18 entities join to form 8th Street Design District, kick off month-long concert series

It has long been a work in progress, but the 8th Street corridor through northeast downtown Cincinnati has evolved into a vibrant district. A district made up of trendy loft living inside former warehouses; diverse establishments like the Blue Wisp Jazz Club, Silverglades, and University Galleries; and an ever-growing collection of design-related businesses.

The progression has been steady and thorough over the past two decades when much of the district was vacant or rundown. But now, a large group of businesses in the district, the City of Cincinnati, and Downtown Cincinnati Inc. have officially formed the 8th Street Design District.

“We began looking around and realized that this area is rich with people and businesses who are passionate about their creative product, whether it’s package design, architecture, music or other related support services,” explained Ken Neiheisel, Chief Creative Officer of Marsh, Inc. and spokesperson for the 8th St. Design District.

Design firms include GBBN Architects, Marsh, KZF Design, Glaserworks, KGB Advertising, and Brandstetter Carroll along with 12 other entities that help make up the district. According to Neiheisel, the firms intend to come together with the goal of creating an inspiring, vibrant area that will aid in increasing the value of their work to the city while also attracting new talent. He also hopes that district branding will help attract other similar companies to the 8th Street Design District.

“There is strength in numbers and we felt that as a group, we could have an impact not only on each other, but on the creative class and economic development in Downtown Cincinnati.”

In order to celebrate the formation of the new 8th Street Design District, and bring the downtown community together, the group has organized a month-long music mini-series on Friday, September 10, 17, and 24. The concerts will take place from 12pm to 1:30pm at the corner of 8th and Broadway. The Faux Frenchmen are scheduled to perform first, with Mix Machine and Rattlesnakin’ Daddies to follow. Those who would like to help the newly formed group, or get more information about the September music mini-series, are instructed to contact Ken Neiheisel at (513) 386-6101.

  • I knew if we stayed around long enough we would become a district!

  • Love Central Ave, can’t wait till that whole side of town is nice!

  • This is about as effective as the short-lived “Soapbox District” for W. 4th. Instead of wasting resources on finding and promoting names for districts that don’t make sense (there are many, many other design agencies elsewhere in downtown), it would be more advantageous to simply label this as part of downtown — which it is.

  • Sherman- I disagree wholeheartedly. You and I have positive connotations of the word “downtown”. Unfortunately, others see that label as a negative. Rebranding an area has the potential to generate massive economic development opportunities. Of course doing so is never guaranteed, but with the talent and the passion of the people in this district, I like the odds.

  • Regardless of the branding, it’s nice to see these businesses coming together to add to downtown’s pulse. I’ll definitely try to catch the concerts; with nice weather on the horizon they should be a great midday break.

  • This effort is absolutely a positive one, but I agree with Sherman that the name is forced. It really doesn’t meaningfully distinguish 8th St. from the rest of downtown, and I expect that it won’t ever become commonly used.

  • I agree with David. I love the of branding the little districts and neighborhoods
    of downtown. I think it adds more character to what would otherwise just be known
    as East Eighth Street.

  • With the way that downtown and OTR are developing, I think that this type of branding is important. Fountain square and The Banks are going to have a lot of pull. This makes it important for other parts of downtown to get attention. I would just be worried about the 8th street design district being swallowed up/upstaged by the broadway commons casino district.

  • Interestingly enough, I have been talking about this part of downtown as an emerging design district for the last four to five years. It’s been an interesting transition from what used to be there, to what is there now.

    I do disagree with you Sherman about the lack of authenticity in the “design district.” There are a ton of design firms located in this small pocket of downtown…many of which have their creative professionals living in the same area. Sure there are other design firms elsewhere, and that’s great, but this is certainly a legitimate district…much more so that the “Soapbox District” you mention, or even the “Historic Midtown” area around Court Street.

  • The ability to get financing to support a move and/or substantial renovation has proven to be quite a challenge in today’s financial market for the Blue Wisp. I view this effort by the business owners to help bring people to live and conduct business in this NE quadrant as having great potential and being virtually risk-free. The Wisp is thrilled to be a part of the Eighth Street Design District and will help in any way we can. Although usually closed during the day, we will be open before, during and after the Friday noon concerts to offer food and drink to the public as well as technical support for the musicians. If it rains the musicians will move to our dry stage and the show will go on.
    While I am certain the Blue Wisp will be a main attraction for our newly-named neighborhood, The Eighth Street Design District may in fact save the Blue Wisp. I encourage anyone with ideas on making this concept work to write a comment.
    Ed Felson

  • That’s great to hear Ed. Thanks for sharing that information with us, and hopefully things really take off for the district.