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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 West End school to become senior apartments


Indianapolis-based TWG Development will soon be redeveloping the former George E. Sands Montessori school, located at 940 Poplar St. in the West End, into affordable housing for seniors. TWG is in the process of purchasing the school from Cincinnati Public Schools for a total of $150,000, with construction expected to begin in April.
 
“The West End community has been very open and supportive of this project,” says Andrea Kent, development associate at TWG. “The development will bring safe, quality, affordable housing to the seniors of the community and will help spur further development in the neighborhood.”
 
Opened in 1975 in Mt. Adams, Sands Montessori was the first public Montessori in the U.S. Two more sites were opened and then combined in 1979 and moved to the West End. The school itself moved to Mt. Washington in 2002, and the four-story building has sat vacant since 2007.
 
The $12 million historic adaptive reuse project will yield 65 senior apartments, ranging from 400 to 900 square feet. The studio, one- and two-bedroom units will all have updated mechanical, electrical and plumbing as well as full kitchens, washer and dryer.
 
In line with historic adaptive reuse guidelines, TWG plans to preserve the building’s auditorium, corridors, windows, exterior and part of the gymnasium. The auditorium will remain an auditorium and be available for resident use. There will also be a community room and fitness room as well as leasable office space.
 
Residents must be 55 or older and must meet income requirements. Although it’s not an assisted living complex, Cincinnati Area Senior Services will be on-site and will provide transportation, case management and Meals on Wheels for residents.
 

Rhinehaus owners investing in Pendleton community


A year ago, the owners of Rhinehaus in Over-the-Rhine started working on a second bar/restaurant concept for the Broadway Square development in Pendleton. Nation Kitchen & Bar will open later this spring, with a focus on community.
 
“We saw a huge opportunity in the neighborhood,” says Andrew Salzbrun, who along with Aaron Kohlhepp and Jack Weston owns both Nation and Rhinehaus. “Right now there’s nothing going on there, there are no businesses to create interaction among neighbors, no programming outside of the Final Friday art galleries. As a resident of Pendleton I saw a hole, and I want to have a thriving, vibrant community where people know one another.”
 
Having a space to help build lifelong relationships was critical when designing Nation. The 1,800-square-foot restaurant has little alcoves that allow for more intimate conversation. The eight- to 10-item menu will also focus on dishes and drinks that are meant to share, with a burger at the core.
 
“Think of the power of social media,” Salzbrun says. “It used to be the post office, then a bar, now it’s websites. We want to take a step back and get to the fundamentals and take social media back to the bar concept.”
 
Like Rhinehaus, Nation will be a place for everyone. Salzbrun says price points will be very approachable and will make it easy for guests to eat there two or three times a week without breaking the bank.
 
Nation’s name has roots in the neighborhood as well. Not only does it lend itself to building community, but it’s named after Carrie Nation, an early leader of the women’s temperance movement. She used to walk into bars and smash beers with a hatchet.
 
“It’s kind of ironic that we’re putting her name on a bar, since she was a precursor to Prohibition,” Salzbrun says.
 
Nation is the first anchor for Phase I of Broadway Square, which includes 39 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. Phase II begins this spring, with Phase III to follow.
 

Number of new developments planned for College Hill business district


A number of new developments are in the works for the College Hill business district along Hamilton Avenue and West North Bend Road.
 
Model Group and Episcopalian Retirement Homes are developing a $10.5 million mixed-use project at the corner of Marlowe and Hamilton Avenues. When finished, Marlowe Court will include 5,000 square feet of street-level retail as well as 53 one- and two-bedroom senior apartments above. If the project receives tax credits in June, it's slated completion date is January 2017.
 
Plans are still in the works for the Saint Francis Group to develop 7.5 acres at the north end of the business district into housing and retail. College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. (CHCURC) plans to renovate five buildings to create one- and two-bedroom apartments above first-floor retail. A 100-space parking lot is in the works behind the properties on the west side of Hamilton between Cedar and Marlowe Avenues.
 
The project is to begin at the end of February, starting with the demolition of several buildings that will allow for outdoor dining for restaurants as well as a pedestrian walkway from the parking lot on Hamilton.
 
Seventeen storefronts along Hamilton will also receive $175,000 worth of facade improvements, including new doors, windows, lighting, signage, awnings and paint.
 
"We hope that these new developments create positive momentum for other private investment in the business district," says Mike Cappel, president of CHCURC. "We further hope that a revitalized business district helps to spur additional reinvestment in the great single-family homes throughout the community."
 

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.
 

"Hungry" entrepreneurs raising food truck awareness


Brothers PJ and Matt Neumann and their friend Mike Madell-Brown have all worked in the food and beverage industry. Now they’re embarking on a new food journey together by starting the Hungry Bros. food truck, which will be up and running by Reds’ Opening Day.
 
PJ was in Colorado on a business trip when he realized he wanted to pursue his passion for the food and beverage industry. He says it’s always been a dream to own a restaurant with his brother, but he wanted to take a less-than-traditional route to doing that.
 
“I called Matt and told him I quit my job,” PJ says. “It just so happens that he was looking for direction in his career, too. It was perfect timing.”
 
The truck won’t have a set menu but will change based on what the harvest has to offer. It will center around fried pies and waffle fries, with savory and sweet offerings such as the Lamb Uel Jackson, a root beer and cherry braised lamb, and a PB&J pie with seasonal jam.
 
Waffle fry dishes include poutine — waffle fries topped with Wisconsin cheese curds, lamb gravy and a fried egg — and a Reuben-inspired fry with smoked Gouda, grilled pastrami, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on top. There will also be a waffle fry sundae with chocolate ice cream, topped off with peppered bacon.
 
“As kids we always went to Wendy’s and got fries and chocolate Frostys,” says PJ, who has a finance degree from Xavier University. “So we decided to formalize that and add some bacon, too.”
 
When looking for a vehicle to host their kitchen, the team looked at buses and trucks and eventually decided on a Mike-Sells Potato Chip delivery truck. The Neumann brothers launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $2,500 for a new wrap for the truck, reaching the goal within the first day. The campaign is still open until March 6, and the guys are now raising money for a commercial ice cream machine so they can serve homemade ice cream with their sweet pie offerings.
 
Hungry Bros. plans to set up at the City Flea and Second Sunday on Main, and they’ve applied to be part of Food Truck Alley at Taste of Cincinnati as well as the Cincinnati Food Truck Association.
 
PJ says they’re interested in partnering with places like Liberty’s Bar & Bottle, which doesn’t serve food, but in order to sell food on city streets in Cincinnati you have to have a permit and can park only in mobile food vending zones. There aren’t any of those zones on Main Street, where Liberty's is located.
 
“There are about 40 food trucks in town, and there’s a lot of work to do to raise awareness about them,” PJ says. “One of our missions is to bring that awareness — eating on the street is fun. You don’t need a reservation. Just get your palate out there and eat.”
 
The Neumanns having a soft opening on March 25 at Rhinegeist, where they’ll be testing out a text-to-order option — customers can check out the truck’s menu in the taproom, then text their order down to the truck, pay using Square, and a runner will bring their food up to them.
 

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.
 

Martin & Marilyn Wade's ambitious OTR development is underway


Much of the development in Over-the-Rhine has been spearheaded by large organizations like 3CDC and Urban Sites. But private developers are coming on the scene now, and they're not just renovating private residences.

Martin Wade, owner of Rookwood Pottery, and his wife Marilyn are working to redevelop a large swath of OTR at Walnut and East Liberty streets, where their proposed $75 million project will include the historic Grammer’s German restaurant. Phase I is underway on existing properties along Walnut between 14th and Melindy streets, with 21 apartments to be completed by June.
 
The Wades have been acquiring OTR property since 2007, when they purchased Grammer’s from former Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell and tried to run it as a bar and meeting space. It closed in 2011.
 
Their ambitious three-phase, mixed-use project will include a total of 100 apartments, 40,000 square feet of office and retail space and four single-family townhomes.
 
Phase II sits just north of Melindy, which will be turned into a pedestrian street. This portion of the project will include demolishing part of Grammer’s complex to make way for new construction, but part of the restaurant’s façade and the bar will be preserved. The first floor will include 6,000 square feet of retail, with 16,000 square feet of office space on the second floor and 24,000 square feet of commercial space and eight apartments on the third floor. There will also be 157 parking spaces of parking both underground and on street level.
 
Another part of Phase II will be four single-family townhomes on Clay Street, each with its own garage. Wade hopes to break ground on the second phase by the third quarter of this year, with construction finishing in 2017.
 
The Phase III will include 68 two- and three-bedroom apartments behind the Vine Street Kroger on the west side of Walnut. The entire project is slated to be completed by 2019.
 
Craig Gossman of the Gossman Group is the project architect, Megen Construction Co. is the general contractor and Urban Sites will be the property manager.  
 

Reds stadium adding features ahead of Opening Day, MLB All-Star Game


Great American Ball Park is undergoing a number of changes this winter, including the addition of a new bar, to help prepare for the MLB All-Star Game on July 14. The $4.5 million renovation is slated to be completed by Opening Day, April 6.
 
The Bootlegger bar is being added on the first-base side of the lower-level concourse in the area that houses Skyline and LaRosa’s. Those dining options will remain, though Penn Station will move to the concourse on the third-base side.
 
The bar will give fans the feel of walking into an old-time bar. Inspiration for the design came from the bar behind the lower-level blue seats at the Reds’ former home, Riverfront Stadium, which was based on the beer garden that Boss Cox, who was part of Cincinnati’s political scene at the turn of the century, ran in Over-the-Rhine.
 
The Bootlegger will offer liquor and beer, including some craft beer options, but it won’t have as many craft options as the existing bar on the third-base side.
 
The second major renovation this winter has been the upper level Riverfront Club, which was previously a white-tablecloth dining option. It will now be called The Handlebar and feature covered seating that's exposed to the outdoors.
 
In addition, the concession stand facades along the concourses on the first- and third-base lines are getting facelifts. They'll look more like actual storefronts, with brick fronts.
 
The Reds are also creating Retail Row at the main entrance, which will create a space for retail kiosks down the third-base concourse to the entrance to Gapper’s Alley. Retailers include game-used merchandise, a Reds Hall of Fame stand, regular Reds retail merchandise, a Reds Community Fund booth for Split the Pot raffle tickets, a season ticket holder booth and a stand for the Reds Heads kids club.
 

Pop-up chef Ryan Santos opening brick-and-mortar restaurant


For the past five years, Chef Ryan Santos has been operating Please as a pop-up restaurant at venues around the city. Now he plans to open a brick-and-mortar storefront under the same name.
 
Santos’ love for cooking began 10 years ago when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
 
“I learned to cook from scratch with a lot of dietary restriction,” he says. “I quickly fell in love with cooking, and when my health improved I started training in kitchens around the country and in Europe.”
 
The restaurant’s menu will look a lot like it does now, with a five-course and a three-course offering. The bar will also offer different a la carte options. Please will be open for dinner, and Santos says he’s still working on a daytime component but that it won’t be your typical 11 a.m.-2 p.m. lunch.
 
“We hope to bring a new format and experience to food that doesn’t currently exist here,” Santos says. “Our approach to food and the dining experience is made up of all of the things I’ve loved during my travels domestically and abroad.”
 
Once open, Please won’t host pop-up dinners any longer, but Santos plans to continue doing private dinners for customers, where he comes to and cooks in their home. Santos is also toying with hosting new pop-up concepts and is working with Sierra Laumer of forkheartknife, who would host brunches in the space.
 
Santos says Please will open roughly a year from now at an address to be determined — he's looking at possible locations in Columbia Tusculum, East Walnut Hills, the Findlay Market area and elsewhere in Over-the-Rhine.
 
Please's Kickstarter campaign to help raise restaurant funds ends on Feb. 5.
 

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.
 

Federal grant to help kick-start Ohio River Trail West development


The proposed Ohio River Trail West was recently awarded over $1 million from a federal congestion mitigation/air quality grant, which along with $261,000 from the city’s bicycle program and other funds will go toward completing Phase I. The ultimate goal for the trail is a 20-mile off-road bikeway and greenway that connects Smale Riverfront Park downtown to Shawnee Lookout in North Bend, as well as an eight-mile loop around Shawnee Lookout.
 
These initial funds will be used for much of the 3.7-mile portion of the trail extending from the Evans recreation area near Lower Price Hill and around the Gilday-Riverside recreation complex.
 
“Lower Price Hill is on the threshold of exciting things,” says Tom Croft, co-chair of River West Working Group.
 
Work on the new Sixth Street viaduct was recently finished, which reconnected Lower Price Hill with the surrounding area. Oyler School, which is a pre-K through high school learning and community center, went from having an 85 percent dropout rate to having an 85 percent high school graduation rate. Plus the Incline Theater next to the Incline Public House is on track to be completed by summer.
 
River West Working Group, which deals with matters of land use that affect the western riverfront and the nearby greenspaces, is interested in the positive developments along the river, including industrial, transportation and recreational developments.
 
“As development has progressed along the western riverfront, it became clearer that there were recreational assets on the west side, and that there was no real link among them,” Croft says.  
 
A western riverfront trail as been part of public policy since 1969, says Dave Zelman, co-chair of River West Working Group. In 2008, the organization decided that it was important to start somewhere and adopted the Ohio River Trail West as one of its major projects.
 
“The river is the city’s greatest asset and is a key to commerce, recreation and a way of life,” Zelman says. “Our vision is to refocus on the western riverfront and provide multiple new opportunities for vibrant uses, including working, living and playing, in a way that makes the area a regional attraction.”
 
The Ohio River Trail West could eventually link to trails that run north up the Great Miami River.
 

Pure Romance to run downtown pop-up shop throughout February


Just in time for Valentine's Day, Pure Romance hosts a pop-up shop, Truly Sexy, Feb. 6-28 on the first floor of the Cincinnati Bar Association's downtown building. The 4,000-square-foot shop will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 225 E. Sixth St.
 
Truly Sexy is the company's first pop-up boutique and is geared to increase brand awareness and introduce new consumers to the brand and what it has to offer, says CEO Chris Cicchinelli.
 
Pure Romance doesn’t plan to open a permanent retail location, but there may be other month-long pop-up boutiques in the company’s future.
 
“If this model is successful, we would consider expanding to other large cities, like New York, Chicago and L.A.,” Cicchinelli says.
 
The shop will offer Pure Romance’s bath and beauty lines, massage oils and lotions, creams, enhancement products, adult toys and its all-natural line. The company will also be introducing its newest line, the Masterpiece collection, at Truly Sexy.
 
The Masterpiece collection is inspired by the books and upcoming film Fifty Shades of Grey. It features higher end toys and items that have become popular since the books’ release, including a collection of decorative masks, whips, floggers and ben wa balls.
 
Truly Sexy will also host private after-hours "Boutique Shopping Experiences" for groups of 20 or more. To schedule an event, contact Suzanne Murray at rsvp@pureromance.com or 513-205-7662.
 

Chicago transplant bringing new restaurant, sense of community to OTR


Nick Pesola started his business idea, rotisserie chickens, at Findlay Market last summer. In a few weeks, he will be opening the doors of his brick-and-mortar restaurant, Revolution Rotisserie & Bar, at 1106 Race St. in Over-the-Rhine.
 
“When I moved to Cincinnati for work, I lived in Oakley and stumbled upon OTR at a friend’s recommendation,” Pesola says. “I fell in love with the neighborhood. It has a good blend of urban and neighborhood and reminds me of Chicago. There are also lots of entrepreneurial things happening as well as transplants like me. Why wouldn’t anyone want to live in OTR or start a business here?”
 
Originally, Pesola set out to do a healthier take on gyros, which are popular in his native Chicago. But after a few tastings, he realized chicken was the way to go. He started with an eight-bird rotisserie at Findlay Market and increased to a 40-bird rotisserie because he kept running out.
 
He also thought he'd be selling whole and half chickens more, but he became known for pita sandwiches. And so Revolution was born.
 
The menu will feature eight pita sandwiches that showcase the versatility of chicken, all topped with vegetables and homemade sauces and made with FreeBird chicken, which is sourced from Amish and Mennonite farms that raise chickens humanely and free of hormones and preservatives. There will also be a potato bowl with mashed potatoes or tater tots, gravy, cheese and chicken on top, and the menu will be rounded out with four salads and a la carte sides like garlic mashed potatoes, cinnamon applesauce, creamed corn, roasted seasonal vegetables and pita chips and hummus.

Revolution will also have a full bar, so customers can have a sandwich and craft beer or a punch-style cocktail.
 
The 1,500-square-foot space has been home to two different cafes and has been completely transformed to fit Revolution’s needs. Pesola installed a hood for the grill top and rotisserie as well as a full bar with 10 seats.
 
“I wanted the space to have a unique identity that was competitive in OTR,” Pesola says. “We’re doing our best to compete in the market and doing something different with a genuine feel.”
 
Not only does Pesola want to be known for his food, but he's also excited about being a great employer and helping his employees receive an education and learn transferable skills.
 
“I want to contribute to the community,” he says. “People come to my door all the time asking for a job, and I’m exploring that. I want to leave OTR a better community than before I opened Revolution. I’m all about improving everything around you and seeking to understand before doing something.”
 
Pesola is funding Revolution on his own, but he's set up a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise $6,000 to offset some start-up expenses.
 

Formerly blighted corner is harbinger of Pleasant Ridge redevelopment


Pleasant Ridge’s signature property at the corner of Montgomery and Ridge roads is in the midst of a $2 million redevelopment. Once finished, 6099 Montgomery Road, or Sixty99, will be home to Cincinnati’s newest brewery and other businesses that add to the neighborhood’s entertainment district.
 
The two-story building dates back the 1800s, when it was a stagecoach hotel. In the late 2000s, it fell into foreclosure and sat vacant for several years. The Pleasant Ridge Development Corporation (PRDC) began to look for opportunities to redevelop and formed a partnership with Gene Levental of Cincinnati Premier Realty.
 
In 2011, PRDC won a $200,000 Neighborhood Business District Improvement Project grant from the city and used the money to purchase the building. Phase I of redevelopment included shell stabilization of the building and preparing it for future tenants.
 
“Since securing our entertainment district license, it’s always been a vision of PRDC to supplement the existing business mix with more destination businesses,” says Jason Chamlee, president of PRDC.
 
In addition to Nine Giant Brewing, two existing tenants will remain in the building: a salon above the brewery and an insurance company. There are currently three spaces awaiting tenants, which Chamlee says he hopes will be food- and beverage-based businesses.
 
“The new model of using these types of businesses as anchors can be replicated,” he says. “It used to be the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker, but food and beverage businesses are the ones that will drive traffic.”
 
The three remaining storefronts vary in size, and two of the three have a shared wall that could be removed to create a larger space.
 
PRDC wants to show Cincinnati that there are great opportunities for investment and development within Pleasant Ridge and help raise the profile of the business district.
 
“We’re hoping to increase Pleasant Ridge’s customer base with this development,” Chamlee says. “We’re a very strong community, but we’re small. We’re targeting our larger nearby neighborhoods and beginning to draw people in from outside. With that, we’re working to bring attention to Pleasant Ridge. We’re trying to raise the district’s profile and the awareness of the area in the city.”
 
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