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Monday, February 11, 2008

SoHo of the Midwest?

I wasn't able to attend the recent Cincy bloggers tour of the Gateway Quarter, but I've got some thoughts on the things happening in OTR nonetheless. 3CDC is making tremendous progress on its projects, and there are a stream of other investments that are complimenting these investments by 3CDC (see Washington Park, SCPA, Cincinnati Arts Academy, Main Street businesses, etc).

When you then think about the even greater potential, for private investment, that will be made possible by the Cincinnati could really make you weak in the knees. I understand the issue of gentrification and/or displacement and it is certainly an issue that will have to be addressed as these efforts continue, but right now there is PLENTY of room for everyone to coexist.

I look at OTR and see that often talked about potential for Cincinnati. This is a neighborhood/built environment that VERY few cities can match...anywhere! When I see the things going on in the Gateway Quarter I can't help but think of OTR becoming the SoHo of the Midwest. This is an opportunity for Cincinnati to be a major draw for YPs, the creative class, and new businesses. If ever the opportunity has is now. Cincinnati stand strong, this is your time!

So what do think should become of OTR? Do you see the SoHo that I see...or something else, please share your thoughts.

The rendering is of the proposed new infill (by 3CDC) called Trinity Flats on Vine Street. You can see images of the structures that were taken down HERE.


Chris S said...

I only moved to Cincinnati 3 years ago now, but I've always said since day one that if I had a million dollars, OTR is where that money would go. Never mind the SoHo pie in the sky ;) dollars and cents wise, that is investment POTENTIAL.

VisuaLingual said...

You may be right about this trajectory. A quick search through the NYT archives of SoHo-related articles reveals one possible future for OTR:

16 Jan 83
[T]he word SoHo - once synonomous with grime - has come to signify artsy sophistication and glamour. [...] One irony that SoHo residents must face is that while it has never been easier to find a good brioche or an arrangement of cut flowers in the neighborhood, there is only one dry cleaner, and the nearest grocery store for such mundane daily needs as a quart of milk and a bar of soap can be many blocks away.

12 Jun 88
It is those restaurants and boutiques - along with the art galleries - that define SoHo for many visitors. From Dean & DeLuca, a cornucopia of fresh and exotic foods, to Chanterelle, the only downtown restaurant to earn four stars from The New York Times restaurant critic, good food is never far way in SoHo. [...] Yet as a community created within an old manufacturing district, SoHo lags behind in basics like supermarkets, barbershops and variety stores. Schools, too, tend to be outside the neighborhood.

3 Jan 93
Views of soot-covered factory buildings may justify high prices, but there are no supermarkets, dry cleaners or pharmacies, so residents go elsewhere for them.

13 Jun 99
As real estate prices have escalated, pushing artists to Brooklyn and upstate, newer SoHo residents are doctors, lawyers, investment bankers and people from the entertainment and fashion industries. [...] ''Everything is high end in SoHo,'' Ms. Hardy said. ''It's hard to find a plunger, but bakeries are plentiful.'' [...] [I]ncreasingly, expensive retail stores are displacing smaller businesses. A post office on Prince Street is being reduced in size to make room for a home furnishing store.

Randy Simes said...

I agree Chris...if I had some money I would be buying along the proposed Cincinnati Streetcar route right now. Values are going to spike shortly after construction starts on the streetcar line.

Anonymous said...

I think the streetcar is already built into the price of these properties. If it doesn't get built, they will fall.

It will also be critical that Cincinnati continue to change its image to attract a critical mass of the residents who will make OTR the SoHo of Southwestern Ohio...anyways, that's a broken record. I applaud all (Go Randy) who are trying to do it.

Randy Simes said...

The average market value of properties in the 1000 block of Elm Street is about $60,000. One being as low as $11,400. I'm pretty sure those are not reflective of any kind of increases...from ANYTHING!

Anonymous said...

Your ambition and that of your cohorts is admirable. Still, as noted here as elsewhere, it takes more than that. Broken record again. There is an image problem and then there are the problems that create the image. Example? Green issues. They go deeper than the current new plans and lip service, some would say, cited by city officials. This is a truly toxic environment, that's just facts! The desire for truly green, healthful, sustainable living figures into the choices of the creative class, after all. There are serious issues needing addressing, P & G, etc and et al. Hard to see it happening.

Anonymous said...

Market Value based upon what? Tax assessor values? Not a good representation of what the market pricies will bare.

What are these buildings listed for? What has closed recently? How much work will have to be put into these structures, or are you buying a shell with $50K in demo costs and a lot?

There is still a question of how deep the market truly is in OTR and how many YP's and Empty Nesters plan on leaving Hyde Park for greener pastures in OTR

Randy Simes said...

They're newcomers to the region...just ask the Realtors who are overseeing the deals.

The point I'm making is that the value hasn't yet spiked, since there is no for sure basis that the Cincinnati Streetcar will even happen. Sure there has been some speculation (primarily with 3CDC), but for the most part...people are sitting on properties waiting for prices to get the streetcar bump.

Anonymous said...

Sure Randy, people come and go to and from Cincinnati all the time. It's not like Kroger and P&G get all their employees from UC; we both know that.

My point was because Cincinnati continues to lose more of the demographic that might be attracted to OTR, than it gains, that success in OTR, will more than likely occur to the detriment of other slowly gentrifying neighborhoods in Cincinnati such as Northside, Madisonville, E. Walnut Hills; as well as those more established ones such as HP, Oakley and Mt. Adams because they're all competing for the same demographic as residents.

You have to hope that a revitalized OTR not only stems the outflow of YP's and creative types, but also continues to attract people who might otherwise want to go to say...I don't know...Cleveland, but choose to move to Cincinnat for its vibrant urban core and charming bloggers.

Jeff said...

I like the idea of OTR transitioning to a Soho type atmosphere and it certainly has some of the ground work laid for a more artistic and eclectic urban environment. However I don’t think that this future has been laid in stone yet and find it hard to believe that there has been much increase in current property values to reflect the street car proposal, especially given the current state of the real estate market and the fire the street car proposal has taken in the press lately (regardless of how slanderous in nature it was). What I do think, is that the next six months to a year will ultimately determine a great deal of OTR’s fate for the next five or ten years and that the continued development of the street car proposal, in addition to other project designed to reinvigorate the area as these periods of urban renewal often comes in waves as public support fluctuates. My hope is that with support and hard work, and smart investing, we are able to help the area turn around and pull in urbanites from other areas and cities that are considering relocating which will allow Cincinnati to experience a greater degree of urban growth balanced with suburban development. I think that given the current trend we can be positive and optimistic about these things but with that I would offer a reminder that progress is not easy and if we want to see OTR develop as a Midwestern Soho its going to take a great deal of time and progress greater then any one project….but we are on the right track.

Augustus and Toby the Dog

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