Old breweries could jump start Mohawk neighborhood plan

Of Cincinnati’s many diverse and distinctive neighborhoods, Mohawk may be one of the least known.

For starters, it is, technically, not a neighborhood, at least not in the way that Cincinnati’s 52 officially recognized neighborhoods are. It is considered part of Over-the-Rhine, but because of its geography, history and demographics, enjoys a status as a community, or as City Hall calls it, an “area” of the larger Over-the-Rhine.  

As such, the community, with the help of city planners and others, has been working for the last five years or so on a plan to revitalize Mohawk. The city planning commission formally signed off on the plan last week, giving the neighborhood the stamp of approval to move forward with it. Next, it will go before the full City Council.

Mohawk is largely defined by West McMicken Avenue, which bisects the neighborhood from Findlay Street to just beyond Baymiller Street, running roughly parallel to Central Parkway most of the way. Along McMicken and the streets that branch off of it are many vacant and underused buildings, which at once represent both the plight of the community and the hope for its future.

These old homes and commercial buildings are the opportunities for growth identified by the plan. Chief among them are a handful of old breweries that were built in Cincinnati’s beer brewing pre-Prohibition heyday. These old breweries “could be the center of an active and vibrant arts and entertainment district,” the plan says.

Reimagining these 19th century brew houses is under way.

The Bellevue Brewery building on West McMicken is better known as the Mockbee, which has hosted art shows, concerts, wedding receptions, and dance parties for several years.

Northern Row Brewery opened its taproom last year in a former Christian Moerlein brewing facility on West McMicken.

Owners of the former Clyffside Brewery on West McMicken have been awarded historic preservation tax credits to help with rehabbing that long-vacant building into a brewery and event space.

Unfortunately, the other old brewery in the neighborhood, Jackson Brewery, was seriously damaged in a fire in December 2019.

The neighborhood is also home to the old Imperial Theater, vacant for decades, but whose owner has plans for restoring and reusing it. And infill housing has been added — and some rehabbed — on Klotter and Conroy streets, as well as on McMicken.

These structures will be the keys to achieving the top priority of the neighborhood plan — redeveloping the neighborhood business district. The community has joined forces with the Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corp., which is putting together the Brewing Heritage Trail, to help realize its goals of revitalization.  

It’s a vision that the community has been pursuing for years, and one that is starting to take shape.
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David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading, or watching classic movies.