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.”

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 #53: Owner-Occupied OTR

On June 6, the Over-the-Rhine Foundation hosted a workshop called Owner Occupied OTR, sharing four stories of building renovations taking place in the neighborhood. A number of issues were covered, from financing to historic district regulations to LEED certification. On today’s podcast, we bring you our recording of this workshop.

The following PowerPoint presentations are available for download if you’d like to follow along with the speakers:

 

OTR Foundation Hosting Workshop for Those Interested in Rehabbing Historic Buildings

Last year over 100 people attended a series of workshops focused on rehabilitating distressed properties in Over-the-Rhine. The 3OTR Owner-Occupied Workshop series was hosted by the Over-the-Rhine Foundation, and each session featured realtors, rehabbers, architects and other experts telling their stories to people who were interested in rehabbing properties of their own.

Organizers say that the series was so impactful that its graduates even earned mention as qualified potential developers by 3CDC for city-owned properties north of Liberty Street.

“When we conducted our evaluations of the workshops last spring, participants spoke loudly that they benefited most from hearing from individuals who acquired and rehabbed properties,” said Thomas Hadley, an Over-the-Rhine Foundation board member. “This workshop offers hands-on insights into what it takes to do a project in OTR.”

Now, a year later, some of the graduates are returning to share their stories with a new crowd. The event, this time called Lessons Learned, will focus on four rehab projects that resulted from the last year’s series.

Planned discussion topics, organizers says, will include financing, structural changes, LEED projects and combining a multi-family into a single-family building. One of the sessions will even feature a project that involves rehabilitating a three-unit building with retail.

“Lessons Learned is a unique opportunity to find out how alumni from last year’s workshops used what they learned to acquire and rehab property,” Hadley explained.

The workshop will be held on Saturday, June 6 from 9am to 11am at Venue 222 on Fourteenth Street in Over-the-Rhine. Those interested in participating can register online for $10v.

The event is easily accessible via Metro’s #16, 17, 19 & 24 bus routes, which all stop at Main and Orchard Street, where there also happens to be a Cincy Red Bike station.

Fewer residents, more parking for new Clifton Heights development

Many of us were sad to see the demolition of the historic mansion that housed the Christy’s & Lenhardt’s restaurant in Clifton Heights. At the time, a new six-story, mixed-use development was envisioned for the site, which would have included 210 student apartments, street-level retail, and a 245-space parking structure. However, the Business Courier reports that the development has now been downsized by its developers, although the size of the parking structure has curiously been increased:

The developer is now looking to build a mixed-use building on the 1.65-acre site with about 190 apartment units, according to materials filed with the City Planning Commission. The building will have two levels of underground parking with 380 spaces. A row of six, three-story townhouses with separate entrances will face Lyon Street. Finally, a separated commercial space of up to 9,000 square feet will be at the corner Clifton and West McMillan streets. […]

At this point, the proposed schedule for the project includes zoning in the third and fourth quarters of 2014, permitting in the first quarter of 2015, construction starting in the second quarter of 2015, completion in July 2016 and occupancy in August 2016.