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Explore OTR cards offer arts patrons perks for visiting nearby restaurants and retail

Over-the-Rhine arts organization Elementz recently produced Explore OTR cards, which will drive business from the arts to restaurants and retail in the neighborhood. The cards are based on a concept seen in Kentucky where groups of businesses get together and create a process to get customers to go to the businesses.
 
“The cards are for people who might come to OTR for arts events, but who don’t think of the neighborhood as a place to stay and shop,” says Tom Kent, executive director of Elementz.
 
Explore OTR cards are free, and will be handed out by smaller arts organizations after performances—the Art Academy of Cincinnati, Art Beyond Boundaries, the Cincinnati Boychoir, Elementz and Know Theatre.
 
Patrons can then visit up to five of the 21 businesses listed on the card and get them initialed. Park + Vine, Rhinehaus, the YMCA, The Anchor Restaurant in Washington Park, Taste of Belgium and Sweet Sistah Splash are just a few of the diverse restaurants and retail options that are participating in the Explore OTR cards.
 
Once they’ve visited five businesses, patrons can redeem the cards at larger arts organizations such as American Legacy Tours, the Cincinnati Ballet, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Theatre and Know Theatre for deals like 20 percent off tickets for the Queen City Underground Tour and buy one, get one free tickets at Know Theatre.
 
Each offer has an expiration date, with some expiring in November, others in May, Kent says.
 
“We’re trying to build an alliance between arts organizations and the customers who come to see the shows,” he says. “Local businesses make the neighborhood thrive, and the cards will also help bring in a more diverse audience as membership builds.”
 
Elementz will be collecting the cards after they’re redeemed for the discounts, and keeping track of where people redeemed them and which businesses were visited.
 
The cards are currently being printed, and will be handed out at LumenoCity next weekend.

Bear Paddle Swim School offers swim lessons, promotes water safety

This September, Bear Paddle Swim School will open its doors in Mason, where it will offer year-round swim lessons, as well as promote water safety in the community.
 
Bear Paddle opened its first location in February 2010 in Aurora, Ill., and two other locations in the Chicago area—one in Woodridge and one in Orland Park—soon followed. The Mason location, at 9376 S. Mason Montgomery Road, is the first outside of Chicago.
 
“We chose the Cincinnati area because there aren’t many facilities for year-round swim lessons for kids, and it seemed like a good fit,” says Emily Everson, co-owner of Bear Paddle.
 
The 10,000-square-foot, kid-friendly facility will have a 25-yard, 90-degree, saltwater lap pool for year-round swim lessons. Groups are divided by age and ability, whereas most swim programs are designed based on ability only, Everson says.
 
Bear Paddle offers lessons for swimmers of all levels, ages 6 months to 13 years. Classes are offered on a month-to-month basis, with a 30-minute lesson once per week. Lessons are $80 for one student, $150 for two students, $210 for three students and $270 for four students.

Bear Paddle also has a water safety program, where a mascot conducts a 30-minute presentation at schools and daycares on different bodies of water and what to do in water emergencies.
 
“We’re trying to spread awareness about water safety by teaching kids to swim early on, which will hopefully cut down on the number of drownings,” Everson says. “We want kids to feel confident and comfortable in the water, no matter their age.”

Six-month myNKY campaign results announced

In January, Vision 2015 launched its myNKY initiative to garner public input. MyNKY asked in a variety of ways, from a physical “I want myNKY to be…” wall to an online game, what the public wants to see in Northern Kentucky.
 
Before its end in June, the six-month public input campaign garnered 11,000 different pieces of feedback from residents.
 
Results from the myNKY investment game showed that residents want to see a focus on early childhood development and high school graduation rates, as well as bringing industry to the region and adding jobs. And the myNKY wall revealed that residents want NKY to be awesome, tolerant, family-friendly, heroine-free, green and sustainable.
 
The myNKY leadership team is currently helping to determine a process that will lead to the community’s vision. It established nine working groups and brought together experts in each field: jobs, education, housing, sustainability, diversity/inclusion, health, government and arts/culture/tourism. They’re working this summer on recommendations for consideration in the fall.
 
“The leadership team is looking at what areas have links, overlaps, synergies and commonalities, and are trying to craft all of the data into a bold, compelling and distinct plan for the future,” says Kara Williams, vice president of Vision 2015.
 
In the beginning, myNKY’s goal was a five-year plan, but Williams says that the new plan will be much longer term than that, with intermediary milestones along the way.
 
And although the campaign ended, that doesn’t mean public input has to stop.
 
“We’re not closing the door on ideas in any way,” Williams says. “We’re still encouraging the public to send us ideas. There’s no idea too large or too small.”
 
To see data from the six-month campaign, visit myNKY’s website, and feel free to submit ideas of your own.

ArtWalks bring temporary public art to communities

The community was invited to help paint the crosswalk, or ArtWalk, at Main and Melindy streets in Over-the-Rhine during the neighborhood’s Second Sunday on Main. Artists Beth Graves, Pam Kravetz and Carla Morales designed and painted the outline of the crosswalk, aptly named “Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?”
 
About 50 community members painted as little or as much of the crosswalk as they wanted.
 
“The most expensive part of any street painting is closing the street, so Second Sunday was a great time and place to do it,” says Margy Waller, Serendipity Director for Art on the Streets.
 
Another crosswalk will be painted during next month’s event, and Waller says they hope to have one or two painted at every Second Sunday between now and October.
 
Art on the Streets will also have an ArtWalk painting during the Walnut Hills Cincy Summer Streets on July 19, which was designed and outlined by Graves. There are also plans to have an ArtWalk at Northside’s Cincy Summer Streets on Aug. 24.
 
“ArtWalks reflect the vibrancy that the arts bring to neighborhoods, and show how arts bring people together,” Waller says.
 
The Main Street ArtWalks are being funded by a grant from Cincy Sundaes and a matching grant from The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s Big Idea Challenge. The Walnut Hill’s ArtWalk is being funded by Interact for Health and The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation.

Columbus-based pretzel shop opening in OTR

An authentic German pretzel shop will soon open its doors in Over-the-Rhine. Columbus-based Brezel will be located in the 565-square-foot space next to Graeter’s at 6 W. 14th Street. 
 
Owner Brittany Baum and her husband, Tim, became pretzel enthusiasts after visiting Germany in 2008.
 
“I’m a vegetarian, and it’s hard to be one in Germany,” Baum says. “I lived off of Bavarian pretzels during our travels.”
 
When she returned to her native Columbus, Baum couldn’t find pretzels that compared to those in Germany. She and a friend spent hours in the kitchen, perfecting their recipe, and sold them at farmers’ markets from 2008-2011. In March 2011, they opened the first Brezel location at Columbus’ North Market.
 
After visiting Cincinnati last August, Baum fell in love with OTR.
 
“It reminded me a lot of the Short North neighborhood in Columbus,” she says. “It has a raw feeling to it. It felt unrefined, artistic and on the verge of self-discovery. I knew I wanted to play a role in creating OTR.”
 
Brezel is best known for its original salt pretzel, but there are 30 different flavors to choose from, including French Onion and Asiago, Peppercorn and Mozzarella, Jalapeno and Cheddar, Roasted Garlic and Cheddar, and Coconut and Almond. The menu includes pretzel twists, pretzel bites and scratch-made dips, as well as buns, soup bowls and pizza crust, which are all made from pretzel dough.
 
“I believe in working with other small businesses to collaborate and create interesting products, and I hope to share that vision with other businesses in OTR,” Baum says.
 
She hopes to open Brezel in time for Oktoberfest, but there is no set date yet. Hours of operation will include mid-morning through the evening, as well as late-night hours on the weekend.
 
“Brezel will be a place for people to grab a quick bite before or after work, as well as late night,” Baum says.

OTR mural to serve as gateway to Brewery District

A mural designed by Keith Neltner of Neltner Small Batch will soon adorn the bricks of 131 E. McMicken Ave, the former site of the Schmidt Brothers/Crown Brewery. Work on the mural has begun, and will be completed Aug. 1.
 
When finished, the mural will depict two men crowning a pint glass of beer. It was funded by grants through ArtWorks, and is being created by Neltner and a team of 15 other artists. It will be the first of three installations to complement the Brewing Heritage Trail.
 
“The mural is inspired by the incredible history and resurgence our city is experiencing,” Neltner says. “This mural features building a monument to beer’s rich history, crowning it (literally) in the Queen City. The ‘Earth rewards’ headline communicates that the earth has given us the raw materials from which we created and built an industry, culture and city. Rich patterns and graphic line work will create stopping power and a dramatic gateway into the Brewery District. Described as ‘blue collar,’ yet urban and contemporary.”
 
The mural will serve as a tourist spot on the Brewing Heritage Trail, as well as a point of interest for the neighborhood.
 
“Murals bring a most beautiful energy and vibrancy into urban spaces,” says Chelsea Koglemeier of Roadtrippers, whose building will host the mural. “I love the way kids are getting involved and people on the street stop to check it out.”

Cincy Summer Streets brings car-free fun to Walnut Hills, Northside

Tomorrow, a mile-long stretch of E. McMillan Street and Woodburn Avenue between Gilbert Avenue and Madison Road will be closed to cars, but open to pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders and rollerbladers from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Walnut Hills.
 
Cincy Summer Streets is based on similar events held in cities like Indianapolis, Louisville, New York City, Portland and Chicago to promote local businesses and community—all without cars.
 
Activities, which are free, include sidewalk painting, yoga, belly dancing, pottery, jazz dancing, a flash mob and hula hooping from a variety of local businesses. There will also be an ArtWalk crosswalk painting, held by Art in the Streets, where anyone can help create a piece of temporary public art.
 
The second Cincy Summer Streets will be held on August 24 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Northside. Hamilton Avenue will be closed between Pullan and Spring Grove avenues, and Blue Rock Street will be closed between Cherry Street and Dane Avenue.
 
Northside’s event will include activities from Happen Inc., My Nose Turns Red, Spun Bicycles, Galaxie Skate Shop, Queen City Bike, Wump Mucket Puppets, Word Play, Yoga Ah and more.
 
Each route is situated within the neighborhood’s local business district with locally owned shops and restaurants to enjoy, as well as the street activities. Cincy Summer Streets is accessible in both Walnut Hills and Northside by bike, bus and car, with street parking available nearby.
 
Cincy Summer Streets is sponsored by The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation and Interact for Health.
 
Follow Cincy Summer Streets on Twitter @cincystreets, #cincystreets and on Instagram @cincystreets.

Make Goebel Great has major plans for Mainstrasse park

Make Goebel Great, a grassroots organization in Covington, is working to create a safe, healthy and creative environment in the community. The organization was recently granted HUD funds in the form of a Community Development Block Grant to help redevelop Goebel Park.
 
Make Goebel Great plans to do general infrastructure improvements in the park, including adding a pump track—a continuous circuit of dirt rollers, berms and jumps that loops back on itself—behind the park’s shelters and gazebo, as well as adding multifunctional play structures that will serve as interactive art.
 
Emily Wolff, chair of Make Goebel Great, says the $50,000 grant will also be used to get matching grants for future park improvement projects.
 
Goebel Park, which is located in Mainstrasse Village between Fifth and Ninth streets, has a European feel, but it’s missing a green, public gathering space. There are future plans for a trail that will connect the park to the new riverfront trails and bicycle trails in Latonia.
 
“We want the park to be a touchstone for connectivity throughout Covington,” Wolff says. “That sense of community is lost in modern day society, and public gathering spaces help build that.”
 
The group also plans to enlist artists create two large-scale fracture pieces that will tell the story of Goebel Park. The German folk art pieces are planned for late fall. They also recently installed a chandelier in the gazebo, and will be painting a large checkerboard on the floor to engage the public.
 
“The whole point is to have the community be involved, and take ownership of the project,” Wolff says. “We want the community to feel like they’re making a difference with the projects.”
 
On August 17, Make Goebel Great is hosting a free concert in the park. Wolff’s 11-year-old twin boys’ rock band will be opening for a Covington band.

Vintage-inspired clothing store coming to OTR

In 2007, Ryan Vesler founded HOMAGE as a wholesale company that specialized in graphic T-shirts. It has since grown into an online business, then a brick-and-mortar store in Columbus in 2010, and a larger store in 2012. This fall, HOMAGE will open a location in Over-the-Rhine.
 
The 1,500-square foot store, located at 1232 Vine St., will offer the company’s vintage-inspired, U.S.-made graphic tees, sweatshirts, sweatpants and accessories.
 
“We’ve been excited about the Cincinnati market for a long time,” says Jason Block, HOMAGE’s president. “There’s an energetic, enthusiastic fan base here, and our product has resonated with them.”
 
HOMAGE’s Columbus location sports an NBA Jam arcade machine, a Coca-Cola machine, championship banners and memorabilia unique to the city. Block says the OTR location is undergoing some renovations to bring personality to the space, and will probably include some of the details of the Columbus store.
 
The OTR HOMAGE will also offer licensed University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, University of Dayton and University of Miami-Ohio gear.
 
“We want to be part of the community,” Block says. “We want our personality and authenticity to add to what OTR already has to offer.”

Brewery and restaurant concept coming to West Side

The owners of Tom & Jerry’s Sports Bar are adding a microbrewery onto the neighborhood restaurant. Tap and Screw Brewery will take over the restaurant’s dance floor and stage area, and will be open by September.
 
The name Tap and Screw pays homage to three Cincinnati industries: Cincinnati Screw and Tap Company is the original name of Cincinnati Milacron; “Tap” refers to Cincinnati’s brewing industry before Prohibition; and “Screw,” which is short for corkscrew, pays tribute to Ohio’s place as the country’s largest wine producer before the California wine industry started.
 
“There aren’t a lot of options for breweries on the West Side, and we hope to bring that,” says Tom Lorenz, owner of Tom & Jerry’s.
 
Tom and his son, Adam, along with Chuck Frisch, are the masterminds behind Tap and Screw. Adam has been brewing beer at home for about eight years, and will be the head brewer, with Tom as his assistant and Frisch as the general manager.
 
Tap and Screw will start with four of its own beers on tap, including a Belgian, an Oktoberfest and a coffee stout. Eventually, its 12-tap system will have six Tap and Screw beers and six from other local breweries. Tom & Jerry’s currently has a full liquor license, and the Lorenz’s are working on adding a microbrewing license. They will also also offer 8-12 local wines.
 
“We want Tap and Screw to be a unique place where people can get food that they know who made it, and pair it with good beer,” Tom says.
 
The Lorenzs overhauled the menu when they took ownership, and all of the restaurant’s food is now fresh and homemade.
 
The restaurant side of Tap and Screw will continue to serve Tom & Jerry’s goetta balls, which are stuffed with feta cheese, bell peppers, jalapenos and onions, then fried and served with ranch dip. Tom & Jerry’s burgers, salads and wings are also menu staples.
 
Keep tabs on Tap and Screw’s website for updates, and the exact opening date.
 

Northside restaurant to bring sports and international food together

This fall, Northside will welcome another new restaurant, World Cup, located at 4023 Hamilton Ave. The sports bar will cater to all kinds of sports, and will feature international cuisine.
 
Owner Alex Kuhns, who has worked in about 15 restaurants, is a huge soccer fan, and says that when watches games at English and Irish pubs, something is missing.
 
“Our menu will represent soccer itself, in that every item is inspired by a different nation,” he says.
 
Menu highlights include an Ivory Coast Pizza, topped with curry spices, bananas, spiced peanuts and ground beef; a French pizza, topped with mushrooms, pesto and roasted garlic; Spanish fries with Romesco sour cream and red onions; and chicken wings, a Puerto Rican style with a jerk rub and a Mexican style with chipotle, lime and cilantro.
 
Kuhns says the menu will rotate to reflect the winners of different sporting events. For example, since Germany beat Brazil in the World Cup, the restaurant would feature a special German dish.
 
World Cup will have 10-12 TVs airing different sporting events, including Bengals games. They’ll also have at least 20 beers on tap, with local, international, craft and mainstream brews.
 
The 5,000-square-foot restaurant will have seating for 115 people. Two garage doors will open onto the street, but without seating on the sidewalk.
 
“It’s going to be a big open space, nothing stuffy,” Kuhns says. “One of my friends’ dads described it as ‘gemuchlikeit,’ which means carefree.”
 
He wants World Cup to be a community gathering space for neighborhood groups and parties. The restaurant will feature a large stage for music and game tables, including foosball, pool and darts.

Pendleton Street Townhomes to offer single-family housing in OTR

In the next year, the Pendleton area of Over-the-Rhine will have five new single-family houses. Pendleton Street Townhomes will include one 1870s renovation, located at 1533 Pendleton, and four new builds. The project is being developed by Pendleton Ventures, LLC, and is being funded by the City and the Cincinnati Development Fund.
 
Construction began on July 1, although some preliminary emergency stabilization was done on this past winter. The townhomes should be complete in 9-12 months, and ready for move-in shortly after.
 
“We want to provide a format for families to move into the city,” says Edward Wright of Wright Design, LLC. “This is a great place to raise a family, with lots to do. Why not create a place for families to live like they would in the suburbs?”
 
Each townhouse will have three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms, as well as a two-car garage. Homeowners will have the option of adding a rooftop deck or a deck on the back of the house.
 
All of the houses will be LEED certified and will have a mostly grass backyard with a concrete pad for parking. The houses that don’t have a side alley for trash cans will also have a “trash yard” attached to the house and screened from the street, with a balcony above that overlooks the street. 

In order to make the buildings look original, custom caster work will be done on the front of each house.
 
“There have been vacant properties in this area for years, and it’s exciting to be putting some of the buildings back,” Wright says.
 
The second phase of Pendleton Street Townhomes will include five units on Spring Street across the street from those on Pendleton. Although the buildings have a slightly different character, they will feature many of the same amenities as Phase I, Wright says.
 

Eleven local projects receive state historic tax credits

The Ohio Development Services Agency recently awarded $37.7 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits to rehabilitate 35 historic buildings in 13 communities across the state. Eleven of those projects are in Cincinnati, for a total of $6.2 million in tax credits.
 
A three-story building at 412-414 E. 13th St. received $150,000 in tax credits. Model Group plans to rehab the structure into five residential apartments. The project’s total cost is $831,314.
 
433 E. 13th St. received $245,000 in tax credits. The building was rehabbed several decades ago, but has decayed over time. It will house eight apartments and 1,200 square feet of retail space, and will feature a bike storage space for each tenant. The project’s total cost is $1,495,029.
 
The four-story building at 501 E. 13th St. in Over-the-Rhine is across the street from 433 E. 13th St. It received $136,500 in tax credits, and will house four apartments and first floor commercial space. The total cost will be $834,055.
 
Two buildings across from Findlay Market at 1818 and 1826 Race St. received $1,650,500 in tax credits. In a partnership between Model Group and the Corporation for Findlay Market, the buildings will become 15 apartments and more than 28,000 square feet of commercial office space and first floor retail space. The project’s total cost is $8,503,167.
 
Emanuel Community Center at 1308 Race St. received $248,017 in tax credits. The former gym will become squash courts for a new squash-based youth enrichment program, and office space at the front of the building will be used for tech and startup firms. Grandin Properties will use the tax credits to rehab the building’s fourth floor. The total cost is $5,101,146.
 
The Globe Building, located at 1801-1805 Elm St., will be home to People’s Liberty, an initiative of The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, and first floor retail space. The $4,886,992 project received $540,000 in tax credits.
 
The Landman Building, located at 3929 Spring Grove Ave., received $223,650 in tax credits. It was built in 1926, was stabilized by the Northside Business Association and sold to South Block Properties, Ltd. It will be rehabbed as a mixed-use facility for an arcade bar on the first floor and four one-bedroom apartments on the second floor. The total cost is $1,140,681.
 
Sorg Mansion in Middletown received $212,500 in tax credits. The 27-room mansion will be fully rehabbed to become an owner-occupied bed and breakfast. It’s the first Middletown project to receive state historic tax credits. The total project cost is $1,319,000.
 
St. John’s Church, located at 1205 Elm St., will be redeveloped into a bar and event space in the former sanctuary and balcony. It received $490,000 in tax credits, and the project’s total cost is $4.5 million.
 
Buildings at 703-707 Race St., 22-24, 26-30 and 106 W. Seventh St. will be jointly rehabbed to create 75 market-rate apartments and first floor retail space. The project received $1.45 million in tax credits, and will cost $14,656,862.
 
Windsor School, located at 937 Windsor St., received $900,578 in tax credits. Cincinnati Public Schools operated the building until 2004, and it was later sold at auction. Core Redevelopment plans to redevelop it into 44 market-rate apartments, and the now-empty southern portion of the property will become 48 new-build units. The project’s total cost is $9,139,567.
 
 

THRIVE development grant to bring businesses to Peebles' Corner

Funded by Fifth Third Bank, Walnut Hills’ THRIVE business development grant was created to attract at least three businesses to Peebles’ Corner. The grant can be for a minimum of $3,000, and up to $15,000; ideally, Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation wants to fund as many businesses as possible.
 
“Historically, Peeble’s Corner has been difficult to repopulate, and we’re doing everything we can to reinvigorate the district,” says Kevin Wright, executive director of WHRF.
 
A committee of stakeholders, including members from the African American Community Council, the Walnut Hills Business Group, Fifth Third and WHRF, oversee the application process and match businesses with storefronts. 
 
The grant can be used for things like equipment, signage and marketing, among other things, but not for payroll or rent. The idea is to get sustainable businesses with solid business plans into Peebles’ Corner, Wright says.
 
“THRIVE is just an additional incentive to bring businesses to Walnut Hills and to give them that last push to open,” he says.
 
WHRF conducted a social capital survey last year and asked the community what types of retail options they wanted to see in the area. When THRIVE applications come through, they’re comparing the survey results to see what they community wants. One of the top requests was for a coffee shop.
 
Angst Coffee, which is located at 2437 Gilbert Ave., is the first THRIVE recipient. It also took advantage of the neighborhood’s Façade Improvement Program and Community Entertainment District program, which helps with liquor licensing.
 
“Our vision for Peebles’ Corner is to bring it back to what it once was—a vibrant, walkable business district,” Wright says.
 

NKY riverfront development to give public better access to Ohio River

Thirty-two acres of Covington’s riverfront is soon to become a waterfront promenade, complete with performance pavilions, walkways, and trails for pedestrians and bicyclists. When finished, the redevelopment will make the riverfront more accessible to the public.
 
Amenities along the promenade include a kayak and paddle board launch on Cobble Beach under the Roebling Bridge, restrooms, lighting and landscaping all along the riverfront.
 
The City of Covington applied for an $11 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant from the U.S. Deptartment of Transportation for the redevelopment of the riverfront from Highway Avenue to the Licking River, which is 1.25 miles.
 
A total of $3.2 million has already been invested in the project from a number of grants, both locally and nationally. Other grants will be sought to fund the rest of the project.
 
The redevelopment is part of the regional Riverfront Commons project, which is being completed by Southbank Partners. The 11.5-mile trail spans six Northern Kentucky cities and includes tourist spots along the way.
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