UC Explains Concept Behind $16 Million Renovation of Historic Sears Building

The $16 million transformation of a 1929 department store into a research and innovation center for the University of Cincinnati is well underway in Avondale.

“The building is designed for space for work between outside companies and the university. There will likely be offices, labs, and open work areas. The interior has opportunities for collaborative areas, and open areas with flexible work space layout,” said University Architect Mary Beth McGrew.

UrbanCincy reported in January 2014 that UC intended to demolish the building, which is located at 2900 Reading Road and was originally built as a Sears, Roebuck and Co. department store. However, the university later decided to preserve the structure, seeing the potential for this renovation to spur new development in the surrounding area.

“It is to be hoped the renovation of the building owned by the university will entice others to develop in the nearby lots. This building might indeed be a catalyst,” added McGrew.

Technically a renovation project, it hardly meets the definition of being one that focuses on historic preservation. In fact, many UrbanCincy readers who have seen the renovation in progress have been curious about the extent to which the original building would be preserved.

While the core of the original 1929 structure is being saved, the 1945 addition has already been demolished. Additionally, much of the brick exterior of the original 1929 building has also been removed. The prominent brick tower on the structure, while being saved, is also being obscured by the addition of a fourth floor.

McGrew explained to UrbanCincy that brick on the tower will be preserved and replaced, where the brick had been damaged, by recovered brick from elsewhere on the structure. Aside from the tower and some accent areas, the rest of the structure will be clad in modern glass treatment.

“The brick was supported in large part by steel angles that were in very bad shape,” McGrew said. “The new façade material will be a brick of similar color and size.”

Cincy Stories Returning to MOTR Pub on April 5

The bimonthly storytelling event Cincy Stories will be returning tomorrow evening to MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. The series focuses on well-known public and community figures telling personal stories from their lives.

“Stories allow for walls to come down and empathy and understanding to be built in their place,” write the event organizers.

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The April 5th edition of Cincy Stories will feature:

  • Caitlin Behle, a community connector and UrbanCincy contributor
  • Tamaya Dennard, Political Director for P.G. Sittenfeld
  • John Mabery, a local writer and teacher
  • Justin Carabello, Founder of Carabello Coffee
  • Anton Canady, Founder of P.U.S.H.
  • T. Renae Banks, Director of Future Leaders of O.T.R.
  • Live music from Jon Delvaux

The event begins at 7 p.m. tomorrow.

You can hear several of the speakers from past Cincy Stories events on The UrbanCincy Podcast.

PHOTOS: 16 Panorama Showing Over-the-Rhine’s Evolution

As the winter comes to an end, work has begun or will soon begin on a number of new developments around Over-the-Rhine. Today, we’re sharing 16 panoramas, taken over the past month, that show how the neighborhood is evolving. You can click on each of the images to view them full-screen and read the full description about each project.

Editor’s note: These photos were taken by Travis Estell for UrbanCincy between February 11 and March 8, 2016.

Episode #62: Urban Parking Challenges

The parking garage that will support Phase 3 of The Banks is now under construction.

On the 62nd episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, TravisRandy, and John discuss some of the challenges related to parking that developers face when building in the urban core.

We discuss how parking requirements have impacted a variety of recent proposals including the Strietmann Biscuit Company building, Fifteenth & Vine, and LibertyElm, and we look back at suggestions UrbanCincy made in 2012 about how to deal with parking problems in Cincinnati.

Finally, we give a few updates on a few projects moving forward in the urban core, including the Ziegler Park/Cutter Playground renovation and Eighth and Sycamore.

Photo: The parking garage that will serve as the foundation for The Banks Phase 3 is under construction. Taken on February 22, 2016 by Travis Estell.

Episode #61: Cincy Stories with Desi Marie, Bonnie Meyer, and Jay Shifman

12196030_1708188359392686_3520076145406729494_nOn the 61st episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, we are sharing three of the stories from the latest edition of Cincy Stories, which was held on November 3, 2015 at MOTR Pub.

These speakers are Desi Marie, also known as The Silent Poet; Bonnie Meyer, the Director of LGBTQ Programs & Services at Northern Kentucky University; and Jay Shifman, a community activist who works with the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation and other local organizations.

The next Cincy Stories event will be held on February 2. It will feature speakers Katie Vogel, Derrick Braziel, Corey Ward, Mac Means, Jai Washington, and Claire Suer, as well as local music from Andrew Aragon.