Uptown Innovation Corridor

Two new developments in Uptown should add to the robust growth already occurring in that part of the city and along its newly christened Uptown Innovation Corridor.


The Uptown Consortium has signed a letter of intent with a new development group, Queen City Hills, LLC, to develop a key corner of the corridor, which extends along Martin Luther King Drive from the university into Walnut Hills. Queen City Hills is a minority-owned group comprised of local executives Ed Rigaud, David Foxx, and Albert Smitherman.


The agreement gives the group nine months to submit a development plan and enter into a purchase agreement for the consortium-owned property on the southwest corner of Martin Luther King Drive and Reading Road.

The group says it is exploring options for a mixed-use development on the corner, including possible residential, office, or hospitality uses.


“We will work closely with the Uptown Consortium and the community to create a development and amenities that will advance the goal of attracting top talent and high-growth, innovative companies to the corridor,” says Rigaud, principal of Queen City Hills.


The other big development is the consortium’s commitment to secure land for a large facility that would serve as an accelerator, office space, and training site for manufacturing.


The facility, whose cost is pegged at $26 million, would be the home of CoMade, a nonprofit venture that will work to incubate new manufacturing ideas and create programs to train a diverse manufacturing workforce. Plans for the facility also include a tool bank, where homeowners in nearby neighborhoods could borrow tools to repair their residences.


“It’s an innovative approach to product innovation as well as to job training, which we think is very important,” says Beth Robinson, president and CEO of the Uptown Consortium.


The consortium is a group of large employers in the neighborhoods around Clifton and Avondale: University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, UC Health, TriHealth, and the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. The alliance has assembled and owns dozens of acres in the Uptown area, and is working to create the Uptown Innovation Corridor along Martin Luther King Drive, an avenue that was opened for major development with the completion of the Interstate 71 interchange there.


Last summer, Uptown Consortium purchased the former Marathon gas station at 3049 Reading Road and the former Dual Manor Health Care Center at 515 E. Martin Luther King Drive, in addition to three adjacent properties. This land is included in the agreement with Queen City Hills.


The consortium is still working on nailing down a site for the CoMade hub, and is focusing on the northeast quadrant of the corridor, Robinson says.


The two projects would join others that have been announced in that rapidly developing part of town. Terrex Development and Construction and Messer Construction Co. are developing the Uptown Gateway in the southeast corner of the corridor. The University of Cincinnati will be the first tenant with a digital futures research commons for university-industry collaborations.


The northeast corner will be a mixed-use project developed by MLK Investors, and the northwest corner will be home to the consolidated research laboratory of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


The Innovation Corridor, Robinson says, “is an opportunity to advance in an economic way by attracting companies and talent in this area.”

Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is the managing editor of NKY Thrives, 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.