State housing credits pave way for $12.4M renovation of historic Anna Louise Inn

For 101 years, the Anna Louise Inn has provided safe, affordable housing for women in downtown Cincinnati.  In need of renovation work and various upgrades, Cincinnati Union Bethel and Over-the-Rhine Community Housing have successfully landed $10 million worth of housing credits to renovate the Inn.

"A project like this is a real boost to businesses and the economy because it will produce jobs," said project manager Mary Carol Melton.  "We're working now to secure the final funding through a variety of sources, but we're excited to now be able to improve and enhance the quality of life for women looking to find safe and affordable housing."

The tax credits come from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, and will be worth $1 million annually over the next ten years.  Project officials say that this tax credit will allow renovation work to begin on the historic structure in June 2011.

When the Charles Taft family originally built and donated the structure, their intent was to provide housing to the many women coming to downtown Cincinnati for work from rural areas.  And while times have changed, Melton says that the mission and need for such housing has not.

Part of the changing population includes changing needs at the historic Anna Louise Inn.  The $12.4 million renovation project will allow for bathrooms and kitchens to be added to 85 units.  The addition means expanded living areas for residents, and thus fewer total units.

"There will be a slight decrease in the number of units due to the upgrades, but our goal is to preserve the safe and affordable housing needed for women today," Melton explained.  "We're going to work with residents during the renovation to make this as least disruptive as possible, and we are currently looking at a phased renovation process to be able to do just that."

Project officials expect that even with any phased renovation approach, the project should be complete in around fall 2012.  The end result will be a modernized Anna Louise Inn  with a 152-person capacity and larger rooms that include private bathrooms and kitchens in a convenient location.

"The amenities of being in downtown Cincinnati are great.  Our residents benefit from great access to transportation, employment, and they also enjoy using Lytle Park located right outside.  It's really nice for our residents to be able to take advantage of all these amenties provided downtown."

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.