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Workshops to help with ins and outs of OTR homeownership

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

In September, a group of nine experts from the American Institute of Architects’ Sustainable Design Assessment Team visited Covington to redesign Randolph Park. Covington was one of seven communities to receive a $25,000 competitive grant from the AIA.
 
The team spent three days designing the park—day one included interviews with stakeholders, a community meeting and a tour of the park and the surrounding area; day two was spent designing; and day three the concepts were presented to the public.
 
Three different concepts were put on the table: updating the park’s amenities; building a community use room; and including a community school. All of the concepts feature sustainable design and are community-oriented. Now it’s up to the community to decide which design will be used and when redevelopment will begin.
 
“The City of Covington brought everyone together to discuss the redesign, but the park is a community-driven action,” says Natalie Gardner, programs and strategic projects manager for the City of Covington.
 
The City is funding the project, and has $500,000 in its capital fund for Randolph Park’s redevelopment.
 
A final plan has yet to be chosen, but Gardner says residents are ready to get the project underway.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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LEED silver certified, single-family home in OTR for sale

One of the first LEED silver certified homes in Over-the-Rhine is for sale. The two-story, 2,000-square-foot, three bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home was completely renovated by Chris Reckman and his fiancé, Louisa Deutsch.
 
Reckman, of C.A.R. Construction dba Urban Expansion, purchased the structure at 1504 Race St. in March of this year. Reckman has rehabbed several other historic buildings and single-family homes in OTR—he and Deutsch did a complete and thorough gut and rehab on the property. They had to clear away a lot of trash from the inside of the house and repair the floor that had buckled due to water damage. The home is now live-in ready, and until they sell it, Reckman and Deutsch are living there.   
 
LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building, home or community was designed and built using green strategies, including sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. To be LEED silver certified, a building must receive 50–59 points.
 
“With the opening of Washington Park, there is now more of a demand for these types of homes,” Reckman says. “OTR isn’t just empty nesters and young professionals, but people with kids who see the value of living in the city. Plus, the streetcar is going to go right past the house’s front door, and that’s huge.”
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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WIN helps make South Cumminsville walkable, increases home ownership

Working in Neighborhoods was one of 12 organizations selected by the Project for Public Spaces to receive technical assistance from the Walkable & Livable Communities Institute, which is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. WIN is currently working to make the Beekman-Elmore corridor of South Cumminsville more walkable, livable, healthy and welcoming.
 
In South Cumminsville, only one in four people own or have access to a car, so crosswalks are vital to the community. But people had problems getting across the street in front of Wayne Park, where the crosswalk signals were too short. With a simple change in signal duration, it’s now easier for people to cross the street, says Marilyn Evans, president of the South Cumminsville Community Council.
 
WIN is also working to increase home ownership in South Cumminsville. The neighborhood has a 54 percent home ownership rate, which is high for the city of Cincinnati, where the average is 32 percent.
 
“WIN has had the opportunity to redevelop sections of the neighborhood into different housing options,” says Sister Barbara Bush, executive director of WIN. “We purchased an old church and converted the school into 18 senior housing units. It helped bring seniors into the community and opened up a housing option for the seniors who already lived here.”
 
The organization also provides education for homebuyers on everything from how to start saving for a house to how to secure a loan. And it's the second largest foreclosure prevention organization in the county. To date, WIN has educated about 300 families on buying a house and helped about 600 families from losing their home. WIN has also been dabbling in green efforts since the ‘70s, teaching homeowners how to be more energy efficient.
 
WIN partners with the South Cumminsville Community Council on an after-school program for kids; they also offer an on-site summer camp. There are plans to increase the recreation facilities at Wayne Park, and possibly put in a walking track and splash ground, Evans says.
 
“We’re also trying to combat the lack of healthy food options in South Cumminsville,” Sister Barbara says. “The neighboring communities of Northside and Camp Washington both recently lost their grocery stores, and it’s becoming harder for residents to get to healthy food.”
 
Closing the Health Gap came in and is looking at a healthy store program along Beekman. There’s also a community garden at the corner of Roll and Ralston, and it’s become an opportunity to educate kids about fruits and vegetables.  
 
“WIN has helped us come together, work together and stay on the same page as a neighborhood,” Evans says. “There are so many different opportunities for people to come in and make changes. Without WIN, it wouldn’t be possible for us to uplift our neighborhood.”
 
WIN is a comprehensive community development corporation, and is active in three Cincinnati neighborhoods—South Cumminsville, Northside and College Hill. It has rehabbed homes in Spring Grove Village, Elmwood Place and the West McMicken area of Over-the-Rhine. WIN will celebrate its 35th anniversary in November.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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City of Covington selling rehabbed, historic homes with financial assistance

Five city-owned, fully rehabilitated historic homes are currently available for purchase in downtown Covington. The houses were acquired as part of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which awarded funds to redevelop foreclosed and abandoned properties in the city to help revitalize neighborhoods.
 
NSP targets new and existing homeowners and provides financing to help with the cost of a down payment and other associated fees. However, existing homeowners must utilize the NSP property as their primary residence.
 
The houses that are for sale through the NSP program are: 334 E. 18th St., 912 and 914 Banklick St., and 118 and 120 E. 15th St.
 
The houses all boast new and modern kitchens with open floor plans on the first floor, master bedrooms with closet space, and new, modern bathrooms. On the outside, the houses all have new roofs, gutters and paint, while the interiors have new and updated plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling systems. They’ve also been rehabbed to high-efficiency standards, including added insulation, high-efficiency furnaces and Energy Star appliances.
 
For those interested in purchasing an NSP home, the City of Covington has financing programs available, through which buyers are required to borrow only what is termed an “affordable amount,” which is determined based on the buyer’s income. The city can provide interest-free, forgivable loans to supplement the affordable mortgage amount and the price of the home.
 
The program’s income limits are higher than other homebuyer programs—NSP allows households up to 120 percent of HUD Area Median Income ($57,700 for a single person household and $82,450 for a four-person household).

For more information regarding the program or find out if you qualify to purchase an NSP home, contact Jeremy Wallace via phone at (859) 292-2163 or via e-mail.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Beasley Place housing development coming to OTR

Two buildings on Republic Street in Over-the-Rhine will soon become a 14-unit affordable housing project called Beasley Place. Redevelopment of 1405 and 1407 Republic St. will begin this fall, and should be finished by fall 2014.
 
The project is named for Willie and Fannie Beasley, who were former residents of one of the buildings. They were long-time residents of the building, and their roots ran deep on Republic Street—everyone knew them, says Ashleigh Finke, project manager at Over-the-Rhine Community Housing.
 
“I think the story behind the name really captures why we as an organization exists,” she says. “There are many wonderful people like the Beasleys who have strong roots in the neighborhood and contribute so much to the heart and soul of OTR that we want to make sure are able to continue to live in OTR.”
 
Beasley Place, which is a five-story historic building with about 23,000 square feet, will contain six one-bedroom units, four two-bedroom units and three three-bedroom units, ranging from 681 to 1,402 square feet. Ten of the apartments are designated for people with incomes below 60 percent of the Area Median Income, and three units are earnarked for people with incomes below 30 percent of AMI.
 
There will also be about 1,200 square feet of first floor, storefront commercial space, plus an elevator and on-site laundry for residents. The building will meet enterprise green communities requirements and will have Energy Star appliances and lighting.
 
The total cost of the Beasley Place project is just under $3 million. The buildings are owned and will be developed by OTRCH, and HGC Construction is the general contractor of the project.
 
The project is receiving state and federal historic tax credits, City of Cincinnati HOME funding, City of Cincinnati Lead Education and Remediation (CLEAR) grant funding, and Housing Development Gap Financing from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Loveland-based TRIVACO to open environmentally constructed facility in Hebron

Construction began on Tristate Valves and Controls, Inc.’s, new 40,000-square-foot office and warehouse facility in Hebron on July 15. The project, which is being designed and built by Al. Neyer, is slated to be completed by the end of the year.
 
The development is located in Hebron’s Riverview Business Park off I-275. It will contain 12,000 square feet of office space, and the rest will house a high-tech manufacturing facility. It will be home to more than 60 current TRIVACO employees, and will create about 45 new engineering, customer service and sales jobs in the next few years.
 
The $2.5 million project was funded in part by SBA financing; Tri-ED helped place TRIVACO in Northern Kentucky. TRIVACO serves industrial markets in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Georgia and West Virginia.
 
Al. Neyer is doing something a bit different with the construction of the building. It’s called tilt-up construction, which means that the walls are cast out of concrete panels on-site, and are lifted at the same time to receive the building’s roof.
 
“Tilt-up construction is common in Cincinnati for industrial and office buildings, but there aren’t that many buildings that have been constructed this way,” says Mark Vela, vice president of business development for Al. Neyer. “We’ve been doing it for 20 years, as have a few other companies.”
 
Al. Neyer is also constructing the building with recycled, local materials to make the project environmentally friendly. The project is set up for expansion with future growth of TRIVACO.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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UC residence hall gets facelift, total renovation

The University of Cincinnati’s Morgens Hall, which sits at the corner of West Campus near the intersection of Martin Luther King and Jefferson Avenue, underwent renovations for the coming school year. The 144-unit apartment-style residential hall was designed in collaboration with Richard Fleischman + Partners Architects.
 
Morgens Hall contains 456 beds on levels 100 to 1200, with two penthouse apartments on level 1400 for the resident coordinator and assistant resident coordinator. The two-person small studios; two-person standard studios; three-person, two-bedroom apartments; and eight-person, five-bedroom apartments are open to students of all academic classifications.
 
Each apartment features first-of-its-kind furniture, which was developed by UC H&FS staff, along with an industry partner. The dresser-desk combo expands and contracts to save floor space.
 
Renovations to the hall included replacing the old concrete-and-brick exterior with 2,000 glass panels. The panels feature a high-tech design that provides better insulation to the building due to the low-emissive properties of the glass. UC hopes the panels will elevate Morgens Hall to LEED-certified status.
 
The glass panels have adjustable privacy screens that are 98 percent opaque and are thermal weaved for energy conservation. The panels also have a white linear pattern on them, which is called “fritting”—the reflective pattern adds another degree of insulation to the glass by decreasing solar heat gain by 20 percent.
 
Other green efforts were made during the renovation process, including reusing the old building. Plus, on-campus living helps to reduce the use of cars because students can walk, ride their bicycles or take shuttles to and from classes.
 
Multiple-occupancy units are $3,938 per person per semester, and single-occupancy bedrooms in the two- or five-bedroom apartments are $4,175 per person per semester; meal plans are not included in this pricing.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Elm Street Senior Housing offers affordable housing to seniors in OTR

Construction began last month on the renovation of 1500-06 Elm Street, which in May 2014, will open as Elm Street Senior Housing. It will be the first and only senior housing project in Over-the-Rhine, and serves as the first project that will meet needs of accessibility, affordability and support services for this group.
 
The 14,545-square-foot project, which is owned and being developed by Over-the-Rhine Community Housing with Model Group Construction as the general contractor, will house 14 units of affordable senior housing, plus one live-in building manager. An elevator is being added to the building so seniors can access all three floors. The first floor will also offer a handful of senior services.
 
“Our mission is to help maintain the diverse community of OTR, and this is a huge step forward,” says Ashleigh Finke, project manager at OTRCH. “There’s now going to be a place for seniors to live in the neighborhood.”
 
Elm Street Senior Housing will be LEED silver certified because of its energy efficiency efforts. All of the building’s equipment will be high-efficiency, Finke says.
 
The total cost of the project is about $4 million, with construction costs close to $3 million. It’s being funded through historic tax credits, low-income housing tax credits and the HUD 202 grant for senior housing.
 
“One of the most unique things about the project is that it has to remain affordable senior housing for 40 years,” she says. “It’s not something that’s going to come and go. It will remain serving the needs of the seniors in OTR for a long time.”
 
OTRCH isn’t new to development—it has been around in one form or another since 1978. The nonprofit focuses on property management, property development, community building, and education and advocacy.
 
The building itself has been around for 150 years—Christian Moerlein Brewery Company purchased the site in 1863, and the building was constructed in 1864 to serve as the brewery’s icehouse. Moerlein owned the property for the next 56 years, until it was sold in 1919 during Prohibition. It also served as a saloon, grocery store, food store, market, lunch restaurant, barber, billiards hall and rental flat.
 
Elm Street Senior Housing is slated to be complete by May 2014. Units are available for rent, and interested seniors can apply through OTRCH. Rent is subsidized with HUD 202 money so no tenant will pay more than 30 percent of their income—total rent, including the tenant's portion and the subsidy will be around $470 per month.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Ghettopia offers dorm-style accommodations for travelers in OTR

While travelers are already leaving positive feedback and recommeding the space to their friends, Susan Angel’s Ghettopia will be fully open for business soon. Ghettopia OTR Bunk Haus is a 22-bed, dormitory-style hostel for travelers—there’s a kitchenette, three showers, a common room and steam room.
 
“I travel a lot—I’ve been to Europe, India, Hawaii—and I always stay at bunkhouses,” says Angel. “I wanted to bring some of that onto Main Street for the travelers that come through here.”
 
Angel started as a couch surfing host, and she met people from all over the world. After doing that for a while, she began to go through the process of opening a legal bunkhouse in Cincinnati.
 
And Ghettopia isn’t a ghetto. The name comes from the “ghettos” German immigrants lived in Germany and when they came to the United States. Since Over-the-Rhine (and much of Cincinnati) was founded by Germans, Angel thought the name was perfect.
 
Angel bought the building at 1424 Main Street in 2005. She applied for a “city beautification” grant, in which she paid 20 percent and the City paid 80 percent for updating the space. She’s done all of the renovations herself, using materials that would normally go to the landfill. For example, the floors are mosaics of mismatched tiles Angel collected from builders, contractors and Ohio Tile and Marble.
 
“I wanted to create an organic, Earth-friendly atmosphere,” says Angel.
 
Plus, Angel is an artist—she had a gallery at 1409 Main Street and taught classes at Rothenberg. The walls of her dorms are covered in art, and there’s a mural on one of the outer walls of the building that was done by local artist Douglas Smith.  
 
Not only is Angel opening a bunkhouse in OTR, but part of her business plan includes a bunkhouse route across the U.S. She’s currently looking for a second bunkhouse location in Louisville.
 
“We’re looking for certain things when we’re looking to open a bunkhouse,” she says. “We want them to be on or near Main Street; we want to support the local arts; we want to renovate the building with materials that normally go to the landfill; and we want to be a green or environmentally conscious place to stay.”
 
Cincinnati’s Ghettopia is still undergoing renovations, but is already operating at about 30 percent capacity. Angel is currently working on the steam room, and hopes to have the bunkhouse fully operational by the end of the year.
 
If you’re interested in bunking at Ghettopia, check out the availability at airbnb.com. Beds are $25 per night, $120 per week or $420 per month, with a maximum stay of three months.

You can also check out Ghettopia on OTR's Final Friday. There will be live music and movies projected on the walls of the building.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Covington growing with new businesses

Cincinnati isn’t the only city in the Tri-State area experiencing rejuvenation. Just across the Ohio River, Covington has seen a plethora of new businesses open in the last year, and the trend shows no sign of stopping.
 
Naashom Marx, business development manager for the City of Covington, works to attract new businesses and retain Covington’s current businesses.
 
“Covington is a great place to live, work and play,” she says. “It’s a unique dynamic of people and places, and it attracts people.”
 
Right in the heart of Covington’s urban center—at Roebling and Fifth Street, eight buildings in a four-block area will soon become Gateway Tech’s new location. The college is also opening a bookstore at Sixth and Madison, which will be open to the public. The addition of Gateway Tech’s student body to the urban center will help that area grow, and keep businesses busy, Marx says.
 
The city’s current focus area is the Renaissance district, the spaces around Madison, Short Pike and Scott streets. The goal is to continue to grow new businesses while encouraging the momentum to continue in other areas, too.
 
Since its founding 35 years ago, Mainstrasse Village has seen exponential growth. It’s a walkable and bike-friendly area close to both the riverfront and the City's hotel district.
 
“Mainstrasse Village wouldn’t have lasted long without the community,” says Kim Blank, executive director of Mainstrasse. 
 
Main BiteSugar Cube RecordsOld Kentucky Bourbon Bar and Goodfellas recently opened in Mainstrasse, and Covington Yoga moved from Scott to the village to make room for Gateway Tech. Thai Sushi is slated to open later this summer, and Commonwealth Bistro is currently renovating two buildings in Mainstrasse.
 
“Covington continues to grow, and it’s a really nice area with lots of new businesses,” Blank says. “It’s an exciting time for us.”
 
Pike Street has also seen lots of new businesses open recently. Buonavita Pizzeria opened last Monday; 3TC DesignsShrewdness of Apes, Latonia Treasures, Old Home Style and Green Line Salon are all new to the area as well. Grateful Grahams and Sushi Cincinnati both moved to larger facilities on Pike Street, and Tickets Sports Café is reinventing itself into an all-Covington, all-green, family-friendly restaurant.
 
In about nine months, City Hall will become Hotel Covington, a boutique hotel near the Madison Event Center. (City Hall moved to a smaller office to accommodate the project.)
 
Covington has also seen lots of larger businesses, like Westpack and Blair Technology Group, move in because of the perks the city has to offer—parks, restaurants, shops, quality of life and a sense of community.
 
“Developers are seeing great growth and rehabilitation efforts here, which attracts more developers to Covington,” Marx says. “And property owners see higher property values, which encourages them to stay and raise their families here.”

Stay tuned to Soapbox for stories about Covington's new businesses and its continued growth. 
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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College Hill Gardeners partners with Historical Society for bicentennial event

This year is the 200th anniversary of the founding of College Hill, and to celebrate, the College Hill Historical Society and College Hill Gardeners are partnering for History in Bloom. The event includes a lecture by Ed Loyd, CHHS president, on May 14, and a tour of five College Hill gardens on June 15.
 
The lecture will include past and present photos of the gardens at the five homes, along with images of a few gardens that used to be in College Hill, Loyd says.
 
“College Hill is a natural fit to put history and gardens together,” he says.
 
College Hill got its name from Farmers’ College, which was founded in 1846. It was one of the first schools for agriculture in the United States, and was around almost a generation before other land-grant colleges were established. It was a research center for all types of scientific agricultural education, and predated the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Loyd says.
 
This year is the eighth year for the CHG garden tour, but the first year for the event to have a co-presenter.
 
“The agricultural significance in College Hill is noteworthy, and it provides a great backdrop for the gardens,” says Beth McLean, founder of CHG.
 
The gardens included on the tour are those of Twin Towers, Tanglewood, The Upson House, The Oaks and Laurel Court. All of the houses are along Hamilton Avenue, Belmont Avenue and Hillcrest Road (Old College Hill). The gardens feature beautiful landscaping and ornamental structures, plus a Japanese garden and parterre, which can be found at Laurel Court.
 
Tickets for the tour go on sale May 4 for $10. Tickets will be available at CHG’s plant sale May 4, at the College Hill Coffee Company and at the lecture. Day-of tickets are $12.
 
The lecture will be at the Campus Center at Llanfair Retirement Community; seating is limited. Please contact CHG at 513-681-1326 to reserve your seat.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Green, sustainable Spring Grove Village offers community education, resources

Spring Grove Village, which is Northside’s next-door neighbor, has much more to offer than just a place to live. Spring Grove prides itself in being a green and sustainable community, where residents are invested in what’s going on around them.
 
“There are lots of young couples who live in Spring Grove Village who go to farmers' markets,” says Sam Gordon, owner of Bee Haven Honey. “They’re aware of what they can do in their own environment to help the greater environment.”
 
Spring Grove is home to several organic gardens, including Wooden Shoe Organic Garden and Keystone Flora, which focuses on local and organic plant sales. There are also several well-known greenhouses in the area, especially along Grey Road behind Spring Grove Cemetery, including A.J. Rahn.
 
Residents have planted two community gardens in the neighborhood; and many of Spring Grove’s residents, including Bee Haven Honey, sell their goods at Findlay Market.
 
Bee Haven Honey is green and sustainable, which means that they don’t use chemicals in their hives, Gordon says.
 
Gordon says she likes to be a resource for others who are interested in beekeeping, but she isn’t the only sustainable resource in Spring Grove. Evergreen Holistic Learning Center in Winton Ridge offers green and sustainable programming, and Homeadow Song Farm, an educational center, teaches kids about nature and art.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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NKY Restoration Weekend to educate historic homeowners, DIYers

Did you recently buy a historic home and need help getting renovations underway? Or do you want to learn more about living green? Then NKY Restoration Weekend is for you.
 
The second annual Restoration Weekend is from 9 am to 5 pm on Feb. 23 at the Gateway Community and Technical College's Urban Campus in Covington. The event will feature many opportunities for historic home owners, including classes and demonstrations on how to make historic houses and surrounding property more energy efficient and sustainable; researching historic homes; utilizing the Kentucky homeowner’s rehabilitation tax credit; Rookwood tile history and maintenance; historic ironwork; window restoration; plaster; masonry repair and maintenance ask the expert.
 
There will also be a vendor fair with more than 20 booths featuring craftsmen and contractors that represent all aspects of the renovation process.
 
“The weekend is about combining sustainable and green practices with historic homes,” says Beth Johnson, preservation and planning specialist for the City of Covington. “The vendors are a huge part of the event, and helps connect homeowners with good products and contractors.”
 
But Johnson says the highlight of the event is the keynote speakers, Matt Grocoff. He’s a nationally known TV personality who turned a 100-year-old folk Victorian house into net zero, which means it’s historically sensitive, but doesn’t use energy.
 
“There’s such an amazing stock of historic homes in Northern Kentucky and the surrounding area, and people need to be responsible homeowners and be better stewards of historic homes,” Johnson says. “DIY is really big, and they need to know the proper ways to do things.” 
 
The event is partially funded by the Certified Local Government grant that’s given to the cities of Bellevue, Covington and Newport from the National Park Service and administered by the Kentucky Heritage Council.
 
NKY Restoration is an unincorporated association and collaboration of businesses, artisans and craftsmen, nonprofit organizations, cities and the Historic Preservation offices in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati.
 
The event is free, but reservations are requested to ensure a spot at the keynote luncheon.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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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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