Business Development News

Project manager delivers construction update on $120M Cincinnati Riverfront Park

As the new $120 million Cincinnati Riverfront Park (CRP) is being built, the Cincinnati Park Board has been producing regular video updates highlighting the progress and taking us inside the development of the park. Each update when viewed together really tells the story, from start to finish, of one of the region’s most significant developments currently underway.

In this Spring 2011 update, project manager Dave Prather walks us through the ongoing construction site that will soon become the front door to the city. The video provides updates on the Jacob G. Schmidlapp Stage & Event Lawn, scheduled for a May 2011 opening, as well as the Walnut Street Steps & Fountain and the which are both slated to open in fall 2011. Prather also takes some time to address ongoing budget concerns for the new park.

“The capital budget is still not affected on the contracts underway and the phases of the project under construction,” Prather stated. He also says that the park board expects many of the Phase I features to still be open during the 2011 or 2012 seasons pending operational budgets.

On Thursday, May 26 the Women’s Committee for Cincinnati Riverfront Park will hold their fifth annual “Hats Off” luncheon at the new event lawn. This will be the organization’s first event held at the new park for which they have raised thousands of dollars to make reality.

Arts & Entertainment News

Get connected with the 2011 rendition of Bockfest

In a little less than three weeks, Bockfest will take over historic Over-the-Rhine for a full weekend beginning with the annual parade on Friday, March 4. While the Bockfest weekend is a popular weekend for many locals, it is so much more than just a few days on the first weekend of March. There are many events leading up to the weekend, and a bevy of ways to get involved with the festival that make it that can make it much more engaging.

One of the highlights is the crowning of the annual Sausage Queen which occurs this year on Saturday, March 5. There are however five preliminary rounds leading up to the finals that night continuing this Friday night at Washington Platform and then every other evening until February 26 at Milton’s Prospect Hill Tavern. The full schedule and rules of engagement can be found online.

There are three other events leading up to the weekend as well. Nothin’ But Bock Teaze Happy Hour will take place at Milton’s on February 23 where folks will have their first chance to pick up the 2011 Bockfest shirt at the discounted price of $15. A drawing for the Ultimate Bockfest Weekend, including a suite at Garfield Place and $250 in vouchers, will be held at Cafe Martin on February 24. Tickets, for that event, can be purchased online ahead of the event for just $10.

And finally, on the Sunday before Bockfest the annual Precipitation Retaliation event will be held at Grammers. The event will include, among other things, the burning of a snowman in effigy for hopes of good weather at Bockfest – a tradition born after the 2008 Bockfest dealt with one of the worst blizzards in a decade.

While the events leading up to Bockfest help make it more engaging, the best way to feel connected to the event is to volunteer during Bockfest weekend itself. Speaking as someone who has volunteered during the 2009 and 2010 events (and is signed up again this year) it definitely adds to the weekend in a very positive way.

There are two main things for which you can volunteer: Bockfest Hall or The Prohibition Resistance Tours. Bockfest Hall duties include selling and pouring beer, selling merchandise, checking IDs at the door, and general help. Volunteering for the tours is a little more intensive as you also have to commit to a training session, but it is rewarding and actually quite simple. Aside from the training there is a script provided so that you can easily relay the history of the breweries and show off the lagering cellars and tunnels with ease.

I have to say that as a volunteer for the tours it really helps one gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of Cincinnati’s rich brewing heritage. All volunteer opportunities are available online. Stay connected with UrbanCincy to get our custom guide to enjoy the annual festival as it draws nearer.

Arts & Entertainment News

Vanishing Cincinnati exhibit opens at The Betts House this weekend

The Betts House, one of Cincinnati’s best kept secrets, has a new exhibit opening this weekend featuring over twenty drawings by the husband and wife team of Barbra and David Day. Vanishing Cincinnati includes drawings that depict Cincinnati’s urban landscape from the mid 1800’s to the  mid 1900’s. They feature both very familiar landmarks such as Findlay Market and the Roebling Suspension Bridge as well as landmarks that have been lost as time moved on including the Albee Theater and the Bus Depot.

The Days are design consultants that work in Pendelton, and are fourth and fifth generation Cincinnatians that have taken many projects on around the city. Some of their work around the city has included the architectural restoration of the historic Enquirer building on Vine Street, the Over-the-Rhine Gateway Monument at Liberty Street and Reading Road, and the mosaic in the market house at Findlay Market which was installed to celebrate its 150th year of operation.

In interviews, David Day has said that through the multiple generations of his family there has been a David Day shopping at Findlay Market since the end of the Civil War. Clearly he and his wife have a passion and deep understanding of Cincinnati which should come through loud and clear in their drawings.

The partnership with The Betts House is really a match made in heaven as The Betts House has deep historical connections as well. Not only is it the oldest residential building in the Cincinnati basin, it is also the oldest brick house in the state of Ohio.

Built in 1804 as a part of the Betts Family Farm (a 111 acre piece of land that makes up today’s West End neighborhood), the Betts House is currently used as a gallery hosting various art projects through the year, there were five generations of the Betts family that called the house on Clark Street home and it basically sits unchanged today, after some restoration of course. The house and the exhibits are privatley funded through grants and sponsorships with donations and memberships available for individuals as well.

Vanishing Cincinnati, made possible by a grant from ArtsWave, will open this Friday, February 11 with a reception starting at 5pm and run through April 23. The Betts House is otherwise open Tuesday through Thursday from 11am to 2pm, and on the second and fourth Saturday each month from 12pm to 5pm.  Admission for Vanishing Cincinnati is just $2.

Arts & Entertainment News

2011 Winter Blues Fest takes place this weekend at the Southgate House

This weekend, the 5th annual Cincy Winter Blues Fest takes over Newport’s historic Southgate House. With shows both Friday and Saturday evening  the winter version of the blues festival promises to be another hit after selling out last year.

Due to the demand on tickets, the Cincy Blues Society has decided to make tickets available online, and at a discounted rate, ahead of the weekend for the first time. Tickets are also available in advance at Shake It Records and at the Southgate House itself, though both of these places are cash only.

The Cincy Blues Society is dedicated to raising money to keep blues music alive. This winter festival, just like the annual outdoor event that takes place on the banks of the Ohio River each summer,  is as much a fundraiser as it is a musical showcase.

There are local and national artists that will be filling all the stages at Southgate House to benefit the Blues in the Schools program which is dedicated to keeping blues music alive for the next generation. There will also be a compilation CD available benefiting the program.  To kick off each nigh,t the Blues in the Schools band will be gracing the ballroom stage at 6pm. Music is scheduled to run each night until about 12:30am which makes for quite a fun evening. It is not often that patrons get a chance to enjoy music from each of the three stages at Southgate House, so this provides a unique opportunity.

Much like its local media sponsor, 89.7 FM WNKU which recently announced some bold acquisitions to expand their reach from Dayton to Huntington, WV, the Cincy Winter Blues Fest promises to be bigger and better than ever. Get your tickets early or you may miss out on a chance to boogie down this weekend.

Business News

Brush Factory reflects on success, prepares for future

To say the past year has been an exciting one for the Brush Factory would be an understatement. Founders Hayes Shanesy and Rosie Kovacs reopened the doors to a historic building in the West End’s Brighton district which now serves as their working studio.

The headquarters in Brighton opened in 2009, and in talking with Rosie Kovacs and Hayes Shanesy it is clear that they have a passion for maintaining the historic building, and perfecting the tradition of handmade goods such as the clothes they sell in their store in Oakley. The store opened last fall and they also have a web presence with their online store. People are also starting to pay attention as the Brush Factory earned the award for Best Tailor Made pants in the region from Cincinnati Magazine.

“The collection of Brush Factory goods are designed, prototyped, engineered and produced in house,” Kovacs stated. “This level of control yields limited quantities, but also creates a collection of objects durable enough to last a lifetime.” In addition to the clothing that Kovacs is responsible for along with recent DAAP graduate Chelsea Cutrell, Hayes Shanesy and his father work upstairs in the Brighton studio designing and building furniture.

The folks at The Brush Factory also want to share their experiences with the world, so they offer classes to help people learn to sew or perfect their practice depending on current skill level. The first class, Vorkus I (deriving from the Bauhaus studies in Germany), is a series of three sessions and features basic sewing skills, getting to know your machine, and pants alterations among other things. Vorkus II is a more advanced series which gets into the design phase based off images that participants bring along. Both require participants to bring their own machine and scissors. 

“The classes offer a unique and meaningful way for people to be introduced to The Brush Factory” said Shanesy. “We also believe that that the more interest people have in making things themselves the more they will appreciate the things around them.  Once you know how something is made whether it be a dress or table you begin to appreciate the object in a new light.”

Without a doubt, one of the best parts about doing work for UrbanCincy is finding businesses and people in Cincinnati that I might have otherwise not known about. One such case is the work being done by the folks at The Brush Factory. Part design, part manufacturing, part retail, and part school this is one of the more intriguing businesses I have come across in my time.

Brush Factory video produced by Rachel Schwarz.