Now open and fully-occupied, a new multi-family residential development in Over-the-Rhine brings much-needed affordable housing to the booming, eclectic Vine Street corridor.
The project — dubbed Perseverance — was a partnership between nonprofit housing advocate Over-the-Rhine Community Housing
(OTRCH) and development corporation 3CDC
. It includes 32 residential apartments and five commercial spaces, spanning three historic buildings and one new infill building on a former vacant lot.
Ben Eilerman is the senior housing developer with OTRCH. He says these buildings in the 1500 block of Vine Street were perfect for the partnership with 3CDC. Two of the parcels — one multi-family building and an adjacent vacant lot—were previously owned by OTRCH. The two buildings to the north were owned by 3CDC and vacant.
“With our individual set of properties,” he explains, “it was difficult to make a project to come together. But, working with 3CDC, the scale was perfect.”
Lann Field, VP of Development for 3CDC, agrees that it was a great partnership.
"3CDC and OTRCH are two organizations that are both deeply committed to Over-the-Rhine. This project provided an opportunity for us to advance the shared objective of expanding high-quality affordable housing options in the neighborhood," she says.
3CDC has been advancing a comprehensive affordable housing strategy and Lan says this project represents progress toward that goal.
"The infill portion of the project provided an opportunity to address a void in the urban fabric," she explains. "This, coupled with the redevelopment of the adjacent vacant historic storefronts, will help activate a key section of Vine Street approaching Liberty."
OTRCH and 3CDC — together with their architect, New Republic
— contributed the best of their expertise for a common goal. Eilerman says this was a great opportunity to update and improve their existing property and, he adds, it’s exciting to see new urban architecture built in the urban core.
The final product is a good blend of historic elements and 21st century convenience that blends seamlessly into the streetscape. The development offers family-sized units and accessibility features like an elevator. And all 32 units are made affordable to residents living at 30–60% of the Area Median Income.
The first residents moved in in April of 2021. In fall of the same year, OTRCH welcomed dozens of new (and some returning) residents to the new and improved properties. Now that the project is completed, 3CDC is managing the street-level commercial spaces and OTRCH is managing the residential units.
Over-the-Rhine Community Housing was established in 2006 as a merger of two decades-old affordable housing advocacy groups in Over-the-Rhine. To date, the organization has developed more than 725 units of affordable housing and currently owns over 500 housing units with close to 1000 residents.
In addition to increasing the number of available affordable units through property development, they work to ensure that existing, “low-wealth” residents of Over-the-Rhine benefit from revitalization efforts.
“Part of what makes OTRCH unique,” Eilerman explains, “is that we don’t just manage the project — fixing leaky faucets, etc. — we provide supportive service for all of our residents.”
A lack of affordable housing has been a recurrent concern among residents and community leaders across the neighborhood. OTRCH and its predecessors have been fighting the battle for affordable housing for years.
Adding this high-quality affordable housing to Vine Street, south of Liberty Street, is an act of good faith. It means stronger representation for the lower-income community that has lived in Over-the-Rhine since long before 3CDC’s impressive stream of market-rate developments arrived around 2007.
Since then, 3CDC has developed 502 apartments in OTR, of which 325 (or 65%) are affordable units.
OTRCH has a few more large projects in the works, including a partnership with Urban Sites to develop the Barrister Apartments in the Central Business District, a project in the West End, and one under construction in Lower Price Hill.
“There is a tremendous need for housing in our region, especially affordable housing,” Eilerman says.
“With that need known, we are always looking for opportunities to produce housing.”