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.

3C Rail not dead yet according to All Aboard Ohio leaders

Throughout his campaign for governor, Governor-Elect John Kasich (R) repeatedly stated that he had no intention of ever moving forward with the 3C Rail project, a train that would have connected Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton. So with Secretary LaHood’s announcement on Thursday that the $400 million for the 3C rail project was being taken away, he made Kasich’s campaign promise of “the train is dead” a reality, right?

Well, All Aboard Ohio, an advocacy group for inter-city travel in Ohio, is saying otherwise. In fact, in a press release they stated that the Dept. of Transportation is moving prematurely in redirecting the funds.

“Until grant agreements with the new state recipients have been signed, we don’t consider this a done deal,” said All Aboard Ohio President Bill Hutchison, noting that it often takes months to finalize such agreements.

With just under a month left in the term of Governor Ted Strickland (D), the nonprofit believes there is still time to act.

“We are calling for an open, honest dialogue between Governor Strickland, Governor-Elect Kasich and potential 3C partners to consider an alternative that could be instituted within the same time frame ODOT was expected to move forward with 3C,” said Hutchison.

Ironically, Thursday’s announcement came only hours after a plan to pursue the 3C project without state involvement was released. Created by All Aboard Ohio and others, the plan calls for the creation of a Joint Powers Authority (JPA). If created, the JPA would consist of local governments and transit authorities which could then grant a franchise to a private group who would operate the rail service. The group would finance the project through, among other things, revenue generated by station leases, food service, and advertising.

“With looming threats of unprecedented global oil shortages by 2015, the Baby Boom generation starting to turn 65 years old in 2011 and young Ohioans leaving for states that don’t force them to drive everywhere, now is not the time for Ohio leaders to let this money slip away,” Hutchison concluded.

Price Hill leaders to use citizen-directed budgeting process in new $40k challenge

Price Hill Will is taking community engagement to the next level. The neighborhood non-profit recently unveiled the $40K Challenge, an exciting and innovative new project designed to engage citizens in the neighborhood planning process.

As part of the challenge, $40,000 will be invested in East and West Price Hill, with the goal of empowering citizens to help create worthwhile community projects that make a broad impact on the neighborhood.

While Price Hill Will has utilized public participation in the past, this new project is trying something fairly new – a process called citizen-directed budgeting. This budgeting process calls for citizens to create the criteria for project proposals and ultimately decide where investments should be made.

“This type of public engagement is becoming increasingly important with the budget challenges everyone is facing,” explained Diana Vakharia, Director of Operations at Price Hill Will. “Citizens have to be involved in the weighing of the costs and benefits…when they’re in the room that’s when priorities emerge, and more importantly, that’s when we find creative solutions.”

Over the last month, a committee of Stewards, representing various groups in the neighborhood, has been meeting to ensure that the process reaches a large group of people and makes the greatest possible impact.

The $40K Challenge will be launched with a kickoff event open to the public from 9am to 11:30am Saturday, December 11, at Elder High School’s Schaeper Center (map). Taking part in the process will be Price Hill residents, community leaders, Price Hill Will, and an independent facilitator.

The meeting will take the themes created by the Stewards and allow the community to work together to refine these themes, possibly add to them, and make funding proposals that will be voted on by the entire community.

“We will measure success by how many residents not previously involved become engaged in community building,” added Vakharia. “We’re hoping this process reveals Price Hill’s goals for the community, while increasing the number of people working to achieve those goals.”

Jimmy Heath House to start welcoming new residents to Over-the-Rhine today

These days, development news in Over-the-Rhine is seemingly ubiquitous. The historic neighborhood is growing at a rapid rate and with new businesses constantly opening; new residents are flowing in. However, starting today another group will be calling the neighborhood home.

On Friday, Over-the-Rhine Community Housing (OTRCH) hosted a ribbon cutting for the Jimmy Heath House (map). The new permanent supportive housing development transformed 14,300 square feet of space in six historic buildings. The housing development includes 25 apartments for the chronically homeless, offices for case managers, as well as public meeting spaces to accommodate the social service needs of its residents.

OTRCH officials say that the development, named after homeless advocate and former Streetvibes editor Jimmy Heath, is based on the housing first principle; a concept that clinical and social stabilization is more affective when homelessness is eliminated.

Housing First is a nationally recognized evidence-based best practice. Many cities and counties around the country already have Housing First programs in place or plans to initiate one,” Mary Burke Rivers, OTRCH Director, said in a press release. “The positive outcomes from the model are astonishing, and we are proud of our partners who have joined us in this progress.”

The benefits, of these new housing developments, extend beyond their social benefits. Studies show that significant economic gains can be had as well by reducing the cost often associated with homeless individuals. On average, studies indicate that it costs between $35,000 and $150,000 annually to support a homeless individual, while housing communities such as the Jimmy Heath House lower that average to just over $16,000 annually.

“People who are chronically homeless make up 34 percent of the homeless population and spend years cycling between the streets, shelters, jail cells, and emergency rooms,” Rivers said.

Residents of the complex are scheduled to start moving in as early as today.

“We’re looking forward to the possibilities for our residents: being able to connect with family members for the first time in years, going to a clinic instead of the emergency room, not drinking just to numb the bitter cold,” said Andy Hutzel, director of housing services for OTRCH. “We have one tenant, Paul, who will be able to get off of crutches after nine years because he can finally rehabilitate an injury following his fall from a roof – an impossibility while he was living under the 6th Street viaduct.”

New state-of-the-art UV water treatment facility to be powered by the sun

The City of Cincinnati and Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) broke ground earlier this month on a $30 million state-of-the-art Ultraviolet (UV) Disinfection Treatment Facility. The 19,600 square-foot facility, which is being built at the Richard Miller Treatment Plant on Kellogg Avenue, will make GCWW the largest water utility in North America to use UV disinfection following sand filtration and Granular Activated Carbon absorption.

UV disinfection does not use chemicals or produce significant levels of regulated disinfection by-products. Sand filtration removes larger particles from source water while GAC removes organic substances such as pharmaceuticals.

“We have spent the past 10 years conducting research with national and international groups to determine the best method to protect our customers from microorganisms that are resistant to chlorine disinfection,” said David Rager, GCWW director. “UV disinfection uses UV light, in low doses, to inactivate disease-causing organisms often found in water effluents that can end up in our source water.”

Officials say that in an effort to reduce GCWW’s carbon footprint, the new facility will include 160 solar panels. When paired with a second solar installation on an existing GCWW facility, significant environmental impacts are expected to be achieved annually:

  • 28,100 gallons of gasoline emissions offset– equivalent to offsetting emissions of 48 cars
  • 346,000 Kwh of energy – enough to power 33 homes
  • $151,000 in electricity costs

The UV disinfection treatment project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2012. GCWW did receive rebates of approximately $150,000 from the State of Ohio for solar energy initiatives.

“Cincinnati has some of the best drinking water in the country and we are going to make it better,” Mayor Mark Mallory said. “This state-of-the-art new treatment facility illustrates the City’s commitment to continuous improvement. Our goal is to be on the cutting edge providing the cleanest, safest, tastiest drinking water in the country.”