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Second annual Quest for the Queen provides participants a day of adventure


In its second year, Quest for the Queen will lead participants on an “Amazing Race” of sorts through Cincinnati May 23. Teams of two compete for a prize, but they can’t use cars, smart phones, the Internet or navigation systems to get from Point A to Point B.
 
At the beginning of the event, participants are given a stack of riddles that will direct them to different local landmarks and small businesses. Teams can choose how they want to tackle the clues and can visit the landmarks in any order. Teams have to snap a photo at each stop to prove they were there.
 
Since teams can’t use their phones to look up an answer to a clue, Quest for the Queen forces people to interact with strangers to figure out where to go next.
 
“We were pretty ambitious last year as to how much people could do,” says John Klinger, who organizes the event with friend Matt Feldhaus. “The winners finished in seven-and-a-half hours, and when everyone arrived at the end location at Rhinegeist they were exhausted. There were a few too many checkpoints, and they were too spread out.”
 
This year’s event will cover less mileage and fewer checkpoints. There will also be two different routes — one for bicyclists and one for walkers or bus riders. Everyone had the same route last year, and those not on bikes weren’t competitive. The checkpoints and riddles will be different between bikers and non-bikers.
 
“This event gives people a way to see the city in a new light,” Klinger says. “When you live somewhere, you often forget about its little quirks. You get in your habits and you forget about things that are there, but you don’t usually do them.”
 
The event starts between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 23 at Washington Park. The checkpoints will be spread across different neighborhoods but stay within Cincinnati city limits, so participants won’t be crossing over into Northern Kentucky or visiting the suburbs.
 
The cost is $30 per person, and 100 percent of the money goes back to funding the event. Dinner is provided at the end of the race, and participants receive Metro passes so they can ride the bus between locations if they wish. Each team member also gets a Quest for the Queen T-shirt, and the winners receive a prize, which hasn’t been announced yet.
 
The deadline to sign up is May 18. Visit questforthequeen.webs.com to register for the race, or send an email to questforthequeen@gmail.com for more information.  
 

Annual bike event raises money for local cancer research


To date Ride Cincinnati, now in its ninth year, has raised more than $1.9 million for the University of Cincinnati’s Barrett Cancer Center to fund 34 breast cancer research projects, including five so far in 2015. This year’s event is June 14 and is open to riders of all skill levels.
 
“The greatest thing about Ride Cincinnati is that the dollars raised stay local and benefit local people,” says Allison Schroeder, spokesperson for Ride Cincinnati.
 
The event features longer rides along Route 8 in Northern Kentucky and shorter routes on Eastern Avenue in Cincinnati. All bike rides begin and end downtown at Yeatman’s Cove at Sawyer Point.
 
There won’t be a kids’ ride this year. Instead, the 8- and 16-mile routes in Cincinnati will be closed-road courses, which means that families will be able to enjoy a safe ride.
 
Ride Cincinnati 2015 has two honorary chairs, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and his wife, Jane. The event is close to Jane’s heart in that her family has been touched by breast cancer. The Portmans will help kick off the event and plan to ride, as they’ve done in the past.
 
This year Ride Cincinnati partnered with Cincy Red Bike, which has agreed to waive the overage fee for event participants. A day pass is $8 per bike, and there’s a bike station at Sawyer Point as well as nearby ones at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Fountain Square.
 
“We wanted to engage with Red Bike because it helps us appeal to a new audience of people,” Schroeder says. “Red Bike is ideal for the 8- and 16-mile rides.”
 
To have the overage fee waived, participants must send an email to britt.glenn@cincyredbike.org prior to race day.
 
Race day begins at 6:30 a.m. with the 63-mile ride. The 45-mile ride begins at 7 a.m., the 26-mile at 8 a.m. and the 8- and 16-mile rides at 8:30 a.m. Event registration is $40 for adults and $15 for kids 12 and under. All who sign up to ride get a Ride Cincinnati T-shirt, and participants who raise at least $100 in pledges receive a bicycling jersey.
 

With building purchased, what's next for Clifton Market?


The Clifton Market co-op recently purchased the old IGA building at 319 Ludlow Ave. in Clifton, completing one phase of a long process to bring a grocery store back to the business district.

The market currently has more than 1,000 members and is aiming for 1,500 by the summer and 2,000 by the time the new market opens near the end of 2015. The co-op has raised about $1.3 million so far, with plans to continue fundraising in the coming months.
 
“This store isn’t just for Clifton, it’s for the whole Cincinnati area,” says Adam Hyland, president of the Clifton Market board. “We want it to be uniquely Cincinnati as well as a celebration of what a grocery can be.”
 
The old co-op model, in which shareowners work in the store, isn’t as popular any more. Clifton Market’s model is a democratic form of ownership, which means that no matter how many shares you own no one can buy out majority ownership and each shareowner gets one vote to elect the board.
 
“When we first approached the community about a grocery store, they wanted a sustainable, long-term system, and that’s exactly what this model is,” Hyland says.
 
Shareowners vote for board members, and a general manager will then report to the board on how the day-to-day business is going. One of the things that will set the market apart from other grocery stores will be its staff, which Hyland says will be chosen carefully in order to help provide the ultimate grocery store experience for customers.
 
The 23,000-square-foot space will be a full-service grocery, with everything from natural, healthy options to Pampers and dog food. The market will have what the community needs and will also boast the community’s culture, Hyland says.
 
Highlights will include special attractions, signature products and featured products, all with a housemade objective. Keith Wicks, a grocery market analyst who has been helping develop Clifton Market, says that the market will partner with a few specialty retail partners — specifically bakery partners — to bring back the old stone-ground, German master pastry ways.
 
“There are lots of really interesting foodie-related things happening in the business district in general, and we hope that the market helps make it a foodie’s destination, both locally and nationally,” Wicks says.
 
Since Clifton’s IGA closed, the Ludlow Avenue business district has lost about 40 percent of its business, Wicks says. He hopes that Clifton Market will bring back that traffic and help promote the street’s other retailers and services.
 
“We’re all in this together,” Wicks says. “As the anchor goes, so goes the district.”
 
The market’s business model projects that it will see about 10,000 transactions per week, with about 15,000 people coming through the door. That kind of foot traffic will benefit not only Clifton Market but the surrounding businesses as well.

Apart from turning a profit, Clifton Market has another objective: to work cooperatively with the Ludlow Business District. Even though retailers like Ludlow Wines will offer some of the same items as Clifton Market, it won't be a competition for customers. Ludlow Wines will have something that Clifton Market doesn't, and vice versa. Plus, if you need to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner, you'll also be able to pick up the things you need to make dinner from the market.

“Part of the idea of the co-op business model is that you’re community-minded,” Hyland says. “Most businesses are about how much profit can you get out of one location, but we’re focusing on how much profit can we help bring to the business district. As a business ecosystem, we all rely on each other.”
 
The goal is to have the market open in about six months, but that timeline could change depending on how quickly additional fundraising money comes in. Once the funds are raised, interior and exterior remodeling will happen quickly.
 
If you’re interested in being a shareowner in the Clifton Market, you can purchase shares online for $200. There is also an option to make an owner loan to the market, which will be paid back 100 percent in full.
 
Clifton Market is hosting a foodie event on June 14, when the market’s wholesaler, produce supplier and Boar’s Head will be providing tastes of a wide range of products. They’re still looking for vendors to participate; those interested can contact Charles Marxen, field developer, at 614-432-6663.
 

Brewery culture continues to grow, this time in Walnut Hills


Chris Mitchell, formerly of Listermann Brewing, has been homebrewing for about 15 years. After talking with a number of partners, he decided to pursue opening The Woodburn Brewery, which will debut later this summer at 2800 Woodburn Ave. in Walnut Hills.
 
“The neighborhood is up-and-coming and looks like it will be a nice entertainment district here pretty soon,” Mitchell says.
 
The building, which was built in the early 1900s, is just over 4,000 square feet and is being designed as taproom/brewery with capacity for about 120. Mitchell says they’re going to cater to the taproom experience and customers won’t feel like they’re in a brewery, even though they’ll be able to see the tanks through a giant glass wall.
 
“Lots of breweries feel like you’re sitting in a brew house, but we’re going for a different experience,” he says. “This will be somewhere everyone wants to go.”
 
The Woodburn Brewery will open with 4-6 flagship beers, including a pineapple saison, a cedar IPA and a German pilsner. The recipe and name of the German pilsner, which will be released at opening, comes from Espelkamper Brau in Germany — the owner of that brewery won four gold medals for the pilsner and has signed over the rights and name to The Woodburn Brewery.
 
Mitchell also plans to release seasonal beers and sours as well as bourbon barrel releases, experimental batches and limited-edition bottle releases. The Woodburn Brewery will also be serving from Brite tanks, which means that the beer is carbonated and served from the same tank.
 
There are plans to distribute to bars, restaurants and retail stores, but Mitchell says they’ll start small with a few select spots. When the brewery opens, there won’t be a food menu, but there a light appetizer menu is in the works.
 
The Woodburn Brewery will partner with Firehouse Pizza and local food trucks to feed their customers in the first few months, Mitchell says, and there are talks of a cidery/restaurant in the future.
 
“We’re excited to see the explosion of breweries happening in Cincinnati,” Mitchell says. “We’re also excited to see Cincinnati restored to its original brewery status. In its heyday, there were a ton of breweries here and Cincinnati was known for its beer. We’re excited to be part of it and to see lots of new faces pop up.”
 

Camp Washington developments help build community


Camp Washington, lovingly called “Camp” by its residents, owes much of its stability and growth to the Camp Washington Community Board. The organization has renovated 52 neighborhood houses to date and is now overseeing four new development projects.
 
The Camp Washington Community Board currently funds the $150,000 house renovations and sells them for about $85,000. City grants help with the deficit, and the organization does much of its fundraising through a bingo hall it owns in Cheviot.
 
This year, however, they’re using a different model to fund houses. A PNC Charitable Trust grant will help the board replan the development strategy, which is focused now on a six-unit apartment building, two four-unit buildings and three single-family houses.
 
“We’re also trying to get outside people to come into Camp and redevelop,” says Joe Gorman, community organizer for Camp Washington Community Board. “We’re trying to attract new residents, especially young professionals and families.”
 
On Spring Grove Avenue, a former meatpacking plant was recently demolished near the railroad tracks. The 15 acres of developable property is currently waiting for a developer, and Gorman says any number of things is possible.
 
At the other end of the neighborhood, Indianapolis-based Core Redevelopment plans to redevelop the Crosley Building, which has been vacant for about 30 years, into 238 market-rate apartments. The $35 million project will be much like the American Can Lofts in Northside but about twice the size.
 
“The fact that Camp is landlocked gives people a sense of belonging and ownership of the neighborhood,” Gorman says.
 
Volunteers from the neighborhood will also be planting two large beds in Camp’s urban farm, which is on Monmouth Avenue between the River City Correctional Center and the Machine Flats apartments. The neighborhood leases two acres of land from the city for the farm.
 
The urban farm has two donkeys that help tend the grass and produce manure for the compost pile. There are also plans for a beehive in the fall, as well as a “walk through the fall” to include a number of historical signs along the path provided by the American Sign Museum.
 
Gorman says the community is hoping to provide enough fresh vegetables from its urban farm to supply Camp’s food pantry and Churches Active in Northside (CAIN).
 

SoupCycle delivers healthy food to people without access to it


In December 2011, Harriet Matthey met with a group of homeless people in Over-the-Rhine and saw a real need for healthy food options for those who didn’t have access to it. From those conversations she came up with Oatmobile, a SmartCar that would provide hot porridge to people in Cincinnati’s food deserts.
 
That idea became what is now SoupCycle, a bike that transports soup to community centers, parks and events. Suzy DeYoung of La Soupe has been supplying the soups for about a year, and they’ve been a huge hit with those on the receiving end.
 
“My daughter was a pedi-cab driver in Boston, and she said anyone can pedal 350 pounds thanks to gears,” Matthey says. “So I thought, why not give it a try?”
 
DeYoung’s soup is made with ingredients bought or given from local chefs and discounted produce from grocery stores. Soup is a great way to help people experience healthy eating as well as introduce them to ingredients they’re not familiar with, Matthey says, and SoupCycle also helps kids learn to make more informed eating decisions.
 
Matthey says that engineering students at the University of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University have helped contribute to SoupCycle, and engineering heads at Purdue University and Ohio State University have also given their time and advice on the project.
 
So far, SoupCycle has shared soup as well as porridge in Avondale, Walnut Hills and downtown. Matthey currently serves soup at 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays in Piatt Park downtown and has plans to take SoupCycle to the May 8 Ride for Reading event, which is part of Bike Month, and the May 16 Health Fair at Riverview East School.
 

Bike Month promotes bicycle safety, healthy lifestyles


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clifton House Tour provides inside look at unique neighborhood homes


Once every three years, a number of Clifton homeowners invite us into their homes on Mother’s Day for the Clifton House Tour. The 2015 version will be held 1-5 p.m. Sunday, May 10.
 
The seven homes on this year’s tour were built between the 1800s and 1970 and range in style from Italianate and Victorian to American Four Square and Mid-Century Modern. The specific addresses haven’t been released to the public yet but will be later this week.
 
The Clifton House Tour Committee began planning the event last May and chose homes based on significance, historical relevance and importance to Clifton. The list of 20 homes was eventually narrowed down to seven and includes a number of one-of-a-kind homes, says Tony Sizemore, president of Clifton Town Meeting.
 
“This is a unique opportunity for people to get inside some of these homes,” Sizemore says. “People really take pride in the event, and people come from all over the city.”
 
This year’s tour will also include a stop at the Henry Probasco Fountain, which isn’t a house but does have historical significance in Clifton and is relatively close to houses on the tour.
 
Built in 1887 on Clifton Avenue, the fountain was donated by hardware magnate Henry Probasco as a gift of gratitude to the people of Clifton (he also donated the fountain at Fountain Square downtown). The 10-foot-tall fountain was designed by Samuel Hannaford and features four separate basins that hold drinkable water — one for humans, one for horses, one for dogs and another for birds. The fountain was fully restored and rededicated last month and is a natural gathering place for the neighborhood.
 
CTM began the house tour in the late 1960s, taking a break from 1988 to 1997. Tour proceeds support the community council’s mission to help enhance and improve the quality of life for Clifton’s residents and visitors as well as to create a beautiful and vibrant neighborhood, Sizemore says.
 
Ticket sales for the home tour help fund various other CTM events and activities, including the Clifton Chronicle, CliftonFest, the Memorial Day parade and picnic, the Lantern Walk and carriage rides during Holidays on Ludlow.
 
If you’re interested in the tour, get your tickets early — only 1,200 will be sold. They’re available for purchase online at CliftonCommunity.org or at Ace Hardware, Hansa Guild, Ludlow Wines and Clifton’s Skyline Chili. Tickets are $18 in advance or $22 day of the event.
 
A free shuttle will be available during the event, departing from the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, 3711 Clifton Ave., and Clifton Plaza, 333 Ludlow Ave. Local businesses will also be open during the tour to provide food, drinks and shopping.
 

Cincy Stories events help break down barriers, create empathy


MOTR Pub will host the second night of the Cincy Stories series on Tuesday, May 5, to continue breaking down walls and helping create a safe place for people to share and hear the stories of fellow Cincinnatians.
 
Shawn Braley and a group of his friends started Cincy Stories because of how hard it is to get to know people in a large city.
 
“You might meet someone in a bar and get to talking, but it’s hard to know their story,” Braley says. “We wanted to bring something like the podcasts we listen to to Cincinnati, where even the boring stories can be exciting.”
 
Cincy Stories invites public figures to share their stories, which helps the audience see them as human beings rather than just a prominent figure, politician or entrepreneur. The first Cincy Stories event in February featured Ryan Messer, a community leader in Over-the-Rhine; Chris Seelbach, the first openly gay politician elected to the Cincinnati City Council; and Molly Wellmann of Wellmann’s Brands.
 
Everyone’s story is different and range from heartbreaking to beautiful to funny. Braley says the events don’t have an overarching theme, but he likes the idea of each event being open and seeing where people go with their stories.
 
“As an English major, I read a lot of fiction and nonfiction, which I think made me a more empathetic person,” he says. “The stories taught me empathy, and I hope these events help create more empathy in people and show that there is something deeper beneath the surface in all of us.”

Cincy Stories fits in well with Cincinnati's growing interest in storytelling, a trend that's popular in major cities across the country. Comedian/performer Paul Strickland holds regular storytelling workshops at Know Theatre, which has also hosted True Theatre's storytelling nights for several years. The Cincinnati Enquirer is doing its own storytelling events. And this week the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati is hosting local nonprofit leaders to tell the stories of how they decided to “change the world.”
 
Guest speakers for the May 5 event (beginning at 7 p.m.) include Joe Boyd of Rebel Storytellers; John Faherty, who organizes The Enquirer's storytelling events; Kathryne Gardette, who recently was honored as an Enquirer Woman of the Year; Allen Woods of MORTAR; and writer and teacher Elissa Yancey. Music will be provided by the band The Part-Time Gentlemen.
 

Private developer catching the wave of change on Covington's Pike Street


Covington resident Kelly Charlton doesn’t have a background in development, but she’s helping change the face of Pike Street. She currently owns two buildings on the street and, if the right opportunity comes along, would love to continue to support the growth in the area as well as expand her business, TCZ Properties.
 
“There is a lot of development happening in and around the Pike Street corridor, and I wanted to be in the middle of it,” Charlton says.
 
Built in 1881, the building at 2 W. Pike St. is considered historic. Charlton saw its potential to become a keystone property in the neighborhood because it sits on the corner of Pike and Madison Avenue.
 
She purchased the building about a year ago and has leased two of the three retail spaces, one to Durham Brand & Co. design studio and the other to Covington Arts Gallery. She recently purchased 10 W. Pike St., the former home of Barking Fish Lounge and Pike Street Peddler, and is just beginning to redevelop it.
 
The available storefront at 2 W. Pike is about 650 square feet, while the Covington Arts space is about 550 square feet and the third-floor space occupied by Durham Brand is about 750 square feet. The building also has a 700-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment for rent at $650 per month and a 1,300-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment for rent at $1,200 per month.
 
10 W. Pike is a two-and-a-half story building with a 900-square-foot storefront that will be home to Karla Louise: Bridal Alterations, Accessories and Designs, which is slated to open in May. The bridal boutique will offer dress alterations and reconstruction as well as handmade accessories for brides and bridesmaids, including sleeves, belts, veils and jewelry.
 
The one-bedroom apartment on the second floor is about 1,200 square feet and will rent for $1,000 per month.
 
Charlton says her plans for 10 W. Pike include installing new hardwood flooring and appliances as well as updating the electric and adding fresh paint throughout the building.
 
“In a year’s time, that section of Pike and Madison will look completely different,” she says. “There are several long-vacant buildings that are now under construction and filling with new businesses and residences. I hope to see Pike Street become a center for retail.”
 
Charlton says being part of Covington’s revitalization is important to her because of her love for the neighborhood. She also feels strongly about bringing new businesses to the area and helping maintain the neighborhood’s architecture and the history of the buildings.
 
“As a Covington native, I also understand the value and importance of smaller-scale projects to the people who live and work here,” she says.
 
Charlton says that larger scale developments in Covington — including the Mutual Building on the opposite corner of Pike and Madison, Covington city offices at 20 W. Pike and Braxton Brewery a street over on Seventh — provide a catalyst for smaller, private developers like her. Those smaller-scale projects show residents and visitors alike that there is rejuvenation happening in Covington and that businesses want to relocate there.
 

Center for Great Neighborhoods issues 15 grants for Covington bicentennial projects


The Center for Great Neighborhoods recently awarded more than $27,000 in Place Matters Neighborhood Mini-Grant Program funds to 15 projects throughout Covington. All of this year’s applicants were required to include an element that celebrates Covington’s bicentennial.
 
200 years, 200 people, $2,000 of produce ($2,000 grant)
As a “birthday” present to Covington residents, Grow the Cov will purchase surplus produce from the Covington Farmers’ Market and give it to those who lack access to fresh, affordable food. Produce will then be delivered on the Grow the Cov & Farmers’ Market Tricycle.
 
CNC Neighborhood Summit ($2,000)
The Covington Neighborhood Collective will sponsor a summit this Fall to help engage the community. The summit will be held at Gateway Community & Technical College and will feature sessions led by individuals from local and regional resource organizations to talk about housing, urban agriculture, using social media to maintain and generate community interest, collaboration across community-based groups and building a positive image for Covington.
 
Covington Bicentennial/Independence Day 2015 Parade ($1,450)
The Friends of Peaselburg Neighborhood Association are putting on the 4th of July parade for the 50th year at 10 a.m., starting at the St. Augustine School parking lot. The group has already installed banners throughout Peaselburg that read “Happy Birthday Covington 1815-2015.”
 
Game Night at Golden Towers, 200 years on the Licking River, 200 Years of White Cane Safety ($1,000)
The Northern Kentucky Council of the Blind plans to host a night of card games, bingo, cake and ice cream to celebrate Covington’s bicentennial and engage the elderly in the community. On May 16, “200 Years on the Licking River” will feature period costumes from 1815, a presentation of historical events, musicians, display and snacks. The “200 Years of White Cane Safety” event will highlight a number of blind people who have lived and worked in Covington over the past 200 years as well as educational activities.
 
Helentown Planter Design Project ($2,000)
The Helentown Neighborhood Association will involve youth in helping to beautify the neighborhood by creating bicentennial themed artwork on planters.
 
Levassor Park: Meet Your Neighbors ($2,000)
The Levassor Park Neighborhood Association will host several events to help encourage neighbors to be neighborly. In May LPNA will start the Sidewalk Community Garden, which will be two raised garden beds on wheels that will move around the neighborhood throughout the summer. Other events include Potluck in the Park, Sundaes on Sunday in July and August and the Fall Fun Festival in October.
 
Monte Casino Beautification ($2,000)
The Monte Casino Neighborhood Association plans to landscape a new Monte Casino Neighborhood Sign on Benton Road using vegetation native to the area. The group also plans to create the Bicentennial Butterfly Garden on three separate planted areas along Benton Road. MCNA will also create the Neighbors Helping Neighbors program to identify residents who need help with lawn work and small jobs. Monte Casino also plans to donate and help plant seven trees in the Peaselburg Detention Basin Beautification Project (see below).
 
Monte Casino: Building a Community ($2,000)
This MCNA project has six parts: publicizing a 2015 list of events on refrigerator magnets, hosting the Spring Gathering and Sign & Garden Dedication, encouraging neighborhood participation in the Peaselburg Bicentennial/Independence Day Parade, a fall Halloween gathering, donating plants and grass to the Peaselburg Detention Basin Beautification Project and the “Highlight the Hill” luminary event in December to say goodbye to Covington’s 200th year.
 
Morning Glory Gardens ($2,000)
The Morning Glory Gardeners will improve and expand the garden on Seventh Street in MainStrasse by adding new garden plots and providing organic soil donated by Grow the Cov to those who are interested. Detailed plans for the garden include a three-section compost bin built from recycled pallets; a green fence along the sidewalk and a sign that will route foot traffic through the garden; linking the entrances to the walking path; installing a large raised rain harvester tank in the northwest corner of the garden and a smaller backup tank along the fence; and a history of urban gardening with photos from Covington’s past displayed on the fence facing the sidewalk during the weeks surrounding the Covington Block Party.
 
Peaselburg Detention Basin Beautification Project ($2,000)
The Friends of Peaselburg Neighborhood Association will help the neighborhood creatively deal with the loss of the baseball field to a new detention basin that will help flooding. Plans include planting about 25 native trees and plants that will beautify the entrance to the area as well as creating a fenced area for a community gathering space. The group will also spruce up an existing garden at Highland and Benton with a flagpole and memorial plaque.
 
Randolph Park Roundball Classic ($2,000)
The Randolph Park Roundball Classic Committee is hosting the second annual three-on-three basketball tournament to highlight the benefits of the park as well as attract attention and money needed for improvements.
 
South Covington Community Action Association Expansion & Outreach ($720)
The South Covington Action Association is using the grant to build its website, familiarize members with the site and use it as a central hub to connect members and publicize their work. In July, the SCCAA will also host the bicentennial celebration cookout and meet-and-greet in Tot Park.
 
Westside COV200 Seed & Plant Community Fundraiser ($2,000)
The Westside Action Coalition will sell a wide variety of seeds and plants that grow well in Covington in the hopes of developing a large gardening community at the Great American Cleanup on April 25 at Goebel Park and the Old Seminary Square Garden Tour in June. The seeds will be packaged in envelopes that include an image of General Leonard Covington.
 
Westside Trail Canopy Enhancement Effort ($1,955)
Westside residents will plant 20 trees that were indigenous to the area 200 years ago along Holman Avenue to increase the tree canopy and make it a more inviting, walkable neighborhood.
 
Youth Troup Weekend Clean-up ($2,000)
From June through mid-August, groups of youth and Covington Clean will remove trash from residences and businesses across the city. They will participate in weekend neighborhood clean ups and other events such as flowerbed planting, storm drain marking and fundraising.
 
Since 2007, the Center for Great Neighborhoods has awarded about $350,000 to community organizations to help support 168 projects.
 

Former SCPA building to become apartments with added parking


Core Redevelopment announced that the former School for Creative & Performing Arts, located at 1310 Sycamore St. in Over-the-Rhine/Pendleton, will be converted into apartments that should be ready by Spring 2016. Core bought the building at a Cincinnati Public Schools auction for $1.3 million in late 2012 and plans to begin the renovation process in June.
 
The 107-year-old building was originally built as Woodward High School, which was the first public school west of the Alleghenies. In 1976, SCPA started to take control of parts of the building and a year later had control of the entire building. The school moved to its current location on Central Parkway in 2010.
 
Originally there were plans to bring a hotel to the former school, but that project fell through and Core Redevelopment will now create an apartment complex.
 
The $23 million redevelopment, called Alumni Lofts, includes creating 148 one- and two-bedroom apartments as well as a few studios, which will range from 700 to 1,700 square feet and cost $700-1,500 per month. All of the units will include granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and contemporary lighting. Apartments on the fifth floor will be two stories with lofts.

The redevelopment of the SCPA building is a historic preservation project, which means that Core Redevelopment will be sensitive to the building's historic elements, says Michael Cox, a developer for the Indianapolis-based company. Different aspects of the building will be preserved, including the school's original slate blackboards, cabinets, hallway tile, marble columns and Rookwood fountains. Core also plans to rehabilitate all of the existing hardwood floors.

"We love old buildings, and we love converting them into something new," Cox says. "We're taking a building with architectural and historical significance and putting it back into service. We hope it will become a focal point in the neighborhood and be a draw for OTR and Pendleton."

To date, Core Redevelopment has created between 10,000 and 12,000 apartments and done three historic renovations in Indianapolis. This is Core's first project in Cincinnati, and the company will also work on the rehabilitation of the Windsor School in Walnut Hills beginning this summer.
 
Alumni Lofts plans include removing almost all of the existing pavement in front of the building’s main entrance along 13th Street as well as creating a two-level 196-space parking structure at the back of the five-story building for residents. The small access lots on the east and west sides of the building will remain.

The finished project will also include a fitness center and outdoor courtyards, and the green space on the north side of the property will be maintained.
 

Mayday space in Northside becoming restaurant and live music venue


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

Summit Park in Blue Ash to get tristate's first bike park


Plans were unveiled for the area’s first bike park at Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance’s annual meeting at the end of March. Located in Blue Ash’s newly opened 130-acre, $75 million Summit Park, the area will be a training course for mountain bikers of all ages and skill levels.
 
The first phase of Summit Park opened in August with an open-ended playground, lawn, a quarter-mile trail, restrooms and community meeting spaces. A large stage is slated for completion in May and will be the site of Buckle Up Music Festival in 2016 and the annual Taste of Blue Ash.
 
Phase 2 is to be ready in the fall and will include a 17,000-square-foot community building with an indoor and outdoor glass canopy and plaza as well as a 4,000-square-foot space for Brown Dog Cafe, which is currently located nearby at 5893 Pfeiffer Road.
 
The bike park, which was suggested by Blue Ash residents during the rewrite of the city’s parks and recreation master plan, would cost about $1 million to construct and would include a cyclocross training area, a skills station and a pavilion where spectators can sit and watch bicyclists.
 
The City of Blue Ash paid about $15,000 for a conceptual plan for the bike park, and the Parks and Recreation department will apply for grants for the bulk of the project’s funding.
 
Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance is a grassroots cycling group that promotes and maintains more than 60 miles of mountain bike trails in Ohio and Northern Kentucky, including trails at Caesar Creek State Park, Devou Park, East Fork State Park, England Idlewild, Harbin Park, Hueston Woods State Park, Landen Deerfield Park, Mitchell Memorial Forest, Terrell Park and Tower Park.
 

Cincinnati Development Fund adds nonprofit loan program to redevelopment efforts


The Cincinnati Development Fund (CDF) recently unveiled its nonprofit facilities and equipment loan program designed to help nonprofits obtain affordable long-term loans in order to renovate, maintain and improve existing facilities. The program is made possible through a partnership with IFF and a $1.4 million grant from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation.
 
“The program enables nonprofits to continue to invest in their core missions while also meeting critical facilities and equipment needs,” says Debbie Koo, loan officer for CDF.
 
Loan amounts in the nonprofit loan program can range from $50,000 to more than $1.5 million, providing flexible capital for nonprofits that might not be able to get financing through traditional lenders. An appraisal isn’t required, and CDF can advance up to 95 percent of the project cost.
 
Nonprofits can use the loans for capital projects (acquisition, construction, renovation, leasehold improvements or refinancing); maintenance and improvements (roof repair, new windows, ADA code repairs or HVAC); and capitalized equipment purchases (computer hardware/software, furnishings, medical equipment or service-oriented vehicles).
 
To date, CDF has made loans to Findlay Market for its new incubator kitchen and to Kennedy Heights Art Center. With interest growing in the new program, several other projects are currently in the works.
 
“CDF is focused on revitalizing neighborhoods, which includes providing support for the people who live and work in those communities,” Koo says. “With this program, we are able to expand our reach beyond residential and mixed-use developments to include nonprofit facilities and equipment.

“If we can help improve a nonprofit’s cash flow by providing low-interest, long-term financing, that leaves them more money to invest in their missions. If more nonprofits own their own real estate, they can build equity and strengthen their balance sheets.”
 
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