Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Revitalization of OTR

The New York Times takes a look at commercial development in Cincinnati, including major projects in Over-the-Rhine:
Much of the focus of that interest is in Over-the-Rhine where 1,100 to 1,400 new residential units are either under development or planned over the next two years, said Anastasia Mileham, vice president for marketing and communications at 3CDC, the neighborhood’s principal developer.
That surge in interest follows $335 million in investment by 3CDC to renovate or construct new buildings for 176 apartments, 17 restaurants, 23 new offices, and 14 retail stores. The total includes $48 million to restore Washington Park, and build a parking deck underneath, a project completed in 2012.
Additionally, 3CDC is supervising the $130 million restoration of Music Hall, a 136-year-old, 3,300-seat performing arts theater in the district and home of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The project is financed by tax credits, city investments, grants and donations.
Over-the-Rhine, which a decade ago had 500 vacant buildings and 700 vacant lots, has become one of Cincinnati’s choice residential neighborhoods for young professionals, and is now a busy downtown office, retail and entertainment district.
On Martin Luther King Day a year ago, the People’s Coalition for Equality and Justice, a civil rights group, organized a demonstration to attract attention to housing displacement fostered by climbing real estate prices in Over-the-Rhine. Property values climbed over 25 percent in 2014, faster than any other Cincinnati neighborhood, according to Hamilton County figures.
City officials responded that the 40-square-block neighborhood has 1,000 units of affordable housing. Executives from 3CDC added that their projects incorporated space for subsidized work force housing. For instance, 30 of the 67 rental apartments in the four-year-old, $55 million Mercer Commons project are designated for families earning $26,000 a year or less.
Over-the-Rhine was such an under-invested and underutilized potential treasure for the city for so long.   It is great to see the area being renovated and becoming the go-to neighborhood for entertainment, and one which convinces more people to move into the city core.  After decades of fleeing downtown, it is good to see people coming back.

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