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Bike Month promotes bicycle safety, healthy lifestyles


The tristate area is increasingly becoming more bike-friendly, with new bicycle lanes in many neighborhoods and Red Bike locations throughout the city, with expansion coming soon. May is Bike Month, a time to reconsider healthy lifestyles and the use of bicycles as transportation.
 
Bike Month is organized by Queen City Bike, but a number of local organizations and businesses offer bike-related deals, lead bike rides and host events throughout the month. Things kicked off May 1 with a poster show at Coffee Emporium that runs through May 26; and on May 2, a ride to various pubs in the basin area.

If you missed these events, though, don’t worry. There are plenty more coming up — 21 below, to be exact.

Bicycle Happy Hour at The Brew House, 1047 E. McMillan, Walnut Hills: Ride your bike to The Brew House and, if you’re wearing a helmet, get a free appetizer during happy hour. May 4, 11 and 18 at 5-8 p.m.

Urban Basin Bicycle Club, meet at Fountain Square: Join the club for a slow, interesting themed ride for all skill levels that begins and ends in the basin. Every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Hump Day Hill Challenge, meet at greenspace by the old SCPA building in Pendleton/Over-the-Rhine: A difficult ride up and down Cincinnati’s hills. To check out the routes, use the Hill Challenge App in the Google Play Store. Every Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Thursday Night Slow & Steady Ride, meet at Hoffner Park, Northside: These rides are open to anything with wheels and take about 1.5 to 2 hours. Every Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Eastside to Findlay Market Ride, meet at Coffee Emporium, 3316 Erie Ave., Hyde Park. Every Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

Findlay Market Bikegarten, Findlay Market, OTR: Learn more about the bike-friendly changes that are coming to the city, pick up free bike maps and lots more. Every Saturday at 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Ride for Reading, meet at Coffee Emporium Warehouse, 12th and Walnut Streets, OTR: Join in the bike parade, then distribute books to students at Chase Elementary in Northside. May 8 at 10 a.m.

The Color Ride, meet at Washington Park: Grab the kids and dress in a single color from head-to-toe and take a short ride through OTR and downtown. May 9 at 4 p.m.

Element Cycles City Ride, meet at Element Cycles, 2838 Observatory Ave., Hyde Park: This casual ride will end at the Growler House in East Walnut Hills. May 9 at 4 p.m.

Bike Happy Hour, Fries Café, 3247 Jefferson Ave., Clifton. May 12 at 5-7 p.m.

Trivia Fundraiser for Mobo, The Brew House, 1047 E. McMillan, Walnut Hills. May 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Breakfast on the Bridge, Purple People Bridge on the Newport side: Pastries and coffee will be available, and there will also be a station set up with a mechanic to help you fix up your bike. May 15 at 7-9 a.m.

Bike to Work Day: All rides are free on Metro, Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) and Clermont Transportation Connection for those with bicycles. All day May 15.

Bike to Work Day Celebration, MainStrasse, Covington: Rides will be led to Fountain Square and back. May 15 at 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Bike 2 Baseball: Ride to Great American Ball Park for the sixth annual event. A free bike valet will be available, hosted by Red Bike. Tickets must be bought in advance. May 17 at 1 p.m.

Second Annual Preservation Ride, meet at Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., OTR: The Cincinnati Preservation Collective is celebrating Bike Month by hosting a slow riding tour of some of the urban basin’s historic sites. May 17 at noon.

Trivia Fundraiser for Queen City Bike, The Brew House, 1047 E. McMillan, Walnut Hills. May 20 at 7:30 p.m.

The Pink Flamingo Bike Ride: Ride from Covington to Bellevue Beach for this family-friendly event that touts Northern Kentucky pride. May 30 at 10 a.m.

Queen City Bike+Dine: Email info@parkandvine.com for more information about the 10th annual event on June 6.
 
There will also be three Blinkie Light Distributions throughout the month:

• Kenton County Health Center, 2022 Madison Ave., Covington, May 10 at 3 p.m.
• Campbell County Health Center, 1098 Monmouth St., Newport, May 17 at 3 p.m.
• Boone County Health Center, 7505 Burlington Pike, Florence, May 24 at 3 p.m.
 

Mayday space in Northside becoming restaurant and live music venue


The Northside staple Mayday, which was a craft beer and whiskey bar, closed at the end of last year. But musicians Stuart MacKenzie and Jon Weiner — both with backgrounds at Molly Wellmann's bars — purchased the building and plan to turn it into a restaurant and live music venue.
 
The 4,000-square-foot space will reopen in June under the name Northside Yacht Club. Although it’s not near water, the building had flood waters up to the third floor during the flood of 1937, when it was the Northside Electric Company (see photo above).
 
MacKenzie, who has played in the bands like the Cincinnati Royals, DAAP Girls and Lions Rampant, and Weiner, who has been in the Cincinnati Royals and Dopamines, want to host a steady schedule of live music. The pair plans to bring in national, regional and local acts throughout the week, and most shows won’t have a cover charge.
 
Chef Ryan Whitcomb, most recently of Nuvo and Local 127, is working on a menu that features smoked wings with housemade sauces and poutine as well as a smoked vegetarian option.
 
The bar menu will feature cocktails made with rum and bourbon as well as local craft beer. There are also plans for an outdoor bar, which would be added to the building’s existing outdoor patio.
 

Northside organization working to provide more single-family housing


Cincinnati Northside Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation recently changed its name to Northsiders Engaged in Sustainable Transformation to more accurately reflect the organization’s goal to develop single-family homes in the neighborhood. To date, CNCURC/NEST has created 17 single-family houses, including new ones at 4118 Lakeman St. and 1726 Hanfield St.
 
“Research indicates that homeowners have greater investment in their property and are more likely to maintain and stay in their homes,” says Stefanie Sunderland, executive director of CNCURC/NEST. “Homeowners will potentially become more involved in the community and support the local economy by patronizing local businesses.”
 
A healthy neighborhood should provide housing for all, including rental units, so CNCURC/NEST focuses on single-family houses that were built by members of the community but time, disinvestment and abandonment have left them in disrepair. Many of the houses CNCURC/NEST has reclaimed were slated for demolition.
 
CNCURC/NEST acquired the house at 4118 Lakeman, which was built in 1873, from Bill Dorward and his sister, Deborah. Meanwhile, 1726 Hanfield, which was built in 1921, is the first building CNCURC/NEST has acquired through the Port of Greater Cincinnati.
 
Construction began on both houses last spring and will be completed in the next few weeks. The house on Hanfield has already been sold, and the one on Lakeman is still for sale.
 
Both houses were redeveloped creatively and for use of space, with an emphasis on preservation and restoration. CNCURC/NEST also focuses on duplicating historic architecture and features as well as energy efficiency.
 
The 1,243-square-foot house on Lakeman now has a new front porch, woodwork, windows and doors as well as matching gables on the second-story addition. The 1,071-square-foot Hanfield house has a visitable first floor and was designed to be an accessible unit.
 
Over the next month or so, CNCURC/NEST will break ground on two new-construction houses at 4135-37 Witler St. and 1720-22 Hanfield as part of the Blockwatch 45223 Homeownership Project. Three sources of funding are required to complete the project, including NSP funding through the City of Cincinnati, a revolving construction loan from the Cincinnati Development Fund and general funds from CNCURC/NEST.
 
Sunderland says they’re also waiting to hear if their NOFA application for gap financing for the development of five single-family houses for the Fergus Street Homeownership Project has been approved. This project includes the rehab of four single-family houses, three of which are currently owned by and land-banked with the Port Authority, as well as one new construction on a lot owned by CNCURC/NEST. 
 

Revisiting recently opened and still-to-come restaurants


Over the past several months, the Soapbox Development News section has covered a large number of restaurants and breweries planning to open all over the region. We thought it was time to provide updates on these new businesses as well as when you can hope to visit those that aren’t quite ready to launch yet. (Links go to our original Development News coverage of each business.)
 
Arcade Legacy
3929 Spring Grove Ave., Northside
The bar and vintage arcade concept plans to open its doors in April.
 
Braxton Brewing
27 W. Seventh St., Covington
The grand opening is at 5 p.m. March 27. There will be four beers on tap, including their flagship Storm Golden Cream Ale and Juniper Hoppy Wheat Ale. Neltner Small Batch will reveal their largest indoor installation, two local bands will be playing, and guests will be able to tour the brewery.
 
Brezel
6 W. 14th St., OTR
The Columbus-based pretzel shop opened its second location in September, offering everything from your traditional salted pretzel to more unique, seasonal creations. Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday & Wednesday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
 
E+O Kitchen
3520 Edwards Road, Hyde Park
The Asian restaurant, opening in the former Dancing Wasabi space, doesn’t have a grand opening timeline.
 
The Gruff
129 E. Second St., Covington
The grocer, deli and brick oven pizza restaurant opened on Jan. 14. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday & Saturday.
 
Krueger’s Tavern
1211 Vine St., OTR
The owners of the Bakersfield and The Eagle opened the American-style restaurant, which is known for its house-made sausages and 100 cans of beer, in December. Hours: 4 p.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday & Saturday.
 
Macaron Bar
1206 Main St., OTR
The city's only bakery dedicated to macarons opened Dec. 12. Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
 
O Pie O
DeSales Corner, Walnut Hills
The sweet and savory pie shop is shooting to open in May. Until then, their pies are available each weekend at Findlay Market.
 
Off the Vine
1218 Vine St., OTR
The cold-pressed juice bar opened Nov. 17, offering to-go juices and take-home cleanses. Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends.
 
Revolution Rotisserie & Bar
1106 Race St., OTR
Featuring free range chicken and all-American sides, the restaurant opened March 2. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday & Saturday.
 
Tap & Screw Brewery
5060 Crookshank Road, Westwood
The Westside restaurant changed its name, revamped its menu and added a brewery, reopening Dec. 19. Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 a.m. Monday-Sunday.
 
Tillie’s Lounge
4042 Hamilton Ave., Northside
The turn-of-the-century bar’s grand opening is set for March 19. Hours: 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday-Sunday.
 
World Cup
4023 Hamilton Ave., Northside
Owner Alex Kuhns is working with new partners on his sports-themed international restaurant. He plans to open by the end of the year, but an exact date remains up in the air.
 
Zinomobile
The food truck that will serve dishes from the former Cincinnati favorite Zino’s is still finalizing locations where it will serve and could possibly open a brick-and-mortar space, too.
 

Picnic and Pantry opening second location in OTR, focusing on catering in Northside


Picnic and Pantry, a Northside staple for the past five years, will no longer serve as the neighborhood’s specialty grocery store. Instead, the location on Hamilton Avenue will become the headquarters for owner Lisa Kagen’s catering business, while a new retail location will open in three weeks at 1400 Republic St. in Over-the-Rhine.
 
“We love cooking food, but trying to keep up with the retail part is distracting us from our catering goals and the lunch crowd we plan to serve downtown,” Kagen says.

Over-the-Rhine Community Housing (OTRCH) and restaurant owner Thunderdome approached Kagen about bringing a storefront to OTR, specifically to the building being rehabbing at 14th and Republic across from Salazar Restaurant & Bar. The 770-square-foot OTR store will be menu-driven, with a variety of grocery essentials and pet food as well as specialty, artisan, local, organic and conventional foods.

All of the packaged sandwiches, salads and snacks that Northside customers have grown to know and love will still be available at Melt Cafe.
 
As for the Northside storefront, it will become Picnic and Pantry’s office and expanded commissary to accommodate the growth of the catering side of the business. It will be a place to meet clients and showcase pictures, platters and linens, Kagen says.
 
Picnic and Pantry’s handcrafted counter and two registers will be moved to Melt to better serve customers during the checkout process.
 
“We love Northside, and that’s why we’re centering our business operations here,” Kagen says. “We’re committed to supporting the historic business district.”

Kagen is working with students from Miami University, OTRCH and Acanthus Group, the general contractor, to get the store up and running by mid-March.
 

Former homebrewers bringing something unique to Northside


An old white barn sitting on several acres next to Spring Grove Cemetery will soon be home to Cincinnati’s newest alcohol-based venture, Northside Distilling Co. The distillery will start on a small scale but will eventually distribute to Cincinnati bars and restaurants, starting with Northside first of course.
 
Co-founders Chris Leonidas and Josh Koch have dabbled in homebrewing and winemaking for several years, eventually deciding they wanted a new challenge. After researching distilling, they learned there are various outdated Prohibition-era laws that make distilling a tricky business.
 
“It’s 100 percent illegal to make any spirit without the appropriate federal and state permits, which are hard to navigate in the first place,” Leonidas says. “Within a few weeks of receiving my still, I got a letter stating the laws of distilling and the penalties should I break any of these laws. It really lit the fire to keep moving and to get open.”
 
Once open, Northside Distilling will start with a small retail sales area — taprooms and bars are illegal for distilleries. But Leonidas says there are a few Ohio distilleries that are fighting that law and trying to create a system where distilleries can operate a bar or taproom much like a brewery.
 
Retail sales will be during certain hours, and each customer will be allowed to purchase 1.5 liters per day. Customers can sample, but only four quarter-ounce pours per visit.
 
If the law changes, Leonidas plans to build a taproom setup where customers can learn about distilling and taste a variety of spirits.
 
Northside Distill will have two stills — a one-pot still for corn whiskey (moonshine) and rum and a secondary column still to clean vodka to a very smooth, sippable flavor. Its current setup is able to produce about 250 cases per year. Once in production stage, Leonidas’ business plan is to triple capacity within six months, close to 1,000 cases per year.
 
He also plans to bottle some of the corn whiskey in 20-liter barrels to age for a bourbon that will be released at a later date and will also create flavored moonshine for seasonal and mixing drinks.
 
“We hope to bring some attention to Northside,” Leonidas says. “If one person drives down Hamilton Avenue to pick up a bottle of our moonshine, he might come back for dinner or a drink that night. And our way, we helped the neighborhood.”
 
He also hopes that Northside Distilling becomes a place that hosts community events and becomes part of the culture that is Northside.
 
“The history, culture and vibe of the neighborhood have always put it on the cutting edge,” Leonidas says. “Hundreds of years ago, Northside was on the edge of the eastern part of the country and was a place that people set out from to head to the great unknown, the Wild West. There was a mingling of frontiersmen, Native Americans, adventurers and explorers. To this day, Northside keeps a certain attitude about it and has an incredible blend of industrial buildings, residential homes, wild creative art and lively flair.”
 
Stay tuned to Northside Distilling’s Facebook page for news about opening dates and products.
 

Northside chosen to participate in national EPA workshop


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that 22 communities across the country, including Northside, will participate in its Buildings Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. The program gives communities technical assistance in order to pursue development strategies that support small growth and sustainability goals as well as encourage local economic development.
 
EPA staff and national experts will conduct one- to two-day workshops from April to June focusing on the specific sustainability tool that each community requested: Bikeshare Planning, Supporting Equitable Development, Infill Development for Distressed Cities, Sustainable Strategies for Small Cities and Rural Areas, Flood Resilience for Riverine and Coastal Communities.
 
Northside’s workshop will focus on Supporting Equitable Development.
 
“Northside faces a common problem that many communities across the country are facing,” says the U.S. EPA's announcement. “When communities grow and develop using smart growth principles, as we’ve seen Northside successfully do in recent years, existing community members can sometimes be priced out of the local housing market.”
 
The neighborhood is looking to evade this challenge by focusing on development of affordable housing for a range of income levels. The EPA hopes to take the lessons learned in Cincinnati and apply them to other communities that are going through the same types of development challenges.
 
The workshops are held in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The organizations work together to coordinate investments in housing, transportation and environmental protection.
 
Since 2011, the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program has provided assistance to 130 communities in 40 states. As a result, community groups, local governments and tribal governments have increased their capacity to successfully implement smart growth and sustainable approaches that protect the environment, improve public health, create jobs, expand economic opportunity, prepare for effects of climate change and improve the overall quality of life.
 

New single-family housing project coming together in Northside


Over the past 11 years, there have been several larger single-family developments in Northside — Northwind by Potterhill and Rockford Woods and Virginia Place, which were both CitiRamas by In-Line Development. Large land parcels further from the business district became available and attractive for larger for-profit developers, and about 100 new homes have been built and sold.
 
Infill, nearer to the central business district, is harder to come by. The lots are smaller and disconnected and can take years to assemble into potentially larger projects.
 
Five new single-family houses will soon be developed at the northwest corner of Fergus and Lingo streets in Northside. The Cincinnati Northside Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (CNCURC) received the first parcel of land for the project in 2006 and purchased the remaining three parcels by 2013.
 
Northside was chosen for the development because of its character and to add diversity to its new housing stock. Most of Northside’s residential projects in recent years have been apartments.
 
“Much of Northside’s success is due to the diversity, creativity, compassion and involvement of residents and business owners,” says Stefanie Sunderland, executive director of CNCURC. “As an organization, CNCURC strives to provide different housing options for the growing eclectic population interested in relocating to the community or wishing to establish more permanent roots in the neighborhood.”
 
D-HAS Architecture Planning & Design partnered with Great Traditions Land & Development Company for the project, which is part of D-HAS’s City Series. The project is being funded through the presale of the homes.
 
The two- and three-bedroom houses will have detached garages and will range in size from 1,600 to 2,000 square feet. Prices will start in the mid-$200,000 range. Potential homebuyers will be able to choose from 12 different exterior options and various floor plans. There will also be an option for a third floor and accessory dwelling unit that would expand the house to 3,000 square feet and raise the price to about $350,000.
 
A groundbreaking date hasn’t been set yet, but it's expected that construction on each house will take about six months to complete.
 

Northside church renovations to yield brewery, theater, event space

Urban Artifact, formerly Grayscale Cincinnati, recently purchased the old St. Patrick's church in Northside, which was most recently home to Queen City Cookies. Plans are to renovate the church property into a brewery and event space by spring. Urban Artifact was also working on a project at the old Jackson Brewery in Over-the-Rhine, and their plans for Northside contain some of the same program elements.
 
“The church has the same reused aesthetic as the Jackson Brewery,” says Urban Artifact’s Scott Hand, who is serving as construction manager and architect for the project. “It’s a great architectural space, and preservation is big for us.”
 
The Northside property includes the church and nearby gymnasium and rectory, totaling over 20,000 square feet. The church will have a 200-seat theater upstairs in the sanctuary and a taproom, bar and smaller event space on the ground level. The gym will be home to the actual brewery, and the rectory may be the site of a future restaurant.
 
Bret Kollmann-Baker and Scott Hunter are focused on the brewery part of the project, along with Hand and his business partner, Dominic Marino. Kollmann-Baker says the taproom will have 8-12 of its own beers on tap as well as a full liquor license. The plan is to offer something for everyone and to create unique beer cocktails to introduce people to the beer.
 
There are also plans to distribute the beer to Northside bars.
 
Urban Artifact is bringing other Northside businesses into the space. New Edgecliff Theatre will perform upstairs. Groundwork Cincinnati, which is in charge of the Mill Creek bike path, is renting part of the rectory for office space and its educational outreach program.
 
Hand also hopes to create a courtyard biergarten, something that will help bring the project to the forefront of the open container entertainment district that's in the works for Northside. Urban Artifact purchased the St. Patrick property as one parcel, which means that it requires one liquor license.
 
“This facility is perfect,” Hand says. “There’s lots of density and historic elements in the neighborhood, and it would benefit from a larger venue like this. There’s nowhere that can hold 700 people here. We also get to be Northside’s brewery (and) to be the brand for local pride.”
 

Ruth's Parkside Cafe owners hoping to host American Can reunion


Built in 1921, the American Can building in Northside was home to the American Can Company, which manufactured can-making machines. After the company closed in 1963, it reopened as the Cleveland Machine Company, which used the first floor for machining purposes.
 
The building then sat vacant for almost 30 years, until it was redeveloped into 110 apartments, Ruth’s Parkside Café and Fisher Design.
 
Since Ruth’s opened in October 2013, customers have come in whose parents, relatives or themselves worked at American Can. In its heyday, the company employed about 2,500 people. Restaurant owners Mary Kroner and David Tape want to keep those memories alive by hosting an American Can reunion of sorts.
 
For now, Kroner is gathering a list of people who are interested in the idea. She’s working with a professor at the University of Cincinnati who specializes in local history, and she wants to hear what others remember about their time at American Can.
 
Details haven’t been ironed out yet, but Kroner plans to have the reunion on a Sunday (when Ruth’s isn’t open) and pass around photos, memorabilia and stories about American Can as well as learn a little more about its history.
 
If you’re interested in participating in or learning more about the American Can reunion, please email Mary Kroner at info@ruthscafe.com.
 

Northside's Barrio Tequileria changes owners, updates menu


Northside’s Barrio Tequileria opened in spring 2013 but closed after just a few months in business. Chuck Eberle and Thomas Placke recently reopened the restaurant and have updated the menu to include Tex-Mex favorites.
 
“Over the last 12 years, we’ve formed a bond over our love of food and drink and the different cultures they’re associated with,” Placke says. He and Eberle own 3TC Entertainment Group, Barrio’s parent company.
 
The pair revamped the menu to feature Tex-Mex dishes that combine items from the past owner’s menu with Texas-style favorites. Menu highlights include a build-your-own Barrio — a half-pound burger, grilled chicken breast or black bean veggie burger with a variety of toppings — as well as pulled pork and smoked beef brisket sandwiches, with the option of adding the smoked meat to tacos, nachos, quesadillas and burritos.
 
Barrio still has a wide variety of tequila and specialty cocktails, but Eberle and Placke also added local and national craft beers in cans, bottles and drafts, which will rotate often. 
 
Barrio will also feature local artists and bands on the weekends as well as weekly open mic jazz night on Tuesday, trivia on Wednesday and karaoke on Thursday. Brunch will soon be served on Saturday and Sunday, featuring bloody Mary/Maria, margarita, mimosa and belini specials, plus an add-your-own-garnish bar. The patio is dog-friendly and has giant Jenga, Connect 4 and cornhole. There’s also a roast your own s’mores dessert menu and dog-bone shaped treat menu for the pups.
 
“The excitement in Northside’s South Block area is growing tremendously, with the grand reopening of Barrio along with The Littlefield and soon-to-be Arcade Legacy and Tajine sandwich shop,” Placke says of the neighborhood's stretch of Spring Grove Avenue. “We hope to continue to add to this excitement.”
 

12 Cincinnati projects receive $30 million in state historic tax credits


Across the state, a total of $41.8 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits was awarded to 31 organizations that plan to rehabilitate 35 historic buildings. Projects range from new office, hotel, retail and event spaces to 792 new market-rate housing units and the preservation of 279 affordable housing units.

Twelve Cincinnati projects were granted almost $30 million in state historic tax credits, with the bulk going to the Music Hall renovation project.

51 E. Clifton Ave., Over-the-Rhine
Project cost: $750,000
Tax credit: $147,000
Built in 1890 as tenement housing for the workers at OTR’s breweries and other industries, the building has been vacant for a number of years. It will be redeveloped into seven market-rate apartments.

1200 and 1208 Main St., OTR
Project cost: $3,231,129
Tax credit: $320,000
Wurst & Lorentz opened a “fancy goods store” in 1887 at 1200 Main St. The property has housed a number of dry goods, millinery and butcher shops and is currently vacant. Urban Sites plans to redevelop the two buildings into 19 apartments with first-floor retail space.

1317 Republic St., OTR
Project cost: 1,494,669
Tax credit: $199,000
Built in 1878, the Greek Revival building has been vacant for several years. Grandin Properties plans to redevelop the first three floors of the building into six apartments.

1319 Republic St., OTR
Project cost: $1,494,669
Tax credit: $199,000
Also built in 1878, this building is the twin of 1317 Republic St. Grandin Properties will redevelop the vacant site into six apartments, and both projects will complement others from the company in the block, including the former Emanuel Community Center and two buildings on 13th Street.

1405 Clay St., OTR
Project cost: $1,101,746
Tax credit: $180,000
Built between 1885 and 1890, the currently vacant property will be rehabbed into four apartments and first-floor retail by Urban Sites.

4089 Langland St., Northside
Project cost: $770,760
Tax credit: $150,000
This building once housed a café and boarding house but was most recently used by a lumber company. It’s been vacant since 2005 and will eventually house Wire & Twine Design Studios and a coworking space as well as two residential units.

Ambassador Apartments, 722 Gholson Ave. and 3415 Reading Road, Avondale
Project cost: $9,410,866
Tax credit: $913,751
Opened in 1929, Ambassador Apartments has been challenged with a number of maintenance issues. The Community Builders recently acquired the property and plans to renovate the 18 units so they can continue to be affordable housing.

Cincinnati Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., OTR
Project cost: $127,500,000
Tax credit: $25 million
The national historic landmark was dedicated during Cincinnati’s fourth May Festival in 1878 and is home to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera and May Festival and is managed by Cincinnati Arts Association. Rehab plans include upgrading building systems and handicap accessibility, improving operational efficiency and reopening and refreshing the exterior facades in order to increase the number of events held in the space.

Crescent Court Apartments, 3719 Reading Road, Avondale
Project cost: $8,370,356
Tax credit: $249,999
Built in 1911, Crescent Court Apartments was recently acquired by The Community Builders. The 37 affordable housing units will be redeveloped as part of a larger project planned for the neighborhood.

Heberle School, 2015 Freeman Ave., West End
Project cost: $11,189,704
Tax credit: $1,834,000
The Heberle School is one of several vacant schools in the neighborhood and will be converted into 59 apartments. It’s the first project in the West End to utilize state historic tax credits.

Poinciana Apartments, 3522 and 3639 Reading Road; 610 and 615 Maple Ave., Avondale
Project cost: $20,279,443
Tax credit: $440,202
Built in 1908, The Community Builders will redevelop the 44-unit building as part of a larger project in the neighborhood. Along with three other properties, the project will yield clean, safe, affordable housing.

Somerset Apartments, 802 Blair Ave., Avondale
Project cost: $5,892,147
Tax credit: $249,999
The apartments were built in 1869, and The Community Builders will rehab and preserve the existing 30 apartments.  
 

New housing development coming to Northside


Northside’s first new housing development since the American Can Lofts in 2012 is under construction. The Gantry, located at 4100 Hamilton Ave., will bring 131 apartments to the neighborhood.

With Northside's business district continuing to stabilize, The Gantry will help bring more residents and foot traffic to the area. Most of Northside's housing stock is circa 1950s, and land for new developments is hard to come by in the neighborhood.
 
The $16 million project involves redeveloping the site formerly occupied by the Myron G. Johnson & Son Lumber Co., which closed in the early 2000s. The city purchased the land parcel in 2006, and Indianapolis-based Milhaus Construction was chosen as the developer after a request for proposals in 2012.
 
The mixed-use project will include three separate buildings: two four-story buildings and a three-story building at 1518 Knowlton St., which was the home of a bowling alley and pool hall. There will also be 8,000 square feet of retail space, which will bring a number of new businesses to the Hamilton Avenue business district.

Apartments will range from 400 square feet to 1,100 square feet, and prices will range from $600 to $1,600 per month. The LEED Silver-certified apartments are expected to be ready by next summer.   
 

Turn-of-the-century bar coming soon to Northside

The Northside building most recently occupied by The Serpent will open as Tillie’s Lounge in February and feature champagne cocktails, craft beer, wine, premium snacks and bite-sized desserts sourced from a local bakery.
 
The building, located at 4042 Hamilton Ave., was built in 1881 for Droege Shoes and remained a cobbler for over 75 years. It’s been vacant since The Serpent closed and has seen a makeover, since the inside was previously all black.
 
Tillie’s will incorporate Northside’s history as well, and the champagne cocktails will be named for neighborhood nostalgia. For example, The Walk-Over, which is named for one of Tillie’s tricks, is made with raspberry vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and pomegranate juice.
 
The bar is being named after Tillie the elephant, one of the exotic animals from John Robinson’s Circus, which performed at the intersection of Blue Rock and Hamilton in the early 20th century. Tillie is known for stopping an elephant stampede and a derailed streetcar, and when she died schools were closed so the children could attend her funeral.
 
Tillie’s won’t be circus-themed but will be period-themed. Owners Nigel Cotterill and JC Diaz, who also own Below Zero Lounge, are working with Dwellings on Madison to give the bar a turn-of-the-century feel. The space will feature a baby grand piano and TVs and will host local and national music acts.
 

Local theater company setting up shop in Northside

New Edgecliff Theatre is currently between homes, but by April, it will be rehearsing and performing in a new event space in the old St. Patrick Church in Northside, located at 1662 Blue Rock St. Grayscale Cincinnati is currently renovating the church, which will also be home to a brewery and taproom.
 
“We hope to help strengthen the arts in Northside, and bring more vitality to the area,” says Jim Stump, New Edgecliff’s producing artistic director. “Northside has an arts profile already, but it doesn’t have a permanent theater company.”
 
On Nov. 15, the theater group is performing a murder-mystery fundraiser at Below Zero Lounge. It will feature The Whodunit? Players, as well as members of the New Edgecliff staff. There’s also a radio drama performance of Miracle on 34th Street at Northside Tavern this winter. During the extended intermission, the audience will be able to enjoy desserts from Cincinnati State’s culinary arts department.
 
New Edgecliff is also working on doing bar nights at Northside haunts over the next few months. Stump is performing his one-man show at Below Zero in January to help raise funds for the theater.
 
“Northside is very similar to our former home in Columbia Tusculum,” Stump says. “It’s a unique community with lots of locally owned and operated businesses. And our new facility has so much potential.”
 
New Edgecliff’s mission is to create a powerful artistic experience by utilizing local professionals and stressing the fundamental communion between the actors and the audience.
 
New Edgecliff will christen its new space with its performance of Race April 9-25. Tickets to all performances are $27, and student tickets are $20. You can purchase them online or by calling Cincy Ticket at 888-428-7311.
 
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