Experienced Over-the-Rhine developer sees bright future for neighborhood, business

Many people have seen and experienced the urban renaissance occurring in Cincinnati’s historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.  These changes have been most notable in recent years with the activity taking root in the Gateway Quarter, but there is additional activity in other parts of the neighborhood as well and one local company is leading the way.

Urban Sites has specifically concentrated their efforts since 1985 towards urban redevelopment projects in Over-the-Rhine.  Over this time the company has worked on roughly 35 sites throughout the neighborhood including rental properties, loft-style condominiums and unique business spaces - one of which is their own headquarters at 1429 Walnut Street.

Kris Sommer, property manager for Urban Sites, says there is more and more interest in Over-the-Rhine and that many people are surprised to see how much has changed once they finally come to check things out.

“There is still a lingering question of 'Is it safe?' but once they experience it, they see another world.  People coming in from out of town don’t understand the negative perceptions that they hear,” says Sommer.

Over the next six to eight months Urban Sites will welcome four new renovated properties to their collection that will add 34 loft-style condominiums to Vine and Main streets in Over-the-Rhine.  Many of the units boast private rooftop decks, exposed brick walls, original hardwood floors and, in the case of Lackman Lofts at 1237 Vine Street, contemporary Rookwood tile installations around fireplaces.

Named after the Lackman Brewery, Lackman Lofts boast Rookwood tile fireplaces, rooftop decks, balconies and a rich history, as some of its primary selling points.  Six of the seven units are priced under $155,000 making them great options for young professionals or first time home-buyers.

It is great for young people given the tremendous value and location says Sommer.  “I would much rather live in Over-the-Rhine than Downtown because the views are so much better and unique…you can see 360 degrees around you from the rooftop decks,” states Sommer.

Over on north Main Street is Falling Wall which gets its name from the innovative design features Urban Sites worked into the final design where some walls feature an angled or falling appearance.  Each unit here has their own private rooftop deck and other unique design features like the “floating” cabinets in the kitchens.

Further south along Main is the Good Fellows Lofts, now open and currently housing its first occupants.  The Belmain is a little further down on Main and will introduce its 16 units sometime this fall.

The future looks bright for both Urban Sites and the neighborhood where they do their work.  “There is a whole lot of potential and the streetcar would be absolutely phenomenal for the development of the urban core and would make Over-the-Rhine rival any other neighborhood in town in terms of desirability.  The people who are coming down now are definitely going to be the winners,” Sommer concludes.

You can come tour these units and more at the upcoming Gateway Expansion Tour on Saturday, May 30th from 12-4pm.  The tour will start at the Gateway Quarter leasing office at the southwest corner of 12th and Vine streets.

Writer: Randy Simes
Source: Kris Sommer, property manager, Urban Sites
Photography by Randy Simes
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