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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Triage at the Blue Wisp tonight!

Triage will be at the Blue Wisp Thursday, May 1st. I can't think of a better way to kick off the new month than by enjoying an UrbanCincy night at the Blue Wisp with one of Cincinnati's best and a Cammy Award winner.

Triage is made up of Eugene Goss (vocals/percussion), Billy Larkin (keyboards/vocals), and Marc Wolfley (drums). The show will start at 8:30pm and has a $8 cover charge (minus your $3 UrbanCincy discount of course).

Blue Wisp (GoogleMap)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Downtown Treasure Hunt

The European-American Chamber of Commerce and the Alliance Francaise are hosting a Downtown Treasure Hunt this Saturday, May 3rd. The event will start at 1:30pm and last until 4:30pm. On the walk you will attempt to discover some of Cincinnati's many hidden gems.

It is described as a stroller-friendly event that will cover just over a mile. Refreshments will be served and prizes will be awarded at the end of the event. The cost is $10 per person or $20 per family. For more information and to register, please fill out the form available online (PDF 580kb) and fax it to the European-American Chamber of Commerce at 513-852-6511 or call 513-852-6510.

Get off the juice

Gas is $3.65/gallon around many parts of the metro, and even higher in other parts of the country. As a result people are starting to combine trips, rethink purchasing that Hummer, and are generally looking for ways to cut their consumption - which is great.

At the same time politicians in DC are doing what they do best which is pretending as if they care about reducing our dependence on foreign oil. $3.59 sounds like a lot, but in reality it is still not high enough to cover the costs of maintaining our beloved road system. State DOTs, across the country, are going bankrupt and the feds are going to be hitting the red very soon.

The rise in prices is simply going to the foreign nations that are providing us the drug that fuels our addiction. At the same time our infrastructure is literally crumbling and we seem to have no backup strategy as to how to deal with modest gas prices (when compared to other developed nations at least).

So what's an average citizen to do with these soaring gas prices and miserable economy? The answer is not pawning off your gold to pay for more gas. I would suggest moving closer to where you work, riding Metro (if possible), or carpool. These are all obvious solutions, but it seems that the location one gets overlooked quite a bit and is the one that can/will make the biggest impact.

Given that most people in this region work either Downtown or Uptown, I would suggest moving into the City of Cincinnati. Crime has been dramatically reduced over the past few years, Cincinnati Public Schools are poised to be ranked as 'Effective' (comparable to most suburban school districts), and there are numerous tax abatements available to avoid property taxes entirely in some cases up to 20 years...and you could save a lot money on your commuting costs.

Transit Options for Cincy:
Cincinnati Streetcar
Light Rail Now

Sunday, April 27, 2008

All over Cincy (Photos)

I was all over the place this past Thursday and Friday...and I made sure to take my camera along. As a result you're able to enjoy some of my favorites from the two days of random photography.

Neighborhoods represented in this slideshow include: Downtown, Over-the-Rhine, Clifton Heights, Hyde Park, The Heights, Columbia Tusculum, East Walnut Hills, Corryville, and Mariemont.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Get your flowers here

The Flower Carpet that has been on Fountain Square since April 7th will be going away this Sunday (4/27). The best part about it is that they will be giving the flowers away to the public for free. The public is free to line up prior to the giveaway that will run from 7am-10am (or until the plants are gone).

Each person will be given a crate that holds six pots. If you would like more than one crate you are permitted to get back in line for another.

Photo by Randy Simes

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Happy Hour Cincinnati: Buddakhan

I don't think a lot of people know about Buddakhan, but its got a nice happy hour (M-F) drink selection and a huge food menu. They now have a lunch, dinner, and late night food menu to take care of their customers all throughout the day.

For happy hour you can get 22oz. drafts for $2 which includes Bud Light and 2 rotating featured drafts. If draft beer isn't your thing then you can choose from 40 different selections of beer on stock.

This is a great spot to hit up midway through your night if you're looking for some food and want the drinks to keep on flowing. It also works for that late night end cap (open until 2:30am every day). Buddakhan also has live music occasionally and many of the tables include their own personal TV on the table.

The other great thing about Buddakhan is its location. All you have to do is turn your head and you could continue your hop to Lodge Bar, BlackFinn, Madonna's, Sully's, Cadillac Ranch, Universal Grille, Rockin' Robins, Via Vite, Havana Martini Club, Arnold's, Blue Wisp Jazz Club, or Nada (I'm sure I forgot something, so forgive me).

713 Vine Street (GoogleMap)
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Previous happy hour coverage on UrbanCincy:
Via Vite

Buddakhan Classic Rock Café on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Streetcar passes FC, poised to pass Council

There was an emergency Finance Committee session held today at 9am to hear the compromise motion put forward from Mayor Mallory. This motion puts forth everything that was presented in the original study (Downtown/OTR Circulator route), but also includes the connector piece to Uptown. Essentially the connector piece is now included with Phase 1 and will be built at the same time...adding an additional $35M to the project cost that must be secured now prior to the start of construction.

There was lengthy discussion and John Cranley belabored the finance portions of the plan. Qualls seemed to ask a few questions just to get the responses 'on the record' from City Manager Milton Dohoney and City Architect Michael Moore. Chris Bortz spoke in favor of the project and described this time as, "a time for Cincinnati to be bold."

Jim Tarbel was the only public speaker and referred to the streetcar project as, "the single most important development project right now and over the past decade." John Cranley made sure to quickly point out that he "respectfully disagreed" with Mr. Cincinnati and that he wishes the project success.

When all the dust settled the votes came in and it was a unanimous vote (7-0, Laketa Cole was absent). This will now go on to the full Council today at 2pm at City Hall. When it is approved there the project is given a green light and the legislative approval from City Council. The City will then be able to enter into negotiations with private entities to pay for portions of the project. The snowball has begun its proverbial journey down the hill. Be there at 2pm and afterwards there will be celebrations at City Cellars (908 Race Street) around 5:30pm.

Additional reading on UrbanCincy:
Clyffside, Streetcars, Moerlein...oh my
A challenge for those who demand better
Cincinnati is ready to GO
Cincinnati sleepy no more
Streetcars/Transit should be #1 priority for Cincinnati - Reader's choice

Monday, April 21, 2008

Be a Volunteer Ambassador in OTR

Vitality Over-the-Rhine is a non-profit group that came into existence in the Fall of 2006. They are dedicated to making resident/business driven initiatives reality in Over-the-Rhine.

Currently they are embarking on a new Volunteer Ambassador Program. You need not be a resident of OTR to apply. You don't even need to be familiar with the neighborhood. If you are simply looking for a way to get involved and make an impact then this is for you.

All ambassadors will be provided with a map, a list of neighborhood contacts, and a T-shirt to wear whenever they're in Over-the-Rhine for any reason (additional resources will be provided as needed). Several Over-the-Rhine businesses will be providing drinks and restrooms for ambassadors to use.

Volunteers will not be required to check in, record hours or maintain a certain route, though volunteers can opt to have their time logged for any service requirements that they need to fulfill. While the structure of the program is fairly laid back, Vitality Over-the-Rhine asks that ambassadors not get drunk or cross over into the CBD while in service (to avoid confusion with the DCI Ambassadors Downtown).

This effort will continue as long as there is interest from volunteers. Fortunately enough for UrbanCincy readers...I'm organizing this whole effort. You can contact me for more information and details.

Randy A. Simes | Vitality Over-the-Rhine
Volunteer Ambassador Coordinator

Sunday, April 20, 2008

NIMBY Tip of the Month (4.08)

Support the inner-city.

Have you ever wondered why more suburbanites/exurbanites aren't more supportive of inner-city redevelopment, and urban living as a whole? Many of these people move out to say cornfield Butler/Warren County and then get upset when a bunch of other people do the same thing and ruin their good thing.

At the same time these are the first people you will hear chime in with negativity about the Cincinnati Streetcar, The Banks, or anything else going on in the inner-city. I would expect these types of people to be the biggest advocates for urban living and inner-city reinvestment. I mean after all, the more people that stay in the core the less that ruin their good thing, right?

I guess it all boils down to this. The people who live in cities generally like being around lots of other people (to a certain degree), and those that live out in the exurbs are typically the opposite. So all of you residents of Mason, West Chester, Lebanon, etc need to start being inner-city will help to get more people in the city with those of us who want them, and it will keep more people away from your pristine suburban lawn. People helping people.

Image Credit:
Downtown West Chester Scares Me by Lookatme Shirts

Buy the Downtown West Chester Scares Me shirt HERE!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Happy Hour Cincinnati: Via Vite

There are tons of great happy hours around town...many of which are largely unknown. For the first of what will become an ongoing series, I will highlight Via Vite's great happy hour.

First of all, Via Vite's happy hour is EVERY day and lasts from 3-6 (I was told 7pm by our waitress the other week). Unfortunately they don't offer any draft selections, but they do serve Christian Moerlein's OTR Ale. After you take the $1.50 off you'll be enjoying some great OTR Ale for $2 on Via Vite's rooftop terrace.

The rooftop terrace is what really makes Via Vite special. It sits directly on Fountain Square and makes for one of the best happy hour environments around. Plus the rooftop terrace consists of couches arranged in a way that is great for groups of up to around 6 people.

The food specials also make it a great spot to start off your evening downtown. The wood fired pizzas are great for sharing with a friend and are at a great happy price - $7. If you're in the mood for a great happy hour today then be sure to check out Via Vite. The location is to die for and the food and drink live up to the high expectations.

View pictures from Via Vite's rooftop terrace HERE!

Via Vite
520 Vine Street (GoogleMap)
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Additional Via Vite Reading:
Via Vite -
Via Vite -

Via Vite on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bearcat in the flesh

Want to see an actual Bearcat, in person? Well you have a great chance now at the Cincinnati Zoo. If you are a student, faculty member, or staff member with the University of Cincinnati you can get into the zoo for 1/2 price now until May 25th (with an ID).

The Cincinnati Zoo's Executive Director and the UC President Nancy Zimpfer kicked off the Bearcat's return to the Cincinnati Zoo. In addition to the return, this baby Bearcat still needs a name. The public can enter into the Zoo's, "Name the Baby Bearcat" contest until April 30th...with a winner being announced on Friday, May 9th.

Click here to submit a name for the baby Bearcat

Image Credit:
Cincinnati Zoo

Help save 1502 Vine Street

You may or may not have heard, but another gem in Over-the-Rhine is at risk of being demolished. The building is around 15th & Vine on the NE corner. There is however a twist in this effort is underway to raise private money as a sign of good faith to save the building from the wrecking ball.

The hope is that enough private money is raised to show a level of commitment that could go a long way in saving the building. This financial commitment could then help to leverage $100,000 the City has for restoration and $150,000 that 3CDC has for potential use on the building.

If you're interested in helping, please check out, or (different pledge levels).

Image Credit:
Cincinnati Preservation Association, Margo Warminski

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Clyffside, Streetcars, Moerlein...oh my

Last Friday, April 11th was a great day for Over-the-Rhine, and especially the Brewery District. There was the debut of a new Ohio Historical Marker for the Brewery District...and the Clyffside building kicked off its renovation process with a 'wall knocking' by council members Chris Bortz and Roxanne Qualls.

Brewery District people spoke, the two council members, and many others saw this as a chance to voice their support for the Cincinnati Streetcar. At one point the audience was instructed to look out the window and notice where the northern end of the Streetcar will eventually be (1.5 blocks away or so). Needless to say, people were excited about the historical honor and the announcement of a renovation project that will bring 19 new units to OTR ranging from the low-100's to the mid-200's. Oh yeah, and the free Christian Moerlein was great too.

Over-the-Rhine certainly has some serious momentum that it hasn't had for a long, long time. Speculation is already occurring along the proposed streetcar route and the neighborhood's rich history is starting to get the recognition it deserves. To that I say cheers, over a Christian Moerlein OTR Ale.

You can view the rest of my photos from the Clyffside ribbon cutting, historical marker, and building tour HERE.

View from The Clyffside units (Randy Simes)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Accountability comes a knockin'

City Manager Milton Dohoney is at it again. The City has for too long let developers linger around and stall on potential development sites for a variety of reasons. Most of which aren't good enough reasons for me. Our city has reached the point where we no longer have to bend over backwards for developers. Instead it is about time they (private developers) start living up to their respective end of the agreement.

Dohoney's first bold manuever was to call out Eagle Realty on their lackluster development progress on 5th & Race. The City had essentially given Eagle Realty the land for nothing and simply ask that they develop something on an already cleared plot of land, and arguably one of the most prime pieces of real estate in the CBD. Dohoney said enough was enough, and informed Eagle that the City was taking away their development rights to the site.

Now on a much less prominent property, but equally as disturbing, Dohoney has once again taken the bold action of demanding that a developer live up to their end of an agreement. At 33 W. Fourth Street (corner of 4th & Race), the City gave a lease to MMF Realty with the expectations that they would redevelop this site. Well 3.5 years have passed and virtually nothing has occurred at the site.

In the mean time the City has heard from several other developers who are interested in developing the site themselves. Sounds like a win, win to me. Take this property off of MMF Realty's hands - who clearly doesn't want to do anything - and sell it off to another developer who is willing to do the job. It's great to have a City Manager like Milton Dohoney around who actually has the backbone to stand up for the City and say enough is enough.

Related readings on UrbanCincy:
Cincinnati's Mark Twain complex
A challenge for those who demand better

Keep the heart strong

Neighborhoods are what makes cities great, and strong/unique neighborhoods is one of Cincinnati's greatest attributes. With that said, those neighborhoods stand little to no chance at survival without a strong core...and in Cincinnati's case that couldn't be more true.

Cincinnati's center city is more important to the Cincinnati region more so than most other regions. The reason is pure and simple...a higher percentage of the region's jobs are in the core, and more so than in most regions (sans Pittsburgh, Boston, and a couple others).

We need to constantly work at maintaining our strong neighborhoods, but we can never lose sight of what enables those neighborhoods to be what they are. Cincinnati's center city is the economic engine that keeps our neighborhoods great.

It is understandable for neighborhoods to get upset over what they may perceive as special treatment towards the center city in terms of attention and investment, but really when we invest in our core (see streetcars) we are also investing in the rest of our great neighborhoods.

Photo Credit:
Celebration! by Alex Peppers
Part of the Capture Cincinnati collection

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Andy Brown Trio at the Blue Wisp

The Andy Brown Trio will be performing at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club this Thursday, April 10th at 8:30pm. The trio consists of Andy Brown (guitar), Rob Allgeyer (organ), and Ben Cliness (drums). Together the trio makes for some great listening.

Keep in mind this is a Thursday performance, so that means UrbanCincy night at the Blue Wisp. Be sure to go check out the club and the Andy Brown Trio...and most importantly mention UrbanCincy at the door and get $3 off the $10 cover charge.

318 East 8th Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
513.241.WISP (9477)

*Blue Wisp's April schedule

Monday, April 7, 2008


As you have probably seen, the results for March's poll are in...and they are clearly skewed towards one end of the spectrum. Of the 125 total votes 64% of the respondents said that they only ride Metro a few times a month or never at all.

Due to what I thought was the readership of this site, I found this somewhat surprising, but then after further thought not so much. For full disclosure I must say that I selected the 'couple times a week' option. Once I move though that response will most certainly change to a daily ridership as I plan to get rid of my car entirely.

So what's your you ride often or not so much. And in either case, what's the rationale? Is it an inconvenience, not your style, or do you really love and/or hate riding the bus? Do tell.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Best Week Ever? No, but a really good one

This week has been pretty amazing for the City of Cincinnati and OTR:

2. Strickland adds more historic tax credits for OTR
3. Outside opens in the Gateway Quarter
4. The Music Now Festival hits the three year mark
5. Rookwood Pottery moves to OTR based on the future streetcar...without even full approval, the streetcar, is already causing economic development to occur.
6. The Banks broke ground

There was also a really good article in the Pulse of the City about the Brewery District

Rendering of Booty's, Produced by Jeff Ruby - Image Provided

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Fight the hypocrisy

The local media outlets have never been shy of notifying the public on how long it has taken to get things going on The Banks, nor have they been hesitant to smear every person/agency related to the project - attributing said delay to them. At the same time the many local naysayers and/or skeptics have been openly critical of politicians, government, non-profits, and even those who support reinvestment in our region's core. These same people and entities have not hesitated in questioning $25M in City money for a streetcar system in our region's core.

I do not have a problem with people who wish to keep things in check and/or question authority, but what I do hope is that these same people place the same amount of scrutiny on other things. If we are going to question $25M of public dollars for streetcars, then I surely hope that we question the $2.5B that will be spent on roadway projects this year alone. These roadway projects are not subject to public vote and are simply funded with little public debate or dialog.

Additionally as we all know, The Banks has been 9 years in the making...and the local media has had no qualms with pitting Nky v. Cincinnati in the past, so I hope this same level of scrutiny is passed along to another comparable project in Nky - Newport Ovation.

I applaud local leaders for their dedicated work on The Banks and the Cincinnati Streetcar project. These types of projects are not easily done and often times take many years to accomplish. Keep up the good work.

Photo Credit: Cincinnati Enquirer/Gary Landers

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What a difference 5 years makes

There have been lots of changes to Cincinnati's landscape over the past 5 years. UC's world-renowned campus architecture, Daniel Libeskind's Ascent at Roebling's Bridge, Julian Stanczak's art installation, and Zaha Hadid's ground-breaking Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art are just a few. At the same time Mayor Mallory has restored the Planning Department and said, "It is time that we put Cincinnati back on the map as a leader in the area of city planning."

As a way to celebrate the Contemporary Arts Center's 5-year anniversary (at their new building) they will be holding a discussion about the many recent changes to Cincinnati's landscape. The discussion will be primarily focused on planning/architecture commentary, but will also go into sculpture art and other installations.
The discussion will be moderated by Michaele Pride (Chair of UC School of Architecture at DAAP) and will consist of the following panel members:

Richard Rosenthal
CAC Trustee, Chair of the Urban Design Review Board, and community volunteer
Jim Fitzgerald
President, CAC Board of Trustees and Founder and Chairman of FRCH Design Worldwide
Jay Chatterjee
Former Dean and current professor of architecture and planning at UC College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning and CAC Trustee emeritus
Charles C. Graves, III
Director, Department of City Planning, Cincinnati
Ron Kull
GBBN, Fellow of the AIA, former Cincinnati City Architect, and former Architect for the University of Cincinnati

The discussion will be taking place Saturday, April 5th at 2pm. It is open to the public for the regular CAC admission price, and is free to members. Space is limited, so be sure to RSVP as quickly as you can. If you are interested in becoming a member to the CAC be sure to check out their website for membership options.

*Please RSVP with Andrea Blake: 513.345.8434 or

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