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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.

Covington celebrates 200 years with yearlong birthday party

Covington kicked off its bicentennial on May 22, but if you missed the start of COV200, there are more events in store over the next year. Covington’s actual bicentennial is Feb. 8, 2015.
In November, Covington is releasing its first complete historical account, Covington, Kentucky, 1815-2015, which was edited by James C. Claypool, Paul A. Tenkotte and David E. Schroeder. It includes chapters on the city’s past, its people and what makes Covington special.
On February 7 and 8, Covington is having a birthday party to celebrate 200 years at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center. There will also be free viewing parties around the city on February 8 to watch the COV200 documentary.
A city-wide block party is planned for June 2015, and a big closing event is in the works for late summer of next year.
The city plans to initiate a public works project to commemorate the bicentennial, as well as educational programs for all ages. For example, the Center for Public History at Northern Kentucky University and the Behringer-Crawford Museum are putting together an interactive exhibit that will eventually have a permanent home in the museum.
There will also be a QR-coded tour of the city’s neighborhoods that will provide downloadable text, maps, mini-documentaries and coupons for those who live, work and visit Covington.

Kirby Road School to become 40 apartments

Later this year, the former Kirby Road School in Northside will become an apartment complex, developed by Bloomfield/Schon+Partners. The school was purchased at a Cincinnati Public Schools auction for $230,000 in 2012.
The $4.2 million Kirby Lofts project will convert the 50,000-square-foot, three-story building into 40 apartments, which could be completed by June 2015. The former gym will become three two-story, loft-style apartments, and the auditorium will become a 1,800-square-foot unit with 20-foot ceilings.
Much of the exterior of the building will remain, along with the preservation of the building’s Rookwood tile, cabinets, trim, doors and blackboards.  
Kirby Road School was built in 1910, and closed in 2005. It temporarily housed Chase School before closing for good in late 2012. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bloomfield/Schon also redeveloped Northside’s American Can Lofts. The city granted a property tax abatement that will be worth $130,000 annually for eight years, and Bloomfield/Schon already received $600,000 in state preservation tax credits.
Plans are still in the works, and bids are being sought for the construction work.

Funds granted to clean up vacant gas stations and auto repair shops

Three area communities were recently awarded Urban Land Assistance Program grants for the redevelopment of vacant and underutilized gas stations and auto repair shops. The Hamilton County Redevelopment Company, the official Economic Development Office for Hamilton County, doles out the ULAP grants.
A total of $80,260 was awarded to Norwood, Reading and Golf Manor to redevelop four different sites in the communities.
In Reading, an auto repair shop at 100 W. Benson St. will become a green space and parking lot. The City of Reading will soon own the property; the project received $17,790 for the environmental assessment of the property from the ULAP grant.
Norwood received $14,100 for the Phase II assessment of 5425 Carthage Ave. to determine the extent of contamination from the abandoned auto repair shop and the adjacent pesticide manufacturer. The City of Norwood also received $30,370 to remove the underground storage tanks at 5300 Section Ave. The city plans to redevelop the former gas station, but can’t until the tanks are removed.
Golf Manor wants to clean up an abandoned and condemned building next to the Cincinnati Hebrew Day School. The former oil change business, which is located at 2290 Losantiville Ave., has been vacant since 1998. The $18,000 grant is for asbestos removal, the demolition of what remains of the building and the removal of the asphalt surface. The Jewish Foundation owns the property, and the school plans to redevelop it into a parking lot with landscaping

New Covington event space to promote community

A city-owned space at Seventh and Washington streets in Covington won’t be a parking lot for much longer. Renaissance Covington and MKSK, along with other partners, are turning the lot into a pop-up performance park for public programming.
“This lot has been used for a variety of events over time, so one of the goals of the project is to make the space more accessible to the public and better equip it for outdoor events,” says Katie Meyer, Renaissance manager for the City of Covington.
Plans for the space include string lighting, painted pavement, landscaping, a kiosk, planters, outdoor electric and a covered stage that can be set up and torn down in less than 30 minutes. BLDG is currently working on the name and branding for the space.
The yet-to-be-named space has a slew of events coming up, including the Pop Up Park Launch Party on August 2, which will feature local musicians, food, drink and performances; a NKY Fairness event; UpStart on September 2; and Art Off Pike on September 28.
In 2013, Place from Space awarded Renaissance Covington and MKSK $1,000 for the project proposal. Then in 2014, Renaissance Covington and Keep Covington Beautiful received a $2,000 Place Matters grant from the Center for Great Neighborhoods.
Cov10, a local private citizen funding opportunity, awarded the project another $2,000, and the remaining costs for the space are being covered by Covington Arts and Art Off Pike.
Volunteers are needed for the Pop Up event, as well as for several cleanup days in July. You can sign up here.

New NKY private school focuses on individualized approach to learning

A private, faith-based, co-educational K-12 school is starting September 2 in Florence. Union Pointe Academy will be held on the Indiana Wesleyan campus, with hopes of having its own building in the future.
Union Pointe was founded by Sheila Levi, a retired teacher and owner of the Learning Curve Tutoring Center, and Jim Skoog, an educator, athletic director and administrator for 39 years and supervisor of alternative programs at Butler County ESC. The school also has a team of educators from a variety of backgrounds to help provide students with a well-rounded curriculum.  
Union Pointe will address its students’ needs, strengths and talents through individual learning plans, cutting-edge technology, programs for dyslexia and related reading issues, and a performing arts and gifted program.
Its dyslexia program will be one of a very limited number at Kentucky schools that is specifically dedicated to helping students with dyslexia, Levi says.
Students will learn through a multisensory approach in reading, writing and math called the Orton-Gillingham Approach, which focuses on language retraining through multisensory techniques, direct instruction, repetition and guided practice.
The school’s national standards-based curriculum will use a blended learning concept, where students learn at least in part through online delivery of content and classroom instruction. The model uses a higher level of critical thinking skills and an integrated and reflective thinking that is enhanced through project-based lifelong learning experiences.
All graduation requirements were set by the Kentucky Department of Education, and include college prep courses and honors and AP classes. Students will have the opportunity to take drama, fitness/wellness and global languages/cultures, and will have the chance to travel, take field trips and enjoy outdoor activities. Union Pointe also offers an a la carte menu of classes for homeschool students. 
Tuition is $7,500 for grades K-6 and $8,000 for grades 7-12 per year. Payment plans are available, and costs are reduced if more than one child attends Union Pointe. You can register your student for the fall or request more information via email (info@UnionPointeAcademy.org).
Fundraising for Union Pointe started in late 2013; the school is currently seeking $500,000 for startup costs for the first year. To support the school, visit its website.

Madisonville Blooms Garden Tour beautifies neighborhood

On June 22, the Madisonville Beautification Committee is hosting its third annual Madisonville Blooms Garden Tour. The tour begins at the corner of Madison Road and Whetsel Avenue, and includes seven gardens.
In 2010, the inactive Beautification Committee reorganized under new leadership, and many of its members were gardeners. They all shared a vision and were eager to change the perception of Madisonville.
Three years ago, the Beautification Committee discovered “hidden treasures” among Madisonville’s gardens, and felt it was important to showcase the gardens to show that residents take pride in their yards.
“We wanted to foster community involvement and preserve and improve the beauty of the neighborhood,” says Beautification Committee member Carolyn Winstead.
Each garden has its own character, and many are reminiscent of the homeowners’ childhood memories of their parents and grandparents’ yards, Winstead says.
The gardens also vary in type: One is a mix of vegetables and flowers and has been around since 1920; another vegetable garden was created by the youth at Lighthouse Community School in 2012; a third has bamboo and is considered a Zen garden; and the other four are mainly flower gardens.
The tour is from noon to 4 p.m., and tickets are $10 per person. Tickets can be purchased at French Rendezvous, located at 6124 Madison, before the event or the day of. At the end of the tour, guests are invited to a reception at Madisonville Arts and Cultural Center for refreshments and entertainment.
All proceeds from Madisonville Blooms will benefit the Beautification Committee’s work to promote beauty in the neighborhood. The event is sponsored by H.J. Benken Garden Center and Lighthouse Community School.

Sixteen mini-grants awarded to Covington projects

In April, the Center for Great Neighborhoods awarded 16 mini-grants from the Neighborhood Mini-Grant Program to Covington projects. The grants, which totaled $34,000, are funded by Place Matters and are managed by CGN.
Projects highlight both the neighborhood’s history and the Covington Bicentennial, and range from repurposing an underutilized parking lot into a community gathering space to transforming vacant lots into urban farms.
In all, 15 different resident-led organizations in Covington received grants, in amounts that range from $700-$4,000.
Awesome Collective received $2,000 to host four community gatherings and another $2,000 to create a zine, the Index of Awesome, that celebrates Covington’s diversity and creativity.
The Eastside Neighborhood Association received $800 for Phase VI of its beautification efforts, and $2,000 to beautify the area adjacent to Randolph Park. Friends of Linden Grove Cemetery got $2,000 to create a video presentation of the cemetery’s history, current restoration and improvement efforts, and appeal for financial support.
The Historic Licking Riverside Civic Association received a $2,000 grant to design, create and install 10 banners in Licking Riverside for Covington’s Bicentennial. Keep Covington Beautiful received $2,000 to turn a parking lot at the corner of Seventh and Washington into a multi-purpose community gathering space. In partnership with Make Goebel Great, Keep Covington Beautiful also received $4,000 to renovate Goebel Park.
The Latonia Community Council and the Latonia Small Area Study received $4,000 to hold a series of events throughout Latonia to reach out to the community and engage residents. The Levassor Park Neighborhood Association received a $2,000 grant to hold a workshop to educate residents on the importance of being ready for an emergency.
The Linden Gateway Small Area Study Oversight Committee received $2,000 to create an urban greenway that will connect Westside and the Linden Gateway Cemetery to MainStrasse. Monte Cristo received $700 to hold events in the spring and fall for the community.
The Northern Kentucky Council of the Blind received $2,000 to enhance White Cane Safety Day in October. Grow the Cov got $2,000 to hold a workshop to educate residents on the importance and benefits of rainwater, as well as $2,000 to build six community gardens. The Westside Action Coalition and Old Seminary Square received a $2,500 grant to build a park south of MLK between Russell and Banklick.
Since 2007, CGN has awarded almost $299,000 to support 149 resident-led projects, which has helped engage the Covington community in shaping the neighborhood’s future.

Brewery tour company connects beer drinkers with beer brewers

Bryan and Emily Moritz, along with Emily’s brother, Ben Beachler, have always shared a passion for craft beer and small business. After taking a tour of a Denver brewery last year, they decided to start Craft Connection Brewery Tours in Cincinnati.
“We wanted to connect the people of Cincinnati to great breweries and give the breweries a chance to share their beer and their stories,” Bryan says. “We’re connecting the beer makers to the beer drinkers.”
A 14-passenger shuttle takes guests to four different breweries in four hours. For $55, guests get a behind-the-scenes look at Rhinegeist, Listermann Brewing, MadTree Brewing and Fifty West, as well as beer samples.  
Craft Connection’s maiden voyage was May 2, and since then, they have hosted corporate groups, bachelor parties, and groups of friends and family. They’ve also done a few tours to raise money for charities.
“Our guests love interacting with the faces of the breweries, whether that’s the owners, brewers or taproom managers,” Bryan says. “They also enjoy the simplicity of being guided through four breweries and having beer poured for them throughout the tour.”
Tours are held from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday. All tours depart from HalfCut in Over-the-Rhine.

To learn more about the inner workings of these breweries, check out our recent article about Cincinnati's craft beer market.
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