For those who live outside the city and may not have been back recently, or for those out-of-towners who have not yet been able to make a visit, it could be difficult to even recognize some places now.
The Center for Great Neighborhoods (CGN) will celebrate the completion of Covington’s first of five affordable artist live/work spaces later this month. The artist residence project Shot Gun Row is named for the project’s five shotgun-style houses being rehabbed and developed by the Covington-based nonprofit organization.
Shot Gun Row is made up of five row houses on Orchard Street in Covington’s Lee-Holman Historic District. The houses were originally part of seven homes built in the late 1800s. After World War II, shotgun homes were seen as functionally obsolete and abandoned in favor of the modern ranch home, but Kentucky historic guidelines prohibit Orchard Street’s five remaining houses from being torn down.
The Center for Great Neighborhoods, which has completed over 25 historic renovations in the city nestled along the Ohio and Licking Rivers, said they looked at the houses as a unique opportunity to re-purpose the existing houses and help revitalize Covington’s west side.
In 2012 CGN was awarded a $168,000 grant for the project from the Kresge Foundation. Construction on the first house began last summer; the other four homes will be completed by summer 2014. The total project cost is around $600,000 for all five houses. According to Sarah Allan with CGN, most of the live/work spaces available to artists are only available for rent.
“We wanted to provide something [artists] could build equity in that was either the same as or cheaper than their rent,” Allan said. “Part of it is we want to lower people’s overall overhead. If they can live and work in the same space for cheaper, then it might help them to further their art.”
Shot Gun Row’s artist selection policy broadly defines an artist as “an individual who has seriously committed themselves to professional production of their respective art form (i.e. exhibitions, performances, screenings, grants, publications, reviews, commissions, peer recognition),” and earn at least 20% of their income from art.
This flexible definition allows applicants to include tattoo artists, graphic and interior designers, chefs, musicians and set designers in addition to traditional fine artists like sculptors, painters and photographers. It also helps that Shot Gun Row’s developers are able to customize the home’s layout depending on the artist’s needs.
“We recognize that artists want to have some creative say in their living space so we want to provide that flexibility,” Allan explained.
Shot Gun Row’s model home at 323 Orchard Street is laid out so that the studio is located in the front of the house so that it is accessible to the street for art openings and meetings, and also receives northern light which is attractive to many artists. In other homes, an artist could work with the contractor to develop the floor plan as an open studio or place the kitchen in the front of the house, depending on the homeowner’s needs.
While the development will offer affordable, flexible housing for artists, CGN also wants the project to encourage artists to get involved with their community. As part of Shot Gun Row’s artist selection policy, artists are required to contribute something back to the community within a year of purchasing the home, and will work with CGN staff to determine a specific project, whether it be a public sculpture, theater camp, or something else. A sculptor, for instance, might create a piece for Shot Gun Row’s public sculpture garden.
In addition, artists are expected to participate in SpringBoard, ArtWorks’ business development program for creative entrepreneurs, unless they have run a profitable arts-related business for more than three years.
“We’re looking at this not just as a housing projection but an economic development project,” Allan told UrbanCincy.
The market price for a home on Shot Gun Row is $90,000, though Allan said that some homeowners may receive a subsidy depending on income. The City of Covington also offers down payment assistance for anyone purchasing a home in Covington.
Officials with ODSA say that the project received the tax credits because it was financed, showed a good return on investment, represents a building of significance to the neighborhood, and is ready to move forward immediately.
“The project was funded because it scored well within our criteria,” explained Stephanie Gostomski, Public Information Officer with ODSA. “Also, this is one of the newer structures that contributes to the significance of the Over-the-Rhine Historic District and will retain its warehouse and industrial character upon conclusion of the project.”
Due to the building’s relatively good condition, 3CDC officials say that they expect construction work to take several months and hope to move into what will become the development corporation’s new headquarters this summer. Once complete, 3CDC will occupy 12,000 square feet of the building’s office space, while another tenant will use the remaining 6,000 square feet of office space.
As 3CDC’s success in Over-the-Rhine has mounted, its staff has grown along with it – now with 50 full-time employees and 43 seasonal workers. But 3CDC officials say they are not the only ones placing a premium on office space in the city’s largest historic district.
“There is a lot of demand for larger floor plates with more square footage, and there are plenty of smaller office users,” explained Anastasia Mileham, Vice President of Communications at 3CDC. To that end, Mileham says that the final product will include open floor plans and will reopen the large windows on the building’s north façade.
As part of the move 3CDC will be vacating their existing office space on Race Street near Washington Park. Due to the strong demand for office space, Mileham did not express concern over filling that space and informed UrbanCincy that they are currently finalizing a lease for a new tenant.
In addition to the 18,000 square feet of office space, the prominent warehouse building will also include 9,000 square feet of street-level retail space
The building is one of the largest single structures in Over-the-Rhine south of Liberty Street and was originally a warehouse for Pabst Bedding. The structure then had been used by Society National Bank and later Fifth Third Bank before it was abandoned in the early 2000s.
According to Hamilton County property records, the Art Academy of Cincinnati then purchased the building in 2007 for $450,000 when it relocated its school to Over-the-Rhine, but never utilized the space. The 84-year-old structure was finally sold to 3CDC in September 2013 for $550,000.
The renovation of the Pabst Bedding Warehouse building joins an increasing amount of historic building renovation work along Walnut Street including a frenzy of work for Mercer Commons just to the north, and the renovation of a storefront diagonally across the street to make way for a new beer café called HalfCut.
“The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit strengthens local communities by restoring a piece of its history,” David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency, stated in a prepared release. “These projects help enrich cities across Ohio, preserving the character and charm of buildings that may have otherwise been demolished.”
Northern Kentucky leaders certainly cannot be faulted for their lack of big plans, but their implementation has been suspect over the past decade. A multi-billion plan in Newport, for example, called Ovation sits as an overgrown lot on the city’s riverfront. Meanwhile, in Dayton, KY, officials there have been working for years to try to make Manhattan Harbour a reality. The 73-acre riverfront development would include high-rises, condos, shopping, a marina and more, but will it ever happen? More from the Cincinnati Enquirer:
DCI’s project with the city has been scaled down from a $1 billion investment to a $300 million to $500 million development. The newest version will have 45 upscale single-family building lots under the name the Commons, a combination multifamily, high-rise condominiums and single-family homes with a mix of commercial development in an area called the Lookout, and luxury multifamily apartments in an area called the Vistas.
Manhattan Harbour’s mixed-use development has been in the works since 2005, when DCI signed the development agreement with the city, which owns the land. In 2008 and 2009, nearly a half-billion dollars in state and local tax incentives were approved for the project. A $10 million sewer line was laid in 2010 to prepare for development. A 20-year tax increment financing district was created for the site.
Last month the American Planning Association (APA) held its annual conference for planning professionals. The 2013 conference was held in Chicago and organizers made efforts to showcase planning efforts of The Second City.
The educational sessions at the conference are made up of presentations by planning officials across the country. A few of the sessions were hosted by Cincinnati Planning officials who highlighted some of Cincinnati’s recent planning successes.
Cincinnati and Hamilton County received a national award from the APA for the implementation of the Central Riverfront Master Plan and The Banks. Photograph by Randy Simes for UrbanCincy.
The plan was approved by the city in October 2012 and is the first long-term comprehensive planning vision of the city since 1980. The seminar also highlighted Cincinnati’s rich planning heritage as the city carries the noteworthy distinction of drafting the first ever city-wide comprehensive plan in the 1925 Master Plan. That plan, along with the 1907 Kessler Parks Plan, envisioned a walkable cityscape with an extensive parks system.
However, after World War II, the city drafted the 1948 Comprehensive Plan which proposed several highways and urban renewal projects. The 1948 plan was successfully implemented but instead of the promised revitalization of the city, the highway system and slum clearance policies supported by the plan drove the city’s population to the suburbs.
“The highway was unfortunately a successful implementation,” explained Gregory Dale from McBride Dale Clarion Associates, “Sixty years later we’re still trying to repair the damage.”
Presenters also highlighted how the Cincinnati’s Planning Department overcame the problems of being dissolved in 2002 and reconstituted in 2007.
“In some ways I think maybe if we had not been eliminated as a departments, maybe there would not be that strength today, maybe it wouldn’t have woken people up to see the importance of planning,” recalled Cincinnati Senior Planner Katherine Keough-Jurs.
She went on to say that she noticed the involvement and passion of participants in the new comprehensive plan was a positive sign that citizens were concerned about the future direction of the city. The citizen participation in the new plan highlighted residents desire for creating and reinvigorating walkable neighborhoods and commercial centers.
“The plan is unapologetically urban,” Keough-Jurs told session attendees,”In many ways our new comprehensive plan returns to the vision of the 1925 plan.”
At the conference the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County received an Excellence in Planning award from the APA for the implementation of the Central Riverfront Master Plan. That plan, which was first developed in the late 1990’s when the stadiums and Fort Washington Way were proposed for reconstruction envisioned a new mixed-use riverfront neighborhood called The Banks.
In 2011 the first phase of the mixed-use neighborhood opened to the public and the second phase is slated to begin construction this year.
The planning department’s most recent project, the adoption of the final draft of the form-based code is on City Council’s Livable Communities Committee Agenda today for their 1pm meeting.
The code was approved by the city’s Planning Commission on March 7. Once the code wins approval from the committee it will go on to the full council for a vote. The city’s planning department is looking to meet with the four demonstration neighborhoods – Walnut Hills, Westwood, Madisonville, College Hill – in the coming months to move forward with changes in the zoning map to implement the form-based code.