Celebrating a year of progress in Cincinnati’s urban core

2010 has been a monumental year of sorts for Cincinnati’s urban core.  New residents and businesses have been added, major construction projects have moved forward, and new major investments have been laid out and are on the horizon.  While UrbanCincy has been able to cover many of these items throughout the year, but some have also gone uncovered.

With one year ending and a new year about to begin it seems only natural to reflect on where things have been, and discuss where they might be headed.  So while the UrbanCincy team is proud of the work we have been able to produce, we know we could and should be doing much more.  If you have any thoughts, recommendations, or services you would like to offer that might make UrbanCincy better please let us know in the comment section or by emailing UrbanCincy@gmail.com.

As the driving force behind UrbanCincy since its inception I can make the following promise to you.  UrbanCincy will continue to change the conversation about Cincinnati’s urban core.  This will more than likely include some changes beyond the typical evolutions of the site.  Please be patient as these changes happen, and please keep supporting Cincinnati’s great urban core.

Enjoy this holiday video put together by the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC).  Happy New Year!  You will next hear from us in 2011.

Beer is brewing in historic Over-the-Rhine once again

Beer is being brewed in historic Over-the-Rhine once again.  Christian Moerlein Brewing Company has returned its brewing operations to the neighborhood where it got its start.  It has been almost 100 years since Christian Moerlein ceased brewing operations in 1918, but the resurgence of the beer brand, neighborhood, and interest in craft beers Christian Moerlein owner Greg Hardman has put his focus squarely on the beer and its long-time neighborhood.

The first beer being produced at the Over-the-Rhine brewery is the Arnold’s 1861 Porter in honor of the 150th anniversary of Cincinnati’s oldest tavern.  Hardman is using a one-barrel pilot brewing system and says that the beer can be produced over the course of 12 days.  The first people to see the brewery in action included Arnold’s Bar & Grill owner Ronda Androski and others associated with Christian Moerlein.

Once fully operational in spring 2011, the new brewery will be able to produce 10,000 to 15,000 barrels of beer annually.  The new 1861 Porter will only be available at Arnold’s (map), and will reportedly first be served at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve (make your plans now).  Those at Arnold’s on New Year’s Eve will be able to enjoy 12-ounce drafts of the new porter for just $1.50 in honor of the tavern’s 150th anniversary celebration.

Our friends at Arnold’s and Christian Moerlein were kind enough to provide UrbanCincy with the exclusive first photos taken inside the new brewery.  The photos capture Greg Hardman, Ronda Androski and others checking out the setup of the brewery located in the Northern Liberties section of Over-the-Rhine.  Cheers.

Coats & Cocktails to benefit Northside families

Tonight at the Northside Tavern, an event called Coats & Cocktails will celebrate the holiday spirit by raising funds for local needy families.  Attendees will enjoy local holiday food, drinks, and live music.

To attend the event, guests are asked to donate $5.  Instead of a cash donation, the group will also accept new and lightly used coats, scarves, hats, and gloves. All donations are tax-deductible and will go directly to families in need through Churches Active in Northside (CAIN).

CAIN is a collection of 11 churches in the neighborhood of Northside. The organization is a 501(c)3 non-profit entity that grew out of a food pantry begun by a passionate Northsider, Jewel Davis Smith. Her work would eventually lead to the formation of CAIN, which today helps to provide food and other assistance to those with a 45223 zip code.

Redeveloped warehouse to include largest solar photovoltaic project in the Midwest

Cincinnati-based Neyer Properties is working on $4 million worth of improvement to a large structure along I-75 in Sharonville. The 1.1 million square-foot building will soon become a “major distribution hub” for Hamilton County while also becoming the largest solar photovoltaic project in the Midwest.

While officials expect the redevelopment of Gateway 75 to increase tax revenues and spark additional investments in downtown Sharonville, the development’s focus on sustainable building practices is what has caught the eye of many in the industry.

“Energy savings at Gateway will average 40 to 60 percent annually compared to power generated by fossil fuels,” said Dan Neyer, president of Neyer Properties. “This is a great opportunity for companies that want to lease space at a building that not only saves energy and the planet, but saves on utilities, too.”

In addition to the seven-megawatt solar plant on the roof of Gateway 75, developers hope to make the structure the first LEED-certified industrial building in Ohio and one of only 51 in the nation.

Once installed in 2011, the rooftop solar plant will be leased to a third-party, through a Power Purchase Agreement, that will operate the utility and then sell back the power to Neyer. Developers say that the solar energy generated at Gateway 75 is the equivalent of offsetting roughly 10 million pounds of carbon per year.

Sharonville officials also state that the successful completion of Gateway 75 will result in a major economic gain for the city, and as a result, have contributed $1.8 million in tax increment financing (TIF) to the project. A fully occupied structure, analysts say, will lower bulk warehouse vacancy rate in the Sharonville area from 30 percent to 6 percent.

Developers are finalizing improvements to the building now, and will complete the project as tenants are secured for the refurbished warehouse space.

Home ReStart partnering with Neyer Properties to renovate, sell historic Cincinnati homes

Since the inception of Neyer Properties in 1995, the company has developed hundreds of projects totaling over $1 billion in both construction and development in the Cincinnati region.  While the company has typically focused on commercial development, they have begun investing in a new real-estate company called Home Restart. The relatively new endeavor specializes in buying distressed homes, making renovations, and re-selling the properties.

Over the past year, the company has purchased, renovated, and prepared seven houses for re-sale. In that time, they have intentionally focused their efforts in more desirable urban neighborhoods like Hyde Park, Oakley, Edgewood and Fort Thomas.  According to the company’s leadership, this was done to help make the projects successful in an otherwise difficult market.

“The housing market has taken a hit throughout the Greater Cincinnati area, but neighborhoods such as Hyde Park and Fort Thomas always have a relatively active market,” explained Anne Pond, Vice President of ReStart. “By focusing on these areas, we can decrease the number of days that our houses sit on the market.”

According to Pond, the large stock of historic homes in these neighborhoods is another key selling point, as they have a charm that cannot be replicated in new construction.

“Over the years, many older homes have fallen into disrepair and have been converted into two-family homes,” Pond continued. “We work very hard to maintain the charm and character of historic homes, while bringing them up-to-date for modern living.”

Pond says that ReStart typically purchases homes from anywhere between $50,000 and $200,000.  After the initial purchase, ReStart then renovates and sells the properties for prices ranging between $130,000 and $350,000. Following this work, ReStart then turns to Neyer Properties for its expertise in purchase approval, renovations, and finance management.

Of the seven homes purchased and renovated through the program thus far, five have been sold and another is currently under contract.