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Online public art map takes Cincinnatians on "artventure"

Downtown Cincinnati Inc. recently launched Cincinnati’s online public art map, ArtVenture. The map includes a list of murals and sculptures found downtown and in Over-the-Rhine, and users can find themed itineraries that highlight works and fun spots along different routes.
 
Years ago, the Ohio Arts Council and SAVE OUR OUTDOOR SCULPTURE! Program developed A Guide to Public Art in Downtown Cincinnati, and the print edition was later migrated to the web. But the information hadn’t been updated since the early '90s.
 
ArtVenture was developed using information from Cincinnati Parks, ArtWorks and A Guide To Public Art in Cincinnati.
 
“It made sense for DCI to take on the project and combine information from different sources into one, easy-to-use database,” says Tricia Suit, director of marketing at DCI.
 
There are five itineraries—Hometown Heroes, Music City, The Old Ballgame, Take in the History and Mother(lode) of Presidents—and there are plans to add more this summer.
 
The Hometown Heroes itinerary includes Carew Tower, which is an important part of Cincinnati’s architectural, artistic and business history. Also on that itinerary is Cincinnati Venus, Jim Dine’s sculpture at Centennial Plaza. The Music City itinerary includes a stop at Memorial Hall, which has six free-standing sculptures on its façade that pay tribute to veterans from the Revolutionary War to the Spanish-American War.
 
The Old Ballgame is a tour around Great American Ball Park; and Take in the History features the National Steamboat Monument at the Public Landing. The Mother(lode) of Presidents itinerary includes stops at The Cincinnatian and The Phoenix, where local history is mixed in with the story of Ohio’s presidents.
 
“We created ArtVenture to be more than just an art walk,” Suit says. “Many cities have maps and routes to see monuments and unique architectural features, but by combining information about art with fun stops along with way, we’ve created a unique experience with all downtown has to offer.”
 
The public is invited to share its artventures with DCI using #cincyartventure on Twitter and Instagram.

New mixed-use development in the works near Xavier

Xavier University’s bookstore, Starbucks and Graeter’s are the first retail tenants to sign leases for University Station, a new development near Xavier. The mixed-use project is already under construction.
 
The $54 million, 15-acre development sits along Dana Avenue and Montgomery Road. The first phase is slated to be completed in August, and will include 46,000 square feet of office space, 39,000 square feet of retail space, a 178-unit apartment complex for both Xavier students and the community, plus 1,000 parking spaces.
 
The new bookstore will fill 11,000 square feet of the available retail space, and will include Starbucks and Graeter’s. It will be about twice the size of the current on-campus bookstore, and will sell technology, school supplies, Xavier clothing and gifts.
 
TriHealth and CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services will be leasing office space, and the apartment complex is about 93 percent leased.
 
Ackermann Group and Messer Construction Co. are developing University Station. Planning is currently underway for the second phase, and could include more office and retail space, as well as a hotel.

Foodie Cincy supports local restaurant scene

In December, Brian and Gina Barrera launched Foodie Cincy, a deck of 52 cards that feature local and independent restaurants from Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Each card contains a coupon for $10 off a minimum of $30 purchase for a different restaurant.
 
Rome Ali started Foodie US in 2009 in St. Louis; since then, the franchise has spread to 11 cities, including Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Indianapolis. Each Foodie city has a local charity that receives a portion of the proceeds from the deck sales. Foodie Cincy dedicates a portion of its sales to the Freestore Foodbank.
 
Featured restaurants were chosen based on Yelp reviews and broader Google searches, Gina says.
 
“When we started searching, we had a list of hundreds of restaurants. We narrowed that list down to those with the highest ratings in customer service and food quality, and chose restaurants from a variety of Cincinnati neighborhoods.”
 
The Barreras pitched Foodie Cincy to more than 150 restaurants, and those restaurants chose whether they wanted to be included in the deck, which consists of offers from 52 restaurants, for a total savings of $520.
 
Foodie Cincy decks cost $20, and are available until they’re sold out online and at a number of restaurants, including BrewRiver GastroPub, Mokka and The Sunset, Nicola’s and Café De Paris. Coupons are valid through November, and next year’s deck will be valid starting December 1.
 
Next year’s deck will feature many of the same restaurants seen in this year’s deck, but there will be quite a few new ones, Gina says.
 
“The deck doesn’t make people rush to restaurants, but keeps a steady stream of customers coming in with Foodie cards, and customers love it,” she says.
 
For a complete list of Foodie Cincy restaurants, visit its website or Facebook page.

ArtsWave gives $45,000 to five Place Matters neighborhoods

This year, ArtsWave will award grants to five of the Local Initiative Support Corporation’s (LISC) Place Matters neighborhoodsAvondale, Covington, Madisonville, Price Hill and Walnut Hills—totaling $45,000. The partnership, which began in January, will help support arts activities in the neighborhoods.
 
Each neighborhood will use the funds to contract arts organizations that are supported by ArtsWave, or to support activities that include community-building arts programs. Each grant project will also involve local community partners, such as the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, the Urban League of Cincinnati, Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs, schools, community councils and business associations.
 
Avondale’s Comprehensive Development Corporation will use the grant money to bring the “Kin Killing Kin Art Series” to the neighborhood as part of a strategy to promote alternatives to violence, and help residents connect to the African culture through cooking and performance programs from Bi-Okoto and the Cincinnati Black Theatre Company.
 
In Covington, the Center for Great Neighborhoods will help enhance the 2014 Art Off Pike with “ArtsWave Presents” appearances by Visionaries & Voices and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. Covington will also celebrate its bicentennial next year with site-specific performances by groups like the Cincinnati Opera and the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.
 
The Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation will launch the Madisonville Jazz and BBQ Festival in the fall in the heart of the neighborhood’s business district, adjacent to the Madisonville Arts and Cultural Center.
 
The Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation will add arts programming to the We Are Walnut Hills Springfest and the second annual Cincinnati Street Food Festival, and to the community space in Five Points Alley.
 
Price Hill Will and Santa Maria Community Services plan to bring members of their community together to share performances by the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and MYCincinnati in schools and community centers.
 
The initiative falls under ArtsWave’s ArtsWave Presents program, which is an effort to extend arts programming across the region. It follows a partnership with Interact for Health on “Join the Fun,” which launched in February.

Cincinnati Saints kick off first home game in OTR

This season, the Cincinnati Saints’ soccer team will play their home games at Stargel Stadium at Taft High School. The first men’s home game is tonight, and the women’s first home game is June 7.
 
Stargel seats 3,000, but can hold more than that in standing-room only.
 
“Soccer isn’t a sport you need to sit to watch,” says David Satterwhite, president and CEO of the Saints.
 
Although alcohol can’t be sold inside the stadium, the Saints are partnering with Over-the-Rhine bars and restaurants for tailgates before and after games. Beer sales will benefit different nonprofits each week, with the Muscular Dystrophy Association as the first game's sponsor.
 
The Saints are also planning events at Fountain Square, such as watch parties for the World Cup.
 
“We want to show what a true soccer atmosphere can bring to the city,” Satterwhite says. “It’s always been in the suburbs, and now it’s coming downtown.”
 
The ultimate goal is to bring an MLS team to Cincinnati. According to Satterwhite, Cincinnati is a huge market for soccer because of the almost 60,000 kids who play the game in the area.
 
The men’s team has seven home games, and the women’s have five. All games are streamed live on YouTube by official broadcasters. And if you want to watch a game in person, admission is $8.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Happy Belly health food cafe coming to OTR

Happy Belly on Vine, a new health food café, will soon open in Over-the-Rhine. It’s owned by Abby Reckman, a University of Cincinnati graduate in food and nutrition sciences, and her sister-in-law, Molly Reckman.
 
“I’ve always been passionate about nutrition and how it affects the body,” Abby says. “If you eat healthy, you feel healthy, both mentally and physically.”
 
Clean eating means eating foods in their most natural state—limiting highly processed foods, preservatives and added refined sugars. It’s not always easy, and Abby and Molly want to offer this type of food to the residents of OTR.
 
“We hope to bring a healthy lifestyle to the community,” Abby says. “We know that a lot of people in OTR are already health conscious and pay attention to what they put in their bodies, and we want to make it more convenient for people to eat healthy.”
 
The menu will feature smoothies like The Foundation and Hawaiian Berry, as well as a sweet potato burger, a free-range chicken wrap, the Peanut Butter and Berry Sandwich, and Spirulina Energy Bites. Sides include popcorn and mixed fruit. All of the oats used at Happy Belly are gluten-free, and there will be a gluten-free bread option too.  
 
Happy Belly will have a take-away cooler with cold sandwiches, wraps and salads, all made fresh daily. Abby says they expect about 80 percent of their business to be carry-out.
 
Molly recently moved back to Cincinnati from Chicago, but Abby has lived in OTR since 2010, and has seen a lot of the development that’s been going on during the past four years. Abby’s father-in-law, husband and brother-in-law have all been part of the growth and development in OTR through Model Group and Urban Expansion.
 
“OTR is growing every day, and it’s an amazing neighborhood with so much life and energy,” Abby says. “This area seemed like a natural fit for us, and we want to continue to see OTR grow and be part of it.”
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Fern Studio provides plants, home decor for growing College Hill

A former College Hill gas station is now home to Fern Studio, a plant design studio that also sells a variety of home décor. Fern opened on May 1.
 
“Fern Studio began as a daydream,” says owner Megan Strasser. “I wanted to create a space that would combine my love for unique plants while celebrating independent designers and artisans.”
 
The gas station had always interested Strasser, but her father was the first to see and pursue the building’s potential. Her parents have experience in turning old buildings into something new—years ago, they purchased an old bank building, gutted it, renovated it and then lived in it.
 
Strasser says she is inspired by the Japanese concept of wabi sabi, which is defined as appreciating the imperfections of nature and the transience of natural beauty.
 
Aside from plants, Fern Studio also sells a curated collection of items for the home, including blankets hand-loomed in Mexico, small-batch candles with a 10 percent donation to animal rescue, baskets hand-woven in Africa and handmade textile wall hangings. Outside of the shop, Fern has created plant installations for restaurants and a few small businesses around Cincinnati, as well as custom arrangements for special events.
 
In the future, Strasser hopes to hold artist-run workshops in the space and eventually add a greenhouse.
 
“College Hill is an incredibly diverse neighborhood with enormous potential,” Strasser says. “I’m lucky to be among a wonderful group of business owners who are invested in the community. And I hope that I can be part of bringing more people up the hill while introducing them to the important and quality small-batch, handmade work currently being produced.”
 
Fern Studio is open Thursday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Tuesday and Wednesday by appointment.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Elm Street Senior Housing expected to be rented out by June

On May 20, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held for the Elm Street Senior Housing project in Over-the-Rhine. The 15-unit building will be the neighborhood’s first and only affordable senior housing project.
 
Over-the-Rhine Community Housing led the $4 million redevelopment of the 150-year-old building at Elm and 15th streets.
 
Records indicate that Christian Moerlein built the building to serve as the brewery’s icehouse. It was sold in 1919 during Prohibition, and has since housed a saloon, grocery store, market, restaurant, barber, billiards hall and rental flat.
 
The one-bedroom units are expected to be all leased out by June.
 
Elm Street Senior Housing will have a manager living on-site, and amenities will include a laundry room, a community meeting space, a resident services office, an elevator and a courtyard. The building is expected to seek LEED silver certification.
 
OTR Community Housing worked with Model Group and CR Architects + Design on the project. Cincinnati Area Senior Services will provide support services for residents. The project used state and federal historic tax credits, state low-income housing tax credits and city property tax abatements.
 
To apply for one of the apartments, visit the OTRCH website. Interested applicants must be 62 or older, and income restrictions apply.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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La Soupe donates soup to local organizations

Cincinnati native Suzy DeYoung dreamed of opening a soup kitchen to feed the hungry, but since she still needed to make a living, she decided to open a restaurant instead. La Soupe, a for-profit soup kitchen with a heart for nonprofits, opened in Anderson Township on April 29.
 
“Soup allows you to take what is given to you, and with homemade broths, becomes a meal,” DeYoung says. “It’s a slow cooking process that at 55 years old, it fits my lifestyle better than the stress of line cooking and off-site catering.”
 
DeYoung’s “aha moment” for her restaurant came after reading two books about entrepreneurship and nonprofits—The Art of Giving and Starting Something That Matters.
 
“I realized that if Blake Mycowskie, the founder of TOMS shoes, could create a business model around giving away shoes, I could create one around giving away soup,” she says.
 
For every quart of soup sold, La Soupe pays it forward and donates soup to local nonprofits in the Cincinnati area. Organizations like the Drop Inn Center and Our Daily Bread have partnered with La Soupe, and the restaurant is looking for more agencies that need help.
 
Every year, DeYoung reads the book Stone Soup to a group of fourth graders at St. Gertrude’s, and the students bring items they like in soup—beans, vegetables, noodles. She then makes soup with the ingredients, they sell it and donate the money to charity.
 
La Soupe’s rotating menu features croque du jour, therapeutic broths and seasonal specialties. There’s also a soup that was created by a 10-year-old and Chef Jean-Robert de Cavel through the Make-A-Wish Foundation on the menu.
 
“I want this to be the first La Soupe, and I would love for other cities to see this as the first business model where food is made using surplus that would otherwise go to waste,” DeYoung says. “If we creatively use these products to make interesting soups and stews, and give back to our less fortunate neighbors, it will become a wonderful full circle program.”
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Metro issues RFP for streetcar branding

Today, Metro issued a request for proposals for the streetcar’s branding. Proposals are due May 23 at 4 p.m.
 
Earlier this year, the city requested that Metro assume responsibility for the streetcar’s marketing and community education. The branding RFP is a preliminary step toward Metro’s role as the operator of the streetcar.
 
The design of the station stops, vehicles, color scheme, maintenance facility and other physical aspects of the streetcar have been finalized. But the RFP will include the streetcar’s logo and guidelines related to the use that will be needed for everything related to its operations, including vehicles, signs, operators’ uniforms, website and printed materials.
 
All costs for the streetcar branding are being paid for by federal funds, not Metro’s operating budget.
 
To learn more about bid opportunities, including the branding RFP, visit Metro’s website.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Mansions of Lafayette Avenue featured on CPA House Tour

Three historic houses in Clifton will be featured at the Cincinnati Preservation Association’s 2014 Mansions of Lafayette Avenue House Tour. The tour, which requires advance reservations, is from 1 to 5 p.m. May 10.
 
The houses range in style, but all were built in the mid- to late 1800s. Two (Oakwood and Scarlet Oaks) are on the National Register of Historic Places, and two were built for “barons of Clifton.”
 
Oakwood, a Norman Revival style home that was built in 1866, has been on the National Register since 1972. Constructed for Henry Probasco, it was designed by William Tinsley and built by Isaac Graveson. The house sits on 20 acres of land, and is built from limestone and sandstone.  
 
Scarlet Oaks, which was built in 1870, is a High Victorian Gothic mansion that was designed by James K. Wilson for George Shoenberger. The two-and-a-half-story house has been used as a sanitarium, and is currently a retirement home affiliated with the Deaconess Hospital.
 
The last home, Stonehedge, is a Swiss Chalet with Arts and Crafts flavor home that was built in 1887. Plympton & Trowbridge were the architects, and it was built for Harries C. and Elizabeth J. Hulbert.
 
For tickets, call 513-721-4506 or order online at cincinnatipreservation.org. Tickets are $25 for CPA members and $30 for guests or nonmembers.
 
Will call and parking will be available at the Cincinnati Woman’s Club. The tour is sponsored by Kroger, Cincinnatihistorichomes.com, Crapsey & Gilles, ArchitectsPlus and Hincon, Inc.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Bourbon bar opening this summer in Northside

In June, Northside will welcome a bourbon bar to the neighborhood. The Littlefield, which will be located at 3930 Spring Grove Ave., is an idea that has been in the works for about five years.
 
“All four of us owners live in Northside,” says co-owner Matt Distel. “It’s where we choose to spend our time and money.”
 
Two of the owners are developers, and have started to get control of a number of buildings in the neighborhood. The Littlefield will actually be housed in one of those buildings.
 
The physical space is only about 400 square feet, but Distel says that the outdoor deck and patio are about triple that size.
 
Distel says they’re also looking to partner with Northside nonprofits and art organizations to focus on what makes the neighborhood fun and interesting.
 
“We want to highlight those organizations, and maybe have drinks specials or nights where we can help promote their events,” he says.
 
The Littlefield won’t just focus on bourbon, but will serve regional and craft-based beer and other alcohol, as well. Cocktails will be bourbon-based, with housemade bitters, and some will be cask-aged. Distel and the other owners are partnering with Shoshana Hafner, the former chef at Honey, on the menu, which will feature her take on typical bar food.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Covington police receive grant to strengthen community partnership

The Covington Police Department was recently awarded a competitive national grant that recognizes the vision and cooperation within the community. The department was one of three across the country to receive funding for the Community Development and Policing Project from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and LISC.
 
Covington Police, with assistance from the Center for Greater Neighborhoods, was awarded the grant to design a project that would help law enforcement build a partnership with community leaders as they respond to crime in vacant and nuisance properties. With grant and technical assistance from LISC experts, Covington will serve as grounds for innovative police training tools.
 
The grant isn’t a monetary award but a training one that Covington can then take to other communities. Fifteen sergeants and five lieutenants in the department will receive training, and they will then train the leaders of their street-level staff.
 
The Center for Great Neighborhoods staff and members of the City of Covington’s economic development department will also participate in training to ensure relationships and common language are developed throughout the city.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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AtriCure to anchor Mason's new bioscience corridor, add 25 jobs

West Chester-based medical device maker AtriCure is moving its global headquarters to Mason. It will anchor Mason’s new bioscience corridor in the OakPark District when the facility is complete in late 2015.
 
Currently, AtriCure is located in a 50,000-square-foot-space on Centre Park Drive, and will move to a new two-story, 85,000-square-foot space on Western Row and Innovation Way.
 
OakPark is a walkable area that features restaurants, creative spaces and retail. Tenants include Luxottica EyeMed Vision Care, Stress Engineering Services' medical technologies division, Lindner Center of HOPE and Seapine Software.
 
The 14-year-old company has about 175 employees, and is looking to add 25 more employees over the next five years. The company received $2.9 million in financial investments over the next 15 years from the city of Mason, including property tax abatement.
 
Construction will begin on the building later this year, and should be completed by late 2015 or early 2016.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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New website helps drivers navigate Cincinnati construction

The City of Cincinnati launched a new website last week to help drivers navigate the construction downtown. RoadmapCincy.com highlights construction areas and provides detours to help alleviate traffic.
 
RoadmapCincy focuses on construction in Over-the-Rhine, downtown and along the riverfront. It also aggregates tweets from the city and other organizations so users know what’s happening on the streets around them.
 
In the coming months, downtown will see construction continue or begin on several projects, including the new dunnhumby building on Race Street between Fifth and Sixth streets; a hotel on Walnut Street between Fourth and Fifth streets; streetcar tracks along Central Parkway and soon in downtown; a new apartment tower on top of the parking garage at Seventh and Broadway streets; and a building at Sixth and Walnut streets.
 
Cincinnatians can follow @roadmapcincy on Twitter for the latest updates.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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