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Over-the-Rhine : Development News

426 Over-the-Rhine Articles | Page: | Show All

Baker-Gibboney makes most of cool beans

Jill Baker-Gibboney has been making coffee professionally since she was 16. Originally from western Pennsylvania, she moved to Cincinnati with her parents as a teenager.  

“I spent a lot of time saying that I was going to leave,” she says of her teenage ennui. But after having a child herself and moving over a decade ago to Northside, “I knew I was staying.”

Although she no longer lives in Northside proper (she thinks Cincinnati has a lot of “best kept secret” neighborhoods), Baker-Gibboney now slings a wholly different kind of cup of joe at farmers markets and small independent businesses around town.  

Her current endeavor is bottled iced coffee: Coffee Cold—named for the eponymous song by jazz composer/pianist Galt MacDermot.

With the help of her friend of nearly two decades, Chuck Pfahler of La Terza Artisan Roasterie, Baker-Gibboney wants to revolutionize the way Americans—or at least Cincinnatians—drink coffee.  

The cold-brewing process creates a slightly sweeter cup, Baker-Gibboney says.

“My hope is that folks will at least try it first without their normal doctoring of the cup,” she says. “What’s the point in demanding a better product if you’re still going to treat it the same as a bad one?”

Her reasoning is valid. Coffee brewing technology has improved by leaps and bounds, and independent roasters like La Terza use responsibly sourced beans that are single origin and locally roasted in small batches, so the coffee is as fresh and customized to taste as possible.  

The process of cold brewing adds to the intensity.

“When you ice a bean, you can taste everything,” says the coffee lover. “There’s no hiding behind temperature—every flavor, good or bad, is present.”

So far, the verdict has been sweet. After testing several batches at Hyde Park and Wyoming farmers markets, they’ve sold out of each case nearly every time.  

A mere week after the launch, the fledgling company was contacted by six different retailers about selling wholesale. Expect to see Coffee Cold on the shelves of area markets like Park + Vine, Picnic & Pantry and Clifton Natural Foods, as well as specialty shops that carry alcohol like the Listing Loon and local pubs like the Comet.

Although Coffee Cold is the first and only locally roasted/brewed/bottled iced coffee in the Tri-State, they’ll still have to contend with the hyper-sweet “frappe-latte-smoothies” of their corporate competitors.

From the sound of it, Coffee Cold will rely more on the depth of their beans than artificial flavors and sweeteners. “If you start with great beans, and you prepare them carefully, you don’t need anything at all,” Baker-Gibboney says.

By Maria Seda-Reeder

Pedal Wagon doubles fleet, adds Reds to tour partner list

Since the beginning of the year, Jack Heekin and his business partner, Tom O'Brian, have been steering their Pedal Wagon around Cincinnati, putting smiles on the faces of their customers and bringing business into local bars. 
The 15-person, pedal powered machine, has been booked with four pub crawls on Friday and Saturday nights as well as several on weekdays. With business continuing to grow, Heekin and O'Brian are adding a second Pedal Wagon to their fleet. The second wagon will allow for more tours and new promotions, including a deal with the Cincinnati Reds. 
Heekin contacted the Reds about collaborating on a home game promotion that will sell group tickets to Pedal Wagon riders and give them a five-stop pub crawl before the baseball game. Heekin notes that some Reds fans may already have season tickets and still be interested in the Pedal Wagon pub crawl, so it will also be available without the discounted Reds tickets. 
"It's just another way to get people downtown and into local businesses," Heekin says. "That was our goal from the start." 
Heekin hopes the partnership will also bring a more festive atmosphere to the Banks during home games and will also give Pedal Wagon riders discounts at the selected stops. 
"All the businesses we've worked with so far have been very thankful for the business we bring, and we feel the same way," Heekin says. "This will help us do more of that." 
Heekin and O'Brian hope to have three pedal wagons on the streets of Cincinnati by the end of the year, and their second one will be on the streets in three to four weeks. Another goal the pair has, to obtain an open container license for the Pedal Wagons, will have to wait for the winter months.
"As much fun as it would be to get the license, we don't want that to be the focus," Heekin says. "We really just want to get people out to enjoy the city. The more wagons we have, the more we can do that." 
By Evan Wallis

Columbus' clothing store expands to OTR

What started as a web-based clothing store out of a Tennessee home is now opening its second location at 1435 Main Street in Over-the-Rhine. 
Substance, the clothing store started by Christina Getachew, was founded in 2002 online. When her husband's job took her from Tennessee to Columbus, Ohio, she decided to open up a storefront in the Short North District in 2006. 
Substance is a women's clothing store that focuses on sustainable and organically manufactured clothing with a mission to show that substance and style can go hand in hand.

Substance carries both in-house designed products as well as product lines that have the same sustainable mindset. Getachew and her team even design some products in the store's design lab where they repurpose out-of-season garments. 
"It's all about repurposing. We use garments from previous years and turn them into something new," Getachew says. "It's a small collection, but we like people to see the creative process so they can appreciate it."
Three years ago, Getachew began to think about expanding her business, and when another move landed her in Cincinnati, she began to look for a second storefront.

Getachew says that a creative atmosphere is a must for her stores and that Over-the-Rhine reminded her of what the Short North District was like when she opened her first store. She also found the creative, supportive atmosphere she was familiar with in Over-the-Rhine. 
"It was difficult to find places where business owners understand that the more businesses, the better for everyone," Getachew says. "Main Street was the complete opposite. It was inviting and it seems like the businesses really collaborate and help each other out." 
Getachew plans on growing her business through franchises once she gets her second store up and running. Substance will have a soft opening June 29, but will plan a bigger grand opening with the introduction of fall products in August. 
By Evan Wallis

Design challenge yields implementable ideas

In April, MSA Architects launched The Five Design Challenge, and now, after sorting through more than 40 entries, from as far away as China and Portland, Oregon, the winners have been chosen. 
The challenge was to choose one of five unused spaces around Cincinnati and come up with an idea to transform the space into something useful. The spaces ranged from empty lots to a space underneath a highway.
The entires were judged by Tamara Harkavy of ArtWorks, Chad Munitz of 3CDC, Leah Spurrier of High Street, William Williams of DAAP and City Council member Wendell Young. Nick Dewald and Chris Rohs, employees at MSA, say all the judges picked ideas realistic and implementable. 
"We don't push the judges in any way," Rohs says. "All the judges seemed to be more interested in the ideas that could actually happen, instead of the pie-in-the-sky sort of stuff." 
The top prize was split among three entrants:

• SEED, Sustained Employment & Entrepreneurship Developmen,t was a proposal for a small business incubator with short-term lease spaces and start-up support services. It used several of the under-utilized spaces in Over-the-Rhine: vacant lots, empty buildings and alleyways. These stereotypically ‘bad’ spaces are reinterpreted to create a 24-hour mixed-use building that serves as a catalyst for the neighborhood, creating local jobs, promoting a start-up culture, and improving perceptions of safety. 
• Loop Cincy took all five sites and connected them with a bike path and to Cincinnati landmarks and attractions to create a more connected city. The five sites were designed into an outdoor gym, a small park and even a small concert space.
• 4Hostel created a hostel on one one of the spaces, which was an empty lot, providing low-cost accommodations for travelers.
MSA plans on hosting the competition each year, but changing the theme. 
"We want to keep the theme pretty broad," Dewald says. "Instead of focusing on one building, like many architectural challenges do, we want to focus on improving Cincinnati in a more general way." 
By Evan Wallis

Segway store expands downtown

Shawn Jenkins opened Segway of Cincinnati on Reds Opening Day in 2008. Jenkins had already been offering Segway Tours in Eden Park for about a year and decided to set up shop on Central Parkway and Vine Street to be able to do more downtown tours, as well as sell and service Segways. 
After adding electric bikes, several models of Segways, motorized skateboards and other equipment, the small showroom grew cluttered, so Jenkins decided to expand into an adjacent space and offer bike repairs and other services. 
"We were losing the showroom feel," Jenkins says. "Our hand was kind of forced to get more space, but looking back, I don't know how we managed to run everything out of one space." 
The new space, The Garage OTR, is next door to the Segway Shop and will repair both electric and traditional bicycles, as well as all Segways. The additional space allows Jenkins to sell more bike and Segway accessories, including locks, helmets and lights, in the showroom, meeting a growing customer demand. Jenkins says without any advertising, the shop has already been busy with bike repairs.
"We're not trying to be a bike shop," Jenkins says. "But there are so many bikes in this city right now, we are flying through tubes. We're happy to be here to help the community." 
While he opened up shop to highlight the Segway as a low-energy transportation option that reduces riders' carbon footprints and is especially practical for urban residents. 
"Seventy percent of American's trips are three miles or less, and 70 percent of those are one mile or less," Jenkins says. "So if you use any of these types of transportation, in lieu of a car, it can be a big change." 
By Evan Wallis

New Pet Wants location lets owners shop for, dine with pets

Pet Wants opened in Findlay Market two years ago and now sell 15,000 pounds of their own gluten-free formula pet food each month. On Final Friday, June 29, the owners open a new storefront at 1409 Vine Street. 
Amanda Broughton and Michele Hobbs, both OTR residents, developed their own dog food after they discovered their dog, Jackson, has severe allergies. After looking around and only finding expensive alternatives and rarely purchased dog food options, Hobbs and Broughton knew they could develop a better recipe. 
"We wanted something that was manufactured every month and could give people a fresh alternative to all the expensive pet foods," Hobbs says. "Business has been great. Finding out Jackson had allergies turned out to be a pretty good thing."
To get a little help building out their new Vine Street store, Hobbs contacted UC about using engineer students to help as part of a class project. She eventually got three UC engineering graduate students to help.

The students helped plan and build two storage and dispenser devices which hold three different types of food each. The devices have turn-cranks to dispense food by the pound.

Pet Wants is the only company in the area to sell dog food by the pound.
"We're all about using local everything," Hobbs says. "We even make sure our drivers use Ohio trucks so we know they will contribute to the state's economy."
"Findlay Market has a sort of tourist vibe, but we have a lot of local support," Hobbs says. "So to support the community and revitalization coming in down here, we are moving in, too."
The Vine Street store will sell Pet Wants dog and cat food, as well as all-natural snacks like jerky and Pet Wants' signature 'Pawsicles,' a popsicle-like dog treat. 
"We're going to have some tables outside so you can bring some food from down the street and have menus for the dogs," Hobbs says. "You'll be able to come and order a fresh Pawsicle for your dog while you eat dinner."
By Evan Wallis

Brandery lures young, coastal talents to Cincinnati

What do a former Indian national tennis champion, a former metal band drummer, the founder of DUMBO start-up lab in Brooklyn and three teenagers on leave from MIT, Harvard and Princeton have in common?
They’ll all be sharing space at The Brandery in Over-the-Rhine, where they’ll begin 14 weeks of classes, mentoring and accelerated business development this summer.
The new Brandery class is more about people than specific ideas, according to Brandery General Manager Mike Bott. He expects their business designs to evolve and clarify through their work in Over-the-Rhine.
In all, the class of 11 new start-ups includes entrepreneurs from Chicago, San Francisco, New York City, Seattle and Cleveland. They bring experience from Google/You Tube, Goldman Sachs and Beerology. Go ahead, look it up.
Like other Brandery newbies, they’ll get $20,000 and 14 weeks of support, guidance and access to mentors. After they, they’ll have a chance to pitch their business ideas to a room full of investors at Demo Day.
Stay tuned for more stories from this new Brandery crew in the weeks and months to come.

Branding 'Vikings' land in OTR

The Vikings are coming to OTR, and you'd better get ready. 
Jason Snell and Mike Gibboney, two veterans of the branding and marketing world, are opening up a storefront office for their "creative house", We Have Become Vikings, on 1417 Vine Street. Until now, Gibboney and Snell have been working remotely on both national and local products, but decided it was time to build more of a presence in Cincinnati.
Snell, a former employee at Lightborne and Possible Worldwide, decided he wanted to stick around Cincinnati and build his own company. In 2007, when his focus on clients in New York, Austin, Los Angeles and Portland, almost led Snell to skip town and set up shop elsewhere. But friends and family anchored him in Cincinnati. Gibboney left his job as a higher-education administrator last year to pursue a career in advertising; he freelanced for Empower MediaMarketing and started conversations with Snell about working together. 
The first large project the two worked on was a campaign from Cincinnati to Austin for South By Southwest. They called it "Down." WHBV worked with Landor to create a day party full of Cincinnati bands, and even drove a flatbed truck into downtown Austin from which they gave away 100 guitars.. 
"We just wanted to make a big splash," Snell says. "After that went well, we decided it was time to open up a storefront." 
But what about that name? We Have Become Vikings doesn't exactly roll off the tongue easily. Snell says it was inspired by small ad firms in New York with eye-catching names--and the ubiquitous nature of advertising.
"As a society, branding and advertising has kind of taken over the world, just like Vikings," Snell says. "It's come into everyone's life, whether you like it or not. [The name] also makes for some badass graphics." 
Just take a look at the faceless Viking decal on both the storefront windows. 
The duo's website lists six areas of expertise, ranging from animation to branding, but Snell says he wants to be known as a full-service branding agency. 
"With branding, you can really make someone and their company realize their full potential," Snell says. "We can help people portray exactly what they want to be."

Night market to provide late night NOMs

Over the Rhine is about to get some new late night food options, in the form of a night market, Night Owl Market (NOM), set up in the parking lot at the corner of Central Parkway and Main Street.
Nadia Laabs and Sally Yoon, two Procter & Gamble employees, turned their late-night frustration into a new business opportunity. When they were out late one night and could find nowhere to eat, they saw a hunger to fill a gaping hole in the downtown food market. So, they decided to try to fill it themselves. 
The two first looked at the alley on Walnut Street adjacent to Nicholson's Pub, but the space was being used for the construction of the new 21c Museum Hotel. So they finally settled on the OTR location. 
"At first, Sally suggested parking lots, and I hadn't really thought about it," Laabs says. "But they turned out to be the best option because they are private property, and there are a lot less regulations and permits." 
After securing the parking lot for Final Friday in July, Yoon and Laabs began talking to organizers of events like the City Flea, Second Sundays on Main and the Asian Food Fest to get an idea of how to plan for the NOM. Next, they sent out surveys to test interest in the idea. After good feedback and requests for specific types of food, Laabs and Yoon began contacting vendors. 
NOM is currently ranked in the top 10 for the Cincinnati Innovates contest based on public voting. If they win, Yoon and Laabs would use the money for NOM start-up costs. 
NOM will be open from 10 pm - 3 am and feature up to 11 vendors, including food trucks and booths from local restaurants, complete with tables and chairs, live music and even security. 
"If it's successful, we'd like to do it every weekend," Laabs says. "We definitely think there is a need and interest."
NOM is tentatively planned for every Final Friday from July until November, based on vendor interest and overall business. Check the website for the latest news.

Rise of the cool kids in Cincinnati

Nathan Hurst founded Cincinnati Fashion Week in 2010, and as it rolls into its third year, more and more people are getting involved. 
One Cincinnati resident, who has worked with Fashion Week before, pitched an idea to Hurst about highlighting the young, adventurous and energetic street fashion scene growing in Cincinnati. That person, who wants to keep his name a secret for now, is creating a team to help him develop the event, "Rise of the Cool Kids."
"I don't want people to associate a person with this, but rather a movement or a kind of person," says the Cincinnatus Kidd, a moniker that has been created to promote the event. 
Street fashion at the event shows that all fashion doesn't have to be expensive and unattainable; it should be more of a personal expression.
"When people use the word fashion, they use it in reference to the highest forms of fashion, but fashion is an everyday thing," Kidd says. "There is a pretty good understanding now that art used to be a painting in a frame, but now it can be anything, including street art. I don't think that same idea has come across to fashion."
The event will be held Oct. 6, tentatively on the roof of a parking garage, and will highlight local boutiques in a runway fashion show. The parking garage will be transformed into a streetscape, complete with street signs, scale models of OTR buildings and even shoes hanging over wires highlighting some of the brands being showcased.

There will be local DJs, hip-hop artists, visual artists, dancers and skateboarders on site. Rise of the Cool Kids will also team with Original Thought Required, Corporate and Flow, all local clothing shops, to create preview events at each store. 
"Street fashion is getting noticed more around here, and it's time to recognize it," Kidd says. "This has been a very mall-driven city, but now people are expressing themselves differently."
By Evan Wallis

ThisIsOTR Instagrams Over-the-Rhine

"What's it really like?" That single question sparked a new photo-streaming website, ThisisOtr.com. 
The site automatically aggregates photos from Instagram if they are tagged with the hashtag #ThisIsOtr. The simple website was brought to life by two Urban Sites employees, Mia Carruthers and Michael Chewning. Carruthers, an OTR resident, says she was tired of answering questions from people who hadn't visited the neighborhood recently.
"I wanted a way to show people that don't live here and maybe don't know what is going on in OTR right now what this place really is," Carruthers says. "You can say it to anyone, but until they see it from people who enjoy OTR, they're not going to get it."
With that in mind, the two asked a friend if making the website was possible. Soon after, it was up and running. After posting the website on their Facebook pages, it quickly gained traction on social media. After launching last week, the website already has dozens of photos of the buildings, people and art in Over-the-Rhine. 
Urban Sites manages properties for more than 500 residents and will be opening up 23 new apartments on Walnut Street in the coming months. Chewning says they also thought of making the website as a way to give all of Urban Sites' residents a way to connect. With it already in the public domain, though, it can connect the entire community.
"We've seen pictures from a lot of people we didn't even know lived in OTR," Carruthers says. "Now I want to meet them all. I think it will be a great way for people to network, and it really showed us that there are people who feel the same way we do about OTR and want others to see that, too."

New loan funding helps property owners increase energy efficiency

A $3 million boost from a national foundation may soon help make local church pews and nonprofit offices a lot more comfortable, and a lot more energy-efficient.

It's an innovative new approach to making energy-efficient upgrades profitable for both loan recipients and lenders that local leaders hope illustrate that the market for conservation-minded upgrades is both robust and profitable. The effort is a partnership between three nonprofits: Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance, the Cincinnati Development Fund, and the Calvert Foundation, which typically invests in real-estate secured loans and has never before invested in Cincinnati.

The new initiative, called the Better Buildings Performance Loan Fund, leverages federal and foundation money to offer loans at competitive interest rates; the loans must support building investments that increase energy efficiency, says Al Gaspari, GCEA finance director.

While GCEA's focus to date has been on helping homeowners with energy-efficient upgrades, this new initiative expands its role in the region.

"We're initially targeting nonprofit organizations and multi-family dwellings," Gaspari says. Churches, arts organizations and schools rank high on the list of prospective loan applicants. He offers a practical example of how the program can work: An inner-city church with a 60-year-old furnace could apply for a loan, invest in a new energy-efficient furnace and save 20 percent on energy costs. In addition to the monetary savings, the new system could make existing spaces accessible year-round--even during hot summer and cold winter months--thus allowing for expanded programs and services.

"From our perspective, our grant is not dollar-in, dollar-out," Gaspari says. "The goal of our grant is to get people involved and lower their initial risks."

For lenders flirting with the idea of investing in energy-efficiency, the new fund provides a potential sustainable model. "Our overall goal is to show that there is a market for these loans and show that they do perform," Gaspari says.

While the new fund is not yet up and running, he says the GCEA expects to underwrite loans, which will be offered through the Cincinnati Development Fund, before the end of 2012.

As part of the fund, the GCEA will track the energy savings that improvements allow. For investors at the Calvert Foundation, the forward-focused program offers a chance to invest in a program that ultimately conserves energy, reduces pollutants and saves money.

Gaspari and his colleagues see this win-win-win approach as an opportunity to show financiers the wide-ranging benefits of planet-friendly investments.

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter

Keystone Community Garden supplies food kitchens

Every Earth Day for the past fives years, Neyer Properties has held events or educational seminars to promote sustainable lifestyles, but last year company employees decided they needed to give back to the community. So, they built the one-acre Keystone Community Garden outside their office in Evanston. 
According to Neyer Properties, a development company that builds or redevelops only LEED-certified projects, community involvement is a big part of sustainability. That's why they used the land they had available as the garden site and recruited company volunteers to maintain it. The garden now supplies OTR and Walnut Hills Kitchens and Pantry with produce. 
While many food pantries and soup kitchens are forced to shut down in the summer months because of lack of air conditioning, the OTR kitchen has been serving meals through the heat since 1976. Now serving more than 4,000 meals per week, the OTR kitchen gets a much needed produce delivery of peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers and squash after 50 volunteers to tend the garden through the summer. 
“We rarely receive fresh produce to prepare for our meals or to distribute to our guests in their groceries,” says Patricia Wakim, executive director of the OTR and Walnut Hills Kitchens and Pantry. “We are absolutely thrilled to be the recipient of the produce from the Keystone Community Garden again this year.”
This is the second year that the OTR and Walnut Hills kitchen will receive the produce from Keystone Community Garden. Volunteers log more than 50,000 volunteer hours each year in the effort that is almost entirely sustained through private monetary donations and donations from local grocery stores and restaurants. 
"It's just the right thing to do," says Karman Stahl, director of asset management for Neyer Properties. "Doing something for those that have less is just something that is necessary to our company."
By Evan Wallis

Reser Bicycle pedals across the river

As Bike Month concludes, Reser Bicycle expands its bicycle knowledge and advocacy into the heart of Over the Rhine. Opening in the first week of June, the second Reser location will be at 1419 Vine St. 
Reser has been located on Monmouth Street in Newport since owner Jason Reser opened up shop in 2000. Reser has always focused on advocating for a more bike-friendly city; he serves on the board of Queen City Bike. After partnering with new co-owner Bryan Horton, the pair decided an expansion was necessary, and OTR was the prime spot. 
"We have a lot of customers from the downtown area, so it seemed like the best place to expand," Horton says. "The support from the neighborhood has been incredible. We had a booth at the OTR 5k Summer Celebration and got a lot of positive feedback. We're excited to open up."
The 1,000-square-foot OTR store won't be a simple extension of the Newport location. It will have a heavier focus on commuter and used bikes for the urban environment of OTR. About a quarter of the space will be dedicated to selling used bikes, which will vary from road to mountain to commuter bikes based on availability. The shop will also house a large selection of Public Brand bicycles, a simple, everyday bicycle. There will also be cross-merchandising so customers know what sort of products the Newport Reser has available. 
"We want to give people the kind of bikes they want to ride around the city," Horton says. 
Beyond bringing bicycles, Horton also hopes the bicycle shop will add to the sense of community on Vine Street. 
"Not only will it help more people get encouraged to get on their bicycle," Horton says, "I think it sends a positive message that businesses besides restaurants are going to invest in the city. We even have plans down the road to continue to grow." 
By Evan Wallis

Brandery renovates to welcome, support startups

Managing Editor’s Note:

If you’ve noticed dust settling around The Brandery building in Over the Rhine, that’s because new General Manager Mike Bott is overseeing a massive remodeling project. The building's first-floor space is being renovated for a new class of startups (applications being accepted now) while graduates Choremonster, Road Trippers and Venue Agent will maintain workspaces on the third floor.

Soapbox Media, also a web-focused startup, can be found in the space as well.

In addition to dedicated space at The Brandery on Vine Street, we will also maintain office space in Northside as part of a collaborative office suite we will share with startup local nonprofits.

While the Brandery caters to and nurtures high-tech startups, the collaborative space in Northside serves as a new home for disparate, community-focused nonprofits.

In Northside, at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Blue Rock, the space currently occupied by Shop Therapy will soon serve as the home for The Urban Legend Institute, the retail store element of the literacy and creative-writing focused nonprofit WordPlay. With creative and marketing support from Possible Worldwide, WordPlay plans to offer preview tours by July.

The second floor of the building houses the offices of the educational nonprofit as well as two other nonprofits: parProjects, which is focused on building a community arts center and providing arts programming in Northside, and 350.org, the local arm of the national environmental nonprofit. (Full disclosure: Soapbox's managing editor sits on the Board of the nonprofit WordPlay.)

One thing that has not changed is the best way to reach Soapbox with your story ideas, questions and comments. Connect with us via email. But if you want to send us a letter, old-school postal-style, you can find us:

Soapbox Media via The Brandery
1411 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Soapbox Media via WordPlay
4041 Hamilton Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45223

426 Over-the-Rhine Articles | Page: | Show All
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