Clifton citizen group working to improve neighborhood


In October, Clifton Town Meeting, Clifton Business & Professional Association, Clifton 20/20 and Uptown Consortium commissioned Urban Fast Forward to do a comprehensive study of the Ludlow Avenue business district. The study, called Ludlow 21, revealed a list of suggested improvements in order to attract new residents and businesses to Clifton as well as retain current residents and businesses.
 
After the report came out, the neighborhood organizations knew they couldn’t let it sit on a shelf. So a new organization, the Ludlow 21 Working Group, was formed. The nine volunteers meet twice monthly and host monthly public meetings in order to keep residents and business owners talking about Clifton.
 
“We’re constantly thinking about what we can do to preserve the integrity of what we love about Clifton,” says Jan Brown Checco, member of the L21WG. “Cliftonites enjoy a high level of education and are employed by our universities, hospitals and city corporations. The neighborhood’s lively debates often make it feel like the international crossroads of Cincinnati, but this is what makes Clifton a desirable place to live, work and play. It’s also what makes the planning and communication work of L21WG challenging but essential.”
 
Clifton is known for its history but is in danger of becoming eclipsed by new developments near UC and in neighboring communities. L21WG’s goal is to freshen up the neighborhood and make it more interesting and attractive to residents and visitors.
 
The biggest question being discussed: What kinds of businesses do residents want to see?

Ludlow Avenue has become a European shopping experience, in that residents have access to everything they need ... except some things. One of those missing ingredients is a grocery store — the IGA was a Ludlow Avenue anchor for decades — but residents aren't necessarily pushing for a traditional 20,000-square-foot Kroger.
 
The Clifton Market campaign is in the midst of raising money to bring a co-op grocery store to the former IGA building. The campaign received an extension through mid-March, but if for some reason that doesn’t happen L21WG has an alternative plan in place for future development there.
 
Currently, there are no middle- to higher-end condos in the business district. Residents want to be able to walk out their front door and enjoy Clifton without having to drive or take the bus. Ideally, the three-acre IGA property and adjacent lot would become a mixed-used development, with condos and first-floor retail space as well as parking.
 
If the Clifton Market plan is successful, there would still be about two acres of land that could potentially be developed into condos by an as-yet-to-be-identified developer.
 
Other suggestions from the Ludlow 21 Report include regular programming for Clifton Plaza, attracting the right types of businesses for the business district and fresh storefront signage. Clifton is the recipient of Eye Candy Design’s Amp Award, which will provide free marketing services to the neighborhood. The award is given to one local and one national organization each year, and this year Clifton won the local award.
 
Eye Candy Design will develop a simple marketing plan for the neighborhood as well as a fresh brand and logo. A number of neighborhoods and cities are rebranding, including Covington, and most recently Newport announced that it's working on a rebranding plan. 
 
As a neighborhood, Clifton is focusing on new programming for Clifton Plaza, which is across the street from Graeter’s. Lydia Stec, owner of Om Eco Café, brings in live music on Friday and Saturday nights and helped attract a farmers market to the space, but L21WG wants to get residents involved too. 
 
“We’re working to convene residents in a way that invites them to action,” Brown Checco says. “Historically you had to own a business or be on the board of Clifton Town Meeting to have a say, but not any more.”
 

Read more articles by Caitlin Koenig.

Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.  
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