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Over-the-Rhine : Development News

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Cincinnati Streetcar's Maintenance and Operations Facility underway

The last week of August, two vacant buildings at the corner of Henry and Race streets in Over-the-Rhine were demolished to make way for the Cincinnati Streetcar’s Maintenance and Operations Facility. The MOF will have a high bay area for storage and light maintenance of streetcar vehicles and equipment, as well as an outdoor storage track.
 
The 12,500-square-foot facility will also house offices, locker rooms, break facilities and a small parking lot for streetcar operators and staff. As the system grows, the facility can be expanded to accommodate up to 12 streetcar vehicles. The cost of the MOF is $11.9 million, and it will be completed in March 2015.
 
The streetcar itself, which will operate 18 hours a day and 365 days a year, will be ready for passenger transportation in spring 2016. The first phase will be a 3.6-mile loop that will connect The Banks and Findlay Market, with 18 stops along the route. The route will include stops at Government Square, Fountain Square, the Contemporary Arts Center, the Public Library, the Aronoff Center, Horseshoe Casino, the Gateway Quarter, the School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Music Hall and Washington Park.
 
Due to construction and excavation work at the MOF site, there will be minimal traffic restrictions and a detour—14th Street from Central Parkway to Elm will be closed for the installation of a new sanitary and storm drain installation.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Beasley Place housing development coming to OTR

Two buildings on Republic Street in Over-the-Rhine will soon become a 14-unit affordable housing project called Beasley Place. Redevelopment of 1405 and 1407 Republic St. will begin this fall, and should be finished by fall 2014.
 
The project is named for Willie and Fannie Beasley, who were former residents of one of the buildings. They were long-time residents of the building, and their roots ran deep on Republic Street—everyone knew them, says Ashleigh Finke, project manager at Over-the-Rhine Community Housing.
 
“I think the story behind the name really captures why we as an organization exists,” she says. “There are many wonderful people like the Beasleys who have strong roots in the neighborhood and contribute so much to the heart and soul of OTR that we want to make sure are able to continue to live in OTR.”
 
Beasley Place, which is a five-story historic building with about 23,000 square feet, will contain six one-bedroom units, four two-bedroom units and three three-bedroom units, ranging from 681 to 1,402 square feet. Ten of the apartments are designated for people with incomes below 60 percent of the Area Median Income, and three units are earnarked for people with incomes below 30 percent of AMI.
 
There will also be about 1,200 square feet of first floor, storefront commercial space, plus an elevator and on-site laundry for residents. The building will meet enterprise green communities requirements and will have Energy Star appliances and lighting.
 
The total cost of the Beasley Place project is just under $3 million. The buildings are owned and will be developed by OTRCH, and HGC Construction is the general contractor of the project.
 
The project is receiving state and federal historic tax credits, City of Cincinnati HOME funding, City of Cincinnati Lead Education and Remediation (CLEAR) grant funding, and Housing Development Gap Financing from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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OTR Foundation receives grant to help add 13 buildings to historic register

Thirteen buildings in Over-the-Rhine will soon be added to the National Register of Historic Places, in part because of a grant provided to the organization by the Ohio Development Services Agency. The $8,000 will allow the Over-the-Rhine Foundation to hire a third party to do the research and prepare the applications for the Register.
 
The grant is a fairly new state initiative—only three awards have been given, and the first was to the Kirby Road School in Northside. The OTR Foundation is the third organization to receive the grant.
 
“As far as we know, we’re the only state that has a program like this,” says Thea Walsh, deputy chief for the Office of Redevelopment. “This is a great new opportunity that the state is coming into with the Ohio Historic Tax Credit program. It will help build more opportunities for communities to attract investors.”
 
Made possible through a partnership with the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, the grant will make the buildings eligible for both the state and federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit programs. The grant will support expanding the historic district in OTR to include the buildings, which are mainly situated along Reading Raod and Central Avenue. These buildings were left out for one reason or another when OTR was named a historic district back in the 1980s, Walsh says.
 
The total cost of the project is about $13,000—the Foundation will work with property owners to raise the private funds needed for the remainder of the project, says Nathaniel Kaelin, program manager for the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program.
 
“Tens of millions of dollars have already been invested in Over-the-Rhine, and this will only help drive revitalization efforts,” Kaelin says.
 
Two of the buildings are already targeted for redevelopment, and several investors are interested in the future of the buildings.

By Caitlin Koenig
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Elm Street Senior Housing offers affordable housing to seniors in OTR

Construction began last month on the renovation of 1500-06 Elm Street, which in May 2014, will open as Elm Street Senior Housing. It will be the first and only senior housing project in Over-the-Rhine, and serves as the first project that will meet needs of accessibility, affordability and support services for this group.
 
The 14,545-square-foot project, which is owned and being developed by Over-the-Rhine Community Housing with Model Group Construction as the general contractor, will house 14 units of affordable senior housing, plus one live-in building manager. An elevator is being added to the building so seniors can access all three floors. The first floor will also offer a handful of senior services.
 
“Our mission is to help maintain the diverse community of OTR, and this is a huge step forward,” says Ashleigh Finke, project manager at OTRCH. “There’s now going to be a place for seniors to live in the neighborhood.”
 
Elm Street Senior Housing will be LEED silver certified because of its energy efficiency efforts. All of the building’s equipment will be high-efficiency, Finke says.
 
The total cost of the project is about $4 million, with construction costs close to $3 million. It’s being funded through historic tax credits, low-income housing tax credits and the HUD 202 grant for senior housing.
 
“One of the most unique things about the project is that it has to remain affordable senior housing for 40 years,” she says. “It’s not something that’s going to come and go. It will remain serving the needs of the seniors in OTR for a long time.”
 
OTRCH isn’t new to development—it has been around in one form or another since 1978. The nonprofit focuses on property management, property development, community building, and education and advocacy.
 
The building itself has been around for 150 years—Christian Moerlein Brewery Company purchased the site in 1863, and the building was constructed in 1864 to serve as the brewery’s icehouse. Moerlein owned the property for the next 56 years, until it was sold in 1919 during Prohibition. It also served as a saloon, grocery store, food store, market, lunch restaurant, barber, billiards hall and rental flat.
 
Elm Street Senior Housing is slated to be complete by May 2014. Units are available for rent, and interested seniors can apply through OTRCH. Rent is subsidized with HUD 202 money so no tenant will pay more than 30 percent of their income—total rent, including the tenant's portion and the subsidy will be around $470 per month.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Saloon Tours adds beer tasting to 'Brothels, Bootleggers and Booze'

Saloon Tours is known for its tours of Cincinnati's saloons, but throughout the month of August, the "Brothels, Bootleggers & Booze Tour" will include a post-tour tasting. Each week, different craft breweries and distilleries will be featured.

The tours, which are led by Michael Morgan, president of Queen City History and founder of heritage tourism in Cincinnati, start at 11 a.m. every Saturday in August at Arnold's Bar & Grill; the tastings immediately follow the tour.
 
“My goal is to really bring a fresh perspective to Cincinnati,” says Morgan. “The city has a rich history, and it’s very old for an American city. Cincinnatians haven’t done a very good job of retaining that history or celebrating it, or even knowing it. I want to turn people onto that rich history and make it enjoyable for them.”
 
This is the first time “Brothels, Bootleggers & Booze” has included a tasting. “Part of the inspiration behind it was that Arnold’s just got in a new 23-tap handle system, so they’re going to have the best selection of local beers of anyone in Cincinnati,” says Morgan.
 
The featured breweries and distilleries for August included Christian Moerlein (Aug. 3) and Listermann Brewing (Aug. 10). Middle West Spirits, which makes handcrafted OYO brand vodkas, bourbons and ryes out of Columbus, will be at the Aug. 17 tasting, and Rhinegeist is on tap for Aug. 24 and Blank Slate Brewing will be featured Aug. 31.
 
Arnold’s was built in 1838 as a brothel, and is Cincinnati’s oldest continuously operating saloon—it became a saloon in 1861. Tour guests get the inside scoop and colorful history of the saloon, and take a walking tour of Cincinnati’s dozens of breweries, distilleries and almost 2,000 saloons that made the city notorious for drunkenness and mayhem. The tours start and end at Arnold’s.
 
The tour and tasting combos are $30, and tours without the tasting are $25. Tickets are available on the Saloon Tours' website.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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New food tradition coming to Over-the-Rhine

On Aug. 10, Over-the-Rhine restaurants and businesses will be participating in the first ever Taste of Over-the-Rhine. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. in Washington Park.
 
Taste of Over-the-Rhine celebrates the tastes, flavors and sounds of OTR through food, art, music, shopping and the people of the neighborhood.
 
The event is being put on by Tender Mercies, which provides permanent housing to about 150 formerly homeless adults who have mental illnesses. Its building and residences are located at 12th, Race and Elm streets in OTR. As a member of the community, Tender Mercies wants to be a neighborhood partner for OTR residents and business owners.
 
“The event is meant to provide another community and neighborhood element to OTR,” says Casey Gilmore, partner at Cincy Events Management. “All of the businesses that are participating are locally owned, not chains.”
 
The food and drink vendors that are participating in the event are The Anchor-OTR, Eli’s Barbeque, Coffee Emporium, Findlay Market, The Lackman, Lavomatic, MOTR Pub, Taste 513, Venice on Vine, Moerlein, Lucy Blue Pizza, Kaze and Street Pops. Food trucks Dojo Gelato, Café de Wheels and Urban Grill will also be part of Taste of Over-the-Rhine.
 
All OTR restaurants were asked to participate—featured restaurants said “yes” based on their staffing for the weekend.
 
Food and drink prices will be low, around $4 or $5. There will also be a tasting element for dogs, where they can try out different dog food from Pet Wants, the Findlay Market pet store.
 
There will be music too. The main stage will feature acts such as Joanie Whittaker, Peraza Music Workshop, Hayden Kaye, The Almighty Get Down, Cla-Zels, Golden Shoes, Magnolia Mountain and Wussy.
 
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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Findlay After Four gets shoppers to the market on Thursdays

On the weekends, Findlay Market is packed with shoppers and vendors, but during the week, things quiet down, especially later in the day. The goal of Findlay After Four is to promote shopping at the market on Thursdays between 4 and 6 p.m.
 
“We hope that this will drive more shoppers to the market between 4 and 6 p.m., and begin to chip away at the confusion around market hours,” says Karen Kahle, resource development director for Findlay Market. “There’s a perception that the market isn’t always reliably open until 6 p.m., and we hope to convince those merchants who don’t remain open to stay open because there is more money to be made if they do.”
 
Every Thursday, Findlay Market has a variety of activities planned to encourage people to shop. This week, there will be a cooking demonstration by a guest chef, and recipe cards will be handed out so shoppers can take them and find ingredients for the dish. Christian Moerlein and MadTree beers will be available at the OTR Biergarten, and there will be a raffle and giveaways.  
 
The first Findlay After Four was July 11, and Kahle says she is pleased with the result.
 
“We want to learn more about what the hours of operation are that shoppers want and need in order to conveniently and consistently shop at Findlay Market,” she says. However, it will take more than a handful of people requesting extended hours of operation to make extended hours financially feasible.
 
Findlay After Four is spearheaded by Julie Gosdin of Wine Me, Dine Me; Bob Schwartz of 5chw4rz blog; Annette Wick of TheseWritingShoes blog; and Barb Cooper from Daisy Mae’s.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Ghettopia offers dorm-style accommodations for travelers in OTR

While travelers are already leaving positive feedback and recommeding the space to their friends, Susan Angel’s Ghettopia will be fully open for business soon. Ghettopia OTR Bunk Haus is a 22-bed, dormitory-style hostel for travelers—there’s a kitchenette, three showers, a common room and steam room.
 
“I travel a lot—I’ve been to Europe, India, Hawaii—and I always stay at bunkhouses,” says Angel. “I wanted to bring some of that onto Main Street for the travelers that come through here.”
 
Angel started as a couch surfing host, and she met people from all over the world. After doing that for a while, she began to go through the process of opening a legal bunkhouse in Cincinnati.
 
And Ghettopia isn’t a ghetto. The name comes from the “ghettos” German immigrants lived in Germany and when they came to the United States. Since Over-the-Rhine (and much of Cincinnati) was founded by Germans, Angel thought the name was perfect.
 
Angel bought the building at 1424 Main Street in 2005. She applied for a “city beautification” grant, in which she paid 20 percent and the City paid 80 percent for updating the space. She’s done all of the renovations herself, using materials that would normally go to the landfill. For example, the floors are mosaics of mismatched tiles Angel collected from builders, contractors and Ohio Tile and Marble.
 
“I wanted to create an organic, Earth-friendly atmosphere,” says Angel.
 
Plus, Angel is an artist—she had a gallery at 1409 Main Street and taught classes at Rothenberg. The walls of her dorms are covered in art, and there’s a mural on one of the outer walls of the building that was done by local artist Douglas Smith.  
 
Not only is Angel opening a bunkhouse in OTR, but part of her business plan includes a bunkhouse route across the U.S. She’s currently looking for a second bunkhouse location in Louisville.
 
“We’re looking for certain things when we’re looking to open a bunkhouse,” she says. “We want them to be on or near Main Street; we want to support the local arts; we want to renovate the building with materials that normally go to the landfill; and we want to be a green or environmentally conscious place to stay.”
 
Cincinnati’s Ghettopia is still undergoing renovations, but is already operating at about 30 percent capacity. Angel is currently working on the steam room, and hopes to have the bunkhouse fully operational by the end of the year.
 
If you’re interested in bunking at Ghettopia, check out the availability at airbnb.com. Beds are $25 per night, $120 per week or $420 per month, with a maximum stay of three months.

You can also check out Ghettopia on OTR's Final Friday. There will be live music and movies projected on the walls of the building.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Vintage poster gallery moves to OTR

Jack Wood Gallery, a vintage poster gallery, recently moved to Over-the-Rhine from O’Bryonville. The gallery features vintage posters and graphic art from the late 19th century and early to mid-20th century.
 
Jack Wood opened his gallery at 2039 Madison Road in O’Bryonville in Oct. 1998; in Feb. 2003, the gallery moved to the space next door. And exactly 10 years later, Wood found himself looking for a new location because his landlord decided to move her business into the gallery’s space.
 
“When I first opened the gallery, I thought O’Bryonville was a good place for it,” Wood says. “But when I came to OTR, I knew it was the perfect place for it now.”
 
From the middle of the late 1800s, Cincinnati was home to some of the most highly regarded printing companies in the world. The Strobridge plant used to be on Central Parkway, four blocks from Jack Wood Gallery’s new OTR home, which made it a perfect location for Wood's one-man operation. 

“The latter half of the 19th century was a significant time for the Cincinnati poster industry,” Wood says. “The neighborhood was alive, and 50,000 people lived in a 15-block area in OTR. Now, we’re getting the same kind of energy and activity here. It’s a real renaissance.”
 
The new space, at 1413 Vine Street, has a similar layout to the old space, with two large windows that face the street and plenty of wall space inside to display posters. Jack Wood Gallery also offers archiving, photography, framing and matting and appraisal services.

The gallery features a variety of prints for sale, including Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus images, the most significant collection of Strobridge posters in the United States, and World War posters from around the world.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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VFA fellow launches crowdfunding for new downtown sandwich shop, The Port OTR

If one relatively new Cincinnatian has his way, a new taste could be rolling in to Cincinnati by next summer—on a fleet of bicycles.

Plans for The Port OTR, a sandwich restaurant, are currently in the works, with Venture for America fellow Dan Bloom, and his friend, Seth Maney, at the helm.

The idea came to Bloom and Maney while walking around and realizing that, aside from sit-down restaurants, quick lunch options downtown are limited. That was enough to get their entrepreneurial ideas percolating.

Their next thought? “Can we make this happen?” 

Bloom knew that Venture for America was hosting a crowdfunding competition that would culminate with funding for a project, so he decided to enter his idea for his newly adopted home, OTR, a reality. 

The duo plans to host a competition this summer at the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State to find a third partner for their team—a chef and manager.

“We want to find someone that has big aspirations but wants to start small-scale,” Bloom says. “We want to prove that this is something that can be successful, and then from there see how big we can make it.”

Bloom, who grew up in Boston, also plans to infuse a bit of New England culture into The Port.

“The sandwich that I’m starting with—Thanksgiving Day Sandwich— turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, on a baked sandwich,” Bloom says. “That’s not something you can get down here.”

While The Port’s location is yet to be determined, Bloom estimates the restaurant will be about 500-600 square feet and include a counter with a few stools and a few tables for those who prefer non-delivery, sit-down experiences.

If you want a first taste—or perhaps even have a sandwich named in your honor—The Port OTR’s crowdfunding site is already online. 

By Kyle Stone

Jobs available: Chill Shaved Ice expands

Alia Ali’s business venture, Chill Shaved Ice Bar, began in June 2011 at Findlay Market. Her shaved ice stands out among the rest because the syrups are all natural.
 
“I’ve always been in business,” says Ali. “I flipped cars in undergrad and imported jewelry after I graduated. I’m interested in health and wellness, and decided to marry business and healthy with Chill.”
 
In order to expand her business, Ali looked at local organizations that offer business support to entrepreneurs. She was one of 10 finalists in Bad Girl Ventures last fall. And in November, she participated in business classes at Xavier, and then applied to Xavier X-Lab, which pairs businesses with MBA students. That session just wrapped up, but Ali plans to participate in the summer session as well.
 
“I hope Chill continues to show people that natural and delicious can be in the same sentence,” says Ali.
 
As of May 23, Chill added to its location options with a Smart car, more like a food car than a food truck, that currently sits outside Kenwood Towne Center's food court entrance, near Forever 21. This makes Ali's second year with a cart outside the Butterfly Show at Krohn Conservatory.
 
The expansion means that Chill is currently hiring. If you’re interested, contact Ali via Facebook or Twitter (@ChillShavedIceBar), or email her at chillshavedice@gmail.com or give her a call at 513-602-1697.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Tonic Tours showcases Cincinnati beer scene in new ways

Cincinnati is home to a number of breweries, but this summer, beer lovers will be able to experience these breweries in a new way. Starting in July, Tonic Tours, a new alcohol-based tour company, will start offering public tours of microbreweries every second and fourth Saturday of the month.
 
“I want to show off Cincinnati’s beer scene to both locals and tourists,” says Rachel Dean, aka Ginny Tonic, the mastermind behind Tonic Tours. She originally thought about hosting a local alcohol convention, but figured tours would be more fun.
 
Tonic Tours is about more than just the brewing process, Dean says. She plans to introduce her clients to the beer-tasting process, including what flavors to look for and how to identify flavors in different beers.
 
“I plan to infuse art and science into the tours,” she says. “I don’t want people to get bogged down on the brewing process, but I want them to see the art in it. Flavor is a very underappreciated sense, but it’s just as engaging as visuals.”
 
Each tour is $90, and includes transportation to a handful of breweries, plus drinks, water, a snack and a commemorative glass. For the first few tours, the itinerary will remain much the same, but Dean wants to mix things up a bit so people see different breweries and get to try different beers. Tonic Tours will also be available for private tours and tastings.
 
Dean will also be teaching a class at the Bird Haus on June 20 on how to make four local summer cocktails.
 
“A lot of people don’t realize how many great beers are based in Cincinnati,” Dean says. “When you go to a tap room, you might see beers but not know they’re from here—there might not be anything that says ‘Cincinnati proud.’ I want people in Cincinnati to appreciate the great beer makers who are revitalizing Cincinnati’s beer history.”
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Holtman's Donuts to open location in Over-the-Rhine

Starting this summer, those with sweet tooths will be able to get Holtman’s Donuts in Over-the-Rhine. Holtman’s announced last week that they’ll be opening a location on Vine Street on the ground floor of the Trinity Flats building.
 
Charles Holtman started his donut business in 1960—he opened a location in Loveland in 1964, and his daughter and son-in-law, Toni and Chuck Plazarin, opened another in Williamsburg in Oct. 2009. The Plazarin’s son, Danny, and his fiancé, Katie Willing, will operate the OTR location.
 
“Danny and I started coming to OTR on dates and saw the energy and excitement of the neighborhood,” says Willing. “We searched for the right space for about two years, and we knew OTR was the right place for us.”
 
Holtman’s has always been a family-run, mom-and-pop shop that bakes from scratch. The OTR location will continue that trend, and will make donuts on-site daily.
 
“We want to continue the uniqueness of OTR,” says Willing. “We’re really excited to be part of such a great community that is constantly growing and thriving, and we hope to be the neighborhood’s bakery.”
 
Holtman’s wants to be the place in OTR where families can create their own memories over donuts, she says.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Dress for Success Cincinnati moves to Textile Building

The Textile Building is now home to Dress for Success Cincinnati and 4th Street Boutique. The two businesses moved just 100 feet from their old downtown home of 10 years.
 
DFS opened its new doors yesterday, only 13 days after taking possession of its new space. The layout of the old space wasn’t ideal, says Julie Smith-Morrow, CEO of DFS Cincinnati. But in the new building, 4th Street Boutique is on the ground floor, and the DFS programs are all on the ninth floor.
 
“We hope that our clients will feel inspired by the new space when they come in,” says Smith-Morrow. “As always, we’ll be very welcoming, and will meet them where they are.”
 
DFS Cincinnati is one of 127 affiliates in 15 countries that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools to help them thrive in work and life. It was founded in the Queen City in 1999, and has served more than 11,000 women in the area. 4th Street Boutique sells women’s new and gently-used clothing, and its net proceeds support DFS.
 
“We’re really excited about the move—it’s something we’ve wanted to do for years,” says Smith-Morrow. “We’ve had lots of help from the community, which has helped us succeed. We hope to be able to help women get to work, keep their jobs, develop careers and be successful in life.”
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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