Final Designs Coming Into Clarity for $23M SCPA Redevelopment

Core Redevelopment purchased the former School for Creative & Performing Arts (SCPA) in December 2012 for $1.3 million. The 107-year-old building was originally built as Woodward High School, and Core has been planning redevelop the property since their purchase.

Plans for the $23 million redevelopment have fluctuated since Core became involved. At first the concept was to develop apartments, but then the Indianapolis-based developer looked at transforming the building into a boutique hotel. The hotel concept moved so far along that Core was in final negotiations with AC Hotels in June 2013. At the time, it would have been one of the first in North America, but the deal later fell through and AC Hotels announced that they would enter the Cincinnati market at a lifestyle center in Liberty Township.

Located in Pendleton, SCPA has a rich history that dates back to the early 19th century when the original two-story Woodward High School was established there. At the time, it was heralded as the first public school west of the Alleghenies. SCPA started to take control of parts of the building in 1976, and eventually expanded into the entire structure in 1977.

“We will continue to honor William Woodward and Abigail Cutter by working with the William Woodward Museum to enhance the memorial located on the east side of the site,” stated Core.

The 4.6-acre site is bordered by Thirteenth Street to the south, Sycamore Street to the west, Fourteenth Street to the north and Broadway Street to the east. The historic school is situated on the south edge of the parcel and is currently surrounded by parking on three sides. The northern side of the block contains Cutter Playground, which in recent years has fallen into disuse and is viewed by many neighbors as an under-performing asset.

The park has served as the focal point of discussions regarding the redevelopment of the property. The developers have proposed a variety of concepts that would build varying amounts of parking on parts of the park. The most recent proposal, which is supported by many community members, includes a condensed parking footprint and a partially submerged two-level parking deck.

In addition to developing 148 new apartments and 196 parking spaces, Core plans to remove most all of the existing pavement currently in front of the building’s main entrance along Thirteenth Street. Small access lots would remain on the building’s east and west sides, and the two-level parking deck would be constructed on the rear of the existing five-story structure.

Rents for the apartments, which will run from 500 to 2,000 square feet, are expected to range from $700 to $1,500 per month.

“Maintaining as much of the open space as possible to the north of the building while enhancing the remaining open space through the use of landscaping is also one of our goals.”

The most recent revisions are currently making their way through the approval process at City Hall, but this rendition appears to have the best shot at getting approved. If all goes according to plan, Core intends to begin construction within the next two months and welcome the first residents in Spring 2016.

  • EDG

    Good news, but disappointing that this has been dragging on as long as it has. Anyone with half a brain could see that the grade on the site is perfect for a parking deck, and that the last thing we need is more surface parking on Sycamore or another taxpayer-subsidized private parking garage.

  • This area of Pendleton/OTR has a lot of potential, and the Alumni Lofts are the first step towards unlocking it.

    It doesn’t make much sense to have two parks across the street from each other, especially when one (Cutter Playground) is so underutilized. I would love to see Ziegler Park and Cutter Playground consolidated where Cutter Playground is now located, making it into a Washington Park-style destination for Pendleton and the eastern half of OTR. Then the current Ziegler Park and the giant surface parking lot next to it could be developed with a new mixed-use building. This would bring a ton of activity to Sycamore, which has very little activity right now.

    • EDG

      The numerous small surface lots south of 13th east of Sycamore is one of the few areas of Cincinnati that reminds me of downtown Detroit

    • David Thomas

      As someone who parks in those lots for work, I can tell you that this picture was clearly taken on a weekend. They’re usually 60% full during the week.

    • EDG

      I didn’t mean because they were empty or full, just that there’s very little there other than parking. You can clearly see across to south of Central

    • David Thomas

      No doubt, I’m not pro-surface lots, just wanted to point that out. Need build another parking garage with lower rates then the current one. The central company surface lots runs $85 a month while the garage is upwards $120. The little lot in front the old SPCA building was just $60.

    • Yeah, that collection of parking lots is awful.

    • I’ve never made that connection, but looking off in the distance, you could easily mistake Great American for the GM towers.

    • matimal

      Cutter Playground gets lots of use! It’s filled with people from the Mercy flophouses drinking and dealing small amounts of drugs if the weather is half decent.

    • It’s worth noting that Cutter Playground is where The UrbanCincy Kickball league was held a few years back. The point of choosing this location was to inject some positive activity into the park. Plus it was close to Neon’s, which made for an excellent post-game hangout.

    • matimal

      Good, that might discourage the low level dealing and drinking I’ve seen there, but as long as the Mercy Housing is there, it will remain an issue.

    • EDG

      The social service agencies and police are willfully ignorant of what’s going on in the park and around Main and 12th. It’s illegal to panhandle and squat in front of businesses but both ignore it just like they ignore the park.

    • matimal

      I’ve stood there and taken videos for as long as ten minutes. The dealers turn away from me to hide their faces as I very openly do so. I’ve sent the video to the police who say they know what’s going on, but then say they must prioritize their time in response to many different concerns. As the number of non-market rate apartments have declined in the area, they’ve become more discreet, but it’s still going on in broad daylight. It will take ONE nasty confrontation between dealers or a customer who feels he’s been cheated to set the area’s appeal back some distance.

    • EDG

      I see plenty of police on foot patrols in washington park and squad cars in front of Findlay playground, they must be taking the hamsterdam approach here. Police attention around town seems to be proportional to investment, so that may be a good thing about this project.

    • matimal

      What’s the “Amsterdam approach”? I’ve never seen foot patrols along Sycamore, Main or Walnut. It would simply take one cop to stop one guy with drugs and cash on put a big dent in this. The dealers I watched were very tentative, as if they almost expected to be pushed out before too long. Why won’t the police do something so easy?

    • David Thomas

      Hamsterdam is the main story arc of season 3 from the greatest show of all time, The Wire.

    • matimal

      Are you suggesting the police are not prioritizing drug dealers? If this is true in OTR and NOT in other areas that puts OTR at a disadvantage. That’s what destroyed OTR in the first place. Even if the police aren’t making dealers a priority, we have to let them know that in OTR they should be a priority, not because they are dealers, but because they’re in OTR

    • David Thomas

      Me? I was just showing a link in reference to hampsterdam that was made previously

    • matimal

      Oh. I didn’t realize you were the site reference librarian.

    • EDG

      Police prioritize areas, not activity

    • matimal

      Really? Does this explain why crime becomes concentrated in certain areas so intensely?

    • charles ross

      That’s just the picnic tables. They have good lookout to the corner of bway and 13th.

    • matimal

      If everyone knows about all of this, why aren’t they doing something about it?

    • Anton Lobenstein

      Yea, the nonstop dice game they have running at Ziegler would have more room in Cutter Park.

  • Todd McFarland

    Curious about the rent figures. Seem low given the stated square footage.

    • Bonnie J. Williams

      Sure does!

    • I guess it’s due to the location. I think many nearby rents are in the same range.

  • Matt Jacob

    I’ve been pretty impressed with Core Resources so far. This design keeps getting better and they’re actually responding to the community’s concerns.

    Still wondering what the rest of Cutter Playground will look like and if they’ll connect it to their apartments on the top of the parking deck. This is one of the few open park spaces in Pendleton/OTR and I’d love to see it programmed better.

  • Bonnie J. Williams

    In what decade was the South side of SCPA the MAIN Entrance. No one I know considers this the main entrance. Just FYI. Family of 3 generations Woodward/SCPA. Even I can afford $700. rent. Who knows!

    • EDG

      Yeah, it’d be better to get rid of the parking lot on Sycamore since that’s the main street, not 13th

  • Greg Meckstroth

    It’s great to see this building put to a great use. It isn’t so great that the historic structure will still be surrounded by car parks/structure on 3 out of 4 sides. Ideally we’d demand a more resolved design, still. They better landscape the hell out of them! Also, is there no direct path to get from the building to the green space? The site plan seems to indicate no such connection, with the garage in the way. Perhaps through the garage? I wonder how they will rectify this.

    • Honestly, I still would have preferred the AC Hotel for this building since there isn’t one nearby. But alas, I can’t complain about another 148 apartments.

    • EDG

      I’m seeing a bridge to the east of the building on the plan

  • Charlie1234

    This is great news for the area and will be a catalyst for more development. You could easily build some higher rise condos / apartments on top of a parking ramp on those surface lots. There is a lot of room to add a lot more residents / possibly hotel, etc.
    Randy: Is there a red bike station in this area? Seems like it would be a good spot to put one, a long with the Broadway Square area in Pendleton as those areas come online.

    • Nearest one is Orchard & Main, which is already one of the system’s most used stations. One could be easily added at the SCPA or Broadway Square.