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Over-the-Rhine : Development News

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Three OTR apartment complexes get funds for fresh rehab

Three apartment complexes in Over-the-Rhine recently received tax credit money through the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program. Losantiville Apartments, Pendleton Apartments and Abington Flats will soon yield 104 apartments and more than 12,000 square feet of retail space.
Two buildings located at 521-523 E. 12th Street are to be rehabbed as part of the larger Losantiville Apartments project. According to the Ohio Development Services Agency, the affordable housing project will include rehabilitating 14 buildings in four different neighborhoods in Cincinnati. The property on 12th Street will yield six residential units, and received $203,362 in tax credits.
Pendleton Apartments at 1108-1218 Broadway Street and 404-414 E. 12th Street received $2.6 million in tax credits for redevelopment. Eighty residential units and more than 12,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space will come out of the rehab project. Pendleton Apartments spans 17 historic buildings in the OTR National Register Historic District. The redevelopment is meant to serve working professionals who are employed at the new Horseshoe Casino downtown.
Located one block south of Findlay Market, Abington Flats was built in 1910 as a mixed-use residential and commercial space. After redevelopment, Abington Flats will continue to provide 18 rental apartments above first-level commercial space.
The projects in OTR received more than $3.3 million in tax credits. The three apartment buildings will add to the rejuvenation of OTR and bring in hundreds of new residents.
By Caitlin Koenig
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3CDC to begin renovating three buildings in Central Business District

More cosmetic changes will be coming to Cincinnati’s Central Business District in the opening months of 2013.
3CDC was awarded $1.8 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits to redevelop three buildings at the intersection of Third and Main streets. The Heister Building (308 Main), the Brockman Building (312 Main) and the Clark Machine Company Building (316 Main) have been vacant for quite some time. They were once planned for demolition for new-build office space, but those plans fell through.
Early in 2012, 3CDC acquired the three buildings and began to draw up plans for their future. The new project will include 10 to 15 condos and 5,000 to 10,000-square-feet of street-level commercial space, says Anastasia Mileham, VP of communications for 3CDC.
“The tax credit program is a wonderful program that allows us to do projects that we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise,” Mileham says.
The 3CDC development is one of seven preservation projects in the Cincinnati area. The projects were awarded a total of $9 million in tax credits from the Ohio Development Services Agency through the state’s historic preservation program. The Cincinnati projects received about 25 percent of the total $35.9 million of tax credit money that was distributed to projects throughout the state in the program’s ninth round of funding.
The other Cincinnati projects include Losantiville Apartments, Abington Flats and Pendleton Apartments in OTR; the conversion of Eden Park’s pump station into a tap room and brewery; the redevelopment of three historic buildings in Walnut Hills; and the renovation of Hamilton’s, old newspaper building, which will become a multi-use education center.
By Caitlin Koenig
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PizzaBomba opens storefront in Covington

PizzaBomba, a Northern Kentucky food truck, is no longer just on four wheels. As of Dec. 26, PizzaBomba opened its doors to its permanent location on E. Fifth Street in Covington. Both the food truck and the store serve New York-style pizza, made with homemade dough and sauces and local ingredients.
PizzaBomba’s owner, Bill Stone, put himself through college bartending and waiting tables at a high-end Italian restaurant in Rochester, NY. He’s also worked in Cincinnati restaurants and been trained in food and beverage management.
Stone and his partner Terri Wilson, who helps with PizzaBomba when she can, began their food truck last March 30. After their fast success, a storefront seemed like the next logical step, says Stone.
If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, the Load of BS pizza is topped with homemade pizza sauce, Brussels sprout leaves, bacon and ricotta cheese. PizzaBomba also serves salads, sandwiches (atop homemade bread) and pasta skillets. Customers keep coming back for the Bangin’ Elvis sandwich, which is topped with creamy Thai peanut butter, pepper jelly and bacon, says Stone.
Stone currently employs four people, and once PizzaBomba’s POS system is completely up and running, they’ll start delivery service to Covington, Newport, Bellevue, downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine to Liberty Street. PizzaBomba is still waiting on its beer-only license from the state, but they’ll soon serve local brews and a few higher-end microbrews.
The restaurant is open Tuesday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. If you’re looking for the food truck, make sure to follow PizzaBomba on Facebook and Twitter to find its daily location.
By Caitlin Koenig
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New residential and commercial developments in OTR

Eight of the nine spaces in Bakery Lofts, the historic 1421-23 Race St.building just a half block from Washington Park, are already on "hold," according to developer 3CDC, as interest in and development around living spaces in Over-the-Rhine continues its brisk pace.

3CDC is currently working on a three-phase, $62 million project that encompasses two city blocks on 14th Street between Vine and Walnut, says Anastasia Mileham, communications director for 3CDC. Included in the Mercer Commons project are 19 historic building renovations and new construction on 26 vacant pieces of land.
The project will ultimately contain 96 market-rate apartments, 30 affordable apartments, 28 condominiums, 17,600 square feet of commercial space and 359 parking spaces, says Mileham.
The first phase of development began on June 30—it will yield a 340-space parking garage; 11 condos housed in four historic rehabs on Mercer, which will open in March 2013; a mixed-use building on Vine that will have 12 condos and 3,900 square feet of commercial space; and Mercer Townhomes, with five living units. The mixed-use building and the townhomes are slated to open in September 2013.
Phase 2 includes 13 historic rehabs that will house 46 mixed-income apartments, 6,000 square feet of commercial space and a mixed-income building on Walnut with 21 apartments and 4,600 square feet of commercial space. Phase 3 of the project includes two historic building rehabs with eight apartments; eight new construction, three-story townhomes with 16 apartments; and a new building with 35 apartments, 3,100 square feet of commercial space and 19 parking spaces.
One of the highlights of the project is the affordable housing that will be available. It’s also the first of its kind with a mixed-income building.
“We worked really hard to get low-income tax credits for affordable housing,” Mileham says. “It was difficult because OTR is saturated with low-income tax credits and vacant housing. We wanted to show the community that you can have affordable units that at the same time are nice.”
The new development in OTR will help create a walkable community with residential, commercial and office space all in one area. It will also help rejuvenate yet another part of the neighborhood.
In all, 3CDC has completed four phases of development in OTR, including 186 condos and 91,000 square feet of commercial space. All but three of those condos have sold and about 90 percent of the commercial space is leased. 3CDC also has seven other projects around OTR, with 65 condos, 23 apartments and 17,900 square feet of commercial space. 

By Caitlin Koenig
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10 bars in 10 years: 4EG debuts Igby's this month

With 10 restaurants and bars launched in 10 years, and more set to open soon, Four Entertainment Group (4EG) continues its successful run with Igby’s downtown, at 122 E. Sixth Street in between Main and Walnut streets.

4EG founders Bob Deck, Dave Halpern, Dan Cronican and Ben Klopp have two spaces reserved in the new U Square development in Clifton, one of which will be the group’s third Keystone Grill (other locations are in Covington and Hyde Park) and an adjacent bar.

“I think Cincinnati’s just moving in the right direction,” says Deck. “I grew up here, so, just seeing the city change over the last, you know, six or seven years, with all the independent restaurants and all the independent owners, it’s pretty cool.”
Deck and his partners cemented their commitment to the city by opening a central business office in Over-the-Rhine, across the street from The Anchor-OTR restaurant and above Zula, a bistro and wine bar slated to open soon.

“We moved our offices down here because we’re invested in the city,” Deck says. “We didn’t have a central office, so we thought, ‘Hey what better place than to put our offices down in OTR, and support the whole area and movement.’”

Just across downtown, Igby’s represents 4EG’s collaboration with Core Resources, Beck Architecture and 3CDC. Think its name sounds mysterious? That’s the point.

“We called it Igby’s because we really wanted to come up with a name that didn’t really give you any idea of what the bar would be before you walked in,” Deck says
“We’re really designing this bar around good beer, and good wine and good craft, fresh cocktails,” Deck says.

Open Monday through Saturday, Igby’s weekends ramp up the energy by opening its second and third floor open up and featuring a DJ.

The space itself is huge—approximately 7,500 square feet. The Civil War era building posed challenges, but developers persevered through massive restoration work to create a wood-filled, modern and hyper-stylized space. Igby’s atrium features balconies around each level so that patrons can look up or down onto the other floors. Igby’s also has an outdoor patio with a lounge.

Cincinnati Chef Lauren Brown has a five-item menu, featuring oysters, sodabread and cheese and even seasonal salads, that is served from 4 to 10 pm. “It’s really meant to accompany people coming in and having some drinks,” Deck says. “It’s all very high-quality and fresh, and everything we can source locally, we try to source locally. It’s hard to source West Coast oysters locally, though.”

All of the juices for the extensive cocktail list are also fresh. Mixologist Brian Van Flandern from New York created the craft cocktail menu, which includes the bourbon-tinged Black Cherry Sling (with a kick of nutmeg), the Apple Toddler, which has Gerber Apple baby food in it, and locally themed drinks like RedsRum and Naked in Newport. Igby’s has 16 beers on tap, including craft beers, imported bottles and cans.

By Stephanie Kitchens

New brewing HQ expands Moerlein's, Brewery District's offerings

As brewery equipment rolls into Over-the-Rhine, the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company is just weeks away from reaching another milestone in reviving the Christian Moerlein and Hudepohl names in Cincinnati.

The former home of the Kauffman Brewing Company and Husman’s Potato Chip factory at 1621 Moore Street is nearly converted to brewing headquarters for Moerlein and Hudepohl beers.

With this building, “exponential growth is possible,” says Josh Baker, marketing director for Christian Moerlein.

The lingering question in many beer fans’ minds, though, is simple. What will be the first beer off the new production line?

“Whichever beer we need will be first to be brewed,” says Baker, who hints at a secret ale likely to emerge from the brewing lines soon.

While the Lager House at the Banks will continue brewing to fulfill the restaurant’s beer needs, all other brewing will happen on Moore Street.

At first, the Moerlein lagers and ales and Hudepohl seasonal beers will be brewed on Moore Street, but eventually all the Hudepohl beers will roll off the lines there as well.

Beer won’t be the only focus of the expanded space, Baker says. The location will also feature a banquet hall (in the space that has served as Bock Fest Hall the past few years) as well as a tap room, slated to open next spring. Brewery visitors will be able to purchase their favorite beers in cases, growlers and kegs from the tap room, located in the old Kauffman malt drying room.

Since the building was a pre-refrigeration era brewery, it also offers access to lagering cellars, which are currently featured in several Cincinnati tours, including those given by the Over-the-Rhine Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corp., a nonprofit organization dedicated to preservation and redevelopment of Cincinnati’s rich beer brewing roots.

Moerlein and The Brewery District are closely tied with Steve Hampton, executive director for The Brewery District and project architect for the new brewery, and Gregory Hardman, CEO of Christian Moerlein and president of The Brewery District. They plan to incorporate tours and history into the new brewery, which allows visitors to simultaneously experience Cincinnati beer, past and present.

The Brewery District CURC is in charge of the annual Bock Fest, as well as the seasonal Biergarten at Findlay Market. The nonprofit will be in charge of beer sales at an open house for the brewery from 4 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 21.

If all goes smoothly, brewing is set to start “within two weeks after the open house,” says Baker. “People have been knocking on our door wanting to see what is happening. The amount of support and cheers has been overwhelming the past year.”

Guests at the open house can enter a drawing to win one of the first 100 bottles off the production line. The bottles will be numbered, signed and accompanied by a letter of authenticity. Registration for the contest will take place until the open house and can be done at Findlay Market or by mail.

After the open house, the next brewery-related event will be the Third Annual Hudepohl Thanksgiving Eve Turkey Trot featuring $2 Hudepohl Amber Lagers at bars along Main and Vine streets.

By Blaire Mynear
Blaire Mynear is an aspiring biologist and a resident of Walnut Hills

Brandery hosts first Cincinnati Startup Grind

Startup Grind is coming to Cincinnati. On Dec. 6, The Brandery will host a Startup Grind event featuring Tim Schigel, founder of ShareThis, an online sharing platform.
Startup Grind is a national organization of founders, entrepreneurs and “wantrapreneurs” looking for inspiration and education, as well as a way to network with the best and brightest in startups. It began in 2010 as friends getting together to chat about startups, but it has grown into an international speaker phenomenon, says Venture for America's Chelsea Koglmeier, who is serving as program coordinator at The Brandery.
The first official Startup Grind event was held in Feb. 2010. Nine people attended. Since then, there have been about 50 Startup Grinds around the world. They’re chances to brainstorm, provide and receive feedback on ideas and, just maybe, start something new.
There are Startup Grind chapters in Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, St. Louis, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dallas, San Diego, Seattle, Tempe and Utah. International chapters are in Budapest, Cyprus, Dubai, Johannesburg, Ottawa, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Buenos Aires, Ireland, London, Melbourne, North Bay, Singapore and Sydney.
The Brandery has never had an event like Startup Grind, but they’re excited about the opportunity.
“The startup community in Cincinnati is growing tangibly, and The Brandery is doing everything in its power to provide resources and inspiration to continue the positive upswing of entrepreneurism,” says Koglmeier.
During the event, Schigel will be answering questions from Dave Knox, CMO of Rockfish and cofounder of The Brandery. Schigel will also chat about his experience with startups and starting his own business. Then, there will be time for Q&A and networking.

It’s a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to interact with one another.

"Startups bring a different level of energy that’s hard to mimic at the Fortune 500s or other agencies in Cincinnati--they’re literally pursuing their own dreams," says Mike Bott, The Brandery's general manger. "Startups are going to be the next great place to work in Cincinnati."

There isn’t a deadline for registration, but make sure to sign up early, as The Brandery has limited space. Check out the event’s meetup page for more information.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Rhinehaus sports bar targets OTR locals, soccer fans

Aaron Kohlhepp and Jack Weston were two single guys on a mission: to find a place to watch March Madness in Over-the-Rhine. What started as a joke over drinks about starting their own bar will soon launch rhinehaus, Over-the-Rhine’s newest sports bar.

The venue will launch in mid-December at the corner of 12th and Clay streets, not far from Japps. Kohlhepp and Weston both have generous employers who will let them cut back from full- to part-time positions at local financial institutions; Kohlhepp works in corporate marketing and Weston in accounting.

Kohlhepp says that discussions turned to concrete planning once they found their current space, an OTR building constructed in the late 1800s that has hardwood floors and exposed brick. “We found that space and just thought it was a good spot on the main corridor between Main Street and everything that’s going on on Vine," he says. "Eventually the streetcar will go right past us, and the casino [that opens next spring] is just a couple blocks away.”

The rhinehaus name is a play not only on the bar’s local digs and Cincinnati’s German roots, but also its former occupant, Rhino’s Bar. Currently, renovations in the space include replacing the storefront and adding floor-to-ceiling glass

Because both Kohlhepp and Weston are soccer fans, their first order of business will be to broadcast English Premier League soccer games on weekends. They’re also wading through the process of getting a liquor license and brainstorming ways to partner with other local businesses.

One hurdle the duo has faced is the fact that while the bar has 18 taps, it doesn’t have a kitchen. “We’ve reached out to a couple of the food trucks in town and we’re going to talk to more of them in the coming weeks," Kohlhepp says. "We want people to be here three-plus hours to watch games, so we’re going to try to feed them."

By Robin Donovan

Rabe finds 'Core' restores muscles, faith

After suffering from a serious accident that required the will of a determined athlete to overcome, Cydney Rabe of Over-the-Rhine resident opened Core, an exercise studio specializing in Pilates this September.

Three years ago, while walking across a street in Chicago, Rabe was hit by a car.

“[Doctors] told me, ‘You’ll never be able to lift your arm above your waist, you can’t ever lift anything more than five pounds, you’ll have no range in motion’,” Rabe says.  

But Rabe wasn’t ready to accept what to others seemed inevitable. After the accident, she used Pilates to completely rehabilitate her shoulder, which she claims made her stronger than before and gave her nearly full range of motion.

Following the accident, Rabe decided to move from Chicago back to Over-the-Rhine — where her family has lived for 12 years — to open Core.

“I’ve seen such a cool change happening in the neighborhood from when we first moved into it.” Rabe says. “It’s fun to be a part of it and add my own passion into the neighborhood.”

The studio uses Pilates equipment that puts the user in a standing position, challenging people’s body awareness in ways they aren’t used to.

Each equipment class has four or fewer people, so although people pay for a group class, they still get one-on-one attention from the instructor.

“When it’s only four people, it really allows for correction and to develop form, which are so important in a Pilates practice,” Rabe says. “It allows you to get the most out of the workout.”

Rabe also attributes small class sizes to keeping people more accountable for showing up and staying on their routines.

“You’re coming in and working out and seeing familiar faces, so you start developing relationships beyond just going to the gym,” Rabe says. “People are now looking for you in a class, like, ‘Oh, so-and-so is not here today.’ ”

Currently, Core offers classes in Pilates, TRX, Zumba and ballet barre, and will likely add yoga in the future.

“I wanted it to be a one-stop shop for people to come in, get their workout on and do a mixture of classes,” Rabe says.

Chermaya Woodson, who has been going to Core since it opened, says Rabe is the most passionate Pilates teacher she has worked with.

“[Rabe] makes it a point to not only ensure that I'm getting a good workout in — which I always do — but to ensure that I am actually learning about the muscles I'm working and what they do for me on a daily basis.”

Core’s operational hours vary — depending on classes — and it is located at 1423 Vine St., in the Gateway District across the street from Kroger.

Check out Core’s Facebook page here.

By Kyle Stone

Noble Denim launches with American-made, designer-quality jeans

Looking for something "crafty" to learn, Chris Sutton took up jean-making nearly two years ago.

"I wanted to learn how to make something with my own hands. I'd been doing a lot of tech endeavors, and wanted to get my hands dirty," says Sutton, whose background is in live event production.

Once he began sewing jeans, Sutton found he had a real talent for it. He decided he wanted to make high-quality, American-made jeans, a rarity in today's clothing manufacturing sector. He sought out American sources for his material, thread, zippers and pocket materials. Yes, he found them all in the USA; and he created Noble Denim.

"I wanted to make my own rules around what could and couldn't be done. I wanted to make my jeans in America, and make them as sustainably as possible," he says.

Using his home in Over-the-Rhine as a sewing factory, Sutton began making and selling Noble Denim jeans. Twelve industrial sewing machines later, he moved the company into a space at Camp Washington.

Designer in style and quality, they're meant to have a longer shelf life than your average mass-produced jean. Materials come from suppliers in Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado, Oregon and California.

They're made from raw selvage denim, made through a time-consuming process that makes the material thicker and more durable. This type of denim is supposed to better fit the wearer's body and resist shrinkage.

Sutton launched an online shop in November, where buyers can chose from two styles, Regular and Earnest Slim Straight. The jeans are pricey, $250 a pair, but all materials are 100 percent organic, reclaimed or responsibly produced. Currently Noble Denim sells jeans only for men; a women's line is planned for next fall.

Noble Denim is a young company, and Sutton still does most of the sewing. He does have interns who are learning the jean-making craft. Within the next year, he hopes to hire three or four employees, who'll make 3,000 pairs of jeans a year.

"I want to grow, but only as fast as I can stick to my philosophy," Sutton says. "So our mantra is grow slow, but do it well."

By Feoshia H. Davis
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Tis the season for Christian Moerlein holiday brews

The Christian Moerlein Lager House hosts its first Holiday Beer and Brewerania Extravaganza Saturday, Nov. 10, from noon to 4 p.m. During the event, beer lovers can get started on their holiday shopping, tour the brewery and sample 10 holiday beers.
Christian Moerlein started the Moerlein Brewing Company in 1853 in Over-the-Rhine. He was a Bavarian immigrant and blacksmith by trade who loved brewing beer. When Moerlein’s beer was exhibited, it always took home top honors.
After his death in 1897, the brewery continued to operate until Prohibition forced it to close; it reopened in 1981. 

Moerlein’s beer has only four ingredients: malted barley, hops, water and yeast, and is the first beer to certifiably pass the Reinheitsgebot Bavarian Purity Law of 1516. In 2004, Greg Hardman, its current president and CEO, bought Moerlein Brewing Company. He continues to follow the same quality and taste guidelines set by Moerlein.
The Holiday Beer and Brewerania Extravaganza isn’t all beer tasting. It’s a bit like an antique show, too. There will be free informational appraisals of beer memorabilia; book signings by Mike Morgan and Dan Tolzmann; and souvenirs, such as steins designed by Rookwood Pottery, beer memorabilia, a winter lineup of Moerlein Lager House merchandise, the "Brewopoly" beer game, Cincinnati retro beer shirts and local artist Jim Effler’s Bockfest and Moerlein beer label posters. 

Plus, Moerlein Lager House’s beer tokens that feature the inaugural Moerlein Lager House design and beer barons Moerlein and John Hauck will be for sale for the true beer enthusiast.

Rookwood Pottery designed a series of four steins for Moerlein Lager House. In 2008, Rookwood Pottery created the Christian Moerlein Barbarossa Stein. In 2007, Moerlein commissioned a stein for its Northern Liberty Beer and one for its OTR beer.

New for 2012 is the first edition Christian Moerlein Lager House Stein. The stein pays tribute to Christian Moerlein's first  beer brewing venture on Elm Street, and to the new Moerlein Lager House along the river. The two locations are connected by a cobblestone road that represents the return of Cincinnati's brewing heritage. All of the steins are currently available on Rookwood Pottery's website.
“Customers can walk around the facility and check out the artwork, and brewers will be on hand to discuss the brewing process or talk about beer,” says Hardman.
And of course, there will be beer. The event will feature 10 holiday beers from guest brewers: Wittekerke Winter WitFounder’s HarvestPetrus Winter #9Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere HarvestSam Smith Winter WelcomeTwo Brothers Heavy HandedSierra Nevada CelebrationOmmegang Art of DarknessHudepohl Classic Porter and a batch of Moerlein Lager Houses Christkindl Winter Warmer Ale. Richard Dube, Moerlein Lager House’s resident brewmaster, brewed the Christkindl ale especially for the event, says Hardman.
Admission is free; four-ounce samples of the seasonal beers will be $6 for a flight of four.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Festival reaches 'Heights' with untapped local talents

In its third year, the Heights Music Festival reaches deeper into the local music scene to highlight lesser known, hard-working local bands.

This fall's version, which takes place this weekend (Nov. 9-10) includes new names and innovative collaborations with artistically focused Cincinnati non-profits. 

"We actively sought out bands that have not had this kind of opportunity," says festival found Rome Ntukogu, of Far-I-Rome Productions. For example, Oui Si Yes, a seven-piece band that rarely plays out because of complicated performance schedules, will be part of the Heights this weekend.

What started as a once-a-year, one-night/four-venue event evolved into a biannual celebration of bands across a wide range of genres. This fall, one all-ages venue (Rohs Street Cafe) will feature collaborations with student artists from the Music Resource Center in Evanston and Elementz of Over-the-Rhine.

"I'm really excited about the Music Resource Center showcase we are doing," Ntukogu says. "They are going to create a small lineup of five of their students to perform." 

Some will be MCs, some poets. All will perform at Rohs Friday. 

Elementz offers its own showcase at Rohs Saturday.

"We like to bridge the gap between scenes," Ntukogu says. "We're trying our best to reach out into different pockets in Cincinnati."

His goal is to expose young musicians to each other, allow them to become fans of one another, and together, build a stronger and more connected music and arts community in Cincinnati.

The fall Heights Festival features just four venues, down from previous festivals' higher club count. Ntukogu explains it's part of his plan for "surprises" for the spring 2013 festival. "We want to expand and add a few venues outside of the Clifton Heights business districts," he says. "I would like to double our venues by next spring."

By Elissa Yancey
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New startups from The Brandery soon to launch

Two recent graduates of The Brandery shared how to pitch a startup idea to investors and potential employees at on of the Digital Non Conference’s breakout sessions last week. Hunter Hammonds and Freddie Pikovsky recently pitched their startup ideas at The Brandery’s Demo Day and are now in the process of procuring funds and building teams.

Hammonds is the CEO and co-founder of Impulcity, a city app that makes a night on the town a breeze. Users can buy tickets to shows and view the specials at bars all in one place. Originally from Louisville, Hammonds came to Cincinnati because of The Brandery.

While searching for employees, he realized Cincinnati has a lot of local talent—he hasn’t needed to hire anyone from outside Ohio yet because of the wealth of designers here.

Pikovsky, originally from Brooklyn, is the CEO and founder of Off Track Planet. His startup began as a travel blog three years ago and is now a travel site and mobile app geared toward people in their mid-20s and early 30s. Pikovsky was drawn to The Brandery like Hammonds was, and wanted to be part of the startup ecosystem.

“Right now is an amazing time to be part of The Brandery,” Pikovsky says.

Hammonds and Pikovsky know it’s important to sell their ideas, whether it’s to a potential investor or new hires. In both cases, they have to make sure the startup’s roadmap is clear and focused; otherwise, investors might not be interested and employees won’t know which way is up.

Off Track Planet recently launched its beta version, and in three months, Pikovsky and his team hope to have the full release out. Impulcity will be launching soon and focusing solely on Cincinnati to start with, but Hammonds’ goal is to have it be an app for those living outside of the Tri-State area too.

By Caitlin Koenig
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Caitlin is an Associate Editor for Barefoot Proximity

U.S. Bank opens new OTR branch in January

In yet another sign of investment and confidence in Over-the-Rhine, U.S. Bank is moving closer to the heart of the neighborhood in January. Its new location at 1116 Main Street will be its only full-service bank branch in OTR.
Currently, U.S. Bank has two locations downtown, but they’re not very accessible for OTR customers. The branch on Procter & Gamble Plaza is hard to get to and parking is scarce; the one on Court isn’t visible from the road. Main Street is much more accessible for customers, whether they’re walking or driving, says John Fickle, senior VP and regional manger for U.S. Bank.
The staff of the Main Street location will be familiar to those who bank in OTR because they will move from the old locations. The new branch will provide customers with much more than teller services.
“We’ll have the opportunity to help customers with all of their banking needs and have the ‘know your customer’ conversation,” says Fickle. Customers will be able to discuss mortgages, life insurance and loans with U.S. Bank’s bankers.
The bank's investment extends to the renovated historic building into which it will move and set up its 3,000-square-foot office. The new location provides the access U.S. Bank has wanted for years, says Fickle, in a building that fits both bank and customer needs.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Big plans in the works for Cincinnati

As many areas of Cincinnati are being rejuvenated, including OTR and Washington Park, the City of Cincinnati approved a comprehensive approach to focus on development in the city as a whole, not just targeted neighborhoods. 

Last Friday, the City Planning Commission approved and adopted Plan Cincinnati, which was designed with input from residents. The Plan is an opportunity to strengthen what people love about the city, what works and what needs more attention, says Katherine Keough-Jurs, senior city planner and project manager.
The idea is to re-urbanize suburbanized Cincinnati; in a sense, to return to the strengths of the city's beginnings. Cincinnati was established just after the American Revolution in 1788 and grew into an industrial center in the 19th century. Many of those industries no longer exist in the city, which is part of why Cincinnati has become more suburbanized in the past 50 years. One of the long-term goals of the Plan is to bring new industries to Cincinnati.
With a new approach to revitalization, Cincinnati is blazing the trail for other cities. With a focus on building on existing strengths rather than tearing down structures and creating new ones, the Plan aims to capitalize on the city's “good bones” and good infrastructure.
Cinicinnatians had a huge role in developing the Plan. The first public meeting for the Plan was held in September 2009, when residents offered their insights into “what makes a great city?" and "what would make Cincinnati a great city?” A steering committee of 40 people representing businesses, nonprofits, community groups, local institutions, residents and City Council helped develop the Plan.

The Plan also got support from a grant from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which the City received in 2010. The grant allotted $2.4 million over three years to support the Land Development Code, which combines and simplifies Cincinnati's codes, reviews the development process, implements Form-based Codes and considers more creative uses for land. The grant allowed the city to start implementing some of the ideas voiced in public meetings.
Visionaries included youth, too. City staff worked with community centers and Cincinnati Public Schools to develop an art project for children. They were given clay pots and asked to paint their fears for the city on the inside and their dreams for the city on the outside. The children saw the big issue was quality of life, just like the adults did.
“It was an interesting way to get the kids involved and thinking about the future,” Keough-Jurs says.
The Plan aims to strengthen neighborhood centers—the neighborhoods’ business districts. It maps out areas that people need to get to on a daily basis and found that most are within about a half-mile of the business districts. But in some neighborhoods, residents can’t access their neighborhood centers. 

The accessibility of a neighborhood center is based on walkability—not just for pedestrians, but also about how structures address walking. For exampke, if a pedestrian can walk from one end of the neighborhood center to the other without breaking his or her pattern (the window shopping effect), the area is walkable; if he or she has been stopped by a parking lot or vacancies, it’s not walkable, Keough-Jurs says.
The neighborhood centers are classified in one of three ways in the Plan: maintain, evolve or transform. Some neighborhoods have goals to maintain levels of walkability, whereas others need to gradually change or evolve. Still others need to completely transform in order to strengthen their business districts.
“Cincinnati is at the heart of the region,” Keough-Jurs says. “If we strengthen Cincinnati, we strengthen a region.”

The next step for the Plan is to go before the Cincinnati City Council, specifically the Livable Communities Committee, which is chaired by Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls.
By Caitlin Koenig
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