The Ohio Development Services Agency divvied up its thirteenth round of historic tax credits yesterday. As has been the case in the past, Over-the-Rhine, one of the nation’s largest historic districts, was a big winner.
Another project at 51 E. Clifton Avenue received a $147,000 tax credit that will go to help cover the costs of the $750,000 project, and ultimately create seven market-rate apartments in the 124-year-old structure.
Another big winner, in addition to Music Hall and Urban Sites, was Grandin Properties – a company that has taken an increasing interest in the neighborhood and even relocated their office to the Washington Park district in recent months.
Through the historic tax credit program, Grandin Properties will receive nearly $400,000 for their planned $1.5 million renovation of two 136-year-old buildings on Republic Street in between Thirteenth and Fourteenth. Once complete, developers say that the buildings will have 12 residential apartments.
“These projects transform vacant and underutilized properties into viable places for business and living,” said David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency, in a prepared release. “This program has been a valuable tool for community revitalization.”
In November, UrbanCincy readers enjoyed a collection of beautiful aerial photos of Cincinnati taken by Brian Spitzig. Two articles about the redevelopment of the Northern Liberties area of Over-the-Rhine were also quite popular. Our top five most popular posts, in descending order, were:
Over the seven year history of UrbanCincy, we have seen a tremendous amount of revitalization and new development in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Most has occurred in the southern half of the neighborhood, near the Central Business District. We’ve often wondered what it would take for development to jump across Liberty Street into the part of the neighborhood known as the Northern Liberties.
Most recently, theBusiness Courier reported that Urban Sites is moving forward with a plan to revitalize the 40,000 square foot Film Center building. It will be “the largest single site construction project that Urban Sites has performed to date,” according to Michael Chewning, Chief Operating Officer for Urban Sites. It is also the company’s first foray into the Northern Liberties.
The building was originally owned by Warner Bros. and contains dozens of large vaults that were used for storing films and protecting them against the elements. “The Film Center is unique in that it gives us a glimpse of the lesser known, but important role that Cincinnati played in the film industry,” said Seth Maney, Vice President of Development for Urban Sites.
Over the next 18 months, Urban Sites will put together a development plan for the property. The company is considering office space or residential as potential uses for the building.
EDITORIAL NOTE: All 13 photos were taken by Travis Estell for UrbanCincy on a recent exclusive building tour.
After an eclectic parade on Monday and a kick-off party last night, the 11th annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival officially gets started today with its first round of performances.
The 12-day event has become a national draw over the years, and organizers expect more than 8,000 people to attend this year’s festival. As expected, the 2014 rendition will boast an impressive collection of 38 unique productions and more than 160 performances at a dozen venues tightly clustered in Over-the-Rhine.
“This year’s festival is one of the biggest ever,” said Eric Vosmeier, Producing Artistic Director at the Know Theatre. “We had a record number of FringeNext applications, our high school artist version of the Fringe, and subsequently added an additional slot to FringeNext because the applications were so strong.”
Vosmeier also said that he is excited about the three international acts, two from the United Kingdom and one from Israel, at this year’s festival.
The growth and increasing popularity of the Fringe Festival has seemingly mirrored that of the neighborhood is has called home. That trend, however, is now also posing some problems as available, low-cost venue locations are harder to come by.
“We’re thrilled that the neighborhood has reached a critical mass of stable and thriving businesses, but the challenge this poses to our festival is real,” Vosmeier explained. “There was a time when empty storefronts were always available. There was a time when neighborhood landlords shared space at low or no cost – I remember a couple of years when my venue rental costs were $0.”
Vosmeier says that venue costs for this year’s festival were closer to $8,000, and says that organizers are looking to do everything in their power to keep the nearly two-week event in this area of Over-the-Rhine for the foreseeable future, but also realize the challenges they faced this year will probably not be going away.
Fortunately, he says, long-time supporters like Coffee Emporium, Art Academy of Cincinnati and Urban Sites continue to come through with a number of guaranteed venues each year.
The hard work put in by volunteers and Know Theatre employees is something that has helped make the festival a favorite for participating artists who are treated to the country’s smallest application fee, free housing, no participation fees and the opportunity to learn from other artists during the festival’s workshop and development series.
“We have tried to create the most artist-friendly festival possible,” said Vosmeier. “We have ample, but not the biggest box office payouts, but because we make it nearly free of costs for artists to play with us, they see the value in coming to Cincinnati’s Fringe.”
Such treatment has not only benefitted the artists, but also the festival itself. According to organizers, rolling out the welcome mat in such a way has helped foster an “extremely loyal” set of artists that are always looking to participate in Cincinnati’s annual Fringe event. Those loyal artists then, in turn, become ambassadors to other artists, of which 90% are referred by past artists.
Vosmeier also says that the return of these artists year after year better positions the city when those individuals consider relocation.
“I am currently talking with three individual artists who are seriously contemplating a move to Cincinnati, and it’s all due to their experiences stemming from the Cincinnati Fringe Festival,” Vosmeier emphasized. “Artists can be fickle and to have helped create a festival that makes an artist think ‘I might like to move to Cincinnati’ makes us feel like we’ve accomplished something pretty extraordinary.”
After organizing the festival for many years, however, Vosmeier has said that he will step down from his leadership role at the Know Theatre after the last performance concludes next Saturday.
“Working on this festival has truly been one of the privileges of my career. I love virtually everything about it,” Vosmeier told UrbanCincy. “We certainly have challenges each year. But in the end, this event fills us with so much joy and appreciation for our city, these amazing artists, and our audiences that it’s hard to focus on anything but the unique pop-up community that we create for twelve ridiculously invigorating days.”