Historic Schiel School to make way for $20M development in Corryville

Demolition work has begun on the 100-year-old Schiel School in Corryville. The school has long served as a landmark for the Short Vine business district, but was closed by Cincinnati Public Schools in 2010.

To preservationists the demolition of the school marks yet another dramatic loss to the historic fabric of Uptown, but to many urbanists the $20 million development to take its place marks a turning point for the long-troubled business district on the east side of the University of Cincinnati’s main campus.

“Greater residential density will support the existing and incoming merchants and add the kind of vitality that helps to enrich and secure a neighborhood,” says Kathleen Norris who is the vice president of Brandt Retail Group’s Urban Focus division. “Housing of this quality is likely to attract not only undergraduates but also grad students and even area professionals from the educational and medical communities.”

The historic Schiel School is prepared for demolition in Corryville.

Project officials say that the five-story, mixed-use development will include 102 apartments geared towards students, and several street-level retail spaces. Fifth Third Bank has already signed on as one of the retail tenants, and will serve as the retail anchor for the project.

The development is part of a larger wave of multi-story residential development sweeping through historic uptown neighborhoods like Clifton Heights, Corryville, Clifton, University Heights, Avondale and Mt. Auburn. The developer of this project, Uptown Rentals, now has three developments within the immediate vicinity of Short Vine that are bringing hundreds of new housing units to Corryville.

A new $20M mixed-use development will rise where one of Short Vine’s most prominent historic structures once stood.

Visitors to the area will also notice other residential developments nearby including one such project sits almost immediately across the street from the Schiel School site on Short Vine. There, older structures have already been cleared, and the new development is now rising from the ground.

Community leaders in Corryville do expect the redevelopment of the Schiel School site (map) to transform the Short Vine business district, and it also seems certain that the addition of hundreds of new residents to the neighborhood will change the area’s demographics and urban form.

“Business at Dive Bar is great and has been steadily growing,” said Joe Pedro, owner of the recently opened establishment. “We see the new residential units being constructed in the neighborhood as an excellent driver for the business district, and ultimately we are excited to see new tenants coming to the street and feel it will positively impact all of the businesses in the area.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect rendering for the $20 million redevelopment of the historic Schiel School site in Corryville.

  • This loss is a true travesty. Preservation and urbanism can go hand in hand. All one has to do is get a bit creative, a trait seemingly hard to come by in Uptown judging by the latest wave of projects there. The school as is could support housing and a variety of mixed uses. Instead the area is getting another stucco nightmare clouded in quality urbanism because there are balconies and a mix of uses. It’s unfortunate we have decided quality is a thing of the past for Uptown.

    And word to the wise – if the developer can’t pay for better renderings than the SketchUp model you see above, don’t expect a quality building either.

  • Joe

    Randy the rendering you posted is not of the Schiel School project but another of the several projects in the works on Short Vine. See the below article for the actual rendering, which in my opinion looks quite good considering the quality (or lack of it in other recent uptown projects).


  • As a commercial real estate agent for the area I am certainly happy to see any new development that will help speed up the resurgence of Corryville. But as a CUF resident I am concerned that the local history and character are being thrown out in favor of short-term solutions to UC’s housing problem.

  • Matthew Hall

    I thought the rendering shown here is supposed to be the one that has already started construction on the other side of vine past the library toward MLK. Is that right?

  • Demolition began yesterday:

  • Schmiez

    How is the solution Short-term?

  • It’s not necessarily short-term. My fear is just that long-time residents are being pushed out as the neighborhood grows to accommodate new UC students. And I guess my big question is… will UC keep growing at the rate it’s been growing?

    Say UC’s growth stagnates and apartment vacancies grow. Then what?

    And if the local developers are looking at cash flows in a standard 5-10 year time frame, instead of considering the long-term vision, can we really be guaranteed these buildings won’t be deemed outdated come, say, 2025 or 2030?

    Again, as an agent I’m hoping for the best. I’ll be doing my part to help the short-term AND long-term success of the area. I’m just a little afraid the long-term plans are being neglected for short-term cash flows. And if the history and character, as well as long-time residents, are gone, who’s going to be around to save the neighborhood if it falls under again in another 15 or so years?

    Just pondering here.

  • Aaron Watkins

    I have mixed feelings about this project, especially since Schiel School is a Hannaford and Sons design. I hate to see the city losing historic architecture, however the rendering linked to in the comments (I’ve seen this one associated with the project before) looks like it will make much better use of the space in a commercial and residential sense.

  • Aaron Watkins

    Hopefully having more people in the neighborhood will help to reduce crime and raise the perceived value of the area, attracting non students as well.

  • Matthew Hall

    what is perceived value? is it different from actual value? does it mean trendiness?

  • Matthew Hall

    Don’t assume this is all students. I know hospital and university staff and several people who work downtown who are looking to live in clifton/ corryville.

  • Fair points, Aaron and Matthew. Hopefully the boost in development represents a long-term cultural shift toward apartment living (much like is being seen in downtown and OTR), and not a short-term desire to house UC students.

    And while the demolition of historic homes, schools, etc. is a little disheartening, it certainly makes sense from a supply-and-demand standpoint.

  • Aaron Watkins

    Sorry Matthew, maybe I meant actual value, I wrote that comment hastily from my phone.

  • Aaron Watkins

    Also, I would say trendy is a matter of opinion, I just like to see neighborhoods that thrive with people and businesses, and I don’t think this project will hurt, but more likely help in bringing more people and more business to the area. I also hope that it will help in making it a safer place to live. I don’t know how safe of an area it is first hand, though I have spent some time there, but I live in CUF so I’ve heard that it is a bit “sketchy”.

  • Neil Clingerman

    Its very sad what’s happening in Coryville and more broadly across uptown, but I’ll have to admit 2 things about this project:

    1) Asbestos abatement would make reusing the school very expensive, and architecturally the school isn’t the greatest thing there other than the very cool “castle facade” which I wished could have been saved.

    2) The renderings (revised) look quite a bit nicer than the usual infill in the uptown area.

    I wish Cincinnati in general would step up its game in regards to infill, particularly considering its architectural heritage. There were discussions on urbanohio about how there was a very tasteful postmodern additions to old buildings in Columbus, but Cincinnati which IMO has way more interesting old architecture, keeps getting vinyl monstrosity after vinyl monstrosity or building that are out of scale, not urban enough and pay little respect to the top-tier Victorian architecture that Cincinnati has.

    Infill on High Street Columbus (a Hotel):


    Infill in Coryville Cincinnati (a hotel) :


    I remember when that hotel was an small elegant old church, and weren’t there some very nice apartments (like the one behind the hotel) that were torn down to put it in?

  • I also wish the quality of infill was higher, but unfortunately that is something that is very difficult to legislate. The city can have an authoritative say on massing and general site layouts, but it is not as legally defensible to dictate architectural styles and material usage.

  • Neil Clingerman

    Legislation is difficult and not the answer.

    I think the answer is a cultural shift, Cincinnati needs to really learn to understand where it fits on a national scale in terms of old architecture. Its a tier below cities like Boston and San Francisco, yet Cincinnatians seem to be more apt to aspire to be like Indianapolis instead of those two cities. If people demand good architecture because of a pride in the city’s heritage and a willingness to plunge forward with something different for the region. I think when these are met then good architecture will get built. I think that demand is already there in Columbus which in spite of it having less urban parts of town seems to be embracing the last 15-20 years of urban revival from bigger cities (like Chicago and New York) quicker than Cincy is which in turn is leading to more money and more better infill (not all) flowing into the urban core. Because this urban drive is a relatively new thing Cincinnati has been slower to embrace it, though I see good things coming ahead hopefully…

  • J

    I like the look of the infill with the tower. I’d rather see it built over a vacant lot tho, rather than tear something historic down. I think it looks better than th infill planned for University Commons / U Square.

  • Schmiez

    We should at least recognize that the Cbus example is located in the Short-North: the hottest area of urban Columbus at this hour.

    While the UC Hampton is “a campus hotel”. If they built the UC Hampton in OTR or the Banks you’d have a fair bone to pick.

    This is a better comparison for the CBus example:


    and this is a better comparison for the UC Hampton:


  • Nathaniel
  • lisa

    It’s not al bad to have UC housing in the area. maybe not for this historical building, but in general today’s students are tomorrow’s potential suburbanites, or city dwellers if we do a good job of keeping them here.

  • @ Neil, that area of Columbus is really nice. I wandered around a bit while attending an undertaker convention awhile ago. The mixing up of old & new is something I would like to see more often.

  • Matthew Hall

    Aaron, I think that there is some real potential for increased property values in corryville based on the rebirth of a property market in otr in the last five years based on the interest of non UC related renters and some buyers.

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    Many of the old rentals in Corryville are in bad shape because the landlords have been hoping for a developer to come along for the past 20 years. The problem with building higher density stuff closer to campus is that fewer students will be living on the shadier streets east of Eden Ave., making them even shadier. An increase in housing on Calhoun presents the same problem — the McMicken St. stuff might creep up Ravine to Warner St.

  • Joe

    There seems to be a lot of new commercial space currently under constrction or in the works. Can the uptown area support this much or will Ludlow and some of the older commercial districts that once catered to students shift to the new developments right around campus? When this new retail space opens the older space should be aggressively marketed to office tenants.

  • @Joe:

    I think the general feeling in the area is that there are too few restaurants and other retail shops around, not too many. With all the ones closing recently we’re actually a little lacking. And with how aggressive the developers have been pre-leasing spaces, I think they’ll have no problem filling them. Ludlow, meanwhile, has the support of the Clifton residents and will be fine.

    The office market is dominated by medical suites that need very particular build-outs. I don’t foresee excess retail being converted to office space any time soon.

  • Mark

    I think Neil hit the nail on the head. Cincinnati needs to be more creative in order to maintain historic architecture. I recently had to move to Chicago for work and in my time living here I have noticed many examples of new additions to old structures. The contrast can make for some very interesting architecture, and it allows the city to maintain its historic, ornate character while making way for dense infill. It’s a crime that developers on this project were so reckless with their design and have robbed Cincinnati of another historic structure to make way for yet other insignificant project. It’s truly despicable because these developers are robbing Cincinnati and its residents are true historic and cultural assets and degrading the cultural vitality of the neighborhood in order to make their jobs seemless by recycling design.

  • Aaron Watkins

    I feel that we’re getting a bit too up in arm over this. I know I’m probably going against the popular opinion here, but I feel that replacing the Schiel School is definitely an improvement for the neighborhood. In my opinion, the Schiel School lacks the architectural character to deem it a significant part of the neighborhood, and as far as I know, hasn’t been the location of any significant historic event. I also feel that the new design is BETTER, on both an architectural standpoint, and for the neighborhood in general. As for the design, it will fill in a space that is currently a large paved lot that serves as the school playground/parking lot, and turn it into valuable new storefronts. I also really respect the architects attempts to keep with the style of Vine street by varying materials and heights with different parts of the same building, using subtle changes in style to create the illusion of many separate buildings within one. Also I love the trees, rotunda and tower on each corner, and the porches.

    I think it is easy to forget the state of the times we are in when we’re looking at these projects so close to their final evolutions. We’re in a recession, and this project definitely had a budget. We could look at it subjectively, and imagine what we would personally do with the Schiel school, and it’s easy to picture a perfect solution, but frankly none of us really know the details involved. In this instance, I think it is an improvement, and not a bad design.

    I will say though, that the passion for historic preservation that I see here is inspiring and exciting, and I agree wholeheartedly that Cincinnati needs to put as much effort as possible into preserving our historic building stock. I have a serious problem with the new development on Eden, and buildings like the apartment recently built on Jefferson, those on Ohio (especially because they are gated) and UPA. But with this project in particular, I think we can all see that there is one hell of a bright silver lining.

  • Matthew Hall

    Chicago has huge swaths on it’s south side that are almost abandoned and its lost 200,000 people in the last decade. This has to be balanced against the historic preservation of a select number of buildings on the north side.

  • I have mixed feelings about such development. On one hand we need the new building, jobs it will bring and structures that are up to code…on the other hand its sad to see such a historical landmark go. I suppose when push comes to shove I would have to side with the former but is it is a hard conclusion to come to.

  • Emily Schneider

    I’m a little bit sad to see this building killed. But overall I think this is for the best. The new development looks pretty damned good.

  • Neil Clingerman

    @Matthew – Much of the 19th century historic stuff on the south side was urban renewed/cleared for housing projects. Looking at Census maps most of the 200,000 people lost were in those projects, there really aren’t the kinds of historic preservation issues in Chicago related to population lost, most 19th century neighborhoods in Chicago are either stable working class (Bridgeport), immigrant working class with prospects of becoming trendy very soon (Pilsen), or trendy and expensive to various degrees (all the rest of them). Most areas in Chicago where there are massive abandonment are newer, and while its sad there is a lot of destruction its not as bad proportional to the city as a whole. Long term prospects for Chicago now that the projects are torn down IMO are good so long as the city works on improving transit connections to undeserved areas through things like bus rapid transit. Not to say there weren’t abuses like University Village, but even then the infill is much higher quality than anything you’d find in Cincinnati :P.

    @Quimbob – That area in Columbus is very nice. The most impressive part is the caps over I-670 which basically connect downtown to Short North by including urban retail/restaurants over the bridge. The only bad part of that area left is the Nationwide Center with its Stalinist-like monolithic modernism which doesn’t engage at all with the surroundings, if they can find a solution to that, High Street (which IMO is one of the most active/lively streets in the Midwest outside of Chicago) will be vibrant from downtown (or even the German Village) all the way up past the University to Clintonville.