Uptown Consortium pleased to support new Avondale business and housing development with New Markets Tax Credits

Avondale Town Center groundbreaking

The regular cadence of new real estate and economic development continues in Avondale, with this week’s groundbreaking of a $43 million Avondale Town Center.  

To make way for the project, a majority of an existing strip mall at the corner of Reading Road and Forest Avenue will be demolished for the new two-building center, which is slated to include 80,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and 119 units of mixed income housing on the upper floors. UC Health and the Cincinnati Health Department have already signed agreements to open a jointly-operated medical clinic and dentist office anchoring the north building. The Community Builders and the Avondale Community Council are working to identify a grocery tenant and a pharmacy.  

Beth Robinson, President and CEO of Uptown Consortium, and Rick Lofgre, President and CEO of UC Health, at the Avondale Town Center Groundbreaking. 

Beth Robinson, President and CEO of Uptown Consortium, and Rick Lofgre, President and CEO of UC Health, at the Avondale Town Center Groundbreaking. 

Uptown Consortium granted $2.08 million in New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) to the project. NMTCs increase community development and economic growth by private investors. As a certified NMTCs “allocation authority,” Uptown Consortium uses NMTCs to invest in projects in underdeveloped neighborhoods. To date, Uptown Consortium has invested more than $600 million in the community through the program. 

The Uptown Consortium is the master planner of the Uptown Innovation Corridor, emerging from the new I-71 MLK Interchange. The goal is to create pedestrian-friendly mixed-use developments that build on the regions existing research and innovation institutions. Other developments in Uptown that incorporate retail, office, and residential space, like the Avondale Town Center, contribute to the Consortium’s larger vision for the area’s renaissance. 

The Avondale Town Center is the third phase of development funded by Community Builders’ $29.5 million Choice Neighborhoods grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Earlier projects funded by the grant include 319 units of new or refurbished housing, including 140 units of affordable housing. 

For more information on Uptown Consortium New Market Tax Credits, click here.  

Uptown Consortium, MLK Investors I, City kick off northeast quadrant planning

Uptown Innovation Corridor

After negotiating a preferred developer agreement, this week the Uptown Consortium (UCI), MLK Investors I, Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation (ACDC),  and the City of Cincinnati began planning the development for the northeast quadrant of the Uptown Innovation Corridor. The process began over a year ago when the City and UCI issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the quadrant, a 17-acre site adjacent to the new MLK interchange. MLK Investors I LLC were selected through the RFP process. The organization is made up of Neyer Properties and Kulkarni Properties. 

UCI kicked off a project team meeting to begin planning for the northeast quadrant. UCI led a discussion regarding the grand vision for the Uptown Innovation Corridor and UCI’s implementation strategy to date. The group had a positive discussion on strategic next steps and aligned on the vision for the quadrant, which is to create a world-class, mixed-use development for future-facing research and innovative companies. 

The project development team for the NE quadrant includes: representatives from Uptown Consortium: Beth Robinson, president and CEO of UCI, Franz Stansbury, UCI’s director of real estate development and Brooke Duncan, UCI’s community development manager; representatives from MLK Investors I: Dan Neyer, president and CEO of Neyer Properties, Chris Dobrozsi, vice president of real estate development for Neyer Properties and Shree Kulkarni, CEO of Kulkarni Enterprises; Russell Hairston, Executive Director of ACDC, and Brandon Holmes, Operations Manager for ACDC, and, the City of Cincinnati was represented by Bob Bertsch, development manager.

Next, UCI will convene the project team, including Patricia Milton, President of the Avondale Community Council, to lay the foundation for community input and participation in development planning. UCI is taking intentional steps to ensure all developments in the Innovation Corridor are models for equitable growth and economic opportunity. As a part of the preferred developer agreement, the group will need to have a robust community engagement and economic inclusion plan both during construction and for future tenants in the building. 

Including the Neyer and MLK Investors I’s proposed development, three quadrants in the Uptown Innovation Corridor have development plans in process: 

  • The northwest quadrant was named the preferred site for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) development by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in July of this year (the CDC is NIOSH’s parent organization). 
  • The Uptown Gateway project led by Terrex Development and Construction and Messer Construction will be located in the southeast quadrant of the Corridor. The $150 million project is a mixed-use development that will include a hotel, office space, a park and a parking garage. Planning for this section of the interchange started earlier this year.

Walk the walk: Developers and Uptown demanding jobs for minority and female workers

Uptown Gateway Terrex development Cincinnati

Making a commitment to expand economic inclusion beyond legal requirements can be challenging for some developers. Without proper framework, planning and partnerships, it can be difficult to implement and achieve inclusion goals for a project. This is why the Uptown Consortium (UCI) has made inclusion a priority before buildings come out of the ground. UCI’s approach to inclusion can best be shared through its partnership with Terrex Development and Construction and Messer Construction. 

The Uptown Gateway project led by Terrex and Messer will be a mixed-use development that offers office, retail, residential and parking space. As the flagship development for the Uptown Innovation Corridor, it was important to the developers and UCI that the economic inclusion planning was done correctly. In the project agreement, UCI and the Gateway developers committed to 25 percent women and minority hiring for contractors, suppliers, constructions workers, tenants and future employees in the development. For most developers, this is an ambitious task. 

“It’s really easy in the development world to go back to your tried and true, tested partners,” said Peter Horton, Terrex principal and owner. “They’re big shops that you know what they’re capable of. It’s uncharted to know what to expect from smaller shops.” 

However, Horton is excited to see the impact this agreement will have on the local community. UCI and their developer partners are not alone in their inclusion efforts. UCI hired WEB Ventures to help the groups identify minority and women-owned businesses and develop job training programs for the project. 

Led by three former P&G executives, WEB Ventures is leading the charge to find people ready to work on the Gateway project. WEB takes a bottom up approach to economic inclusion, working with each person or company individually to identify the opportunities for them in the project. WEB accompanies people to interviews, helps identify job training programs and vouches for the individuals or companies that pass muster.  

More than just minority and women inclusion, UCI wants to include their Uptown neighbors in the project by providing job opportunities. Patricia Milton, Avondale Community Council president, is fully behind the inclusion efforts in the Uptown Innovation Corridor. 

“A lot of intentional effort is going forth,” Milton said. “Uptown Consortium has made the commitment. They do think a little differently on how they identify inclusion.” 

Do things differently indeed, but while it is hard work, it is important that the community grows with the developments and receives economic benefits from new projects in their neighborhood. 

This is the new way to design economic inclusion in commercial development, and UCI hopes it will continue inspiring the development community with its efforts. The Uptown Gateway project is just the beginning for these efforts in the Uptown Innovation Corridor, but it is the model for how UCI’s economic inclusion efforts can work. As the City of Cincinnati Planning Commission President Daniel Driehaus said, the developers for the Uptown Gateway project are “doing things right” in economic inclusion. 

This is a recap of Bob Driehaus’ WCPO Insider article, “Way beyond happy talk: Developers and Uptown demanding jobs for minority and female workers”. To read his full article, visit: wcpo.com.  

Successful Cincinnati Children’s residential improvement programs expand in Avondale

To help preserve homes in the neighborhood—and to address housing issues, a leading social determinant of health—Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is expanding the popular Avondale Home Improvement Program (AHIP). This expansion furthers Cincinnati Children’s mission of improving the lives of children, in partnership with the Uptown Consortium and the Avondale Community Development Corporation.

AHIP provides interest-free home improvement loans up to $35,000. The loans are designed to help home owners improve living conditions by fixing critical exterior home repairs that often contribute to safety and health concerns. If recipients stay in their home for more than five years, the loan is forgiven. 

By investing in AHIP, Cincinnati Children’s is able to continue its commitment to the community by making a difference in the area of housing and community development, which has a direct relationship to overall community health. AHIP contributes to Cincinnati Children’s larger efforts to prevent health and safety issues and improve residents’ well-being in the surrounding communities. 

“AHIP is improving the housing conditions and overall quality of life in the community,” said John Scott, Community Relations Program Manager, Cincinnati Children’s. “It supports the availability of a mix of housing products in the area and complements other housing initiatives.”

When AHIP launched in 2014 with a $250,000 contribution from Cincinnati Children’s, the program was only available to home owners in certain parts of Avondale. But based on the program’s success, Cincinnati Children’s agreed to invest another $244,000 to expand AHIP to two new sections of the Avondale neighborhood. Moving forward, it’s possible that the program will continue and expand to even more parts of Avondale.  

Combination of old and new

Along with helping repair existing homes, Cincinnati Children’s is helping build new homes in Avondale to attract more residents. Uptown Consortium and Cincinnati Children’s Hickory Place Townhomes project originally consisted of eight newly-built townhomes on Northern Avenue, but demand was so high for the first phase in 2015 that they quickly started plans to build eight more. 

Hickory Place Townhomes Uptown Cincinnati

The townhomes are different than many of the current housing options in Avondale with new amenities to attract working professionals. They range in price from $185,000 to $229,000 even though each townhome costs roughly $300,000 to build. They’re sold significantly below market value because Cincinnati Children’s donated $1.1 million to offset construction costs and keep prices more affordable.

Now, the Hickory Place Townhomes are the largest new housing development to be constructed in Avondale in at least 25 years. 

Part of a larger effort

From refurbishing old homes to building new ones, Cincinnati Children’s is dedicated to creating a safer, healthier and more vibrant community in Avondale. 

But community development and residential housing is just one piece of Cincinnati Children’s involvement in the community. The hospital pledged to invest $11.5 million in Avondale to improve child and community health, encourage development, strengthen local nonprofits and support workforce development.

New Film Festival Concept Debuts in Clifton


An innovative film festival concept debuts in Clifton on Saturday, September 30. Quiet on the Set, Cincinnati’s first live film festival, brings audiences and filmmakers together outside of the theater. The festival features three professionally lit and decorated film sets in the Ludlow Avenue Business District, where the community can watch films being made, combining live theater, film production and community interaction.

Anyone in the community is welcome to attend the free, family friendly event to watch filmmakers’ rehearsals and “quiet on the set” times. The first rehearsal will begin at 10 a.m., and the festival will wrap at 8 p.m.  

“The burgeoning film industry in Cincinnati has peaked many people’s interests. However, the public rarely has access to these sets to see filmmaking in action” said Kip Eagen, Quiet on the Set Project Manager. “Through this festival, we hope to bring together the community and the film industry.”

One of the festival’s other goals is to celebrate the Clifton neighborhood’s creativity and diversity while benefitting local businesses by attracting people to the Ludlow Avenue Business District. In the event of inclement weather, the festival will move to the Clifton Cultural Arts Center.

“It’s exciting because the Quiet on the Set film festival is a completely original concept,” said Eagen. “People are energized because they’ve never heard of an event like this before.”

Quiet on the Set offers a unique opportunity to bring the arts to the Uptown community and to attract patrons from other areas of the city to experience a one-of-a-kind event.

“Uptown Cincinnati has a long legacy of innovation across all disciplines, including the arts,” said Beth Robinson, President and CEO of Uptown Consortium. “The Consortium is proud to see this new, unique film festival come to life in Uptown.”

The film festival is presented by Clifton Town Meeting, The Clifton Business and Professional Association and Uptown Consortium with production sponsors Lightbourn Communications, The Midwestern Grip and Lighting Company, and Cincinnati State. Other funding organizations include ArtsWave and individual merchants.

For more information, visit www.quietonthesetfestival.com.

Look Who’s Talking: the Voices of Local Leaders

Under the leadership of Mary Beth McGrew, University of Cincinnati architect and senior associate vice president of planning, design and construction, Uptown recently won the bid for NIOSH site selection. 

Occasionally we ask local influencers their thoughts on issues affecting Uptown and the region. We asked David Adams, William Ball, M.D., Jill Meyer and Patricia Milton to send us their thoughts on the NIOSH decision to locate in the Uptown Innovation Corridor.                    And they said...

From: David J Adams
Chief Innovation Officer
CEO, UC Research Institute

"UC's role in attracting NIOSH to Uptown is yet another example of how the Innovation Corridor fits perfectly in our region’s only anchor district.  
My work at UCRI links the world’s leading companies with our world-class students and forward-thinking, specialized experts of more than 100 University of Cincinnati labs, colleges and clusters. From here in the 1819 Innovation Hub, the future looks even brighter knowing NIOSH is joining the Corridor’s solutions community.” 


From: William S. Ball, M.D.
Senior Vice-President for Health Affairs
Christian R. Holmes Professor and Dean of Medicine
Professor Radiology, Biomedical Engineering and Pediatrics

“Scientists at NIOSH want to be near advanced collaborating scientists at the University of Cincinnati. A majority of the region’s most sophisticated, pioneering research takes place in Uptown, and NIOSH is making the efficient choice—the advantage of being within walking distance of the people with whom they collaborate. I believe  that contributed substantially to their decision. And, of course, now this makes the Uptown Innovation Corridor all the more attractive to future collaborators in forward-thinking companies who want the same advantage.”


From: Jill P. Meyer
President and CEO  
Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber

“The Cincinnati Chamber applauds the Government Services Administration’s decision to strategically position NIOSH in Cincinnati's Innovation Corridor and thank our regional congressional delegation for its work to make it reality. As global companies support research and investigative work in Uptown Cincinnati, they will appreciate the growth in bright and diverse talent accessible near the 1-71 and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive crossroads. Our businesses and their employees realize the importance of working where inclusion is a neighborhood principle.”


From: Patricia Milton
Avondale Community Council

“Avondale is a legacy community with a rich history of working families. NIOSH has a legacy and mandate to provide excellent research and the promotion of safe and healthy workers and working conditions. We look forward to getting to know more about the development project as it comes to fruition.  We encourage NIOSH workers to live, work, and volunteer in Avondale as integral neighbors working to make Avondale a neighborhood of choice.”

City Planning Commission on Development Done Right


High praise from city officials greeted Terrex Development and Messer Construction as they presented a thoughtful, economically inclusive plan to develop the southeast quadrant of Reading Road and East Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, a project they’ve planned in close collaboration with the Uptown Consortium. As a result, at the August 18 planning commission meeting, commissioners approved a measure to rezone the area of land for use as a planned development.

Developers Terrex and Messer presented to the commission their preferred developer agreement (PDA), which is a cornerstone of corridor planning and an essential step in strategically planning a city’s limited space. As part of the presentation, developers additionally shared their economic inclusion plans which outlined strategies to ensure the new development works for the community, not against it.

Messer and Terrex shared their goal to have at least 25 percent minority-owned businesses and six percent women-owned businesses in the corridor, along with a workforce of at least 12 percent minority groups and at least three percent women. 

The developers plan to use the land, which the city agreed to sell earlier in the summer, for a mixed-use project that will include a hotel with ground-floor retail and three office buildings with a combined 450,000 square feet of office space.

A city only has so much space, and good city planning helps make the best use of the space within a city’s limits while respecting the growing needs of a diverse population. The Messer and Terrex project is an example of responsible development, a sentiment echoed by City of Cincinnati Planning Commission President Daniel Driehaus who, in addition to praising the developers for “doing things right,” said that he looked forward to seeing the project completed. 

Uptown Consortium and HOC Drive Up Down Payment Incentive


Uptown Consortium and the Homeownership Center of Greater Cincinnati’s (HOC) Down Payment Assistance Program is receiving a facelift entering its second year. The new “2to4K Uptown Incentive” program launches Monday, October 2, and offers $2,000 to $4,000 forgivable loans to first-time homebuyers purchasing a home in the five Uptown Cincinnati neighborhoods—Avondale, Clifton, Corryville, Clifton Heights/University Heights/Fairview Heights (CUF) and Mt. Auburn.

Based on homebuyer trends and feedback from the real estate community during the pilot program, Uptown Consortium and HOC adjusted the grants to meet the needs of homebuyers of varying income levels. The program is designed to encourage homeownership in the Uptown neighborhoods and create opportunities for first-time homebuyers to explore each of the amenities and resources that Uptown has to offer.

How it works: Turnkey process

For individuals and families to access the “2to4k Uptown Incentive” program, a real estate professional must apply in their name. Uptown Consortium is raising awareness of the program among local real estate professionals, so they can offer information to – and potentially apply for – their clients considering an Uptown home.

The previous program launched in late 2016 and provided 50 fixed $1,500 forgivable loans to first-time homebuyers. Although applicant income did not limit incentive eligibility, Uptown Consortium and HOC learned that the $1,500 fixed rate lessened its attractiveness among lower-income prospects. The new “2to4k Uptown Incentive” program offers larger loans on a sliding scale, with dollar amount determined on a case-by-case basis.

Who qualifies: High income, low income and everyone in-between

All first-time homebuyers and buyers who have not owned a house in Cincinnati in the past three years qualify for the “2to4k Uptown Incentive” program. To be eligible for the program, there are two other qualifications—buyers must complete HOC’s homebuying training session online or in person and they must owner-occupy the house for at least five years. 

Income is not a qualification—any home buyer can participate, whether they’re purchasing the most expensive or the most affordable home in Uptown. The grant can be applied to down payments, closing costs and out-of-pocket costs.

For more information on the “2to4k Uptown Incentive” program, click here.


Another Research Rockstar Comes to Uptown


Joseph Cheng, MD, professor and vice chair of neurosurgery at the Yale School of Medicine recently joined the University of Cincinnati as  professor and chair of the UC College of Medicine Department of Neurosurgery. Dr. Cheng leads all neurosurgery activities in the College of Medicine and at UC Health.

"We are thrilled to be able to attract a surgeon of the caliber and national reputation of Dr. Cheng. He is an extraordinary neurosurgical clinician and researcher, respected educator and a true leader in his field,” says William Ball, MD, UC senior vice president for health affairs and dean of the UC College of Medicine.

Cheng is working to grow an academic neurosurgery program that is fully integrated within the UC College of Medicine and UC Health. He also leads efforts to enhance postgraduate education, is exploring the future of neurosurgery through research and as a clinical department of the College of Medicine, is growing clinical interactions between neurosurgery and other neuroscience-related departments, including neurology and rehabilitation medicine, otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience, emergency medicine and internal medicine. His programmatic priorities for the Department of Neurosurgery are built around five key areas: neurotrauma, cerebrovascular neurosurgery, adult brain tumor surgery, functional neurosurgery and complex spinal disease.

"Dr. Cheng is an extremely important addition to the team that will lead the growth and continued maturation of our neurosciences programs,” adds Richard Lofgren, MD, president and chief executive officer at UC Health. "He has built a great reputation as an expert in complex spinal surgery, and he is recognized nationally for his neurosurgery outcomes research which has led to improved patient care. He also has played an important role in guiding national health policy. We are very fortunate to have him here in the greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region.”

"Neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati and the city began in 1920 with the appointment of Dr. George Heuer, student of Drs. Harvey Cushing and William Halsted of Johns Hopkins. A general surgeon, Dr. Heuer initiated a tradition of education, scholarship and practice of neurosurgery that was continued, in 1937, at UC by Drs. Joe Evans of Montreal and in the community by Dr. Frank Mayfield of Virginia. Both leaders were dedicated to the collaborative practice of healing, education and research that was focused on the community and university,” says John Tew Jr., MD, professor and former chair of the UC Department of Neurosurgery and co-founder and former director of the then UC Neuroscience Institute, a forerunner of the now UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute. "Now in 2017, nearly 100 years later, the tradition of integration and collaboration will continue and be nurtured with the appointment of Dr. Joseph Cheng, a teacher, healer and researcher who will join the UC Department of Neurosurgery as the Frank H. Mayfield Chair of Neurological Surgery. Dr. Cheng is cut from the molds of Drs. Heuer, Evans and Mayfield, and will, I am convinced, continue to lead the advance of neurological care, education and research in this university and community."

Cheng joins a UC College of Medicine and UC Health neuroscience program that will soon see the construction on a new facility housing the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, 223 Piedmont Ave., which is scheduled to open in 2019.

This story originally appeared in UC Academic Health Center: Health News.

NIOSH Chooses Uptown Innovation Corridor

Hundreds of scientists including chemists, biologists, engineers and toxicologists will join the region's largest contingent of advanced researchers who call Uptown their professional home, as yesterday the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced it has chosen 14 acres at Martin Luther King Drive and Reading Road for its new site.

Thursday’s announcement about the new facility to be built in the Uptown Innovation Corridor came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will invest $110 million to create an ultra modern research facility for NIOSH’s occupational safety and health research.

NIOSH’s site selection process began 11 years ago, and became active again in 2014 following the economic recovery. NIOSH Director John Howard, MD, said the new location will expand opportunities for collaboration and partnership with the Cincinnati scientific research community. 

NIOSH’s economic impact on Greater Cincinnati is forecast to be $291.7 million along with $1.2 million in earnings tax revenues for the City of Cincinnati. Much of this economic impact is experienced by local workers and the communities around NIOSH’s locations. All 550 employees at the three existing NIOSH locations will be relocated to the new site in Uptown.

The University of Cincinnati led the process for presenting the Uptown site, with the UC Department of Planning + Design + Construction managing all application, compliance and presentation activities. 

“Investing in research and innovation are key operating principles for the University of Cincinnati. Leading the work to recruit NIOSH to the Uptown Innovation Corridor aligns our commitment to advancing this urban institution and our local community with tomorrow’s global solutions in mind,” said Neville Pinto, President of University of Cincinnati and Chairman of the Board for Uptown Consortium.

Design and construction for the new NIOSH campus is scheduled to begin in summer 2018, with a completion date of early 2021. This development joins the Terrex/Messer Uptown Gateway, the University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute and 1819 Innovation & Research Accelerator as part of the Uptown Innovation Corridor. 

The new site will combine three Cincinnati NIOSH locations with aging facilities.  CDC and GDA representatives are hosting a community meeting on August 1, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Walnut Hills High School for community feedback on issues to be addressed in the environmental impact statement required by federal law.