A year of bringing abandoned buildings back to life

I produced a six-part series of stories over the past year about local redevelopment projects at historic buildings or abandoned sites, including efforts by two cities and a countywide program to target new housing. Many of these underutilized buildings coming back to life were suggested by Soapbox readers.

Here’s a roundup of those projects with updates as applicable.


Coppins Building, 638 Madison Ave.
Most recently home to Covington’s City Hall, the Coppins Building is being renovated into the 114-room Hotel Covington. The seven-story building was originally built in 1909 for Coppins Department Store but has undergone several interior renovations for its slew of tenants over the years. The Salyers Group purchased the building from the City of Covington in 2013; construction began in August and should be finished by summer 2016.

Mutual Building, 619-629 Madison Ave.
Built in 1921, the Mutual Building was purchased by Ashley Commercial Group in 2013 and renovated it into 15 one-bedroom, market-rate apartments that became available in the spring. All units are currently leased, and four of the five retail spaces are filled: Flow: A Shop for Men, River City News, Jimmy John's and a tenant that hasn't been announced yet. The fifth space remains available.
Shotgun Row, Orchard Street
Covington's Center for Great Neighborhoods renovated five “shotgun” houses in the Westside neighborhood last year into live/work spaces for artists.


REACH, multiple locations
The Hamilton County Landbank partnered with the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority in 2011 to create Reach Across Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The program has targeted 14 neighborhoods, including Evanston, for housing redevelopment projects.

To date, REACH has sold six houses in Evanston. Three are currently listed on the market, with two slated to come up for sale soon and six more to be ready for new owners later this winter.


Hamilton CORE Fund
Together with the City of Hamilton, Hamilton CORE is working to revitalize the city’s central business district one building at a time. Artspace and Mercantile Lofts, both just doors down from the Hamilton CORE office on High Street, offer affordable living space for downtown residents. Downtown's former Elder Beerman department store now houses StarTek, a multinational call center, and a deli.

Coming soon to the old municipal building is Municipal Brew Works, which will be the city's first brewery in 70 years. Demolition on the building started in November, with a planned opening in 2016.  


Fifth Third Bank building, 5900 Madison Road
The Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation plans to renovate the 88-year-old building into two apartments and first-floor restaurant space. Construction began on the building in May, with plans to complete it by late January.

MCURC is still looking for a restaurant tenant, and both apartments are now on the market.


Kirby Lofts, 1710 Bruce Ave.
Bloomfield/Schon+Partners started the renovation of the 105-year-old Kirby Road School in the summer. It’s been vacant since 2012 but in the next year or so will become 40 one- and two-bedroom apartments. Much of the school’s interior, including chalkboards, woodwork and Rookwood fountains, is being restored and reused in the new plans.

American Can Building, 4101 Spring Grove Ave.
Home to 110 apartments, a design firm and Ruth’s Parkside Cafe, American Can has set the stage for a number of redevelopment projects, including Kirby Lofts and The Gantry, the new apartments on the former lumber yard in front of American Can.

Pabst Bedding Company building, 1201 Walnut St.
Nick and Drew Lachey of the ’90s boy band 98 Degrees partnered with 4EG and 3CDC to renovate the abandoned building’s ground floor into Lachey’s, and 3CDC moved its office to the upper two floors. Other tenants include Agar, KMK and Market6.
St. Paul’s Church, 1429 Race St.
The church was built in 1850 but fell into disrepair before being successfully renovated into what is now Taft’s Ale House.

Union Hall, 1311 Vine St.
3CDC and CORE Resources welcomed The Brandery, CincyTech and Cintrifuse to Union Hall in the early fall. The building was imagined as a startup hub and a way to better support local companies and entrepreneurs. Two commercial spaces — one on the first floor is about 2,800 square feet, and the other one in the basement/sub-basement is 4,500 square feet — are envisioned as restaurants.

Woodward Theater, 1404 Main St.
The Woodward just celebrated its one-year anniversary and is booking music gigs left and right. It’s also an event venue, hosting its first wedding in June, as well as an occasional movie theater for special screenings.
219 and 221 Wade St.
The development group Urban Expansion renovated 219 Wade into a single-family home, which sold in early 2015. The owner hasn't moved in yet but plans to before the end of January. 221 Wade is also a single-family home, and construction should be completed by March.

Price Hill

Masonic Lodge, 3301 Price Ave.
Price Hill Will acquired the building in 2014 and has plans to renovate the space into a community arts and events center. Construction hasn't begun yet, as PHW is still lining up funding, but when finished it will become the home of MYCincinnati Youth Orchestra, which currently rehearses in a small Price Hill space and performs in various venues.

Walnut Hills

Bank building, Madison Road & Woodburn Avenue
Built in 1929, the old bank building has been vacant for about 40 years. It’s always been a bank, but South Block Properties has plans for a possible restaurant at the prominent corner of Madison and Woodburn. The project was recently awarded about $196,000 in state historic tax credits.
Public comfort station, 793 E. McMillan St.
There are plans for the former public bathroom, which still has “men” and “women” etched into the limestone facade, to become a bar.

West End/Brighton

2104 Central Parkway
A local resident developed the building into two 1,200-square-foot living spaces, which were completed in the spring.
The Mohawk Building, 2145 Central Parkway
Built in 1876, the Mohawk is currently home to 12 businesses. The renovation of six lofts within the building was finished in the spring, and there's a restaurant space available for lease.

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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