Up To Speed

Will Northern Kentucky’s Manhattan Harbour ever get built?

Will Northern Kentucky’s Manhattan Harbour ever get built?.

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.

Arts & Entertainment News

PIPPIN Kicks off Carnegie’s Diverse Theater Season

The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center kicks off its 2011-2012 season with the provocative tale of young Pippin’s relentless journey through politics, war, sex, and marriage seeking his “corner of the sky.” PIPPIN’s tale of self-discovery is itself edgy and glossy; the score is bright and clever; and the Carnegie production promises all the glam its audience can handle: “young, spry, sexy dancers and performers is what this show needs,” reports Joshua Steele, The Carnegie’s Managing Director, “and we’ve got them.”

More than half of the production’s cast is comprised of the region’s top young talent from the award-winning musical theatre programs at Northern Kentucky University, The University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, and Wright State University.

Adventurous, insatiable young Pippin is played by Chris Stewart, a gifted Nebraska native who is active with the the Children’s Theater of Cincinnati, the Showboat Majestic, the Cincinnati Opera, and the Commonwealth Theatre Company.

The fresh pizzaz of the young talent is matched by the professionalism and experience of Greater Cincinnati theatre favorites including Deb Girdler, Brooke Rucidlo, and Jim Stump. Girdler, whose resume boasts 40 years of stellar performances including a record-breaking 46 parts on the Showboat Majestic and 25 critically-acclaimed turns at the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, takes on the comedic role of Pippin’s grandmother, Berthe. A show-stopping number in the first act filled with verve and energy lets Girdler truly shine. Rucidlo, regarded as one of the area’s top rising young talents, plays PIPPIN’s non-traditional ingénue, Catherine. Stump, the Artistic Director of Cincinnati’s New Edgecliff Theatre was last seen as Mr. Bumble in Carnegie’s production of Oliver! Here, he appears in the role of Pippin’s father, Charles.

PIPPIN challenges as it inspires. “It is a very self-aware show,” Steele says, “When you walk in, you are completely aware that you are watching a show. It satirizes the traditional theatrical process and all the things we expect from it.”

The show is delivered by a complex, talented production team. PIPPIN marks the second time the Carnegie has partnered with Commonwealth Theater Company, the professional production arm of Northern Kentucky University’s Department of Theater and Dance. Commonwealth contributes the peerless vision of multiple Acclaim Award Winners, Ken Jones (director) and Jamey Strawn (music director). In 2008, the pair brought the critically acclaimed Carnegie / Commonwealth collaboration of Jesus Christ Superstar, which set and still holds Carnegie theatre attendance records.

The Carnegie starts its season with the wile and sheen of PIPPIN and ups the ante with its second production. From November 4-20, 2011, Carnegie joins with CCM Drama to bring the regional premiere of In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play, about a doctor at the dawn of electricity who invents the vibrator to treat hysteria in women. “The content of it probably pushes the envelope for us at The Carnegie,” reports Steele.

The second half of the Carnegie season is much more traditional. Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I will be presented in concert with musicians from the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra from January 20-29, 2012. The season closes with Pump Boys & Dinettes running April 13-29, 2012. “We have some nice variety this season,” concludes Steele, “and PIPPIN will kick us off!”

PIPPIN will feature eight performances, all during weekends between August 19, 2011 and September 3, 2011. Tickets may be purchased through The Carnegie Box Office at 859.957.1940 (open Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5:00 pm) or
online .

PIPPIN picture provided.

Business Development News

CDFC $2 million closer to investing in Northern Kentucky’s urban neighborhoods

Thanks to an equity investment from PNC Bank, the Catalytic Development Funding Corporation (CDFC) of Northern Kentucky is $2 million closer to its $10 million capitalization goal. With the recent investment, the Catalytic Fund is up to $6.5 million.

Once the $10 million goal is met, CDFC will begin making targeted investments in catalytic development and redevelopment projects in northern Kentucky’s urban neighborhoods in order to spur additional investment and revitalization in the area. The Catalytic Fund investments will provide patient capital for projects that could not occur due to private capital market constraints.

Patient capital does not always take the same form, but generally it is more flexible and willing to accept more risk than conventional funding. The purpose is to fill in gaps in a financing package to make a project more attractive to primary lenders. Patient capital tends to be the first money into a project and typically is repaid after the primary loan payment is made each payment period. This is a similar model that 3CDC uses when deploying Cincinnati Equity Fund capital.

In addition to providing patient capital for development projects that meet the Catalytic Fund’s investment criteria, CDFC will also facilitate development by acquiring land for future projects, providing technical assistance to developers, and recruiting developers to participate in northern Kentucky’s urban renaissance.

The CDFC and the Catalytic Fund will be in very capable hands. Jeanne Schroer, the executive director of CDFC, has over 25 years of experience as a real estate professional specializing in project financing.

The CDFC and the Catalytic Fund were created in 2008 based on a recommendation by the Urban Renaissance Action Team of northern Kentucky’s Vision 2015 planning initiative. Since the fund’s inception, Jeanne Schroer has been working tirelessly to raise $10 million during tough economic times. This is a list of all the contributors to the fund so far:

Photo courtesy of Jeanne Schroer

Arts & Entertainment News

Bloody Good Fun: ‘Evil Dead: The Musical’

Just in time for the Halloween season, Evil Dead: The Musical made its area premiere at the Falcon Theater this weekend. The show runs at the Newport theater through November 6, 2010.

The first indication that this isn’t your typical horror show are the seats covered in plastic. Evil Dead is billed at the world’s first musical with a splatter zone. A section of the theater is reserved for adventurous patrons who don’t mind leaving the theater with bloodstains (all the ‘blood’ washes out easily).

Instead of scary and creepy, Evil Dead: The Musical is a hilarious mash-up of comedy, horror, and in-your-face innuendo set to music. Based on Sam Raimi’s cult favorite Evil Dead film series, the musical blends story lines and characters from several of the movies. The action begins with five young people embarking on their spring break adventure to a cabin in the woods. Housewares employee Ash (Nate Moster) leads his girlfriend Linda (Hannah Balash), whiny kid sister Cheryl, randy best friend Scott, and Scott’s ditzy new girlfriend Shelly across the only bridge to the cabin.

The group discovers an old manuscript and recording left behind by the cabin’s owner. They listen to the strange recording, inadvertently unleashing an ancient curse. Cheryl (Rebecca Weisman) is the first to fall victim to the strange noises coming from the woods. She’s transformed into an annoying demon that pops up out of the cellar to torment everyone else in the cabin. Eventually everyone falls victim to misfortune – some accidental – as Ash tries to destroy the demon. Fans of the Evil Dead franchise will be excited to see the singing moose make an appearance.

As his friends die off, Ash is confronted by the cabin owner’s domineering daughter Annie (Michelle Grove) and her boyfriend Ed (Jeff Surber). Only Annie can decipher and counteract the curse. However, more hilarious misfortunes – and a riotous musical number – befall the remaining non-demons before order is restored. Bryan Franke shone as Jake, the hillbilly who gets caught in the crossfire guiding the couple to the cabin.

While all the songs were witty and playful, “All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons” will stick in your head for day. Sean Mize was great as the lustful and foul-mouthed Scott, while Rebecca Weisman created the perfectly grating demon in Cheryl. While not a perfect, polished performance, the cast was full of energy and passion that left the audience in stitches. Simply put, Evil Dead: The Musical is bloody hilarious fun.

Evil Dead: The Musical runs at the Falcon Theater now through November 6, 2010. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 513-479-6783 for $18 ($15 students, seniors).

Performance Dates:

  • October 22, 23, 28, 29, 30, 31
  • November 5, 6, 2010
  • 8:00pm start time for all performances
Arts & Entertainment News

WNKU celebrates 25th Anniversary, plans for bright future

Thursday, April 29 marked the official 25th anniversary for local radio station 89.7 WNKU. WNKU serves as a strong force in the local community and will be engaging in some terrific things they have planned to celebrate this special milestone.

First though, a little perspective on the station and my experiences with it might be useful. In the early 1990s, my brother-in-law started telling me about WNKU and I would tune in on occasion. Things were much different then at the station than they are today. While they did play good music, it was secondary to the news offering and it was hard to even know when music was going to be played. Oh, and the signal, the major complaint for years, was awful which made it hard to pick up the station.

Around 2000, I started to listen to the station more as I had moved back into Cincinnati from college and things had become a little more musical. From that point I have had an ongoing and interactive relationship with the station. This involvement included volunteering for fund drives (they are a public station, you know, which means you can become a member here), helping at events, and even recycling my Christmas Tree with them. Needless to say, the station holds a special place in my heart. Forget Clear Channel, WNKU even with its warts, is the one radio station for me in Cincinnati. As for that signal? Well it is significantly better now than it was two decades ago, though it is still imperfect. Oh, and did I mention that I won the contest for the Top 89 of 2006 (yes that is me in the picture)?

Aside from community involvement such as presenting this weekend’s Spring Pottery Fair, WNKU does play some great and diverse music. Just a few of the artists played earlier this week in a one hour stretch on Michael Grayson’s Morning Music include Widespread Panic, Bruce Springsteen, Joni Mitchell, Brazilian Girls, The Avett Brothers and Norah Jones. There is a little something for everyone, and WNKU is bound to introduce some new artists to us as well.

To celebrate their 25th anniversary WNKU will be hosting a concert series of course! In talking through plans with Director of Development Aaron Sharpe earlier this week, there is palpable excitement over some of the shows they are helping to bring to town. It all starts tonight with a special show featuring Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $20, or in advance online or by calling (859) 572-6700 – $15 for members and $18 for non-members.

If you are unable to make it to the show tonight at Highlands High School (map), there will be plenty of other shows in the series for you to attend. Most of these are in the traditional venues around town, but Aaron did say that the station is hoping to organize a special blowout concert towards the end of the summer as the grand finale, so stay tuned for details.

The anniversary party they hosted was at last night’s final Tunes & Blooms show which featured a live broadcast and had about 3,200 people show up to catch Jake Speed as well as The Turkeys.

As WNKU embarks on the next 25 years, I asked Aaron what the future held. There were a few things he mentioned including offering a second station on their HD broadcast, and acquiring other frequencies to help with distribution as they recently did with 94.5FM in West Chester. Additionally, the station just hired its first full time sales position as things continue to grow and change.

Whatever the future may hold, we do not know. But what we do know is how great a community partner WNKU is today. Happy anniversary WNKU! You have risen from humble beginnings to places that nobody dreamed of, and we all look forward to seeing what is up your sleeve for the next 25 years.