City Living 2017

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Dayton Street Tour Touts History and Livability By Stephen Novotni


hen you ask most people about the history of their home, they typically shrug. They might remember the empty nesters who sold them the house or they may have found some long-ago carved initials in a tree in the backyard, but mostly a home’s past is forgotten. But along the West End’s Dayton Street — once known as Millionaire’s Row — there is a deep remembrance of the people who built one of Cincinnati’s oldest neighborhoods and a push to return the partially restored and partially blighted street to its former glory. “They’re wonderful old homes — they’re grand and beyond,” says homeowner Sharon Cook. Cook is among about a dozen residents who plan to open their doors to the public for the biannual Dayton Street Historic District walking tour, slated for Oct. 8. The tour showcases rehabbed homes along three of the four blocks of Dayton Street, east of Lynn Street. Many are fine examples of how the rich lived in 19th-century Cincinnati, showcasing Greek Revival, Italianate, Second Empire and Victorian architecture. “There’s lots of history here worth preserving,” Cook says. “The stories of the individual houses is a history that deserves to be handed down to generations years from now.” Cook’s home was first occupied in 1857 by Edward Harwood Jr., a conductor of the Underground Railroad. She says she moved to the street in 1994 and that the neighborhood has slowly improved since then. “This is the best it’s been,” she says. “It started getting rehabbed in the ’70s, but it never took off. It was never really cohesive. But now, it’s tighter. Crime is less, drugs seem to be less, there’s more neighborly participation and it just feels like we are finally on our way. It’s a lot of young, new influences, people with energy and jobs that can afford to do the rehab. It’s been a huge difference.”

New to the Neighborhood

maintained as a museum for decades, showcasing the opulence of early Cincinnati. Acevedo’s home, built in 1866, was once owned by Cincinnati’s first leather tanner, Henry Martin. Even Cincinnati’s first mayor lived on the street, Acevedo says. “It was the affluent who built this neighborhood,” Cook says. Think of it as the precursor to Indian Hill. Of course, that was a long time ago, and many houses still sit vacant. But it’s not for lack of interest. Many are owned by investors who are sitting on the houses and waiting to cash in. “We have a lot of vacant houses,” Acevedo says. “But way less than there were 10 years ago.” Getting these homes occupied and functional is one of the primary goals of the Dayton Street Preservation Foundation, of which Acevedo and Cook are members and which puts on the tour to promote revitalization on Dayton Street. “A lot of these houses were inherited or purchased some years ago by random people as an investment,” Acevedo says. “They’re just sitting on their homes. Now

that Dayton Street is picking up, we feel like there’s a lot of people who just want to make a buck off of them. But, eventually, these homes will be sold to single families and these homes will be restored to their former glory.”

An OTR Alternative Prices for homes in the neighborhood aren’t cheap — $250,000 and more is typical — but neither have they reached the stratospheric, speculative costs of structures in nearby Over-the-Rhine. “OTR is bursting at the seams and people are spending a lot of money there,” Cook says. “For a lot less they can live in a similar situation.” Acevedo adds that the West End is more family oriented. And, as Cook and Acevedo are quick to note, it’s a quieter area than the progressive dinner party and bar-hopping found in OTR. “I don’t think there’s a need, necessarily, to have a bar right next to your home,” Acevedo says. “There are a lot of places that are going to come available soon for rental. I think overall, people enjoy that this is a

street with friendly neighbors. You can sit outside of your home and not have metered parking. You know everybody walking down the street.” New residents are required to maintain the historic character of the exterior homes. But inside, some of the centuryand-a-half-old structures are as modern as anything you might see in the ’burbs. Cook says the tour is self-led and each house is different. Individual homeowners are presenting their homes and their histories and can answer questions from visitors. The homes range from completely rehabbed and modernized to historically accurate to projects that have just begun. “It’s from one extreme to another,” Cook says. “You’d be amazed at what the younger generation has done with these. I’m a traditionalist and my house is pretty traditional, but what the new folks have done is also very pretty.” The DAY TON STREE T HISTORIC DISTRICT WALKING TOUR is scheduled for 1-4 p.m. Oct. 8. $10; free 12 and under. More info : day tonstree

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Abdiel Acevedo is one of those more recent residents who Cook describes. He’s been on Dayton Street for two years and has been living in his home while rehabbing it. Acevedo says he used to walk along Dayton Street while on his way to work and he fell in love with the architecture. Dayton Street is probably best known for the Hauk House, originally owned by philanthropist and brewer John Hauk, who once saved the Cincinnati Zoo from financial ruin. The Hauk House has been

renovated 1860s home // PHOTO : HAILEY BOLLINGER

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CMC Properties What does your business uniquely offer residents dedicated to city living?  The former Cincinnati Shakespeare Company theater is situated conveniently between OTR and The Banks, in the Central Business District. The theater offers walkability to several businesses, including bars and restaurants, and is four blocks from Fountain Square. The building offers an indoor pool on the top floor and 24-hour fitness center for tenants of the theater.

How has your business grown or changed during recent years? The building that houses the theater has been dramatically renovated in the three years since it was purchased, and future renovation plans are on the horizon. We are currently adding 10,000 square feet of new office space above the theater and will convert  the old skywalk to windows to give the office space natural light and a new look to the building. The office is a separate space from the theater.

In what ways are you excited for the future of city living in Cincinnati, and how does your business plan to be a part of the change? We are excited to see the continuing revitalization of downtown and hope to see our theater become a part of it! Our vision is to find a new tenant who brings a unique entertainment experience for residents of downtown.

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Within walking distance to major employers such as P&G, US Bank, and Kroger as well as Paul Brown Stadium, Fountain Square, and Washington Park Offered by CMC Properties Please Contact Commercial Leasing Manager Pete Montgomery


Garfield Tower •


CiTiRAMA Expands to the Suburbs By Stephen Novotni


L-r : t. j. ackermann and dan dressman // PHOTO : HAILEY BOLLINGER

is built like steps, with city services and the Mill Creek at the bottom of the stairs and each street on a progressively higher step until you reach the top of the hill, where Winton Woods begins. Woodlawn Meadows is near the middle of the staircase. It is also adjacent to a hike-bike path and Glenwood Gardens, so there are many natural amenities surrounding the development. Ackermann says the folks buying in are of many different races and backgrounds and that diversity is one of the neighborhood’s strengths. Woodlawn Meadows is the first newhome development in Woodlawn in almost two decades. Dan Dressman, executive director of the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati, describes the community as “phenomenal.” “It has so many things going for it,” Dressman says. He says the buy-in price is very affordable as well. Much of that has to do with land prices. Compared to costs in Mason, West Chester and Madeira, the lots are less than half the cost — $37,000 to $47,000 in Woodlawn versus more than $100,000 elsewhere.

“Most of the time the problem in the outerring suburban neighborhoods, is the availability of the lots — there just aren’t lots to be found,” Dressman says.

A Catalyst for Growth The Home Builders Association has been around since 1934 and was started as part of the New Deal to provide housing to veterans. At that time, the association was generally concerned only with suburbs. “The whole concept of associations like ours was started to spur new housing after the second World War,” Dressman says. “We started (CiTiRAMA) in 1996 because we saw some great opportunities and urban neighborhoods that were really in decline. We thought there were some great opportunities and we were really ahead of our time. If you look now at what’s going on in Cincinnati and its urban neighborhoods, they’re hot.” Dressman says neighborhoods are selected as development sites for CiTiRAMA on the basis of their potential for regrowth. “We typically look at neighborhoods that are on the decline and have some great potential,” Dressman says, referring to

past CiTiRAMAs in Northside and College Hill. “We’ve seen some real turnaround there, and if you look at the housing prices, the values have increased dramatically. I think we can justifiably say that CiTiRAMA has a lot to do with the regeneration of new housing and the increase in housing prices.” Ackermann says Woodlawn asked the Home Builders Association to build and present CiTiRAMA in Woodlawn. The village saw the value the event could bring and courted the event. “The Village of Woodlawn saw the success CiTiRAMAs were having revitalizing the neighborhoods such as Northside and College Hill,” Ackermann says. Dressman says they are taking the model of what they have done in the city and applying it to an outer ring community. “We are anticipating that others will follow after they see the success we have in Woodlawn,” Dressman says. CiTiR AMA runs from Oct. 7-15 in Woodl awn Meadows. $10; free ages 12 and under. More info :

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very year, CiTiRAMA plants a new neighborhood in Greater Cincinnati. Depending on whether you’re optimistic or cynical, you could see it as neighborhood revitalization or just big development. Either way, there’s at least a pinch of dreams in the mix as well. And, you’ve got to admit, there’s something alluring about that new-house smell. CiTiRAMA is put together by the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati and is the (mostly) urban counterpart to HOMEARAMA. Each year, a parcel of land is chosen and developed into new home sites. Past years’ developments have been located in Bond Hill, College Hill and Northside, to name a few. The 2017 CiTiRAMA is being held in the secondring suburban neighborhood of Woodlawn. Just a block away from Woodlawn City Hall and the Woodlawn Community Center, the new development is called Woodlawn Meadows. This is the first CiTiRAMA held outside the city limits of Cincinnati. Woodlawn Meadows developer T.J. Ackermann says 30 of the 43 homes in the development have already sold, which is unprecedented. Normally, he says, 16 to 20 homes are sold in the first year of a development. The homes are selling for between $250,000 and $350,000. One thing that has helped the project’s success, Ackermann says, is having support from Dr. Thomas Woods-Tucker, the Superintendent of Princeton City School District. “He is a big proponent of this development, and the school district was instrumental in approving a full tax abatement for this property for 15 years,” Ackermann says. “He sees the value in long-term investment in this community and in bringing new homes and new students into the school district. The school district will end up reaping the long-term benefit.” It can be hard to imagine what vacant land looked like before it became a home. And it’s just as hard to see a development on what was once just land. But every neighborhood is built from scratch, and Woodlawn Meadows looked completely different in 2016. “This was city-owned land and it was used for debris, for organic materials,” Ackermann says. “So all the tree limbs, all the branches, all the leaves from Woodlawn, the city services would collect it here.” Today, it’s more neighborhood than field. Half of the homes are near completion and the rest are in the early stages of construction. This part of Woodlawn

Solar Power Offers an Efficient Alternative to the Grid By Stephen Novotni

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f you’ve ever started a fire with a magnifying glass, you know first-hand how powerful the sun can be. It seems like it shouldn’t be so easy to start paper smoldering, but it is. Likewise, it’s surprisingly easy and cost effective to squeeze electricity from sunlight. Locals who benefit from solar power in business and at home say switching to solar power makes good sense. Zach Wieber is the director of operations at Icon Solar, a solar installer based in Milford. He says there are many misconceptions about solar: principally, that it is exotic and out of reach to most homeowners. But it is actually one of the most practical choices you can make, he says. Icon installs photovoltaic systems in homes and businesses. A typical photovoltaic system for a home costs $20,000-$25,000. And whether you finance or pay outright, it can end up saving you a lot in the long-run. Wieber notes that a bill from Duke Energy of $100 per month translates into $12,000 over a decade — and that’s if electric rates stay the same. On average, he says, solar panels generate 80 percent of a home’s power, so a utility bill might drop to anywhere from $10 to about $35 per month depending on your consumption and the orientation of your roof. A south-facing roof is the most efficient. “One of the things that is a misconception with solar is that people look at solar as a cost,” Wieber says. “What we’re doing is just reallocating money that you are already spending. It’s not a cost. You’re not taking money out of your vacation fund to buy solar. You’re not taking money from remodeling the bathroom to buy solar. What you’re doing is taking money that you’re already spending with Duke and spending it somewhere else. How much is what you’re doing now going to cost you? You’re paying your electric bill because you’ve never had a choice.” Wieber says his company looks at how much electricity a homeowner has used over the last year and makes a recommendation as to the size of the system. There is an element of instant gratification as you get to see the results on the first bill. “You can purchase a solar array that will produce that same amount of electricity for anywhere from a half to a third the cost,” Wieber says. “Some months you won’t have a bill at all, some months you’ll have a bill. But the net for that entire year will offset 80 percent of the cost because during those months when you produce more power than what you’re using, it’s sending that power to Duke and Duke credits you dollar for dollar for what you send back. When it’s nighttime and you start using, you get those credits

Residential sol ar panels // PHOTO : THINKSTOCK

back from Duke before they start charging you again for electricity.” Also, a home solar system can be just as reliable as the grid. “There’s not much that goes on on a daily basis where we’re not using solar in some capacity,” Wieber says. “Your TV comes from satellites. Your cell phone comes from satellites. There’s a lot of things that we depend on every single day that depend on solar. Up in the sky, there’s no electric to run to them. They have solar panels attached to them and they’ve had solar panels attached since the ’60s and the ’70s. Very few times do we have a mass outage of people’s cell phones, because it’s a very reliable source of electricity.” Krista Atkins Nutter, an interior designer and architect, designed her family home in Milford to be an example of how far green design can be pushed. She and her husband Ken are very proud of what they achieved and enjoy sharing their experiences. “We have three sun systems,” Ken says. “We have the photovoltaic, the solar water system and we also have passive solar. We heat and cool through use of the sun. We

built the house as an educational model. We used materials and construction methods that are good for the environment.” The Nutter home also incorporates a rainwater collection system that supplies much of the water the family uses. The home was one of the stops along this year’s Green Energy Ohio Tour, an event showcasing environmentally responsible and lowenergy residences throughout Ohio. There were a half-dozen homes around Cincinnati that were open to the public during the last weekend of September. On the surface, the Nutter home looks modern, but typical. Ken and Krista have shown the differences in their home to more than 2,000 visitors since it was built in 2007. Notably, 22 solar panels on the roof supply power, and their electric meter runs backward during the day. Ken, a high school teacher, says they spend around $800 to $900 annually on the electricity they use that is over and above what they produce. Their home is 2,800 square feet and includes an outdoor pool. The bill was about $400 annually before the addition of the pool. Ken says they used to

think a lot about the money when they first started, but now the reduced bills just seem normal. “We buy at night and then the meter goes backward during the day,” he says. “We used to get a report daily. But now, we’re past that.” Ken says he encourages people who visit to address the insulation in their homes before looking into solar. New appliances, new windows — that stuff isn’t as sexy as photovoltaics, but it builds a foundation for responsible energy use and makes sure your energy isn’t literally being swept out the front door. Krista teaches environmental design with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh–Online Division and built the home as an example of what is possible. “The return on the investment for the solar hot water heater was about five to six years, so our hot water now is basically free,” she says. “The solar electric system is about 12 years, so in a couple of years we’re generating energy for free. It’s a no-brainer, really. The only time it doesn’t make sense is if you know you’re going to be leaving a place before that 12 years is up.” ©

Perfect Parks for Relaxing, Exploring and Socializing by cit ybeat staff

Over-the-Rhine The six-acre Washington Park (1230 Elm St., is a renovated 150-year-old urban public space that offers a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of the city — like Central Park, but a lot smaller and without a zoo or restaurant. But what it lacks in zoos, it makes up for in interactive features like a dog park, children’s playground, sycnchronizable splashable jets and an elevated deck with lounge seating, yard games and a full bar (hooray!). The park also offers plenty of free programming, from instructor-led workouts, movie screenings and pop-up markets to beer fests, holiday happenings and happy hours. It’s basically Over-the-Rhine’s backyard.

Mount Airy

Downtown Riverfront The Banks ( is a booming mixed-use riverfront development between the Reds’ and Bengals’ stadiums with lots of space and a family-friendly vibe. It’s home to the multi-level riverfront dining destination of local brewery Moerlein Lager House (115 Joe Nuxhall Way,, with 25 beers on tap and a great view of the Ohio River. Rent a surrey bike ( and ride along riverfront park Sawyer Point (705 E. Pete Rose Way, or neighboring Smale Riverfront Park (100 W. Mehring Way, smale-riverfront-park) near the Roebling Suspension Bridge, with spraygrounds, bench-swings and a whimsical carousel.

Spring Grove Village More than 150 years after its founding, Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum’s (4521 Spring Grove Ave., springgrove. org) 730-acre grounds are considered a masterpiece of landscaping art. Many famous Cincinnati families have found final resting places here, displaying their wealth in ornate marble and granite monuments, mausoleums and weeping stone angels. The nonprofit Heritage Foundation offers various tours of the aforementioned, as well as walkabouts focusing on topics such as horticulture, architecture and Civil War history.

Hyde Park Square (2700 Erie Ave., boasts an impressive collection of eclectic shops and restaurants. Wine Walk Wednesdays on second Wednesdays feature live music, promotional pricing and plenty of wine

(June-October). The Hyde Park Farmers Market (Erie Avenue and Edwards Road, offers fresh produce and locally made wares 9:30 a.m.1:30 p.m. Sundays (May-October).

Mount Lookout The 224-acre Ault Park (5090 Observatory Ave., is the perfect place for a walk, run or picnic, offering nine trails. Get a gorgeous view of the Ohio River from nearby Alms Park (710 Tusculum Ave., overlook. Called Bald Hill, the point was originally cleared by Native Americans to get a look at the early settlement below.

Price Hill/West Side March to the beat of your own drum (literally) at Percussion Park (3546 Warsaw Ave,, an interactive sculptural instrument installation built by Cincinnati musician Ben Sloan and fueled by local creative philanthropic lab People’s Liberty. Colorful DIY percussion instruments — marimbas, chimes,

cymbals and drums — are made out of repurposed wood, steel, propane tanks, PVC pipes, old gears and bike racks and affixed to a concrete pad underneath a park pergola. Anyone is welcome to come play, for free. It’s a vibrant and musical addition to the up-and-coming East Price Hill neighborhood.

Northern Kentucky Devou Park ( offers incomparable river views, as well as a golf course and the Behringer-Crawford Museum (1600 Montague Road,, dedicated to collecting, preserving and exhibiting the Ohio Valley’s heritage. The 13-block Licking Riverside Drive Historic District includes Civil War homes, carriage houses, Underground Railroad tunnels and life-size bronze statues of historic figures in lifelike poses; take your picture fake-sketching next to the permanently sketching John James Audubon, who visited Northern Kentucky in 1819. Goebel Park (501 Philadelphia St., is a community gathering spot at the edge of MainStrasse

Village that features a herd of goats that help eat weeds and maintain the park’s landscape. The annual running of the Goebel Goats ( is an entertaining afternoon spawned after the goats famously escaped for a 24-hour jaunt through the city in 2016.

Blue Ash Formerly the site of the Blue Ash Airport, Summit Park (4335 Glendale Milford Road, features winding walking trails, a spacious lawn, a dog park and a creative and colorful children’s playground. When the streetfood savants behind Over-the-Rhine’s Senate (1100 Summit Drive, opened a second location here this summer, the ’burbs were blessed with favorite high-end hot dogs, like the Trailer Park, with applewood bacon, American cheese, coleslaw and crushed spicy-sweet Grippo’s, plus sidekicks like truffle fries and shortrib poutine. But the Blue Ash menu also includes a dedicated kids menu, Sunday brunch (eggs, goetta, chilaquiles, etc.) and a creamy Salted Caramel Frostee.

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Hyde Park

e verybody’s treehouse in Mount Airy Forest // PHOTO : HAILEY BOLLINGER

For those in the know, Everybody’s Treehouse feels like a slice of a childhood fairytale. Buried in the thick of the 1,500-acre Mount Airy Forest (5083 Colerain Ave., cincinnatiparks. com), this whimsical arboreal abode is one of Cincinnati Park’s biggest secrets. Thronged by trees and wildlife, the elevated, wheelchair-accessible treehouse is the perfect spot to curl up with a book, plan a picnic, hang out with friends or laze away the day. For more outdoor exploration, the Western Wildlife Corridor ( runs along the Ohio River’s scenic wooded hillsides and greenspaces from the Mill Creek to the Great Miami River border. It’s full of parks, preserves and some strenuous hiking.




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