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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 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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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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New bicycle lanes in the East End to open soon

For three years, residents of the East End met with the Department of Transportation and City Council to come up with a plan for a safer, more pleasant neighborhood. And by the end of the month, the orange barrels throughout the East End will be gone, and the longest, flattest bicycle route in the city will be open.
 
Construction has been done in stages, and everything from Delta Avenue to downtown has been redone as part of the plan. The length of bicycle lanes between Congress Avenue and St. Andrews was opened last year, and this year, the lanes between St. Andrews and downtown will be completed, says East End resident Jackie Weist.
 
The bicycle lanes are, in part, an effort to reduce the noise coming from US-50 and US-52. There are now engine brake signs along the highways, but that hasn’t eliminated the noise. Residents hope the bicycle lanes will force drivers to slow down and reduce the amount of traffic through the neighborhood.
 
The East End bicycle facility was part of the 2010 Bicycle Transportation Plan. The area is ideal because it’s flat, it connects to the Ohio River Trail where the East End ends, and it goes by Lunken Airport and along Riverside Drive.
 
“We hope the new bicycle lanes will bring more bicyclists to the area and bring awareness to what’s going on down here,” says Weist.
 
There’s a lot of history in the East End—a steamboat captain’s home has been remodeled, and rock walls and wrought iron are prevalent. It’s also home to Lunken Airport, the oldest commercial airport in the United States, and the oldest Yacht Club in Ohio.
 
Prior to the official ribbon cutting, the neighborhood is planning a clean up of the area, and may be followed by dinner at BrewRiver Gastropub. Queen City Bike is working with the East End Community Council to plan the event. For more information on the ribbon cutting, check out the Bike Program calendar.
 
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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Columbia Tusculum to bring back its home tour in 2013

Residents of Columbia Tusculum have pride in their neighborhood, and to showcase that, they hold the Columbia Tusculum Home Tour every two or three years. This year, the tour will be held Oct. 6 and will feature about 15 houses, a handful of businesses and a few historic buildings in the neighborhood.
 
Columbia Tusculum was established in 1788, making this year its 225th anniversary. It’s a relatively small neighborhood that thrived in the 1700s, but has seen its share of decline and dilapidated and run-down buildings.
 
“Columbia Tusculum has been in a state of transition over the past few decades, and residents have made it a mission to restore the beautiful homes,” says Janette Yauch, the chair of the home tour.
 
Yauch and the tour want to showcase the work and beauty of the original houses and the effort the homeowners have invested in ensuring long-term sustainability of their homes.
 
Most of the houses in Columbia Tusculum were built between the late 1700s and late 1800s, and are Victorian (also called “painted ladies”) in style. As of now, there will be one craftsman style house included in the tour. The houses included in the tour aren’t for sale, but Yauch is looking into partnering with local realtors to include a few open houses.  
 
The tour includes homes throughout the neighborhood. All of the houses are within walking distance, but there will be a trolley running for those who don’t want to climb the steep hills, Yauch says.
 
Like last year, the tour committee hopes to partner with the Riley School of Irish Music and have live Celtic and Irish music in every house. Day-of ticket sales are sold in front of the Green Dog Cafe, and the committee hopes to partner with them to create food specials for tour-goers.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Local entrepreneur opens second business, Tusculum Grille

Tusculum Grille, formerly known as Tusculum Pizza, opened in May 2012. Josh Phillips, an entrepreneur with one other local business, wanted to re-establish the restaurant as a neighborhood staple.
 
“I’ve always believed in local places, and local establishments are at the heart of neighborhoods,” Phillips says.
 
The menu is chock-full of bar favorites, including pizzas, salads and sandwiches. A few of the most popular items are the steak and chicken philly and the chicken wings, Phillips sats. Tusculum Grille’s house pizza, which is topped with pepperoni and banana peppers, is a must-have, as are the specialty pizzas—basil/pesto/chicken and buffalo chicken—which aren’t on the menu, but they’re ordered often.
 
Tusculum Grille makes its own pizza sauce, seasons and rolls out the dough, slices the meat, and uses fresh vegetables. The wing sauces are also house-made, including the garlic ranch, which customers eat on everything, according to Phillips.
 
Not only does Tusculum Grille have great pizza, but it has something else that sets it apart from other restaurants in Cincinnati: a fire truck. The truck is Phillips’ personal UC football tailgating vehicle, but he built a 500-square-foot patio in front of the restaurant to take advantage of the truck’s “unusual features,” rather than have it sit in storage, he says.
 
“I’ve owned the truck for four years now,” Phillips says. “It’s outfitted with three flat-screen TVs, full bar, pull-out grill, stereo system and taps for two kegs. In the summer, you can sit outside on the patio and catch a Reds game.”
 
Watch for Tusculum Grille in the Cincinnati St. Patrick’s Day parade. They’ve partnered with the Cincinnati Emerald Society and will be rolling down the street in Phillips’ fire truck.
 
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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New trail connector part of a bigger plan for region

The City of Cincinnati plans to hold a dedication ceremony in late May for one of its most recent infrastructure projects: a 1.1-mile bike and walking path that connects the trail at Lunken Field with Schmidt Playfields and Riverview East Academy. The $2.2 million project converts an abandoned railroad spur into a connector for the growing network of paved trails that planners hope will eventually connect downtown with Anderson Township and points to the north, through a connection with the Little Miami Trail.

Two million dollars for a one-mile trail as the city climbs out of a recession; one can hear the budget hawks screaming. But according to officials involved with the project, the connector trail is more than just a luxury for runners and cyclists; it's one piece in a larger plan that is vital to keeping Cincinnati vibrant, healthy and relevant as the nation recovers from the economic downturn.

"It makes a lot of sense to continue investment during an economic downturn," said Cincinnati Director of Transportation and Engineering Michael Moore. "The people who wait until the economy gets better to start are going to be two, three, four years behind the curve." He added that the lengthy process of creating the trail, from identifying the best path to obtaining rights, to working with state and Federal funding sources to raise the money for the project took about four years; this is a project that was well underway when the economy tanked. In fact, he noted, the project created about 50 construction jobs.

The project also creates a much-needed opportunity in the neighborhood, said Tiffaney Hardy, a spokesperson in the Cincinnati City Manager's office. Moore said the city hopes that the trail will provide transportation options for adults as well as children.

"We as a city and department have been trying to create more transportation options for people," he said. "Particularly in these times, when gas is $4, we're trying to create ways people have alternatives to their cars." The goal, he added, is to create infrastructure that makes it just as easy to hop on a bike for the quick run to the store for a quart of milk as it would be to do the same in a car. He says the need is there.

"Since the economic downturn, I've seen more people on their bikes to just get around than I've seen in a long time," he said.

And that plan for a network of safe, convenient set of alternative routes that let people walk and use bikes for transport is part of a much bigger regional picture. John Heilman, technical services coordinator with the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, noted that the new trail connector helps link a central junction in a planned web of rails that stretches east to New Richmond and north through Warren County. The north-south and east-west routes would converge near Lunken Field.

"The city has been making continuous progress," he said, noting that the mile-at-a-time pace is not uncommon as communities build useful urban trail networks. "We have a big grand plan, and we go at it one chunk at a time."

When city officials cut the ribbon on the new connector trail, it may - in and of itself - not seem like much. The mile-long stretch will help kids get much-needed fresh air, and could make it easier for Columbia Tusculum residents to run errands, or at least stretch their legs after work. But as the trail network expands and connects more and more communities along the eastern side of the Cincinnati region, the trail traffic may indeed change: commuters, shoppers and people who choose the pedal over the gas pump may soon get a major boost, as the city becomes increasingly friendly to their needs.

Writer: Matt Cunningham

GREENarama highlights sustainable Cincinnati in first home show

The city's first "green" home show will debut in Columbia Tusculum this June. The show, which will feature the latest housing innovations and environmentally friendly technology, is a collaboration between the City of Cincinnati, the Community and Business Council of Columbia Tusculum, and several local homebuilders.

Andy Riffe, President of GREENarama and co-owner of Andrew James Builders said that the collaboration was the byproduct of several competitive builders sharing information and working together.

"A group of like-minded builders come together every week and talk about the homes and LEED certification. This is a unique metamorphism from being competitors, to sharing all of the green information with each other. It would never had happened if it weren't for this show," Riffe said.

The eight homes in the show will feature the latest green building products, utility systems and Energy Star Appliances. Aiming for LEED certification, they will also be equipped with energy efficient windows and plumbing fixtures, low flow and efficient showers, faucets, and toilets, as well as proper insulation and low VOC paint. Each home will be eligible for a 15-year, $500,000 tax abatement. The homes are also located in a highly walkable neighborhood with nearby restaurants, shops, and parks. Four of the eight homes that are part of the show have already been sold.

"Columbia Tusculum is one of the highest growing house value neighborhoods in the city because it has a great urban location and a positive community," Mahan said. "This community is very collaborative with a lot of outreach and this is just one more project that will help grow their community in a positive way," said Kelly Mahan, President of Mahan Advertising.

The proceeds from Greenerama will go to the Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on providing funding for students seeking an education.

"CSF is a parallel to this project because we wanted an organization that was strongly rooted in Cincinnati and kept the community strong. It speaks to the fact that it's not just a home show to sell homes, but it's also an education opportunity for residents and visitors," Mahan said.

Writer: Lisa Ensminger

Columbia Square transforms Tusculum business district by mixing old and new

With recent developments in Columbia Tusculum's Columbia Square and Eastern Avenue corridor, this east side neighborhood has seen its business district change dramatically in the last five years.

One of the largest developments, Columbia Square, opened in 2010 with corporate tenants like Keller Williams and IPSOS Marketing, which relocated their regional offices from West Chester and Mason to be a part of this vibrant community. But the neighborhood also embraces local entrepreneurial favorites like Green Dog Café, Greener Stock, and Anytime Fitness.

Green Dog Café serves high quality, organic foods at an affordable price, while Greener Stock sells eco-friendly, natural building products for homes and businesses. One of the latest additions, Anytime Fitness, serves as a walkable neighborhood fitness center, open 24-hours, that serves residents.

With the influx of new tenants in the Square, development has also boomed in the old business district along Eastern Avenue as well. Local salon and fitness center, BeneFit, rehabbed one of the neighborhood's historical buildings while Del Apgar, a florist in Hyde Park, recently opened a new space on Eastern Avenue.

"I think the retail businesses are focusing on the needs of what we want as a neighborhood. Without having planned it in advance, businesses are focused on being more health-related," Matt Ackermann, President of Columbia Tusculum's Community Council and owner of Tusculum Pizza, said.

According to Community Council VP, Arlene Golembiewski, the neighborhood supports local "destination businesses." Instead of having traditional drive-by franchises that don't contribute to the community or add character, the destination businesses add to the streetscape, and provide stability to the community which has attracted an influx of new residents.

"It's people who enjoy an urban lifestyle and being close to all of the amenities that the city offers," Golembiewski said.

Writer: Lisa Ensminger

Terry's Turf Club to expand

The new neon sign in front of the old yellow house next door might have passers by wondering if the newly famous burger bar will be opening a hot dog haven to complement the current restaurant. Not the case. Terry's Turf Club owner Terry Carter says the house will be down within the next week and an expansion of the restaurant will be complete by next spring.

Plans to further develop the space had been in the works before they were featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive Ins and Dives" which Carter says increased revenue by around twenty to thirty percent; they serve around 400 guests a night. They are currently meeting with the architects and moving forward with zoning and permits. "We'll have the same motif. It's a honky tonk but it works with the mix of being casually elegant. This is a joint," says Carter.

The new space will double the restaurant's size to become roughly 1,000 square feet including 22 more feet of bar space and seating for 40 more guests. The kitchen will be expanded with new grills and fryers. A large outdoor terrace will be also be added with garage-style doors.

Terry will be bringing in 100 more signs from his neon collection, including more of the bottle-shaped Bevador coolers that stopped production in 1955 but "work wonderfully," shoe-shaped carnival ride cars and Crack the Whip seats. "Grown ups love it more than the kids. You'll be able to sit in them and have dinner in a little shoe," says Carter.

He claims he only works fifteen hours a day, seven days a week so that he can travel the world and fish in Belize and Africa four times a year. His travels inspire new creative menu items that appear every two to three months. New menu items will also be added with the expansion, including numerous items that the restaurant will be the first in the United States to use including Baobab tree fruit from Africa (a thickening agent that helps natives make a living by using the fruit rather than letting it fall and rot). He's also bringing in moose milk cheese from Sweden that sells for $500 a pound and French snail caviar that retails for $225 a tin. But these delicacies won't cost the customer. Terry understands he has people who want foie gras and people who want American cheese on an all-American style burger.

"Innovation is what we do, in a nutshell. We don't skimp. If it costs I don't care. I want the best product out there and I can't please everyone out there. Most of everything I have doesn't come out of a can- all herbs are fresh and top of the line. The chili is made with filet mignon and it's one of my best sellers," explains Carter.

"My business has grown to the point where it's almost unsellable because it's too good, which is a good problem to have," says Carter. "I'd be a fool to sell it."

Terry's Turf Club will stay open during renovations although it will be untidy for a few days.

Terry's is located at 4618 Eastern Ave and is open Monday through Thursday, 4:00 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Kitchen closes at 12:30; Saturday, 12:00 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Kitchen closes at 1:30. Sunday, 12:00 p.m.-1-:00 p.m. Kitchen closes at 9:00 p.m. 

Writer: Rene Brunelle
Photography by Scott Beseler

Keller Williams relocates to historic Columbia Tusculum neighborhood

Keller Williams Realty made the decision to relocate their realty group to Cincinnati's historic Columbia Tusculum neighborhood in late 2009.  Since that time the company has reportedly outpaced other local markets by 30 percent.

The relocation brings Keller Williams Realty to Columbia Square which was developed by Cincinnati-based Al Neyer Inc.  The mixed-use development features 30,000 square feet of retail space, restaurants, and 43,000 square feet of Class A office space that includes 30 executive parking spaces on the first floor of the four story structure.

"When the City partnered with Al Neyer Inc. to develop this project, we were hoping to be able to attract office tenants like Keller Williams Real Estate," said City Manager Milton Dohoney.

The realty group has leased 5,600 square feet of space and becomes the office building's first major tenant.  Inside, the Keller Williams Realty space serves as the home base for 104 agents and 22 permanent agents with dedicated office space.  The new space also serves as a training center for all of Keller Williams Realty's agents in the Cincinnati area.

The City of Cincinnati helped make major improvements, that included new streetscaping, to Columbia Parkway and Delta Avenue when Columbia Square was developed in 2005.  Additionally, the City maintains ownership of the surface parking lot in the center of the development that serves as parking for not only the Columbia Square development, but also the entire Columbia Tusculum business district.

"We can now see the mixed-use development concept at work, with Keller Williams’ 104 real estate professionals supporting the restaurants, fitness facilities, and other service businesses both in Columbia Square and in the surrounding business district," said Dohoney.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy

Green Dog Cafe to open in historic Columbia Tusculum

East side residents and workers will soon be treated to a new “green” restaurant called Green Dog Café which comes from the same people who started Brown Dog Café in Blue Ash and Tinks Café in Clifton.

Restaurant owners are working on interior finishes at this point with an opening expected in the near future.  The space is located along Columbia Parkway in the heart of Columbia Tusculum’s neighborhood business district.  Green Dog Café will occupy 3,200 square feet of space within the new Columbia Square development by Al Neyer, Inc. and seat approximately 120 guests inside with another 40 outside.

Columbia Square also includes a 48,000 square-foot office building, and three retail buildings that have a total of 25,000 square feet of retail space within the $19 million development.  Other retail tenants include Anytime Fitness, Gymboree and Bruegger’s Bagels.

The new restaurant will feature an outdoor dining space, local ingredients, the use of sustainable materials and renewable resources in a “stylish environment.”  Chef and owner Mary Swortwood says that she is excited to open a restaurant that aligns itself with green thinking.

“Our children are now old enough to be part of this new restaurant, and they care a lot about the green steps we’re taking to reduce energy and produce healthier food,” says Swortwood who states that everything at Green Dog Café will be made fresh, in-house and in an open-kitchen concept.

Business partner Mark Swortwood says that the menu will appeal to vegans, vegetarians and those who do not tolerate wheat and dairy.  She also says that there will be something for everyone as “we won’t forget folks who like the basics and no man will leave hungry.”

The restaurant will feature walk-up service with full table service which is a unique ordering process that was inspired by the Swortwood’s extensive travels.  “It saves the patron time and money, without giving up quality,” says Mark who goes on to say that tipping is not required – place your order, take a seat and they will take it from there.

“Green Dog Café is an exciting addition to Columbia Square and complements  the eclectic Columbia Tusculum business district with an upscale, fresh dining option,” according to Molly Paquette, director of real estate development for Al Neyer.


Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler

May means it's bike month in Cincinnati

As Cincinnati strives to become a more bike friendly city, the local bike community continues to grow and become more active.  Recent victories include the announcement of dedicated bike lanes on Spring Grove Avenue when it is repaved in the near future, the start of a new “sharrow” pilot program that will study a variety of bike corridors throughout the city to determine which ones are best suited for “sharrows” and an update to the City’s Bike Plan is currently underway.

The dedicated bike lane along Spring Grove Avenue will further connect the neighborhoods of Downtown and Northside, and will allow bicyclists to safely and quickly travel through the Mill Creek Valley on their way to or from the center city.

“Sharrows” are marked lanes that are used to indicate to motorists that bicyclists do indeed share the road and help provide a safer environment for bicyclists to navigate congested city streets.  These sharrows are used throughout much of the United States, but have yet to be embraced in Ohio, which has recently been ranked as the 32nd best state for bicyclists.

The hopes are that these new initiatives will illustrate support for bicyclists and encourage higher rates of bicycling in the Cincinnati region. But even with these new initiatives, many hurdles still exist for Cincinnati bicyclists.  Support facilities like lockers and showers are virtually non-existent, many bicyclists still do not ride on the streets with vehicular traffic and ample riding and parking space continue to be issues faced by bicyclists.

Sherman Cahal is the owner of the local bicycling forum known as Cincy Rides and regularly participates in the grass-roots rides known as Critical Mass – both of which are meant to engage the local bicycling community and keep communication open for their efforts.  Cahal has attempted to further network the local bicycling community in a way that will hopefully create new and innovative solutions to many of the problems still faced in Cincinnati with regards to bicycling.

May is also National Bike Month, making it the perfect time to celebrate bicycling and bring awareness to its causes in the Cincinnati-area. This year’s Bike Month includes a variety of events and activities geared towards getting Cincinnati-area bicyclists out on the streets and being visible.  One such activity is Deals on Wheels where dozens of local businesses are offering discounts and special deals for those who bicycle to their businesses.

This coming Thursday marks the Cincinnati Bike to Work Day where cyclists are strongly encouraged to get out and bicycle to work.  The efforts of getting people to bicycle to work are largely centered on support facilities like lockers and showers that are currently not found in Cincinnati.

To get involved with Bike Month activities in Cincinnati, you can visit Queen City Bike for regular updates on events, activities and specials.  This involvement is important as the local bicycling community moves forward and spreads the word about their beloved means of transportation.

“The bicycle is perhaps the cleanest mode of transport for any measurable distance, and nothing remains as pure or as spirited as the natural elegance of a bike ride,” says Cahal.

Writer: Randy Simes
Source: Sherman Cahal, owner, Cincy Rides
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