Downtown living options on the rise

Downtown Cincinnati living has skyrocketed in the past few years, with the number of residents growing, and the number of available units filling up faster than anticipated. Now with even more developments taking off, including Broadway Square and Tea Company Townhomes, there are new options on the horizon for those who wish to live and work in the same place.
 
Not only are residents flocking downtown to new developments, but the demographics of the area are changing, too. It’s not just a place for twentysomethings anymore. Sure, recent college grads and young professionals are moving to the central business district to be closer to their jobs. But families and baby boomers are also leaving the suburbs.
 
They’re moving for the downtown lifestyle—everything from restaurants to entertainment venues are within a few square blocks. Many people are choosing not to be dependent on cars and are using services like Metro and Uber to get around, or they’re hopping on bicycles.
 
The convenience of living close to the central business district is a huge selling point, both for residents and local businesses.
 
“Businesses like Holtman’s Donuts and Graeter’s have found employees from the existing resident base in OTR,” says Anastasia Mileham, vice president of communications for 3CDC, whose mission is to strengthen the core downtown assets by revitalizing and connecting the Fountain Square District, the Central Business District and Over-the-Rhine.
 
Development and demand drive up price  

Although Cincinnati isn’t on the coast—where you would expect to see higher prices—living downtown has traditionally come with a high price tag. At The Banks, some units run as high as $2,700 per month.
 
The 2002 OTR Comprehensive Plan states that the neighborhood will have mixed-income housing, as well as mixed-use buildings. But OTR’s residential real estate prices are among the highest in the region on a per-square-foot basis.
 
After $717 million of investment in redevelopment and new construction projects in the last 10 years, it's expected that real estate will be more expensive there; and apartments like Current @ The Banks come with a great view of the river, which commands a high price tag. Simple supply and demand has also helped keep prices high, too.

But developers are also starting to tout lower, market-rate price points.

“We believe that urban centers operate as diverse ecosystems, and healthy urban ecosystems have a variety of income levels,” says Bobby Maly, chief operating officer at Model Group. Not everyone can afford higher rent, but many will pay more because of convenience.
 
A few of downtown's new housing developments are offering more affordable options for those who want to be closer to work, restaurants, retail and nightlife, but aren’t willing to pay a premium for living downtown.
 
Soapbox rounded up some of Cincinnati’s newest housing stock, from the riverfront to OTR.
 
Broadway Square
Near Horseshoe Casino, Elliot to 13th, downtown
The majority of Broadway Square is the redevelopment of several apartment buildings at three of the four corners at Broadway and 12th streets. Restoration of the buildings will breathe new life into the area, while still holding onto their historic aspects.
 
The first phase of the $26 million, two-phase development will include 26 one-bedroom and 13 two-bedroom units, as well as 11,000 square feet of retail space. Phase two will break ground this fall, and will feature at least 39 apartments and an additional 9,000 square feet of commercial space.
 
Model Group, the developer on the project, expects the majority of Broadway Square’s tenants to be employees of the casino, who will be looking for a more affordable option when it comes to housing.
 
Units will go for about $1 per square foot because Maly and his partners want to offer housing for people with a variety of income levels—not just for those who can pay a higher rent.
 
Current @ The Banks
121 E. Freedom Way, downtown
Current @ The Banks is part of an $800 million mixed-use development along the river. The 300-unit complex has nine different floor plans, and 1- and 2-bedroom options that range from just under 500 square feet to about 1,200 square feet. Units start at $1,290 per month, but some go for twice that.

On the other side of downtown from OTR, Current is geared more toward young professionals—those who either live on their own or have a roommate. The entire development is situated along the river, with a park on one side and a handful of restaurant options and nightlife on the other.

Those who live at The Banks don't have to go far for anything, other than groceries. And a grocery store is just a short bus ride away.
 
Mercer Commons
Between 13th and 14th, bordered by Vine and Walnut
When finished, the three-phase, $63 million project will yield 154 units—126 apartments and 28 condos, with an average size of 1,100 square feet. Thirty of these units are at a more affordable rate than most of the units in Mercer Commons, and OTR in general.  
 
Mercer also includes 17,600 square feet of commercial space and a 340-space parking garage. The first phase of the development is underway, with 11 condos in four historic buildings, along with 12 condos in a new construction, mixed-use building on Vine. One Mercer will also include five townhomes.
 
3CDC teamed up with developer McCormack Baron Salazar on phase two, which includes 67 mixed-income apartments and 10,600 square feet of commercial space. The third phase will include the rehab of two historic buildings and new infill development, which will yield a mix of residential and commercial property.

Like Current @ The Banks, Mercer generally attracts twentysomethings and young professionals. The modern buildings contrast with the majority of the architecture in OTR, but somehow fit in and feel like they belong. Also like Current, OTR's newest housing development is right in the middle of all that the neighborhood has to offer.
 
Tea Company Townhomes
13th and Republic, OTR
Once home to The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, the project will include nine units that range from about 980-2,400 square feet. The condos range from $248,500-350,000, with a $250 HOA fee.
 
Amenities include secure on-site parking, private storage, rooftop decks, balconies, fireplaces, stainless steel appliances and hardwood or bamboo floors. Units will be available in July.

Read more articles by Caitlin Koenig.

Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.  
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