scooters. There are currently hoops for locking up bikes on the parking meters.

Park + Vine hired Building Value and it's subsidiary Building Ability, which empowers people with disabilities by providing the opportunity to work and have greater independence, to create three shelving units for the new store out of repurposed materials. One wall will feature a display made of reclaimed furniture, virtually cut and repurposed as a piece of functional art and shelving. Korman was interested with working with the non-profit because of the green products they were creating and repurposing.

Half of the new one-stop green spot will offer food-related items; the previous store's footprint only offered ten percent of space for food and pantry items. There will be a bulk food station and cleaning supplies, as well as a private room for community lectures and a small deck in the back for customers to enjoy.

"We felt so confined in our old location. This gives us an opportunity to play with the space a lot more. I've felt settled so well be here a long time. Everyone seems excited about it, although some are sentimental about the old space. Other stores, as well as restaurants and bars, can more easily open around us now." says Korman. "Main Street is just as much of a community as Vine Street, which was just getting started a few years ago," says Korman.

The store hours will increase after the move. With the new space holding their soft opening on Friday, October 1, the store will be open from 6:30 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Want to join the dolly brigade and help Park + Vine's eco-friendly move this week?  Those interested should email lisa@cincyroots.com before Tuesday Sept 28. Only patrons 18 and older can help out; free food and beverages will be provided.

Writer: Rene Brunelle
Photography by Scott Beseler.

Local leaders to discuss downtown Cincinnati's ongoing renaissance at round table event

Those who are familiar with Cincinnati's urban core know that something special has been taking place over the past five years. 

Hundreds of new residents and dozens of new businesses are now occupying previously vacant historic structures in Over-the-Rhine, the region's tallest skyscraper is nearing completion on Third Street in Downtown, a new neighborhood and massive park are rising along the central riverfront, an urban casino is nearing commencement at the long underutilized Broadway Commons site, a renovated Fountain Square has injected new life into downtown, Washington Park and its environs are experiencing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of investment, and crime has decreased year-after-year in both Downtown and Over-the-Rhine.

"It's amazing how many people are coming to Findlay Market who have recently moved here," exclaimed Barb Cooper, marketing director of Daisy Mae's Market which opened at Findlay Market last November.  "What's been really special is the number of international customers that are coming here because of the markets they are used to shopping at in Europe or elsewhere overseas."

To discuss this dramatic transformation, and what is in store for the future, the University of Cincinnati Real Estate Center & Program along with the Urban Land Institute will host Cincinnati Urban Renaissance: 2013 and Beyond this Friday, October 1st.

City Manger Milton Dohoney will serve as the keynote speaker, and the event will include two panel discussions.  The first of which will cover Urban Renaissance Projects and include Stephen Leeper from 3CDC, Jeanne Schroer from the Catalytic Development Funding Corporation of Northern Kentucky, Fred Craig from Parsons Brinckerhoff, and Willie F. Carden, Jr. from the Cincinnati Park Board.

The second panel will discuss the Impact of Renaissance Projects and will include Lydia Jacobs-Horton from Procter & Gamble, Ellen van der Horst from the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Neil/Arn Bortz from Towne Properties, and Dan Lincoln from the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Cincinnati Urban Renaissance: 2013 and Beyond will take place from 7:30am to 11am at the Westin Hotel Ballroom (map) on Friday, October 1.  Reservations can be made online or by contacting Kate Bridgman at (513) 556-7082 or real.estate@uc.edu.  The event is free for members of the UC Roundtable and ULI, and costs $100 for non-members.  Event organizers also note that those interested in attending who are part of the real estate community in Ohio and Kentucky can count the event towards three hours of continuing education.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Milton Dohoney pictured
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy

Cincinnati officials looking to win big in second round of TIGER grants

Cincinnati officials have submitted a $35 million application for funds from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) II program, but they're not alone in their aspirations.  Approximately 1,000 applications were submitted for consideration totaling more than $19 billion in requests - a number far exceeding the $600 million available through the program.

"The wave of applications for both TIGER II and TIGER I dollars shows the back-log of needed infrastructure improvements and the desire for more flexible funds," U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a prepared statement.  "This also shows the opportunities still before us to create jobs, to reduce congestion, make wise environmental choices and help generate lasting economic growth."

In February 2010 Cincinnati officials learned that the streetcar project had been passed over in the first round of TIGER funding which distributed $1.5 billion to 51 projects nationwide.  At that time officials attributed the loss to the highly competitive nature of the program, but were encouraged by the positive feedback they received from the DOT.

Outside of one-time grant allocations like TIGER the program, most transportation funds are allocated on a user fee system.  And with the competition for transportation funding is so great that some have questioned the foundation for which the allocation of those limited funds is based.

"The fundamental problem with the user fee is that it fails to reflect the fact that everyone - user or not - benefits from the transportation system," explained Yonah Freemark, journalist at Next American City and The Transport Politic.  "While there are some good reasons to maintain the user fee, increases in spending could come from the expansion of the general fund commitment to transportation."

Cincinnati's current $35 million request would close the remaining $12 million gap and potentially reduce the amount of local bonds needed for the $128 million streetcar project.  Should the project receive the full $35 million, the modern streetcar project could potentially also see an expanded scope from its current Downtown/Over-the-Rhine loop and connection to Uptown.

"The streetcar project speaks directly to a number of the priorities that have been identified recently by the U.S. DOT," said Chris Eilerman with the City's Department of Transportation & Engineering.  "The streetcar specifically speaks to the livability principles of providing more transportation choices and improving the economic competitiveness of neighborhoods, sustainability, walkability, and creating vibrant, urban neighborhoods.  This is why we believe that this is a transformative project that will compliment the growth that Cincinnati is experiencing now."

Cincinnati's official request was submitted by the Ohio DOT as one of their priority projects.  The State of Ohio previously awarded the Cincinnati Streetcar project $15 million through its Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC).

According to the U.S. DOT, grants awarded through TIGER II will be awarded on a competitive basis to projects using a half-dozen criteria that include environmental, transportation, economic, and livability factors.  Those projects that are able to create and preserve jobs quickly will also be given priority.  Officials expect to hear back about projects winning TIGER II funds later this fall.

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

Sweat Training to open urban loft-style fitness studio in downtown Cincinnati

A new gym will open in downtown Cincinnati on Monday, October 4 along 7th Street in the former Provident Camera Building.  Sweat Training will be relocating from its Pleasant Ridge location to Downtown to take advantage of a growing number of urban professionals in Cincinnati's center city.

"The vibe of the gym is so important...it should make you feel out of your element while also making you want to train there," said Danielle Korb, Owner & Fitness Professional, Sweat Training.  "The big windows and openess really give the space an urban loft feel that is inspiring."

The 2,700-square-foot space is located on the fourth floor of the historic eight-floor building.  Korb says that she signed a two-year lease after looking at roughly 20 other locations throughout the center city and nearby neighborhoods.  Korb also says that she has the option to not only extend that lease, but expand the space onto the next floor if needed.

The new gym will reportedly boast tons of equipment, a 73-foot turf runway, and offer high-intensity resistance training led by Korb.  Sweat Training will be following a model of urban fitness establishments that have become popular in New York and Los Angeles which focus on more intimate settings that tie into an urban lifestyle.

"This location allows me to tap into Cincinnati's urban professionals who work hard, train hard, and like to socialize in the city," Korb explained.  "That is what Downtown is all about, and as a Downtown resident, I will be able to walk to work everyday."

The new location will also include a large Cincinnati-inspired wall mural, done by Higher Level Art, that fits the "Sweat and the City" ethos of Sweat Training.

Once open, the 18 W. 7th Street location will be open from approximately 6am to 12pm Monday through Saturday, and 3pm to 8pm Monday through Thursdays.  Korb says that outside of boot camps scheduled for 6am Monday through Friday and 9:30am on Saturdays, all other trainings can be made by appointment by contacting DanielleKorb@SweatTraining.com.

Those who would like to learn more about Sweat Training can celebrate the opening of the new location on Saturday, November 13 at the gym's official launch party that will include food from the popular Cooking with Caitlin.  Stay tuned for more details about the launch party by following Sweat Training on Twitter @SweatTraining or by becoming Danielle Korb's friend on Facebook.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Work in progress wall mural by Higher Level Art
Danielle Korb

Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy

Terry's Turf Club to expand

The new neon sign in front of the old yellow house next door might have passers by wondering if the newly famous burger bar will be opening a hot dog haven to complement the current restaurant. Not the case. Terry's Turf Club owner Terry Carter says the house will be down within the next week and an expansion of the restaurant will be complete by next spring.

Plans to further develop the space had been in the works before they were featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive Ins and Dives" which Carter says increased revenue by around twenty to thirty percent; they serve around 400 guests a night. They are currently meeting with the architects and moving forward with zoning and permits. "We'll have the same motif. It's a honky tonk but it works with the mix of being casually elegant. This is a joint," says Carter.

The new space will double the restaurant's size to become roughly 1,000 square feet including 22 more feet of bar space and seating for 40 more guests. The kitchen will be expanded with new grills and fryers. A large outdoor terrace will be also be added with garage-style doors.

Terry will be bringing in 100 more signs from his neon collection, including more of the bottle-shaped Bevador coolers that stopped production in 1955 but "work wonderfully," shoe-shaped carnival ride cars and Crack the Whip seats. "Grown ups love it more than the kids. You'll be able to sit in them and have dinner in a little shoe," says Carter.

He claims he only works fifteen hours a day, seven days a week so that he can travel the world and fish in Belize and Africa four times a year. His travels inspire new creative menu items that appear every two to three months. New menu items will also be added with the expansion, including numerous items that the restaurant will be the first in the United States to use including Baobab tree fruit from Africa (a thickening agent that helps natives make a living by using the fruit rather than letting it fall and rot). He's also bringing in moose milk cheese from Sweden that sells for $500 a pound and French snail caviar that retails for $225 a tin. But these delicacies won't cost the customer. Terry understands he has people who want foie gras and people who want American cheese on an all-American style burger.

"Innovation is what we do, in a nutshell. We don't skimp. If it costs I don't care. I want the best product out there and I can't please everyone out there. Most of everything I have doesn't come out of a can- all herbs are fresh and top of the line. The chili is made with filet mignon and it's one of my best sellers," explains Carter.

"My business has grown to the point where it's almost unsellable because it's too good, which is a good problem to have," says Carter. "I'd be a fool to sell it."

Terry's Turf Club will stay open during renovations although it will be untidy for a few days.

Terry's is located at 4618 Eastern Ave and is open Monday through Thursday, 4:00 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Kitchen closes at 12:30; Saturday, 12:00 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Kitchen closes at 1:30. Sunday, 12:00 p.m.-1-:00 p.m. Kitchen closes at 9:00 p.m. 

Writer: Rene Brunelle
Photography by Scott Beseler
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