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1922 Articles | Page: | Show All

Regional consortium lands $24M to clean up neighborhoods

The Cincinnati-Hamilton County NSP2 Consortium (CHCHC) has landed more than $24 million for neighborhood stabilization efforts in seven different communities throughout Hamilton County.  The awarded money is a result of a successful grant proposal put together by the consortium this past summer and is part of the second round of Neighborhood Stabilization Program funding.

Made up of the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA), Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the City of Cincinnati, Hamilton County and The Model Group; the consortium works together with the purpose of redeveloping specific neighborhoods and communities within Hamilton County.

Within the City of Cincinnati, Avondale, East Price Hill, Evanston and the Northside neighborhoods will receive funding while Golf Manor, Lincoln Heights, and Mt. Healthy will receive funding elsewhere throughout Hamilton County.

Some preservationists see the use of these funds as a threat to historic properties that make Cincinnati unique, and that it could cost the region down the road. Further, its alleged that the use of such funds without a proper review is illegal.

"These funds should yank these funds unless the city and county can provide a process to the State for Section 106 review  that provides for public input on those properties that will either be demolished or rehabbed as part of this process," said historic preservationist Paul Wilham.  "The preservation community should insist that federal law be followed and a proper Section 106 review takes place."

As part of the application, CHCHC has committed to not exceed a 10 percent threshold for demolition activities, but has proposed demolition of blighted structures in all seven of the targeted areas.

According to the CHCHC, the targeted communities have lower economic indicators that result in higher numbers of homes that end up vacant.  This, in combination with overwhelmed local code enforcement agencies, has led to homes becoming blighted and becoming a destabilization factor in the neighborhoods.

Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper sees the $24 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development as a great opportunity for communities throughout Hamilton County that have been hit hard during the housing crisis saying that, "this competitive grant will allow us to clean up vacant, blighted and abandoned properties in some of our hardest hit communities."

"Those funds are going to help us have a big impact on Cincinnati neighborhoods," according to Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory. 

"We will be taking properties that are dragging down our communities and turn them into new housing opportunities that will strengthen our city."

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

Charrette Week kicks off for Revive I-75

The City of Cincinnati is enlisting the help of Pittsburgh-based Urban Design Associates (UDA) to reconnect and redesign several neighborhood areas that were torn apart by the construction of Interstate 75 decades ago.

To accomplish this, UDA is examining four areas along the I-75 corridor through Cincinnati in an effort being called the Revive I-75 Corridor Study.  The project team said early on that the success of the project will hinge upon public involvement and effectiveness of the overall planning process.

"We've worked in many cities for municipalities and development authorities, and we always engage the community in the planning process.  The first step is to meet as many people and discuss the issues - that's when we really learn about the project areas," said UDA principal Paul Ostergaard.

Urban Design Associates and the project team are in town this week to host a charrette week -throughout the week, UDA will be hosting a variety of design workshops where sketch artists will work on preliminary design concepts while members of Cincinnati City Council and Revive I-75 steering committee members will be on hand to provide feedback.

Following these design workshops and feedback sessions, there will be a public meeting that will mark the end of Charrette Week at Cincinnati State (map).  The public meeting takes place on Thursday, January 14 from 6pm to 8pm, and will present the initial design concepts and plans.  From there UDA will have breakout sessions so that attendees can provide feedback on the ideas, much like they did at a previous meeting held last November at Cincinnati State.  Findings from that meeting are available online for public review .

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @SoapboxRandy

Model Group breaks ground on $4.2M Forest Square development

Cincinnati-based Model Group has broken ground on a new $4.2 million development in Avondale that will create 21, two-bedroom affordable senior housing units.  The Forest Square project is being developed at the corner of Harvey and Rockdale Avenues and is expected to be completed by Fall 2010.

"This is a momentous day for the Avondale community," said Patricia Milton, president of the Avondale Community Council. "Forest Square will provide a new affordable housing option to our seniors allowing them to remain in the community they've called home their entire lives and at the same time, attract new families to the neighborhood."

The development represents a significant investment for the Avondale neighborhood which has recently seen a flurry of new investments lately along the Burnet Avenue corridor with the help of the Uptown Consortium.

"The Uptown area, specifically Avondale, is in the midst of an exciting revitalization and we are proud to be a part of it," said Bobby Maly, The Model Group's Vice President of Development. "We look forward to investing in Avondale with this top quality housing for our seniors."

According to the project team, the new housing units will be made available to senior residents earning at or below sixty-percent of the area's median income.  Forest Square has also been registered with the U.S. Green Building Council as the Model Group intends on achieving LEED certification on the project.  LEED features incorporated into the final design will include low VOC paints, recycled carpeting, low-flow water fixtures, high efficiency furnaces and air conditioning, Energy Star appliances, and energy efficient building systems.

Once complete, neighborhood leaders envision Forest Square as an anchor to the northern edge of the Burnet Avenue corridor - an area previously occupied by vacant lots.

"This is just one of the many projects that demonstrates the City's continued neighborhood investment and strategic partnership which has revitalized the area around Burnet Avenue," said City Manager Milton Dohoney.  "This targeted use of City resources improves the quality of life for all of us who live and work in Cincinnati," Dohoney said.

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

Cincinnati Preservation Association to host first-ever sustainability program

Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA) is sponsoring Cincinnati's first-ever program on energy efficiency and sustainability for old-house owners.  'Old House, Green House' will take place on Saturday, January 23 from 9:30am to noon at the Art Academy of Cincinnati (map) in historic Over-the-Rhine.

CPA officials say that while much of the green building movement is about new construction, older existing buildings also play a significant role.

"One of our country's most urgent tasks is to "green" the buildings we already have - including historic buildings," according to the CPA.

In addition to the many inherently green features built into older structures like natural materials and natural ventilation, older structures also boast a built-in green advantage over new structures with the energy and labor that has already been invested into the structures.

"Preservation and sustainability go hand in hand," says CPA.  "According to economist Donovan Rypkema, when you preserve a historic building, instead of building a new one on a greenfield site, you are preserving land. When you rehabilitate a historic building instead of carting it to a landfill, you are reducing waste generation. When you reuse a historic building, you extend the life of the "embodied" energy used to build it: a wise use of resources. And by revitalizing an in-town neighborhood, instead of building a new subdivision miles from the city, you promote a more sustainable, more transit-friendly, less-car-dependent way of life."

CPA goes on to say that by building on an old house's good qualities, owners can improve efficiency and comfort levels, without sacrificing historic character or making costly upgrades, and that many features of new "green" homes can be duplicated in older buildings, including efficient lighting, water-saving plumbing fixtures, and high-value insulation.

'Old House, Green House' will cover a variety of topics including how to properly insulate older homes, high-efficiency heating and air conditioning systems, geothermal energy options, appropriate storm windows, and how to green your home renovation project.  Admission for the program is $7 for CPA members and $12 for non-members.  Tickets can be purchased online or by calling CPA at (513) 721-4506.  Reservations are required due to space constraints.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @SoapboxRandy

Cincinnati's form-based code effort to take city leaders back to Nashville

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls has announced that city leaders will be returning to Nashville as Cincinnati continues to move forward with the development of a form-based code

The visit to North Nashville is one that builds upon a previous visit taken by city leaders in June 2008 to see how Nashville leaders successfully moved from a conventional zoning code to a form-based code.  The visit encouraged many city leaders about the potential that form-based codes can have in terms of transforming and revitalizing neighborhoods.  Following the trip, Cincinnati City Council approved $50,000 in February 2009 to advance the development of neighborhood form-based codes in Cincinnati.

Since that time the City has moved forward with Plan Cincinnati, a new comprehensive plan, and is now looking to organize four overnight trips back to Nashville between late January and late July 2010 so that community leaders can learn from Nashville's form-based code process.

On Tuesday, January 26 community leaders will be traveling to Nashville for a kick-off meeting that will include an overview of the form-based code process, and outline the process taken with a visioning session with related stakeholders there.

Cincinnati community leaders will return next on Thursday, May 6 to review the land use policies for open space, residential and conservation areas, and explain the potential impacts these policies would have in Cincinnati.  The third overnight trip to Nashville on Thursday, June 17 will continue to review land use policies as they relate to centers, corridors and districts, and again discuss the potential impacts of such policies.

The final overnight trip to Nashville will review implementation strategies with the North Nashville community and get their feedback regarding the process.  Cincinnati city leaders hope to then take this information and use it to effectively develop form-based codes for several Cincinnati neighborhoods.

"As Cincinnati’s form-based codes effort moves forward and neighborhoods get ready to organize community charrettes, we have a terrific learning opportunity in the coming months," said Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @SoapboxRandy

B-Books to open up expanded operations in Covington's arts district

B-Books has outgrown their space on East 8th Street in downtown Cincinnati and will open up a new, expanded office in the heart of Covington's arts district at 116 Pike Street (map).

Owner Jamie Bryant says that the company now employs nine full-time employees, and does editing and design work for 19 textbooks each year.  In addition, B-Books also publishes Kiki - a magazine for young girls.

"Kiki is a magazine for girls who love life, appreciate creativity, and recognize good ideas. A Kiki reader thinks for herself, has her own look, and is on her way to being a confident, strong, and smart young woman," said owner Jamie Bryant.  "She's a girl with style and substance!"

The new 3,200 square-foot Covington office space offers Bryant room to grow the company that started several years ago out of her home.  B-Books purchased the Pike Street building from the City of Covington in October for $160,000 and plans to move into the space in early March 2010.

"We just started full construction last week, and more than anything the former tanning salon space just needs a lot of internal work," said Bryant.  "A lot of the renovation work is focusing on conservation of resources with improvements like high efficiency lighting, energy, and better insulation."

Looking long-term, Bryant hope to achieve sustainable unilateral growth over their two focuses, and says that the new space could eventually hold up to 15 full-time employees.

"We looked all over the city and this property fit our needs perfectly," said Bryant.  "The City of Covington was really welcoming, and it was just a wonderful experience.  It's a great neighborhood, and there was property there that fit all of our needs at a really affordable price."


Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @SoapboxRandy

Cafe de Wheels revs up gourmet food truck operation

The trend of mobile food is nothing new, but its one that is still emerging in Cincinnati. That will change with Cafe de Wheels, the region's first independent food truck.

The brainchild of Tom Acito, and Chef Michael Katz, Cafe de Wheels will initially focus on burgers, fries, and Cuban sandwiches.  The two entrepreneurs are looking forward to changing the way Cincinnatians enjoy their food. Asked about the decision to do a mobile restaurant versus a more traditional stand alone storefront, owner Tom Acito said there really was no choice at all.

From a cost perspective, Acito estimates that the start-up costs to open a traditional spot would run about $300,000 whereas the Cafe de Wheels truck was purchased and equipped for about $50,000. Another big benefit is mobility which allows the restaurant to move with the crowd and pick and choose when and how they invest their time.

"We're pretty much just held to the same rules and regulations as a standard place without the associated costs of such an establishment," said Acito.

Cafe de Wheels benefits from minimal logistics involved with operating the food truck. Outside of the required food vendor's license, a peddler’s license, and tags for the truck, Acito and Katz say that not much ele was needed.

Cincinnatians can expect to see them popping up around town wherever the local police force will allow, including valid on-street parking spaces. According to Acito, in the heart of Downtown they are required to stay off the street and use private lots where they have reached agreements with owners.

The venture began when Acito put a help wanted ad on Craigslist and Katz was one of many people to respond. Acito said that Katz just understood more than most what he wanted to accomplish, and was really excited about the concept. Katz went through culinary school at Cincinnati State (then Cincinnati Technical College) and has worked in many kitchens around the city at various restaurants. 

While there are other mobile food trucks in the process of starting up around Cincinnati, Café de Wheels is the first of its kind in that there is no restaurant backing it. The plans are to use as many local suppliers as possible to outfit their pantry and fill the fridge including Avril-Bleh Meats, Shadeau Breads, and even Dojo Gelato to accompany a warm fruit crisp dessert.

You can follow Cafe de Wheels on Twitter @burgerBgood to stay up-to-date on their whereabouts, what they're serving and all the latest news surrounding the mobile food craze in Cincinnati.

Writer: Dave Rolfes
Photography Provided

Fountain Square wins prestigious IEDC Partnership Award

Since completing its renovation in 2006, Fountain Square has since sparked millions of private investment downtown and brought tens of thousands of people to the heart of Cincinnati every year.  That success has not gone unnoticed outside of the larger Cincinnati region.

This fall the Square's developer and manager, Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC), and HR&A Advisors were awarded the pretigious International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Partnership Award. The award, in the public-private partnership category, recognizes "outstanding and innovative public/private development projects that have enhanced the economic revitalization of distressed communities, states, or regions."

The award highlighted the creation of the non-profit 3CDC organization which has been charged with leading downtown Cincinnati's revitalization efforts.  3CDC's efforts were made into reality through a business plan developed by HR&A Advisors which also helped design the corporation's initial organizational structure.
 
The business strategy developed by HR&A looked at a number of issues facing Cincinnati's center city and identified that a poor design of Fountain Square, combined with the absence of event programming, left a major void in Downtown.

Following a complete redesign of Fountain Square, Cincinnati's central gathering space rid itself of unsightly skywalks and underperforming retail frontages, and incorporated a variety of new design elements that invited activity to the square.

The award comes from the unique public/private partnership agreement between the City of Cincinnati and 3CDC for the ongoing programming and maintenance of the space including its 635-space underground parking garage.  Since completion, Fountain Square has returned to its rightful position as Cincinnati's most popular gathering space and has also sparked millions of private investment surrouding the square and influence dramatically higher retail sales at nearby businesses.

Today the non-profit Fountain Square Management Group, a 3CDC subsidiary, oversees the square maintenance and programming as part of the award-winning public/private partnership.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @SoapboxRandy

Mynt Martini serves up posh new downtown club

When Mynt Martini has their grand opening on New Year's Eve, Cincinnatians will be treated to a spectacular new $1.4 million club in the heart of downtown.  Located directly on Fountain Square, Mynt Martini boasts the "best location in Cincinnati" according to owner Chico Garcia.

Garcia says that this is the group's first club outside of Mynt Ultralounge in Columbus, and that they did not seek out their prime Cincinnati location - instead it found them.

"CB Richard Ellis representatives were in Columbus at Mynt Ultralounge and said that they would love to have Mynt in Cincinnati," said Garcia.  "They showed us the location and we absolutely loved it."

Mynt Martini will feature 3,800 square feet of interior space and another 1,200 square feet outside on the patio that is protected from the elements and includes sweeping views of the Westin Cincinnati, Tyler Davidson Fountain, and Fountain Square's giant videoboard atop Macy's. The club can hold up to 400 patrons.

Mynt will have high-quality entertainment options including live music, bartending shows, and comedians entertaining guests on their full-size stage located behind one of three interior bars.

"We feature Las Vegas-style martinis, high-quality service, and will be known for creating the party and not waiting for it to happen," said Garcia.  "This will be very evident on New Year's Eve because we're going to make sure everything is high-quality and that everyone is taken care of...we're not trying to pack as many people in as possible."

Following the New Year's Eve grand opening, Mynt Martini will be open from 4pm to 2:30am and will be serving light fare until 11pm, including oysters, feta stuffed tomatoes, yogurt and berries, and a special Mynt Fruit Salsa with pineapple, mango, jalapeno, mynt, cilantro and lime.  Mynt will be open for lunch in early February.

"Everything on the menu is very healthy," said Garcia who also mentioned that Mynt will be serving "very aggressive" salads and soups which seem to be lacking in the market.  Food prices will range from $8 to $12 and will also be available during happy hour specials.

The most unique item on the menu though might be the Myntini which includes 2oz of VOX Vodka, .5oz of Finest Call Mojito Mix, 1oz Finest Call Sour, and three secret ingredients.  Mynt's Las Vegas-style martinis will cost between $9 and $12.

All week long Mynt Martini will have a five-hour happy hour special from 4pm to 9pm that includes $5 martinis and $5 menu items.  There will also be special offers for followers of Mynt Martini's Twitter and Facebook accounts, including three to four special events throughout the year for those people following on Twitter and Facebook.

"Everyone that has seen the concept so far has absolutely loved it," said Garcia.  "On top of it all we're at one of the most beautiful locations in the city; we're not near Fountain Square...we're literally right on it."

New Year's Eve:
Mynt Martini will be having their grand opening on New Year's Eve.  Guests will be let in on a first-come, first-served basis.  A $40 ticket will guarantee your admission; elbow room; champagne toast at midnight; appetizers throughout the night including veggie spring rolls, sausage stuffed mushrooms, and mini mesquite grilled chicken quesidillas; party favors; music by DJ Ryan Cox; and live interaction with the Times Square Ball Drop.  Buy your tickets online now, or call Mynt Martini's VIP Host Nicole D at (513) 828-9335.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @SoapboxRandy

Playing a new tune at Gangsters Dueling Piano Bar

It has been ten years since legendary dueling piano bar Howl at the Moon closed its doors in the city where it got its start, leaving the Greater Cincinnati area without one of these popular entertainment concepts.  On November 13 this all changed when Gangsters Dueling Piano Bar opened in Newport next to The Newport Syndicate.

"We decided to name the place after the popular Newport Gangster Tours that take people on historic walks through the city," said owner Sharon Forton.

Gangsters offers something no other dueling piano bar does - pianos located in the center of the room with guests surrounding them.

"This is very different from most piano bars where the pianos are located on the side, and we think this will make Gangsters one of the most fun piano bars around," said Forton.

Gangsters has already been a big hit with bridal and bachelorette parties where guests get a special bucket drink and can take in the atmosphere.  Birthday parties have also been a big draw according to Forton.

The new establishment has already been a hit.  With a 200 person capacity, drink specials, food served late into the night, no cover charge, and top-notch pianists who make the commute to Newport.

"In order to be a piano bar player you have to be a little crazy and know a lot of songs," said Forton.  "Our pianists change weekly and fly in from all over the country as part of the piano bar circuit."

The bar (map) is currently open Thusday through Saturday from 5pm to 2am and serves food until 11pm.  Guests can take advantage of half-price drinks during happy hour (5-8pm) and all night on Thursdays.

Forton also says that they are gearing up for their first New Year's Eve which will have a gangsters theme and a $10 cover charge that will be waved if dinner reservations are made prior to 8pm.  To make reservations call (859) 491-8000.

"With it being our first New Year's Eve celebration we have no idea what to expect other than lots of fun," said Forton.  "What happens here, stays here."

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @SoapboxRandy

Three Over-the-Rhine developments win $7.1M in historic tax credits

Three new development projects in Over-the-Rhine have been awarded $7.1 million in historic tax credits from the State of Ohio.  The three developments will restore a handful of historic structures throughout Over-the-Rhine's burgeoning Gateway Quarter.

The money is coming through the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program used to defray 25 percent of the rehabilitation expenses incurred in redeveloping historic structures, and is considered to be crucial in helping historic redevelopment projects move from paper to reality.

"This program has been a focus of my office since I first came to the legislature and I am very proud to see this funding awarded in Over-the-Rhine. The benefit it will have for this neighborhood is beyond words," said State Senator Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati).“It moves projects off the drawing boards and into construction at a time when Cincinnati needs it most."

Of the three development projects included, Mercer Commons is the largest and consequently received the most money overall ($4.2 million).  Once complete, Mercer Commons will include a mixture of new construction along Vine and Race streets as well as rehabilitated historic structures that will cost more than $20 million to develop and include housing units and commercial space.

The Cincinnati Color Building and Germania Hall received $1.2 and $1.7 million respectively and will both be redeveloped along Vine Street as part of the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation's (3CDC) latest phase in the Gateway Quarter.

Applicants compete for the tax credits based on a scoring rubric that measures criteria such as leveraged investment, jobs created, project scope, vacancy, end use, and financing secured. Projects that commit to green building principles; are located near institutions such as hospitals, research facilities, or colleges and universities; or follow the goals of an adopted community strategic plan receive extra points.

"Historic preservation and urban redevelopment are two goals that go hand-in-hand with this program. In terms of jobs created and taxes generated the state will see a return far outpacing its investment," said Senator Kearney.

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

Cincinnati-based Model Group restoring historic Covington neighborhood

Six years ago the City of Covington and residents of the city's East End neighborhood saw a variety of problems that they wanted to address.  Historic buildings were deteriorating, occupancy rates were declining, and the area was feeling less safe.

The neighborhood is still very much dominated by the Jacob Price housing development from the mid-Twentieth Century, but with the help of The Model Group, the neighborhood has experienced a dramatic turnaround.

"We knew that Jacob Price was going to take much longer to address, so we decided to take a scattered redevelopment approach of vacant properties in the area," said Robert Maly, Vice President of Development, The Model Group.

One of the first projects The Model Group took on was the redevelopment of the historic 5th District School building.  The $4 million project created 26 affordable senior housing units and restored a historic structure that had sat empty for 25 years.

"We knew this would be an extremely expensive and difficult project," said Maly.  "When we hosted the open house we had people there who had gone to the school and were thrilled to see it preserved."

The scattered redevelopment approach has continued for The Model Group.  Since 2004, they have invested close to $30 million into 45 different historic buildings and have created around 100 new units of housing for the once struggling neighborhood.

According to Maly, the City of Covington is still working towards redeveloping the Jacob Price housing site which Maly considers to be "functionally obsolete."

The Model Group says that many of the historic rehabilitations were made possible through state and federal historic tax credits, and that the majority of the 100 units The Model Group has developed have remained affordable to low- and moderate-income households.

"We're looking at some other development projects in the area, but right now we're focused on completing the difficult work we started in the East End neighborhood several years ago," said Maly.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @SoapboxRandy

Cincinnati captures $1.5M for solar electric projects throughout city

The State of Ohio has awarded $1.5 million worth of funding for solar electric projects in Cincinnati.  The announcement came as Ohio Governor Ted Strickland awarded more than $13 million worth of grant money to 25 projects throughout the state of Ohio as part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act's (ARRA) State Energy Program.

The renewable energy awards - the first to be awarded from Ohio's $96 million State Energy Program - will enable Ohio to stimulate the creation and retention of jobs, save energy, increase energy generation from renewable energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions according to State officials.

The ARRA funds are targeted towards public and private entities that are able to use the money to install wind electric, solar electric and solar thermal technologies at businesses, schools, parks and other public locations throughout Ohio.  The winning projects in Cincinnati will install solar energy projects throughout the city at public buildings, parks, and other facilities.

The Duke Energy Convention Center, owned by the City of Cincinnati, received $252,937 to install a 93kw photovoltaic array rooftop system at the 750,000 square-foot convention center located Downtown.  Cincinnati Parks received $451,418 to install a total of 170kw solar photovoltaic systems at 13 park sites throughout the city.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health will use $652,932 to install a 232.65kw solar photovoltaic rooftop system at its Summit Facility in Bond Hill.  And Greater Cincinnati Water Works will take $775,655 and install a 280kw photovoltaic solar array rooftop system.

All of the projects awarded grant money must meet federal goals of the ARRA's State Energy Program to accelerate renewable energy development in Ohio by creating or preserving jobs and reducing energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @SoapboxRandy

Mayberry announces expanded hours at popular new Downtown eatery

It has not taken long for Chef Joshua Campbell's Mayberry restaurant in downtown Cincinnati to catch the attention of food lovers.  Even though the restaurant has only been open a few short weeks, Mayberry's owners are already planning new weekend and evening hours to meet the demands of the dedicated supporters that have flocked there.

"Before we even opened our doors, people were asking us when we'd be adding weekend hours. We wanted to make sure we got the swing of things before we added those hours, but now we're ready," said Chef Josh Campbell, owner of Mayberry and World Food Bar in historic Findlay Market.

The new Friday and Saturday dinner hours will feature a separate menu which will change weekly, like the lunch menu, depending upon what is in season.  

"We don’t want to nail ourselves down to a set menu because it’s important for me to prepare and serve the best dishes possible. I want to be able to go to markets and buy the best ingredients to serve to our guests," Campbell said.

In addition to the new dinner hours which run from 5:30pm to 9pm, Mayberry also added a new Sunday brunch from 10am to 2pm. Campbell did note that the new dinner hours are flexible.  

"We will definitely be open through 9pm, but if the crowds are there, we will stay open until everyone has been fed," he said.  

The restaurant is currently in the process of obtaining a liquor license, but until that time guests are able to bring their own alcoholic beverages for the new weekend dinner hours.  The new weekly dinner menus will be featured on World Food Bar's Facebook Page and on their Twitter account.

For their first weekend of dinner hours, Chef Campbell prepared a crispy pork belly with Frank's RedHot butter and cheddar grits and short ribs with creamed corn and smoked bacon, along with a variety of other items.  There will also be select lunch menu items that will be rotated onto the weekly dinner menus.

"Without Twitter, I would have not been able to see their menu online, see photos of their entrees, or ulitmately been lured in for lunch," said Downtown resident and worker Thadd Fiala.  "Once I was in there, I was hooked...the star of the show is their BLT.  I dream sweet dreams about the sandwich, and when you pair it with Mayberry's Tater-Tot casserole, it's a match made in lunchtime heaven."

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @SoapboxRandy

Downtown Cincinnati Inc. gets six new board members

The Downtown Cincinnati Improvement District (DCID) elected six new board members at its annual meeting.  The new board members represent a diverse collection of Downtown interests and will help guide and implement the 2010-2013 Services Plan.

The DCID is a Special Improvement District (SID) that was created by Cincinnati City Council in 1996 and given approval by Downtown property owners within the boundaries of Eggleston Avenue on the east, Central Parkway on the north, Central Avenue on the west (including the Centennial buildings), and the river on the south (excluding the two stadiums).

According to Downtown Cincinnati Inc. (DCI), the SID generates funds through a special assessment on property owners within the defined area.  These funds are then contracted with DCI to provide safe and clean services including the Ambassador program, marketing and communications services, and stakeholder services including business assistance, residential advocacy, and information gathering/dissemination.

The specific improvements are guided by property owners and the nine-member board that is made up of six stakeholders, two representatives from the City of Cincinnati, and one representative from Hamilton County.  In the past much of the focus has been on clean and safe operations that include the highly visible Downtown Cincinnati Ambassadors.  The six new board members, and their representative duties include the following:
  • Class A Office Building Representative: Lydia Jacobs-Horton, Director, Global Facilities and Real Estate, Global Business Services,  Procter & Gamble
  • Class B/C Office Building Representative: Jack H. Goodwin, Partner, Miller-Valentine Group
  • Diversified Representative: Andy Barlow, General Manager, Central Parking System
  • Diversified Representative: Roger Thesing, President, Thesing Real Estate Services
  • Retail Representative: Rich Cappel, Co-Owner, Cappel’s Inc.
  • Building Owners & Managers Association Representative: Steven Richter, Manager Atrium Two Building and Director, Asset Services, CB Richard Ellis
"This is an outstanding leadership team for DCID," said David Ginsburg, President and CEO of Downtown Cincinnati Inc.  "We’re looking forward to working with the new board to implement the 2010-2013 Services Plan that was so enthusiastically endorsed by our stakeholders. It is an exciting time for downtown, and I'm confident that the DCID public/private partnership will continue to thrive under the leadership of this new team."

The 2010-2013 Services Plan recently received approval from property owners within the defined areas of the district.  The vote passed with more than 70 percent approval - signaling to some that a strong interest and support exists for a higher level of services within Downtown Cincinnati.

"During a turning point in downtown history and during uncertain economic times, the downtown property owners demonstrated their continued support of the DCID by their approval of the 2010-2013 Downtown Services Plan," commented Rick Kimbler, Managing Partner of NorthPointe Group and outgoing DCID Board Chair.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @SoapboxRandy
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