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NKY park to undergo improvements, growth in 2014

The A.J. Jolly Community Development Council is working with the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program to develop plans for improvements to A.J. Jolly Park in Northern Kentucky.
 
The council will apply for federal grants in August to help put the plans into action.
 
In the past year, the council has had the lake evaluated, which should help increase the natural vegetation on the perimeter, develop a lake kiosk by the boat docks and improve the fish habitat of the lake.
 
This year’s improvements include more team sports, including sand volleyball, dodge ball, youth co-ed softball and adult co-ed kickball. The stage, which is planned for this year, will be built near the former beach and boat ramp. It will be unveiled at Pack the Park on Aug. 16.
 
Money for the stage was donated by Alexandria resident Steve Stapleton from the Stapleton Family Trust.
 
Plans for the park include a stage for movie nights, concerts and potentially a theater, in order to promote a park where technology-immersed people can participate in a modern-day scavenger hunt with a GPS app.
 
A.J. Jolly is one of the largest county-owned parks in the state, and has a 200-acre fishing lake, the A.J. Jolly Stables, which were built in 2012, the A.J. Jolly Golf Course, baseball and soccer fields and sand volleyball.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Newport on the Levee now home to Dick's Last Resort

On March 11, national restaurant chain Dick’s Last Resort opened at Newport on the Levee. It’s located at the corner of Third and Saratoga streets, and is open for lunch, dinner and late night.
 
Dick’s is known for its outrageous and sarcastic servers, who push boundaries with tongue-in-cheek conversations. They also don guests with bibs and two-foot-tall hats with humorous slogans.
 
The menu includes drinks such as the Killa Rita—Milargo silver tequila, Bols blue curacoa and lime juice, which is served on the rocks. Food favorites include gator tail and nachos, plus comfort food staples like fish 'n chips, steaks, burgers, sandwiches and homemade desserts.
 
Nashville-based DLR Restaurants owns, operates and licenses the 14 Dick’s Last Resorts. DLR is jointly owned by Triton Pacific Capital Partners and DLR Partners LLC.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Cincinnati landmarks receive state money for renovations, updates

Every two years, the state of Ohio issues bonds for its capital budget in order to support the renovations and updates of local buildings, schools, roads, sewers, prisons and parks. Earlier this winter, the Cincinnati Business Committee recommended projects that would help educate and train the state’s workforce to the governor.
 
Due to the recession, the state wasn’t able to issue these bonds fromm 2007-2012, but resurrected them for colleges and universities in 2013-2014. This year is the first since 2006 that the state has been able to allocate money to community projects.
 
Cincinnati’s Music Hall and the Cincinnati Museum Center’s Union Terminal are to each receive $5 million of Ohio’s $2.4 billion capital budget to get renovations underway, if the legislature approves the governor’s request to issue long-term bonds for money to improve universities and community buildings. The decision is going before the General Assembly this spring.
 
But state money won’t come close to covering the $275 million needed to update both Music Hall and Union Terminal. Music Hall, which was built in 1878, is in need of $95 million worth of renovations; Union Terminal, which is 80 years old, uses an outdated heating and air conditioning system, and needs $180 million in repairs.
 
In all, the state’s capital budget includes $675 million for local school buildings; $454.4 million for renovations at public colleges and universities; $369 million for road and sewer improvements; $574.3 million for state-owned buildings at prisons and parks; and $100 million for the Clean Ohio program to preserve farmland, trails and green space.
 
The state-owned Aronoff Center for the Arts theater and Hamilton County Memorial Hall will each get $2 million for renovations. Another $4 million will go to the future parking garage south of Freedom Way at The Banks. The University of Cincinnati will get $28.8 million for its ongoing Medical Sciences Building project, and Miami University will get $21 million to renovate Shideler Hall.
 
Cincinnati Zoo will get $2 million, and West Chester’s Voice of America MetroPark will get $1 million to build an athletic complex for regional and national tournaments.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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CoSign project headed to Covington

On March 27, the American Sign Museum launched its second round of its CoSign project in Covington. The project area is the 400-900 blocks of Madison Avenue, and Seventh and Pike streets between Madison and Washington.
 
The project will last six months, with the unveiling of the new signs on Art off Pike’s 10th anniversary on Sept. 28.
 
CoSign offers a unique opportunity for artists and designers to create new, handcrafted signs for local retailers. It enhances economic activity in neighborhood business districts by pairing artists, small businesses and professional sign fabricators to design and install unique, handcrafted signs for local retailers.
 
Any artist, designer or local business interested in participating in CoSign must attend one of the two workshops, which will be held on April 28 and May 6 at Covington Arts.
 
CoSign, which was launched in Northside in 2012, was developed by the American Sign Museum and The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation. In 2013, ArtPlace America granted the Haile Foundation $150,000, which allowed CoSign to expand its efforts in Northside, and repeat in Covington this year. The National Endowment for the Arts also granted Covingotn Arts $50,000 to support the project.
 
Businesses located within the project area are encouraged to apply to the competition. The deadline is April 10.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Workshops to help with ins and outs of OTR homeownership

A series of workshops on homeownership in Over-the-Rhine will take place this spring. The series aims to bring together relevant resources and expertise to better educate potential homebuyers.
 
Owner-Occupied Over-the-Rhine, which is sponsored by the OTR Foundation, will cover everything from selecting the right property to financing to navigating the specific needs of a historic property and historic district.
 
The Foundation’s goal is to make it easier for individuals and families to rehabilitate buildings in OTR, the Brewery District or Pendleton by educating them about what redevelopment in a neighborhood entails, and helping them make connections to successfully complete a project.
 
The workshops will be held at 8 a.m. on April 12, May 10 and June 14 at the Art Academy of Cincinnati in OTR. Registration is $50 for all three sessions. You can register for the series here.
 
April 12’s session is titled “Learning from those who have gone before you.” Attendees will learn from other owner-occupants who have successfully renovated buildings, and tour completed or in-process projects. The second session, “You have a property, where do you begin?” will deal with choosing and purchasing a building, preparation for renovation, choosing a team, preserving historic properties, and laws and regulations. The final session, “Do the numbers add up and if they don’t, what do you do?" will touch on financing options that are available to owner-occupants.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Bicycle and walking path will connect six NKY cities

Funding has been approved for a bicycle and walking path, called Riverfront Commons, in Newport, Ludlow and Covington. A section of Newport’s path is already underway, and five construction projects are planned for this summer. The project is expected to take about 10 years, and will eventually link six Northern Kentucky cities.
 
The 11.5-mile trail will link tourism spots in Ft. Thomas, Dayton, Bellevue, Newport, Covington and Ludlow. The trail will take nature lovers to hotspots like Newport on the Levee, New Riff Distilling at Party Source and the Covington Landing, including sightseeing spots along the Ohio River.
 
A ramp and steps will provide a walking or riding path for travelers on the Purple People Bridge and those visiting Newport on the Levee. There will also be a walkway on top of the floodwall east of the Levee that will end at the I-471 bridge.
 
The next Newport project, which is to be built later this summer, will provide a second ramp on Dave Cowens Drive with a walkway that ends at Riviera Drive.
 
Southbank Partners wrote grants for $2 million in funding for Riverfront Commons, and has received approval for $1 million. Funding came from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet through the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments. The City of Newport also contributed the Community Development Block Grant funding for the Riverfront Commons construction at Newport on the Levee.
 
The shoreline will be stabilized with vegetation and structural features that will reshore the natural habitat, reduce runoff and increase water quality along Riverfront Commons.
 
About $250,000 in Surface Kentucky grant funds will be used in late summer or early fall in Ludlow. The project will create 3,000 feet of a 12-foot-wide trail behind Ludlow Memorial Park, continuing past James Rigney Memorial Stadium. Another $250,000 will go toward the construction of a trail base that will begin at Covington Landing and go to Ky. 8 in west Covington.

By Caitlin Koenig
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Underground dining experience expanding to restaurant, urban market

Hen of the Woods’ owners Nick and Kim Marckwald started out doing underground dining experiences with family and friends in 2012, but it quickly grew into something much bigger. They’ve done the Over-the-Rhine farmers market, Findlay Market, private events and pop-up brunches. And in the next year, Hen of the Woods will have a physical restaurant space in the old J.B. Schmidt building in OTR.
 
“We looked everywhere for a space,” Nick says. “Nothing felt right until we found this building on Main. We knew it would let us reach our fullest potential. And Main is the next phase of the OTR scene, and it fits our personality and energy.”
 
J.B. Schmidt occupied the building for about 100 years. The contracting company left in 2012, and Urban Sites purchased it, but it’s been vacant since then.
 
The space, which includes the storefronts at 1432 and 1434 Main St., is just under 10,000 square feet. In the 1970s, the three-story building at 1432 was partially torn down and a warehouse was built by the city to house the drainage lines before they put them under OTR streets, and Schmidt eventually acquired it. It’s connected to 1434, which is a shed-type building with many different pockets, Nick says.
 
The first floor of 1432 will be HOTW’s urban market (beer and wine to-go, prepared food, an old-school butcher shop, smoothies, coffee, tea) and the second floor will be an extension of the dining room, overlooking Main Street. The Marckwald’s offices will be located on the third floor of the building. The “shed” will become a large dining room, bar and three-season patio with seating for 50-60.
 
HOTW’s serves modern American cuisine with a farm-to-table aesthetic.
 
“We like to take American classics and bend them on their ear,” Kim says. “We do lots of surprising touches and like to celebrate every element of whatever we’re using.”
 
The Marckwalds met in Colorado nine years ago, where Nick was an executive chef and Kim was bartending at the same restaurant. They’ve eaten their way through New York City and Chicago, and love to look at the menus, drinks, clientele and décor of the places they go. HOTW will showcase what’s important to them: service, presentation, fun and, of course, food.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Smart car dealership planned for Covington

Covington’s City Commission approved a change in the city zoning ordinance to allow new vehicle and equipment sales of light uses in the central business district through conditional use permits. This means that the city could be the site of the first urban smart car dealership.
 
The dealership would be owned by Bernie Moreno, the owner of the new Fort Mitchell Mercedes-Benz dealership. He is planning to hang smart cars and ebikes from the ceiling of the 1,800-square-foot retail space on the first floor of Ascent, the condo building by the Roebling Bridge.
 
Mercedes-Benz has to approve the new location, but it’s highly possible that the dealership will happen.
 
Smart cars started in Germany in 1994; the primary assembly plant is in France, and they made their way to the United States in 2003.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Hang Over Easy brings breakfast and bar concept to Short Vine area

Hang Over Easy, a breakfast joint and bar, will soon be up and running in Corryville. Its regular hours begin Friday, when it will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.
 
The Pedros brothers opened Mick’s Diner in Columbus in 2002, and after some fine-tuning of their concept, turned it into Hang Over Easy in 2006.
 
“This is a passion project that has evolved into something much bigger,” says Joe Pedro.
 
The Pedros had the opportunity to work in the Short Vine business district for Bearcat Block Parties, and saw the area’s potential. They opened Dive Bar in 2011, which gave them a chance to get their feet wet. It seemed logical that Corryville would be a great spot for a second Hang Over Easy.
 
The 5,000-square-foot restaurant and bar has 30 beers on tap, 12 of which are local. It also has craft root beer and Jameson on tap. The Pedros get sausage for the restaurant once a week from a local farm, and source as many eggs locally as possible.
 
Hang Over Easy makes its own corned beef in-house for its CBH, which is hoe fries (hash browns) topped with corned beef, two eggs and toast. It’s also known for the Dirty Sanchez—scrambled eggs, chorizo, hoe fries and chili con queso in a tortilla, topped with sour cream, salsa, cheese and more queso.
 
Although Hang Over Easy is known for its breakfast, it also serves lunch and dinner, plus a small bite bar menu. Its Black ‘N’ Blue Burger is a bleu cheese stuffed burger topped with onion jam and candied bacon. There’s also chicken and waffles, which are drizzled with a Frank’s Red Hot maple glaze.
 
“We hope to bring our own style of food and hospitality to Short Vine,” Joe says. “It’s a little off-the-cuff, with the down-home goodness of eating at your mom’s house, but with a house party afterward.”
 
Hang Over Easy will be have its grand opening on April 25, with music and other events throughout the weekend.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Walnut Hills' Five Point Alley event encourages community input

Saturday, Walnut Hills and the University of Cincinnati’s MetroLAB hosted an event to gather community input on the future of Five Points Alley. The neighborhood’s goal is to continue transforming the alleys into a community gathering space, as well as a space for public art.
 
“We wanted to hear the community’s honest opinions,” says Sarah Dotter, events coordinator for Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation. “We wanted to know what they want to see here, and what their ideas are for the space. We wanted them to feel like they’re part of the changes that are happening here.”
 
MetroLAB developed a way for residents to feel involved in the future of Five Points, which is the convergence of Sedalia, Pana, Finch, London and Lindsay alleys between Gilbert Avenue and Copelen Street. The students interpreted the buildings in the area in a different way, and made plexiglass ornaments that represent each of the five overarching themes of the space—play, make, exchange, work and connect.
 
“These are five ways that the space can be used,” Dotter says. “Five Points is a place where people can gather, and it can be whatever they want it to be.”
 
Residents placed the ornaments on a chandelier, which will eventually be hung in Five Points. Based on resident input, MetroLAB will design and implement both permanent and temporary improvements to the space.
 
Throughout the summer, Five Points Alley will be highly programmed by WHRF. Events will include the popular biergartens, neighborhood grill outs, concerts and more.
 
Plans for the future of Five Points will start this summer and continue into the fall, when much of the space’s landscaping will begin.
 
The Five Points project is supported by The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation and an ArtsWave grant that will help fund public art for the space.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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AlvaEDU leaves Florida, relocates to downtown Cincinnati

AlvaEDU Inc. will soon relocate from Boca Raton, Fla., to the Scripps Center downtown. The company plans to spend at least $120,000 on equipment and improvements to the space.
 
Initially, 17 employees are moving to Cincinnati, and AlvaEDU plans to add 50 new jobs over the next three years. The new jobs would add $3 million in annual payroll to the city.
 
In exchange for committing to stay in Cincinnati for 10 years, AlvaEDU is getting an income tax credit that is equal to 45 percent of the city income tax revenue from the new jobs for six years.
 
The company develops online learning programs and works to integrate technology into education.
 
AlvaEDU, which was founded in 2012 by Tim Loudermilk, has worked with 800 universities, and 1,800 of the largest companies in the world in more than 60 countries.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Internationally known artist adds his touch to "art is..." project in NKY

Austrian artist Nino Werner added his own touch to the “art is…” project along the Licking River Greenway and Trails. His image is along the riverbank behind Austinburg Park.
 
Werner’s mural was designed to respond to the structure it is painted on, as well as the surrounding area. It was completed this month with the help of Crosley Brammer, a Cincinnati native.
 
The mural depicts a red cardinal sitting on the foot of a wooden puppet boy. The cardinal is telling a story about the wonders of nature and the real world that is beyond the box he lives in.
 
The idea behind “art is…” was to embrace the graffiti that continues to appear on the gatewell structure along the trail. Instead of clearing it off, the project challenges artists to not just leave their name, but also something meaningful to the community.
 
Werner heard about the project and reached out to Vision 2015 to find out how he could contribute. The installation hit home for him because the city of Vienna dealt with graffiti in a similar way.
 
The Licking River Master Plan, which was commissioned by Vision 2015 in 2008, proposes to establish a green corridor in the Licking River valley adjacent to Newport, Covington, Wilder and Taylor Mill. The greenway plan calls for the stabilization of riverbanks, the removal of invasive species and the restoration of native plants, trees and wildlife.
 
The five-mile corridor, which his between the confluence of the Ohio River and the I-275 overpass, includes plans for establishing a multi-level trail system that connects neighborhoods with historical, educational and cultural institutions and recreational facilities. The proposed trail system will provide nature trails, paved trails and water trails.
 
The city of Wilder recently broke ground on its portion of paved trails that leads from the Wilder City Building to Fredricks Landing.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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A Tavola opening second location in Maderia

In April, Over-the-Rhine restaurant staple A Tavola will open its second location in Maderia. The restaurant, which is located at 7022 Miami Ave., will feature a large, seasonal outdoor bar and dining area in addition to the 2,400-square-foot restaurant.
 
The Madeira location will have the same menu as the OTR restaurant. It will also have the same imported Neapolitan wood-fired oven from the Ferrara family in Naples. But the Maderia A Tavola will also have the first Italfornia Bull Oven in the United States.
 
The new oven allows A Tavola to add a new type of pizza to its menu—Roman style, which has a thinner and crispier crust.
 
“We’re the first restaurant in the country to have one of these new ovens,” says Nicolas Wayne, owner of A Tavola. “We hope to eventually add this type of oven to our OTR location as well to maintain consistency.”
 
A Tavola’s signature fig and prosciutto pizza, which is topped with dates stuffed with house sausage wrapped in bacon and covered in the house tomato sauce, is a customer favorite. The restaurant also offers vegetarian options, such as the arancini, which are breaded and fried risotto balls stuffed with mozzarella, and the eggplant slider.
 
“We hope to bring a neighborhood restaurant to Madeira where people can enjoy a family meal, a fun night out or a celebration without having to spend a lot of money,” Wayne says.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Crossroads opens fourth Greater Cincinnati location on the West Side

On March 23, Crossroads will open its fourth Greater Cincinnati location at 8575 Bridgetown Road in Cleves. The interdenominational church currently has about 17,000 members, and has locations in Oakley, Florence and Mason.  
 
The church is in the old Three Rivers Middle School. Crossroads bought the site in fall 2013 and renovated parts of the building to include two auditoriums with a total of 700 seats, state-of-the-art audiovisual technology, an open atrium and 13 Kids’ Club rooms.
 
Children ages birth through fifth grade can go to Kids’ Club while their parents attend church services. Kids’ Club is a free, immersive program created for children to learn and play with others of the same age. Sixth through eighth graders can attend Middle School Ministry at 11:30 a.m. on Sundays, and high school students can attend High School Ministry on Thursday nights.
 
The West Side location will have two services on Sunday, one at 9:30 and one at 11:30. Services include live music and teaching, with video from the Oakley campus or a live message from the West Side pastor, Greg McElfresh.
 
Crossroads began in 1995 as a place for people who had given up on church but not on God. Its focus is on creating a welcoming environment for anyone who wants to attend and invite friends.

Learn more about Crossroads initiatives:
Crossroads community shines light on its entrepreneurs with Unpolished
CityLink grows while poverty shrinks

GO Cincinnati engages community, serves nonprofits
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Pies & Pints first restaurant for Liberty Center development

The 64-acre Liberty Center development in Liberty Township recently named its first restaurant—Pies & Pints. The pizza and craft beer restaurant will occupy about 5,000 square feet of the $325 million mixed-use project.
 
Pies & Pints opened its first restaurant in West Virginia in 2003. Today, it has five restaurants in West Virginia and Ohio, including one in Dayton. There are plans to open locations in Columbus and Lexington, and the owners are looking for two other locations in Cincinnati.
 
Pies & Pints’ pizzas are made on handmade crust with fresh ingredients. Its menu includes classic favorites, including a Mozzarella Caprese and White Pizza. But there are also a few that are different—the Cuban Pork Pie is topped with marinated pulled pork, caramelized onions, pineapple, jalapenos, feta cheese, cilantro and crème fraiche.
 
The restaurant’s craft beer selection differs from location to location, and includes a variety of beers.
 
Pies & Pints is in the first phase of Liberty Center, and is slated to open October 2015.
 
Liberty Center will feature about 600,000 square feet of retail space, including a 200,000-square-foot Dillard’s and 370,000 square feet of specialty retail and dining space. The development will also have 100,000 square feet of office space, a 135-key hotel, 220 luxury residential units and a 14-screen movie theater.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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