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College Hill : Development News

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Nourish Yourself offers healthy, home-cooked meals to busy clients

After a 15-year career with P&G, Cherylanne Skolnicki became a certified health coach and started teaching people how to eat better. In January 2011, she started Nourish Yourself, a service that will cook dinner for you.
 
“The concept of a home-cooked meal resonates with busy families,” Skolnicki says. “Clients want to feed their families fresh, healthy, unprocessed, seasonal food, but struggle with the time and skills to cook those meals. We take the guesswork and challenge out of it.”
 
Nourish’s core team has three employees who focus on everything from customer care to menu development to marketing. A team of nine cooking partners go into clients’ homes and make the magic happen, Skolnicki says.
 
Clients are matched with a Nourish cooking partner in their area—they shop for and prepare meals in your kitchen. Meals are prepared all at once, and Nourish even cleans up afterward.
 
Nourish offers flexible pricing that starts at $159 per week plus groceries, and you choose the service date. Nourish’s winter menu is available on its website, with 50 entrée choices, many of which are freezable, plus fresh salad greens and homemade dressing.
 
The menu changes seasonally, but favorites include healthy makeovers of restaurant dishes, such as chicken enchiladas, Thai basil chicken and buffalo chicken meatballs. Skolnicki says both Nourish’s risotto with asparagus and peas and bison burger with Cabernet caramelized onions and white cheddar are also popular.
 
“Busy is the new reality for today’s families,” Skolnicki says. “We hope to make dining in the new normal for busy, health-conscious households. And cooking is one of the aspects of a healthy lifestyle that you can now outsource and still get all of the benefits.”
 
Today, Nourish serves the Greater Cincinnati area and northwest Arkansas (because of P&G employees), but Skolnicki hopes to expand to other markets in 2014.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Neighborhood Enhancement Program aims to improve Cincinnati quality of life

Cincinnati’s Neighborhood Enhancement Program, a 90-day collaborative effort between city departments, neighborhood residents and community organizations, focuses on developing the assets of individual neighborhoods.
 
By focusing, integrating and concentrating city service delivery and community redevelopment efforts, the NEP’s goal is to improve the quality of life in Cincinnati. Examples of integrated service delivery include concentrating building code enforcement; identifying and “cooling down” crime hot spots; cleaning up streets, sidewalks and vacant lots; beautifying landscapes, streetscapes and public right-of-ways; and engaging property owners and residents to create and sustain a more livable neighborhood. Targeted areas are identified through an analysis of building code violations, vacant buildings, disorder and drug calls, drug arrests, graffiti, junk autos, litter and weeds.
 
Neighborhoods with the most successful NEPs have taken key steps before the program begins, while it’s taking place and after it has ended. To date, Price Hill, Avondale, Northside, Clifton Heights/University Heights/Fairview, Westwood, Evanston, College Hill, Madisonville, Mt. Washington, Corryville, Over-the-Rhine, Bond Hill, Kennedy Heights, Pendleton, Mt. Airy and Carthage have participated in the NEP program.

East Price Hill and Walnut Hills are participating in the program this year.
 
Before beginning the NEP, a neighborhood must consider its community’s commitment to the program. Stakeholders must agree on what needs to be done in the neighborhood, and want to improve the neighborhood as a whole. An NEP Steering Committee needs to be established, which is made up of a community council representative, a business association representative, a redevelopment agency representative (if applicable) and a resident who lives in the neighborhood, and come up with a list of goals to accomplish within the NEP time frame.
 
The NEP has won numerous awards, including the President’s Award from the Ohio Conference for Community Development.

Check out Soapbox's "Hot 'Hoods" features on Price Hill and Walnut Hills to see NEP practices in action.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Neighborhood Asset Mapping tool focuses on neighborhoods' strengths

The Community Building Institute recently partnered with Xavier University and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati to develop and launch the Neighborhood Asset Mapping tool. It’s an online resource that allows all 52 Cincinnati neighborhoods to create a profile of community-based assets and resources in the area.
 
NAT was made available to the public this spring,and was in development for six to eight months before that. It’s free, and it promotes engagement and resource-sharing among residents. Residents can add assets to NAT, and they’re immediately available to other users.
 
“If you’re new to the community or thinking of moving to a neighborhood, you can find what’s going on there,” says Trina Jackson, program director of the Community Building Institute. “You can find community councils and neighborhood associations. Lots of people don’t know about grassroots organizations, and Nat allows residents to connect with one another through smaller organizations.”
 
The United Way helps support community development and community-based organizations, and NAT is the community engagement arm for Xavier, Jackson says. “We were focused on getting people connected with each other, and helping them see what’s out there.”
 
For example, in Evanston, many people know about the employment resource center. But if you’re not from the neighborhood, you don’t necessarily know it’s there, so you turn to the computer or your phone to find the things you need.
 
NAT focuses on a neighborhood’s strengths, and doesn’t include crime data or vacant property statistics. It's intened to be used by new and potential residents, entrepreneurs and developers as a tool to help find the best locations to live, work and play.
 
The Community Building Institute plans to host a series of “data entry parties” where people can get together and enter assets into NAT and learn new things about the neighborhood they live in. The first one is planned for Walnut Hills, but the date is to be determined.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Madisonville first neighborhood to officially adopt city's new form-based zoning code

Last month, the City of Cincinnati adopted form-based code, which replaces the traditional zoning code and allows for future development to be mixed-use, with retail, commercial, office and residential spaces occupying the same development. The new code focuses on the form of the building, not its use. Form-based code also make sure that whatever structures are built or remodeled in an area fit with what is already there and meet the wishes of the community.
 
Madisonville, Walnut Hills, College Hill and Westwood pioneered the process of form-based code, and Madisonville is the first neighborhood to officially adopt them. And there are big plans in the future for the intersection at Madison and Whetsel in the heart of the central business district.
 
A mixed-use development is in the works on two corners of the intersection. The Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation is in talks with the Cincinnati Health Department to build a community health center, complete with a fitness center, pediatric and dental care, and a community space on the first floor, with one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments on the two or three floors above it.
 
“We’ve lost population over the last few decades, and we want to help increase it with high-density housing,” says Sara Sheets, executive director of MCURC.
 
MCURC owns the old Fifth Third Bank building at the same intersection, and with help from the City, they hope to renovate it to include a restaurant on the first floor with two apartments above it.
 
“The bank building is the cornerstone of the area, and although we don’t want to have all of the buildings look the same, we’re going to use it as a template,” says Matt Strauss, real estate and marketing manager of MCURC.
 
Form-based code comes at the perfect time because Madisonville created a Quality of Life Plan in 2012, which is a community-driven action plan to make a walkable, pedestrian-friendly business district with expanded retail and housing options.
 
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Madisonville,” Sheets says. “It’s seen a lot of disinvestment and demolition, and we want to help create a sense of place here, and we’re excited to partner with the community to do so.”
 
MCURC has a large portion of four blocks in the central business district under its control, and they want what goes there to fit with the Quality of Life Plan and the community.
 
“We’ve learned that what fits and can make money somewhere might not be the best fit, and we want to do this slow, steady and smart,” Strauss says.

Form-based code will officially go into law at the end of the month, with Madisonville leading the way.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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College Hill home to Salvation Army's newest housing project

The Catherine Booth Residence, the Salvation Army’s newest housing project, will soon join the 150-unit high-rise senior apartment complex and Salvation Army Center Hill Community Center in College Hill.
 
The Booth Residence consists of two, three-story buildings with a total of 96 one-bedroom apartments for low-income seniors. One of the buildings is about 46,000 square feet, and the other about 48,000 square feet.
 
The project is named after Catherine Booth, who, with her husband, founded the Salvation Army in 1865 in London.
 
Ground broke on the project in August, and it’s expected to be finished in December 2014. The project is being developed by ATA/Beilharz Architects, the firm that did the renovations on the Salvation Army’s high-rise apartments in 2006.
 
“As a firm, we primarily do low-income housing projects, and we like to work on those kinds of projects because we feel like we’re making a difference on a daily basis,” says Greg Hackett, associate at ATA/Beilharz.
 
The buildings are being designed to feel more residential and fit in with their surroundings.
 
Funding for the project was provided through public and private sources on the federal, state and local level, including a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency and the City of Cincinnati. Enterprise Community Investment, Inc., also provided $6.29 million in equity through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, and Fifth Third Bank provided construction financing.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Come Home Cincinnati initiative to increase home ownership, redevelop vacant areas

In late September, a new initiative was announced that will help increase home ownership and help to redevelop the Cincinnati neighborhoods that have been hit hardest by vacancy and abandonment. Come Home Cincinnati is a partnership with the Hamilton County Land Bank, private lenders and community development corporations.
 
The initiative will likely require using funds from Focus 52, which finances neighborhood projects. It will establish a loan guarantee pool that will range from $2.5 million to $4.5 million—other aspects will cost $3.4 million, but not all of the funding will come from the city.
 
Come Home Cincinnati will start with 100 homes in the pilot neighborhoods of Evanston and Walnut Hills to leverage existing public and private investment in the housing strategies. Over time, the initiative will expand to other neighborhoods as resources expand.
 
One of the key redevelopment corridors that will be targeted through Come Home Cincinnati is Woodburn Avenue in Evanston.
 
To qualify, owner-occupants will have to meet a minimum credit requirement, agree to live in the rehabbed home for five years, and pay for five percent of the total rehab and acquisition costs as a down payment. After that five years, the loan will be refinanced at the same or a better interest rate.
 
Potential partners for the initiative are the Cincinnati Development Fund, Northside Bank and Trust, Model Group, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, the Cincinnati Preservation Association, the Xavier University Community Building Institute, the University of Cincinnati Community Design Center, Evanston Community Council, Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the Community Development Corporations Association of Greater Cincinnati.
 
Since 2011, the city has worked closely with the Hamilton County Land Bank, which helps combat vacancy and abandonment and helps remove obstacles to redevelopment in all neighborhoods in the county.
 
The Land Bank’s focus neighborhood strategy includes 14 neighborhoods in the county, eight of which are in the city—Avondale, College Hill, Evanston, Madisonville, Northside, Price Hill, South Cumminsville and Walnut Hills. The Moving Ohio Forward demolition grant allows the Land Bank and the city to address the worst blight in these neighborhoods.
 
City Council now needs to approve a motion that gives city administration 60 days to develop a plan and budget for Come Home Cincinnati.

By Caitlin Koenig
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New online tool aims to keep Cincinnati residents engaged in their neighborhoods

On July 24, the City of Cincinnati adopted Nextdoor, a free, private social network for you, your neighbors and your community. The goal is to improve community engagement between the City and its residents, and foster neighbor-to-neighbor communications.
 
Each of Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods will have its own private Nextdoor neighborhood website, which is accessible only to residents of that neighborhood. City administrations and several city departments will also use Nextdoor to share important news, services, programs, free events and emergency notifications to residents, but they won’t be able to see who is registered to use the site or the conversations among residents.
 
Founded in 2010 in San Francisco, Nextdoor’s mission is to bring back a sense of community to the neighborhood. The site was tested in 175 neighborhoods across the country, and results showed that neighborhoods had some of the same issues, plus a variety of different issues.
 
“We all remember what our neighborhood experience was like as kids, when everyone knew each other, looked out for one another and stayed in the community longer," says Sarah Leary, co-founder of Nextdoor. “We want to invoke that nostalgia for neighborhoods.”
 
To date, Nextdoor is being used by about 17,000 neighborhoods across the country. In June, Nextdoor partnered with New York City and Mayor Bloomberg to communicate with the city’s 8.3 million residents. The site plans to roll out in other major cities like Cincinnati over the course of the next several months.
 
Nextdoor also recently released its iPhone app. “We’re really putting the lifeline of the neighborhood into the palm of the residents’ hands,” says Leary. “The common thread is an interest in using technology to make connections with neighbors. But it doesn’t stop there—once people have an easy way to communicate, they’re more likely to get together in the real world.”
 
You can sign up for Nextdoor on its website, or download the app in the App Store.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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City Council adopts form-base code

For five years, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls has been working with the City of Cincinnati to develop form-based code for the city. Last Wednesday, City Council officially approved the Cincinnati Form-Based Code.
 
“Cincinnati now joins hundreds of cities that are using form-based code to build and reinforce walkable places that create value and preserve character,” Qualls says.
 
Cincinnati’s neighborhoods originally developed so residents could easily walk to restaurants, shops and grocery stores in and around business districts. Form-based code will allow neighborhoods to return to that original ideal and reinforce or create places where residents can live, work and play, Qualls says.
 
Current zoning code makes creating mixed-use neighborhoods difficult—the new code will help streamline the development process. To start, form-based code will be applied to business districts and adjacent residential areas in four pilot neighborhoods that volunteered for the chance—College Hill, Madisonville, Walnut Hills and Westwood.
 
The code is a result of six Neighborhood Summit training sessions; five years of neighborhood working group meetings, neighborhood walks and training sessions; five delegations to learn about Nashville’s form-based code; a five-day citywide urban design workshop; a four-day neighborhood urban design workshop; and more than 600 public comments on the draft from residents, stakeholders, neighborhood groups and city departments.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Cincinnati's first tuition-free charter school to open in August

Just in time for the new school year, Carpe Diem Learning Systems will open its first Ohio school at Aiken High School Aug. 21 in College Hill. Carpe Diem is Cincinnati’s first tuition-free public charter school for the general district population, and is sponsored by Cincinnati Public Schools.
 
Carpe Diem-Aiken will offer a blended learning model of digital curriculum with blended learning experiences, says Rick Ogston, founder of CDLS.
 
Twelve years ago, Ogston’s wife, Sharon, encouraged him to go back to school and get a Masters' degree in education. After that, he started to learn about charter schools and the difference they can make in communities. From there, Carpe Diem was born.
 
“Carpe Diem is about personalizing education to the nth degree,” Ogston says. “It brings the uncommon combination of personalized education and high academics with a career focus on achievement to the table. We prepare students academically for the 21st century, but we also allow students to progress at a pace more comfortable to them.”
 
The curriculum at Carpe Diem is tailored to meet the needs of a spectrum of students, from those who are lost in large schools or traditional classrooms, to gifted students who want to work at an accelerated pace.
 
Tyree Gaines is the new principal of Carpe Diem-Aiken, and she hopes to contribute instructional leadership that opens the door for students and teachers to maximize their potential.
 
“I want Carpe Diem-Aiken to empower students to be learners, thinkers, doers, believers and achievers,” she says.
 
Carpe Diem-Aiken will bring an innovative new educational model to the area, but it will also be debuting Aiken New Tech, which infuses technology into curriculum while incorporating project-based learning and real-world experiences, says Janet Walsh, director of public affairs for CPS.
 
“We love that the Carpe Diem model incorporates ‘blended learning’—a combination of technology-driven and teacher-led instruction, which is very much a wave of the future,” Walsh says.
 
CDLS is North Central Association-accredited and includes Edgenuity’s instructional content, uBoost’s online recognition and reward system, and a secure online portal to provide parents with real-time student data. Carpe Diem also offers opportunities for career concentrations in Information Technology, Science and Engineering, Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Digital Arts and Entertainment, and Health Sciences.
 
Carpe Diem-Aiken joins CDLS’s first school, Carpe Diem Collegiate High School in Yuma, Ariz., and Carpe Diem Meridian, which opened in August in Indianapolis. Carpe Diem Summit in Fort Wayne is scheduled to open this August as well.
 
 Parents and students who are interested in meeting with Gaines and learning more about Carpe Diem-Aiken can email her at TGaines@CarpeDiemAiken.com or call her at 513-612-0153.
 
If you’re a Cincinnati student who is interested in attending Carpe Diem-Aiken and is 12-16 years old, you can enroll in Carpe Diem here.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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College Hill Gardeners partners with Historical Society for bicentennial event

This year is the 200th anniversary of the founding of College Hill, and to celebrate, the College Hill Historical Society and College Hill Gardeners are partnering for History in Bloom. The event includes a lecture by Ed Loyd, CHHS president, on May 14, and a tour of five College Hill gardens on June 15.
 
The lecture will include past and present photos of the gardens at the five homes, along with images of a few gardens that used to be in College Hill, Loyd says.
 
“College Hill is a natural fit to put history and gardens together,” he says.
 
College Hill got its name from Farmers’ College, which was founded in 1846. It was one of the first schools for agriculture in the United States, and was around almost a generation before other land-grant colleges were established. It was a research center for all types of scientific agricultural education, and predated the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Loyd says.
 
This year is the eighth year for the CHG garden tour, but the first year for the event to have a co-presenter.
 
“The agricultural significance in College Hill is noteworthy, and it provides a great backdrop for the gardens,” says Beth McLean, founder of CHG.
 
The gardens included on the tour are those of Twin Towers, Tanglewood, The Upson House, The Oaks and Laurel Court. All of the houses are along Hamilton Avenue, Belmont Avenue and Hillcrest Road (Old College Hill). The gardens feature beautiful landscaping and ornamental structures, plus a Japanese garden and parterre, which can be found at Laurel Court.
 
Tickets for the tour go on sale May 4 for $10. Tickets will be available at CHG’s plant sale May 4, at the College Hill Coffee Company and at the lecture. Day-of tickets are $12.
 
The lecture will be at the Campus Center at Llanfair Retirement Community; seating is limited. Please contact CHG at 513-681-1326 to reserve your seat.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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City Hall launches app as a community-organizing tool

The City of Cincinnati has taken out the back-and-forth that can occur when residents try to reach them to report issues in their neighborhoods. At the Neighborhood Summit on Feb. 16, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls announced that the Cincinnati City Hall mobile app is available to the public.
 
With the app, residents can look up trash, recycling and street sweeping days, and set reminders; locate and report problems by address; bookmark locations for quick reporting; and track the status of reports. City Hall mobile also has GPS, so users can report issues, even without an address. There’s even a searchable map with property owner information, which enables residents to see if a property is occupied or vacant.
 
A few years ago, residents had to use the Yellow Pages to look up the number for city departments to file complaints, says Kevin Wright, executive director of Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation. The city then implemented a hotline for all complaints, but residents never knew the status of their reports.
 
“It’s amazing how comprehensive the app is,” Wright says. “If you see a broken window, pothole, graffiti, hanging gutter or anything else that is physically wrong with your neighborhood, street or community, you can report it in an instant. It’s a great tool for neighborhood redevelopment.”
 
The app can also be used as a community-organizing tool, Wright says. For example, if there is a property owner who historically hasn’t taken care of his or her property, social media can help organize a community and target the property to enforce codes until the property is fixed, which is what neighborhood councils and organizations like WHRF do.
 
“We’re really putting power in the hands of the citizens of the neighborhoods,” he says.
 
As with most tech programs, the app has room to grow, too. In the future, it could be linked with Facebook or Twitter, so your friends and followers will know who reported problems and where they are.
 
Cincinnati residents can download the app in the Apple App Store or download it through Google Play.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Salvation Army-owned property in College Hill soon to be apartments for seniors

The undeveloped property at 6381 Center Hill Avenue in College Hill will soon become apartments for senior citizens and people with disabilities. The final plans for the development were approved Friday by the City Planning Commission.
 
The Salvation Army owns the Center Hill property, which will soon become 96 apartments available to residents 60 years of age and older who meet specific income requirements. There will be 95 one-bedroom apartments and one two-bedroom apartment for the resident manager. Plans also include a kitchen, dining room and recreation areas for residents.
 
“Dwellings for senior citizens are in high demand,” says Felix Bere, senior city planner for the City of Cincinnati. “These apartments will also cater to a segment of the population that needs a place to live.”
 
Construction on the property is expected to start in February 2013; completion is slated for the second quarter of 2014.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Big plans in the works for Cincinnati

As many areas of Cincinnati are being rejuvenated, including OTR and Washington Park, the City of Cincinnati approved a comprehensive approach to focus on development in the city as a whole, not just targeted neighborhoods. 

Last Friday, the City Planning Commission approved and adopted Plan Cincinnati, which was designed with input from residents. The Plan is an opportunity to strengthen what people love about the city, what works and what needs more attention, says Katherine Keough-Jurs, senior city planner and project manager.
 
The idea is to re-urbanize suburbanized Cincinnati; in a sense, to return to the strengths of the city's beginnings. Cincinnati was established just after the American Revolution in 1788 and grew into an industrial center in the 19th century. Many of those industries no longer exist in the city, which is part of why Cincinnati has become more suburbanized in the past 50 years. One of the long-term goals of the Plan is to bring new industries to Cincinnati.
 
With a new approach to revitalization, Cincinnati is blazing the trail for other cities. With a focus on building on existing strengths rather than tearing down structures and creating new ones, the Plan aims to capitalize on the city's “good bones” and good infrastructure.
 
Cinicinnatians had a huge role in developing the Plan. The first public meeting for the Plan was held in September 2009, when residents offered their insights into “what makes a great city?" and "what would make Cincinnati a great city?” A steering committee of 40 people representing businesses, nonprofits, community groups, local institutions, residents and City Council helped develop the Plan.

The Plan also got support from a grant from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which the City received in 2010. The grant allotted $2.4 million over three years to support the Land Development Code, which combines and simplifies Cincinnati's codes, reviews the development process, implements Form-based Codes and considers more creative uses for land. The grant allowed the city to start implementing some of the ideas voiced in public meetings.
 
Visionaries included youth, too. City staff worked with community centers and Cincinnati Public Schools to develop an art project for children. They were given clay pots and asked to paint their fears for the city on the inside and their dreams for the city on the outside. The children saw the big issue was quality of life, just like the adults did.
 
“It was an interesting way to get the kids involved and thinking about the future,” Keough-Jurs says.
 
The Plan aims to strengthen neighborhood centers—the neighborhoods’ business districts. It maps out areas that people need to get to on a daily basis and found that most are within about a half-mile of the business districts. But in some neighborhoods, residents can’t access their neighborhood centers. 

The accessibility of a neighborhood center is based on walkability—not just for pedestrians, but also about how structures address walking. For exampke, if a pedestrian can walk from one end of the neighborhood center to the other without breaking his or her pattern (the window shopping effect), the area is walkable; if he or she has been stopped by a parking lot or vacancies, it’s not walkable, Keough-Jurs says.
 
The neighborhood centers are classified in one of three ways in the Plan: maintain, evolve or transform. Some neighborhoods have goals to maintain levels of walkability, whereas others need to gradually change or evolve. Still others need to completely transform in order to strengthen their business districts.
 
“Cincinnati is at the heart of the region,” Keough-Jurs says. “If we strengthen Cincinnati, we strengthen a region.”

The next step for the Plan is to go before the Cincinnati City Council, specifically the Livable Communities Committee, which is chaired by Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Plan, Build, Live encourages community feedback

City and neighborhood leaders, led by Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, have been building support for a new approach to development regulations for more than four years. Much of that has been developed through the program Plan, Build, Live.
 
Plan, Build, Live is a program driven by community feedback and discussion, all gathered  via the project's website. The website encourages people to share their ideas about how a city should be designed. This weekend, instead of just online, Cincinnati residents and business leaders will come together to shape our future through a citywide Urban Design Workshop. The Workshop takes place from April 28 to May 2 to help create a "form-based code" that can be used by neighborhoods all over Cincinnati -- and help shape how development happens in Cincinnati in decades to come.  
 
"Traditional zoning focuses on the use of the building and how far the building is off the street or how large the building is," says Della Rucker, public engagement office for Plan, Build, Live. "Form-based code flips that around and focuses on how a property contributes to the experience people have in the area. How it creates a vibrant, walkable community."
 
Plan Build Live is funded by a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Local funding is provided by the City of Cincinnati, the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Health Department, and the Mill Creek Restoration Project.
 
One of the Plan Build Live tools, a form-based code, encourages strong neighborhoods, business districts, and downtowns by focusing on the shapes of buildings, streets and sidewalks. Form-based codes can helps maintain or enhance a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly environment that offers a mix of residential options, transportation methods, workplaces, shopping and more. Traditional zoning codes encourage patches of similar use, forcing long distances between work, home and play. Form-based codes allow different uses to cluster – restaurants, apartments, drug stores and grocery stores, for instance – as long as they stick to rules that address the ways they relate to the neighborhood.  
 
Form-based codes are not planned to replace other types of zoning in Cincinnati, but they are intended to give neighborhoods a more flexibility.
 
A key difference of form-based codes is that even people who are not trained planners help put them together. Participants only need to be willing to share their ideas. During the Workshops, citizens will meet with planners, architects and engineers to talk about what they like and want to see -- both in Cincinnati's neighborhoods and on several "special opportunity" sites. 

The preliminary Workshop focuses on creating a city-wide form-based code that will serve as a framework for the fall workshop, which will focus on four neighborhoods: Westwood, College Hill, Madisonville and Walnut Hills. 

The estimated completion date is 2013, but feedback and participation from residents and business owners is critical to helping the city implement the program.

By Evan Wallis

Cincinnati Development Fund earns $1.5M federal grant

The Cincinnati Development Fund has been a financial resource for affordable housing development in the city's neighborhoods for 23 years. And that long track record of helping spur development -- and redevelopment -- in some of Cincinnati's underserved areas recently earned the CDF a $1.5 million federal grant to support its mission.

The grant comes from the U.S. Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI). The CDFI awarded $142,302,667 to 155 community development financial institutions -- like CDF -- nationwide. CDF received $750,000 from the fund in 2010, making this year's award a very pleasant surprise, says CDF president and CEO Jeanne Golliher.

"We were really expecting something along the lines of what we got last year," she says.

The $1.5 million sum is the maximum any single organization could receive from the CDFI. Golliher credits CDF's long-standing role in the community as reason for the high award.

"We're really in touch," she says. "We know where the needs are."

A main focus of CDF's efforts, she explains, are smaller developers -- sometimes individual homeowners, sometimes development companies focusing on one or two buildings -- who wish to revitalize property in parts of the city suffering from high foreclosure and vacancy rates. The smaller developers fit a niche that complements larger development organizations, such as the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC), which is in the midst of redeveloping a large portion of Over-the-Rhine. Golliher refers to many of CDF's borrowers as "urban pioneers:" people willing to be early redevelopers in areas that have yet to see widespread revitalization.

"We've had so much activity with our small loan program," she says. "There are a lot of cases where people want to buy and fix up a building on their own, and they come to us."

Golliher says her team is in the process of planning how to best use the grant funds. Some of it may be used as matching funds for $3.3 million in low-interest funding CDF has requested from the U.S. Treasury to help fund small business development in the city.  She plans to present a proposal for how the funds will be used at CDF's August board meeting. In the meantime, she says she and her team are thrilled by this recent show of federal support.

"I think it speaks to our track record," she says.

By Matt Cunningham

Follow Matt on Twitter @cunningcontent

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