If You Build It, They Will Come … Won’t They?

September 10, 2015 at 5:12 pm
September 10, 2015 |
From: www.nytimes.com
The West Campus of University of Cincinnati.
Ofer Wolberger for The New York Times

The University of Cincinnati is trying to raise its profile through a risky (but increasingly common) investment: expensive architecture.

By NIKIL SAVALSeptember 10, 2015

When you think of a classic American college campus, you probably envision a set of pastoral images: a demure brick rowhouse crowned with a white steeple, a gargoyle perched on a limestone archway, a domed library on a sunlit grass quadrangle. Often far from cities or shielded from them by gates and walls, campuses exude a sense of refuge. Thomas Jefferson famously wanted the University of Virginia to resemble a kind of ‘‘academical village.’’

But the old pastoral atmosphere has given way to a new ethos. On campuses today, you will find neoclassical libraries cheek by jowl with glassy, postmodern student centers. From Rem Koolhaas’s aggressive cantilever for Milstein Hall at Cornell, with its concrete-­and-­glass horizontal slab jutting out from old brick, to Zaha Hadid’s razor-­sharp Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State, many college campuses have become places to see the most daring, up-­to-­date work of globe-­trotting ‘‘starchitects.’’ Nowhere is this truer than at the University of Cincinnati, where a murderers’ row of architects — Frank Gehry, of course, along with Michael Graves, Peter Eisenman, Bernard Tschumi and Thom Mayne — has been involved with the most ambitious campus-­design program in the country, a decades-long bid to turn a quiet commuter school into one with a global reputation.

Since the 1970s, when declining state funding and the replacement of federal grants with private loans began to raise the cost of going to college, universities, especially public ones, have tried to attract higher-­paying students. They often come from out of state and, increasingly, from out of the country. (There are 1.1 million foreign students in America, an 85 percent increase since 2005, with the largest contingent coming from China.) Attracting more students also means attracting more applicants, while still keeping the acceptance rate relatively low — a way of increasing the university’s selectivity and potentially improving its rank on the influential U.S. News and World Report list of universities. The University of Cincinnati first entered the list at No.156 in 2011 and reached the 129th spot in 2015. Its tuition has gradually risen, and its acceptance rate declined from 82 percent in 2002 to 73 percent in 2013. The number of out-­of-­state students increased 8.3 percent last year.

The hope is that buildings by starchitects will turn the University of Cincinnati into a desirable, glamorous place to spend four years living and studying. Mayne’s imposing Campus Recreation Center — which includes four stories of housing, six basketball courts, lecture halls and bleachers for the football stadium — represents the university’s commitment to improving the ‘‘campus experience.’’ Sparkling new buildings encourage sparkling new neighborhoods. Just south of the university in the Clifton Heights neighborhood, a two-block retail, housing and entertainment complex called U Square @ the Loop, replete with a craft-beer emporium and a yoga studio, recently opened. It is part of a wider development of the area, where campus police patrols have also increased. (In July, a 43-year-old black man was shot and killed by a white campus officer in the nearby Mount Auburn neighborhood.) The university and its students now visibly set themselves apart from surrounding communities.

Cincinnati Starchitecture The university is undertaking the most ambitious campus-design program in the country.

But expansion can come at a cost. Peter Eisenman’s Aronoff Center for Design and Art at the university had cheap cladding slapped on during its construction from 1989 to 1996, and over time it began to rot and peel away. Repairs and renovations on the $35 million building cost $20 million, and the university borrowed $19.25 million to help pay for them. The university now has $1.1 billion in debt — close to 20 percent more than it had in 2004 — largely because of its construction boom. During the same time, enrollment has increased by nearly 30 percent. The spending is predicated on the idea that new buildings can help turn provincial universities into outré, worldly ‘‘academical villages.’’ It’s a financial gamble — one that many public institutions find themselves driven to make. And it also threatens something more abstract but no less fundamental: that the university will turn into a luxury brand, its image unmoored from its educational mission — a campus that could be anywhere and nowhere.

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Cities of Opportunity: The Top 10 Easiest Places to Buy a Home – Cincinnati #5

August 18, 2015 at 1:15 pm
August 18, 2015 |

From: www.Realtor.com

While this has been shaping up to be the best year for home sales since 2006, it’s also a challenging time for some would-be buyers. So let’s take off those rose-colored Wayfarers for a stretch: Truth is, the lack of affordability and availability continues to keep plenty of interested home searchers from becoming homeowners.

Visitors to realtor.com® in June reported that their No. 1 difficulty in buying a home was simply finding one that meets their needs. Another top obstacle was the inability to find a good home in their budget range. Those issues reflect the snare-drum tight inventory in housing these days, which in turn has been pushing up prices nationwide.

But there are always exceptions to the average, so we thought we’d figure out which markets minimize the challenges of affordability and availability, offering the best opportunity for buyers.

Jonathan Smoke, our chief economist, took a deep dive into the housing and mortgage data to come up with something new: the exclusive realtor.com EasyToBuy Index. Using this index, his team looked at the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the country and arrived at the 10 easiest places to purchase a home.
Please, Mr. Postman

“These are healthy markets, firmly in recovery mode, but they offer more choices and great affordability,” said Smoke. “They also have higher relative levels of inventory and mortgage rates that are equal to or better than the national average rates.”

The index takes into account the full cost of homeownership; whether it’s a buying or renting market; and local conditions such as mortgage rates, insurance, taxes, and supply of affordable inventory.

The index combines four factors with equal weight:

o  Average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
o  Number of homes for sale per 1,000 owner-occupied households
o  Percentage of median household income it takes to buy a home at the median list price
o  Percentage of active inventory below the maximum affordable price (determined by assuming a 28% loan-to-income ratio, median income, and a 20% down payment)

And don’t assume that “easy to buy” means “undesirable.” In fact, all the top 10 markets on our EasyToBuy Index have seen 1% to 10% price appreciation in the past year—enough to indicate that an investment in real estate is likely to pay off, but not so much that it becomes a barrier to buying.

1. Indianapolis, IN

Known as the “crossroads of America,” with six interstate and six U.S. highways, Indianapolis is accustomed to people just passing through. But those who decide to stay will be amazed by this place’s livability. With the amenities, culture, and luxury of a big city, Indy also maintains a friendly small-town vibe—and its residents usually get to work in about 30 minutes, no matter where they live.

Buying a midprice home in Indy is not a very daunting a task, as homeownership generally takes 17% of the median household income, far below the recommended threshold of 28%.

On top of that, our EasyToBuy Index indicates that 71% of all the listings in Indianapolis are affordable. To put that into perspective, Silicon Valley’s San Jose, CA, has only 8% affordable listings.

“Indianapolis is almost a secret to people sometimes, but we will see a lot more growth in the future,” said John Snavley, senior vice president of a local real estate company.

2. Memphis, TN

It may be world-famous for its dry-rub pork barbecue and Elvis Presley (the two are forever entwined in our imaginations), but an adequate housing supply and low mortgage rates also make Memphis a bargain hunter’s delight. With a median price of $168,000, you, too, can be a proud homeowner.

Memphis has also experienced material growth this year, with a year-over-year price appreciation of 9%, mostly due to a rush to buy up cheap foreclosure properties starting a few years ago, according to local broker Jules Wade.

“We’ve seen investment companies buying dozens of properties and renting them out,” Wade said. “It’s not clear whether they are going to maintain the properties; but so far it seems they are.” Note: That trend is slowing down, because there are far fewer foreclosures now compared with a couple of years back.

3. Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach, the mighty resort city on the East Coast, may seem an odd fit for the list—its $262,000 median list price actually puts it above the national level. But the place features a high percentage of available inventory, and being in the state of Virginia gives home buyers a great deal on mortgage rates.

Virginia Beach is certainly very affordable compared with its coastal counterparts. Note: Although it didn’t make the final cut, it was one of the leading candidates in our quest for the most affordable beach town.

4. Birmingham, AL

Up for putting roots down in the heart of the Deep South? The largest city in Alabama, Birmingham manages to maintain a good amount of housing at prices that are just right.

Buying a home in the Birmingham area takes about one-fifth of household income—a pretty good deal, especially for millennial buyers to move into homeownership. A 2% price appreciation in the past year also indicates a healthy, steady market.

5. Cincinnati, OH

The Buckeye State lands the biggest cluster—three affordable markets, including Nos. 8 and 10—on the list.

Home to big retailers Kroger and Macy’s, Cincinnati has a healthy economy that continues to click along nicely— unemployment remained at 4.6% in June, 0.9 percentage points lower than the national rate. And while the median income is on par with the national median, housing is much cheaper than the national average, with a median price of $166,000.

Buying a median-price home in Cincy takes up only 15% of the median household income, leaving plenty of financial room for family vacations after the down payment and mortgage payments.

6. Pittsburgh, PA

After a decadeslong transition from a downtrodden industrial and manufacturing hub to a new economy fueled by small technology and medical companies, Pittsburgh now approaches the vitality of its Steel City days.

With the median list price in Pittsburgh at $158,000 in June, homeownership is well within reach of the median-earning household, with buying costs taking 19% of income.

7. Atlanta, GA

Smacked hard when the housing bubble burst a few years ago, Atlanta is now recovering at full speed. Despite being the ninth-largest metropolitan area in terms of household count, strong new construction activity helps replenish housing inventory quickly, keeping supply and demand in balance.

The area currently has nearly 50,000 homes for sale, the second largest in the country after the New York metro area. It also topped our list of markets where buying is better than renting.

While this is clearly one of the more affordable real estate markets, “Hotlanta” is also a market generally on the rise. In the past 12 months, list prices have increased by around 10%.

8. Cleveland, OH

In Cleveland (as well as Columbus, at No. 10), it’s largely the same story as in Cincinnati. Steady economies and low housing prices have contributed to healthy markets with about 70% affordable listings.

9. Detroit, MI

Detroit is a no-brainer for the list, given its well-publicized financial troubles. In June, the city’s median list price was $182,000.

But several signs offer hope that the Motor City may be gearing up for a comeback. Powered by low mortgage rates and relatively sufficient supply, home prices in the Detroit metro area are regaining some lost ground with a year-over-year appreciation rate of 8%.

10. Columbus, OH

Over-the-Rhine continues to boom with new businesses

August 18, 2015 at 11:13 am
August 18, 2015 |

From: SoapboxMedia.com

Caitlin Koenig | Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A number of new businesses have opened in Over-the-Rhine over the past few months, especially in the Findlay Market area north of Liberty Street as residential developments continue to crop up. We’ve rounded up a few of the neighborhood’s newest and provide the low-down on what you’ll find.

Dirt: A Modern Market at Findlay Market, 131 W. Elder St.
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

Dirt brings a year-round marketplace to Cincinnati that will help connect consumers with local producers. The full-time retail store sells only locally produced fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses and dairy products along with a number of other goods.

Dirt also functions as a consignment store where growers and producers can rent space on a weekly or monthly basis. They keep 70 to 80 percent of their gross sales, construct individual displays and set their own prices. It gives producers the opportunity to continue selling their goods even when they aren’t physically at Findlay Market.

OTR Candy Bar, 1735 Elm St.
Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

Co-owner Mike Petzelf’s brother purchased the building on Elm Street, and then the family came up with the idea for a candy store. After renovations and build-out, they opened the doors in April.

OTR Candy Bar offers a large variety of bulk candies, which are locally and nationally sourced, as well as more than 50 soda flavors. Customers can mix their own 4-pack to take home or enjoy one while they’re strolling through Findlay Market.

3 Sweet Girls Cakery, 29 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday

This Kenwood-based bakery opened its second location in OTR just in time for the All Star Game. The shop offers a variety of items to satisfy your sweet tooth, including eight cupcake flavors and 15 cake pop flavors; their specialty is a Flying Pig Cake Pop.

3 Sweet Girls also sells decorated cookies, chocolate pretzels and Oreos, cake push-ups and cupcakes in a jar, plus special treats for your furry friend.

Goods on Main, 1300 Main St., Over-the-Rhine
Hours: Thursday-Sunday, subject to change

Goods is a retail collective with an ever-revolving, themed inventory. It opened in June and currently has everything you would need for an adventure, whether that be outdoors or in the kitchen.

The store also has an event space, which is used for special occasions in OTR like Second Sundays on Main and Final Friday. There are plans to expand Goods into that event space to become a much larger store.

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Where I’m From: Cincinnati, Ohio – How the city is recapturing and redefining its dining legacy

July 21, 2015 at 3:04 pm
July 21, 2015 |

From: www.Saveur.com

Back Where I’m From is an occasional series in which we explore the best food in the less-heralded parts of America.

Boca Restaurant Cincinnati

Boca Photo: Photography For the People

Cincinnati is the next big food city. I’m just going to say it because I’m hoping I can will it to happen. I’m going to say it because I am from there—because I know it deserves to be. I am tired of other midsize cities like Nashville and Pittsburgh, Louisville, and Asheville (all deserving in their own ways) being called the next big food city when hardly anyone says that about Cincinnati. I am frustrated that so many talented chefs are working their tails off trying to draw attention to this shining city on the hill (really—it’s built on seven hills). And I am surprised that no one seems to notice.Yes, Cincinnati’s been celebrated by road-food warriors like Adam Richman and Guy Fieri. They’ve called it out for its homey mom-and-pop diners and, of course, its chili parlors, where locals twirl forkfuls of pasta coated in chocolate-and-cinnamon-spiked chili, not minding if the dish, called a three-way, splatters all over their shirts (for Cincinnatians, chili stains are a badge of honor). Goetta, our scrapple-like breakfast staple made of sausage and steel-cut oats, has been written about by some of the most esteemed food magazines—this one included—and even Oprah herself once said that our beloved Graeter’s has the best ice cream in America.

But what most people don’t know about Cincinnati is its legacy of fine dining. In the 1970s it was home to three Mobil Travel Guide five-star restaurants while New York was home to two. Those restaurants, all French, included Pigall’s, where you could order black cod with a truffle pinot noir sauce, or rabbit confit with grapes and rice galette. The Gourmet Room had a 30-foot mural by the artist Joan Miró (it now hangs in the Cincinnati Art Museum) wrapped around its dining room. And the Maisonette, an ornate chandeliered French restaurant downtown, still holds the record for the most consecutive years with a five-star Mobil guide rating, at 41.

This is the mark of a true Ohioan; we think everything we have is better than yours

All still existed when my family moved to Cincinnati from Massachusetts in 1979, and I grew up thinking of the city as the pinnacle of fine dining—home to the kind of restaurants that required my finest clip-on tie and well-polished Stride Rites on the few occasions my parents deigned to let me dine out with them on date night.

Even the more casual spots were places to see and be seen. At a former-police-station-turned-steakhouse called The Precinct (still great) you might run into former Reds catcher Johnny Bench digging into a porterhouse alongside former Bengals quarterback Kenny Anderson. Local celebrities like Jerry Springer and Nick Clooney (father of George) could also be found at Rookwood Pottery—now a phenomenal restaurant simply called The Rookwood, it is housed in a former ceramics factory perched atop scenic Mount Adams where you can devour the best burgers in town while sitting inside actual brick kilns.

It was Cincinnati that turned me into a gourmand and a food snob. So proud was I of its culinary swagger that when I found myself living in New Orleans in 1998, I complained to a friend that the food in Cincinnati was better than it was in the Big Easy. This is the mark of a true Ohioan; we think everything we have is better than yours, though I now count gumbo, roast beef po’boys, and Zapp’s potato chips among civilization’s proudest achievements.

Beginning in the early aughts, my conviction in Cincinnati’s culinary stamina began to wane. Logging onto the Cincinnati Enquirer’s website one day in 2005, I read that the Maisonette, a dining destination since 1949, was closing its doors because of dwindling profits and a shift from fine dining to more casual, Brooklyn-esque buttoned-down fare. My confidence was shaken further four years later, when I read that Pigall’s, which was helmed by the magnificent French chef Jean-Robert de Cavel, had also closed. In February of that year, National Public Radio aired a story titled “Ohio’s Only Four-Star Restaurant To Close.” “Maybe it’s the times,” a heartbroken regular told the NPR reporter. “But it’s a shame because it’s something that’s hard to recapture after it’s gone.”

But Cincinnati is recapturing something, and while it’s a little different—a little less formal—than the opulent dining scene of its past, it’s definitely something worth checking out the next time a magazine article lures you to Louisville. Last year, when I returned home as a panelist at the first-annual Cincinnati Food & Wine Classic, I breathed a sigh of relief as I stood inside the rosewood-paneled French Art Deco dining room of The Orchids at Palm Court, a magnificent restaurant located in the historic Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza hotel—the same hotel where my mother used to take me for tea during my Little Lord Fauntleroy youth. At Orchids, I indulged in executive chef Todd Kelly’s pork belly and escargot served in a creamy sunchoke velouté—one of the many dishes that have earned Kelly national acclaim.

Afterward, I roamed the streets of Cincinnati’s recently revamped Over the Rhine neighborhood, gasping at the beauty of its restored Italianate buildings and tucking into a crispy pan-roasted quail served with spring peas and caramelized fennel at Chicago transplant chef Dan Wright’s wondrous Abigail Street. I then pulled a Louis CK–style “bang bang”: eating dinner again, immediately after, at Salazar restaurant a block away, where, along with a locally brewed Rhinegeist beer, I wolfed down a slow-cooked pork shank, creamy polenta, beer-braised collard greens, and a black-eyed pea chicharrón. Jose Salazar, the restaurant’s owner and executive chef, is an alumnus of New York’s Per Se and will open a second, more upscale restaurant in Cincinnati’s central business district later this year. Heading back to the city’s new 21c Museum Hotel, I discovered that former Pigall’s chef Jean-Robert de Cavel was alive and well with his new restaurant Jean-Robert’s Table, which offers a sublimely flaky vol-au-vent filled with sweetbreads and lobster, and an exquisitely hammy croque monsieur.

It was Cincinnati that turned me into a gourmand and a food snob

It seemed appropriate that my final stop in Cincinnati would be a restaurant called Boca. After all, it’s located at 114 E. 6th St.—the same spot where, ten years ago, the Maisonette closed its doors for good. Walking into its storied dining room, I realized that the restaurant, like the Cincinnati dining scene itself, had risen from the dead. Under the direction of chef David Falk, Boca has received the necessary makeover it needed to regain its relevance. Former Cincinnati Magazine restaurant critic Donna Covrett expertly described it as “an interior with one foot in 19th-century Paris and the other in contemporary Milan,” with its massive chandelier, exposed brick, and “blood orange leather.”

Sitting down at a blood orange booth, I went traditional, ordering the oysters Rockefeller, along with pommes soufflés served with a béarnaise sauce, before digging into the restaurant’s Italian side with an exquisite fresh corn agnolotti with brown butter, truffles, and parmesan. All I can say is this: In one meal, Boca proved itself a worthy successor to Cincinnati’s most venerable old restaurant.

At the airport a few days later, I stopped at a Gold Star Chili for one last three-way before heading back to New York. Sitting at a red Formica table, I twirled a forkful of the meat-slathered spaghetti as it splattered onto my white oxford shirt, but I couldn’t have cared less. I was just happy to be reacquainted with the unique tastes of my hometown; relieved to find that they were even better than I remembered them, wondering if the rest of the world would ever take notice—if Cincinnati would ever be the next big thing.

Former SAVEUR senior editor Keith Pandolfi’s work can be found in The Wall Street Journal, Epicurious, Eater, Cooking Light and other publications. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.

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Cincinnati’s great traditions of beer and baseball make it a fun Midwest destination

June 30, 2015 at 12:14 pm
June 30, 2015 |

From: The New York Daily News

21c Museum Hotel occupies a lavishly restored, century-old building in downtown Cincinnati. It features a free art gallery. /21c Museum Hotel

21c Museum Hotel occupies a lavishly restored, century-old building in downtown Cincinnati. It features a free art gallery.

Cincinnati gave the U.S. its first professional baseball team in 1869. And on July 14, the third-largest city in Ohio will host Major League Baseball’s annual All-Star Game.

The presentation of the game, and the city’s public squares, channel a strong sense of nostalgia.

To a degree Cincinnati can’t help but channel its past. The centralized downtown neighborhood known as Over-the-Rhine claims to be the largest urban historic district in the country, densely packed with 19th-century brick buildings built in the Italianate style. The neighborhood shows its age but is also increasingly livable, walkable and shop-able.

Shopping in historic buildings is fun, but not always the substance of a vacation. What sets Cincinnati apart is how it’s rallied around its baseball, beer and old buildings, creating a unique urban Midwest destination.

The city takes its name from the Roman politician Cincinnatus, who resigned his dictatorship in 458 B.C. for the sake of the public good. A giant mural spanning the height of a downtown building bears his image.

Another painting, The Henry Holtgrewe mural on Vine St., is one of many public pieces undertaken by ArtWorks, a local nonprofit that taps local youth to paint Over-the-Rhine’s bare brick buildings. Many used to serve beer. Some still do.

Each baseball represents one of Pete Rose’s record 4,192 career hits in this display at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. J.P. Hoornstra

Each baseball represents one of Pete Rose’s record 4,192 career hits in this display at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Cincinnati might be famous for its beer, except that by 1890 almost 2,000 registered drinking establishments occupied the 7-square-mile city. So unlike in St. Louis or Milwaukee, there was no need to export Cincinnati’s best brews from coast to coast. There were plenty of customers right there in the city.

Stuart King owns an apothecary concept bar in Over-the-Rhine called Sundry and Vice (18 W. 13th St.; sundryandvice.com). It’s almost too hipster for Brooklyn; mustachioed men and women in flapper dresses sip cocktails like one called Dr. Shiloh’s System Vitalizer (mezcal/tequila, lime, pineapple, ginger, Peychaud bitters, soda). King ducked outside on a recent evening and pointed across the street to where Timothy Thomas, an unarmed 19-year-old African American man, was fatally shot by a Cincinnati police officer in 2001. Several days of riots followed the shooting.

King was living in Los Angeles at the time. He willingly relocated because of what happened after the riots. The short version: Using money from taxpayers and local businesses (Cincinnati is home to nine Fortune 500 companies), a coalition called 3CDC was formed to “strategically revitalize Cincinnati’s downtown urban core.”

Rather than tearing down and building back up — the less romantic, less expensive route — 3CDC preserved and restored Over-the-Rhine’s existing infrastructure. The chamber of commerce launched an ambitious grant program, giving small business owners like King incentive to move in. For the Fortune 500 firms, attracting talented employees to live and work downtown became less of a chore. For visitors, well, now there was a reason to vacation here.

Down the street from Sundry and Vice, a New York transplant named Jose Salazar has opened a wonderful namesake restaurant (Salazar Restaurant & Bar, 1401 Republic St.; salazarcincinnati.com) highlighting cuisine from his native Colombia. (Try the veal sweetbreads.)

A horse-drawn carriage parks across the street from Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. J.P. Hoornstra

A horse-drawn carriage parks across the street from Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.

Cincinnati Reds hats and designer neckties sit side-by-side in a local men’s clothing store. A gift shop sells congratulatory cards for same-sex marriages on another street corner. For a state that banned gay marriage in 2004, the something-for-everybody vibe is a departure.

Other things hardly seem new at all.

Greg Hardman describes himself as a “beer romantic.” The Cincinnati native purchased the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company (1621 Moore St.; christianmoerlein.com) in 2004 and moved the operation into a hardscrabble section of Over-the-Rhine. The taproom is still a tad gritty, but it’s full on Friday nights. Young people drink and play billiards, foosball and a combination of football and bowling called “fowling” — working-class recreation at its finest.

Moerlein is one of those vintage Cincinnati brands that might have suffered for limited distribution, although its seasonal hefeweizen (a blond wheat beer) is the best this side of Germany. Since Moerlein moved back into the neighborhood, several other breweries have followed suit. The beer scene in Over-the-Rhine hasn’t rekindled its pre-Prohibition flow, but it’s moving in that direction.

A series of guided tours highlight some of Cincinnati’s original 19th-century brewing facilities. The most curious is an apartment building, the Guild House at 1622 Vine St. There’s no beer here — just a cavernous underground storehouse designed to hold lager barrels, a relic from the days before mechanized refrigeration. It feels like a ghost could appear at any moment.

Taft’s Ale House in Cincinnati, Ohio was recently converted from a 19th-century Protestant church into a beer hall. J.P. Hoornstra

Taft’s Ale House in Cincinnati, Ohio was recently converted from a 19th-century Protestant church into a beer hall.

Another must-see is Taft’s Ale House, a German Protestant church meticulously converted into a beer hall (1429 Race St.; taftsalehouse.com). Don’t feel guilty about drinking here. A priest blessed the building prior to its opening in April.

The primary shrine in town might just be Great American Ball Park, the Cincinnati Reds’ $290 million stadium. Built in 2003, the park is just far enough away from the Ohio River that it’s impossible to hit a baseball into the water. But it’s just close enough that someone strolling the Kentucky side (the towns of Covington and Newport lie across the river) can hear the roar of the crowd. Both sides of the river are green and striped with foot and bike routes, making strolling the perfect pastime when baseball is out of season.

Bootleggers is a well-stocked craft beer house inside Great American Ball Park. A sign outside denotes it as part of the “Brewing Heritage Trail” — another clever attempt by Hardman, the beer baron, to connect Cincinnati’s past to its present. A second, less gritty Moerlein Lager House across the street is a popular hangout pre- and post-game. For out-of-towners attending the All-Star Game, this might be the best place to taste Cincinnati’s preferred beverage without venturing too far.

There’s a dubious baseball heritage trail in town, too. It was here, at the since-demolished Sinton Hotel, that bettors successfully bribed members of the Chicago White Sox to intentionally lose the World Series to the Reds in 1919. The most famous baseball player in Reds history, Pete Rose, was banned for life by Major League Baseball in 1989 for betting on games. Cincinnati doesn’t hide this. The Reds’ Hall of Fame has Rose’s image (and roses) all over it; the same guide offering the brewery tours has a 1919 World Series tour. But maybe the good vibes emanating from the All-Star Game are an attempt to move on from history more than embrace it.

Not long ago visitors preferred lodging on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River when visiting Cincinnati. Now there are places like the 21c Museum Hotel, a lavishly restored century-old downtown building featuring a free 24-7 art gallery and a trendy open-kitchen restaurant downstairs called Metropole (609 Walnut St., metropoleonwalnut.com).

/21c Museum Hotel

A hipster coffee joint lies next door. A theater sits directly across the street, connected to a high-end Italian/French restaurant called Boca (114 E 6th St., Reservations recommended; bocacincinnati.com).

The boldest, most refreshing part of the transformation lies in what’s absent. Practically every city that revives, gentrifies — call it what you will — fills its storefronts with the same chain retailers familiar coast to coast. Cincinnati did not. Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts are outnumbered by local coffee joints.

Being proudly provincial and still offering something for everyone is tough to pull off. Like a church that serves beer, it seems to be working somehow.

J.P. Hoornstra is a sports writer based in Los Angeles and the executive editor of Conway Confidential. ***


Signs inside the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio denote the “Brewing Heritage Trail,” a nod to the city’s flourishing 19th-century German beer industry. J.P. Hoornstra

Signs inside the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio denote the “Brewing Heritage Trail,” a nod to the city’s flourishing 19th-century German beer industry.

Stay: 21c Museum Hotel (609 Walnut St.); 21cmuseumhotels.com.


- The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum (100 Joe Nuxhall Way) is located outside Great American Ball Park and open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. reds.com/hof

- American Legacy Tours offers ghost tours, baseball history tours, beer tours and gangster tours of Cincinnati and the surrounding area. americanlegacytours.com

- Cincinnati Brewery Tours offers a variety of seasonal walking tours of the city’s brewing facilities (beer included) every Thursday through Sunday. cincinnatibrewerytours.com

21c Museum Hotel occupies a lavishly restored, century-old building in downtown Cincinnati. It features a free art gallery. Magnus Lindqvist/21c Museum Hotel

21c Museum Hotel occupies a lavishly restored, century-old building in downtown Cincinnati. It features a free art gallery.

- Rhinegeist Brewery (1910 Elm St.) is open seven days a week; hours vary each day. rhinegeist.com


- The Eagle Food & Beer Hall (1342 Vine St.) is open seven days a week for lunch, dinner and drinks. Reservations not required. 513-802-5007

- Holtman’s Donuts (1332 Vine St.) is open seven days a week. holtmansdonutshop.com

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ArtWorks summer murals to feature Ezzard Charles, James Brown, breweries, high-profile restoration

June 15, 2015 at 1:32 pm
June 15, 2015 |

A mural at Main and East Liberty streets will honor Cincinnati's musical heritage and the individuals who shaped the “Cincinnati Sound.”

Image From: Streetpops

Article From: www.SoapboxMedia.com

ArtWorks has lots of exciting projects planned for this summer’s mural program.

Work is already underway to restore the Homage to Cincinnatius mural on the Kroger headquarters at Vine Street and Central Parkway. ArtWorks is coordinating the restoration with the mural’s original artist, Richard Haas, and the Thomas Melvin Studio.

Because of the swing-scaffolding that will be used on the seven-story mural, professional local artists have been hired to complete the project. ArtWorks apprentices, who usually paint the summer murals, will instead work with local filmmaker Lauren Pray on a documentary about the restoration project.

In the 30 years since Homage to Cincinnatius was completed, the mural-making process has remained largely the same in terms of execution, according to Christine Carli, director of communications at ArtWorks.

“The paint we use is a specific kind, NovaColor, which is a very durable paint for outdoor use,” she says. “After the mural is painted, we put on several clear coats to protect it from sun and rain damage. We expect the murals to last for at least 20 years.”

Preparation work is also underway for the Ezzard Charles mural at Republic and West Liberty streets in Over-the-Rhine. Once the wall is ready to go, ArtWorks apprentices will work with artist Jason Snell to transform the wall into an homage to the “Cincinnati Cobra,” as Charles was known to boxing fans.

This mural is part of the Cincinnati Legends series, which includes Snell’s design of the Henry Holtgrewe mural on Vine between 13th and 14th streets. The Charles mural will be “more figurative and less illustrative” than the Holtgrewe design, Carli says.

“ArtWorks is really excited about the Ezzard Charles mural,” she says. “It will officially be our 100th mural, and we will be doing a lot of programming about that, including a celebration at the end of the project when we dedicate the mural.”

Charles was chosen for the 100th mural subject because of his “rich history in sports and Cincinnati and because he has so many ties to so many famous Cincinnatians, including Theodore Berry, who was his mentor,” Carli says. “We are excited to celebrate Ezzard Charles with this really beautiful image.”

A mural at Main and East Liberty streets will honor Cincinnati’s musical heritage and the individuals who shaped the “Cincinnati Sound.”

“The image will be a really cool graphic portrayal of James Brown,” Carli says. “This is a part of Liberty where not a lot of people walk but where a lot of people drive by, so we wanted to choose one really stunning image.”

Cincinnati’s brewing heritage will be showcased in two murals. The Over-the-Rhine Brewery District Community Redevelopment Corporation is sponsoring its second mural, this one located on the north side of the new Christian Moerlein brewery housed in the historic Kauffman malt house. The second mural will be located on the historic Schoenling brewery at Liberty Street and Central Parkway, now home to the Samuel Adams brewery.

“In the next three to five years there will be a nice cluster of public art in the Northern Liberties,” Carli says of the area north of Liberty Street.

In the fall, ArtWorks will add another mural to the Cincinnati Masters Series, the first female depicted is the series. A painting of artist Elizabeth Nourse will be done in collaboration with the Mercantile Library.

As ArtWorks completes its 100th mural this summer, are they struggling to find subjects? Carli says no.

“We never run out of ideas because a lot of them come out of the community and Cincinnati history,” she says. “Our work with communities and neighborhoods keeps everything fresh and evolving.”

The public and communities are able to get directly involved with ArtWorks mural projects by helping support a $25,000 matching grant given by The George and Margaret McLane Foundation. Five ArtWorks projects, including the Ezzard Charles, Cincinnati Sound and the Brewery District murals, are featured on Power2Give. Donors can choose which of the five projects they want to support with a donation.

“Depending on where you live or work or the type of art you’re interested in, you can pick your favorite mural to support,” Carli says. “This matching gift and Power2Give gives us a conduit to empower communities to raise funds for the projects they’re supporting. The matching grant gives people an immediate way to click and donate.”

ArtWorks and its community partners will be promoting the grant and matching opportunity through community council meetings, newsletters and social media.

People are also encouraged to engage with ArtWorks apprentices through social media and the ArtWorks walking tours.

“Last year we started using #ArtWorksHere for apprentices to document their experiences on the worksite,” Carli says. “We encouraged apprentices to share positive experiences, friends they’ve made, progress on the mural, something new they learned that day and to say thank you.”

Carli advises those interested in following the 2015 and hashtag that many of the apprentices use Instagram rather than Twitter or Facebook.

Apprentices also conduct two Saturday walking tours each weekend showcasing ArtWorks murals in Downtown (Cincinnati Genius Tour) and Over-the-Rhine (Spirit of OTR Tour). The ArtWorks apprentice program is “not just learning how to paint,” Carli says. “We provide training for public speaking, and by the end of the experience they grow up and become more poised and confident.”

As ArtWorks apprentices are busy with murals and media projects, the staff will be planning for next summer, their 20th year bringing art to Cincinnati neighborhoods.

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OTR street could become a pleasant walking path between two top attractions

June 9, 2015 at 4:21 pm
June 9, 2015 |
From: www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati
Andy Brownfield 6/8/15

The June 5 block party sought input from Over-the-Rhine's visitors and residents as to what they wanted to see in a more walkable Pleasant Street connecting Washington Park and Findlay Market.

Two of Over-the-Rhine’s biggest attractions could soon be connected by a pedestrian-friendly pathway that a coalition of groups is trying to make more walkable.

The Corporation for Findlay Market is working with the University of Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati Research Institute and MetroLab, an architecture program at UC, to make Pleasant Street in OTR a more walkable corridor between Washington Park and Findlay Market.

The groups hosted a block party on June 5 to gather input from OTR residents and visitors along Pleasant Street – which runs north to south from Findlay Market to Washington Park across Liberty Street between Elm and Race streets – to gather input as to what they wanted to see along the street. Suggestions included things like seating, lighting, playgrounds, murals, interactive art, food trucks or stalls and musical installations.

“We want to see what people want to make the street a more attractive connector between two of Over-the-Rhine’s biggest draws,” Joe Hansbauer, president and CEO of the Corporation for Findlay Market, told me.

About 200 people stopped by for hamburgers or hot dogs, to play cornhole and give their feedback. Some of the most popular suggestions included improvements to sidewalks, vacant lots and the addition of a park or gathering place along the street. Hansbauer said about 80 percent of people who stopped by said they wanted to see something done to make crossing Liberty Street easier. There currently isn’t a traffic light or crosswalk at the intersection of Pleasant and Liberty.

Findlay Market is driving development in Over-the-Rhine north of Liberty, which is shooting for the same kind of success the neighborhood has seen to the south of that bisecting street. That was the focus of a May 8 Business Courier cover, which is now unlocked.

MetroLab is using 15 graduate students from UC to help design and implement some of the suggestions for improving Pleasant Street.

The ultimate goal would be to shut down Pleasant Street to vehicular traffic, at least some of the time, Hansbauer said. Elder Street near Findlay Market is closed to vehicular traffic during market hours but opens when the market closes. While any closing of Pleasant wouldn’t be tied to market hours, the idea would be to make it as safe and friendly to pedestrians and cyclists as possible. That could also include something like what was done to Main Street near the University of Cincinnati where it’s technically still open to vehicles but isn’t widely utilized, Hansbauer said. Another idea would be to make Pleasant a so-called “festival street” where traffic moves at the pace of pedestrians and vehicles yield to people.

“It’s going to feel so awkward that you’re driving on it when cutting through that you’re gong to drive so slow that pedestrians and cyclists would still feel safe being on the streets,” he said.

The block party on June 5 was meant to start the conversation on what it would take to accomplish that in the long term. In the short term, MetroLab will work with the Corporation for Findlay Market and UC to implement some of the suggestions gathered from the community. A second block party will take place on June 26, and Pleasant Street will be shut down on July 11 to demonstrate some of the improvements and designs the UC students developed.

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Second Sunday on Main returns June 14 to celebrate festival’s 10th year!!

June 1, 2015 at 10:30 am
June 1, 2015 |

From: www.SoapboxMedia.com

Second Sunday on Main returns June 14

Since its inception 10 years ago, Second Sunday on Main has grown from a small event featuring condo tours to a blocks-long festival with food trucks, live music, vendors and artists. The free event is held on the second Sunday of each month June through October along Main Street between 12th and Liberty streets, with the first 2015 event on June 14.

“Second Sunday is unique because it changes and grows with the neighborhood,” says Caitlin Behle, the current organizer of SSOM. “When the festival launched in 2005 as a weekly event, Main Street looked very different. At a time when people were reluctant to visit OTR, the Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce started Second Sunday as an opportunity to bring people to the street on Sunday afternoons and showcase the area as a diverse, safe and welcoming place.”

This year, SSOM is partnering with the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati to add an area for kids. The YMCA Kids Square will offer free hands-on activities and crafts for kids programmed by the YMCA. Other community organizations will be present as well, including the Peaslee Neighborhood Center and the Art Academy of Cincinnati’s Community Education division.

Findlay Market will host the Celebrity Chef series, which will feature a free chef demo at Mr. Pitiful’s. Traditionally, the series has invited visitors to a drink pairing and chef demo by one of more local chefs, where guests are given the recipe for the dishes and drinks.

“By collaborating with Findlay Market, we’re able to celebrate what is unique and best about the market’s community, local crops, ethnic traditions and creative chefs,” Behle says.

To celebrate its 10th year, SSOM is going back to its roots to revisit monthly themes from the past decade. June’s theme is Dog Days and will feature a contest for Best Trick, Best Costume, Cutest Dog and Best Owner/Dog Look-a-Like as well as a parade and Dog Photo Booth hosted by Save the Animals.

The June event also includes a performance by Us, Today at 2 p.m. at the MOTR Stage and a cooking demo by Bryn Mooth, author of the Findlay Market Cookbook, and Katie Zaidan of Mediterranean Imports at 2:30 p.m.

There will also be beer ambassadors pouring at the Cincinnati Sports League’s Beer Garden on behalf of different nonprofits or community groups each month. June’s ambassadors are the Cincinnati Young Black Professionals. Food trucks Bistro de Mohr, Dojo Gelato, Empanadas Aqui, Fireside Pizza and Hungry Brothers will be at SSOM areas to supplement the 30 participating bars, restaurants, shops and galleries and 80 artists and vendors.

The remaining 2015 SSOMs are “Pride” July 12, “EcoMAINia” Aug. 9, “Dance on Main” Sept. 13 and “Foodie Finale” Oct. 11.

“As OTR continues to grow, Second Sunday will continue to define itself as a community-driven festival,” Behle says. “I love that Second Sunday was, and continues to be, built by the neighborhood. It’s largely volunteer-run by residents and business owners and changes and adapts in response to the community’s needs.”

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Cincinnati Zoo Welcomes Rodents of Unusual Size

May 22, 2015 at 4:25 pm
May 22, 2015 |


From: Cincinnati.com

The Cincinnati Zoo Wildlife Cannon will welcome three of the largest rodents on earth in a new exhibit. The Capybaras, or water pigs, will be leaving their home at the Little Rock Arkansas Zoo and will be the first of their species at the Cincinnati Zoo.

The capybara is two feet tall and can weigh up to 140 pounds. They enjoy swimming and are able to stay under water for over five minutes thanks to the design of their snout.

The Cincinnati Zoo said the the three animals are named Cassatot, Aqua and Hydro and described them as falling into the “so-ugly-it’s-cute” category.

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Butts, Rebecca (22 May 2015) “World’s Largest Rodents Move to Cincinnati Zoo’ http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2015/05/22/worlds-largest-rodents-move-to-cincinnati-zoo/27777153/

Cincinnati’s Population Increases

May 21, 2015 at 3:54 pm
May 21, 2015 |

Image from: foodiecards.com

For the third year in a row, Cincinnati has experienced an increase in population according to the Census. This is the highest recorded number for Cincinnati this decade.

Cincinnati is now ranked the 65th most populated city nationally after its .4% increase in size this past year.this population is specific to the city and does not include near by suburbs. Cincinnati follows behind Columbus (15th) and Cleveland (48th).

Comey & Shepherd Realtors | Cincinnati Real Estate Blog | Cincinnati Real Estate | Comey Blog

Claire Paschen, Communications Intern

Information From:

The Enquirer (21 May 2015) ‘Census: Cincinnati’s Population Growing’ http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2015/05/21/census-cincinnatis-population-growing/27709431/

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