Friday, April 22, 2005


St. Anthony Village - Paradise in OTR

I had a meeting last week with Margery Spinney (Executive Director of Cornerstone Community Loan Fund). This organization is doing some amazing things in Over-the-Rhine. In a time when it seems that most buildings in Over-the-Rhine are either being developed into $250,000 condos, or being left vacant and dilapidating, Cornerstone is doing something unique.

They are creating a program that allows residents, who can't afford to buy their own home/condo, the opportunity to live in a clean, safe and positive environment. You may have heard the stories about the problems in OTR at the Head Start facility. In which a rash of crimes at a convenience store across the street from the school culminated in an armed robbery while a teacher was inside that resulted in the teacher having a gun put to her head. Well one block down is where the St. Anthony Village resides.

The St. Anthony Village project is based on a program called Renter Equity. In a nutshell, the program puts requirements on the renters for maintenance, community meetings, paying rent on time, etc. In return the renters earn credits that after five years can be turned into payments from the loan fund. These payments, which can amount to as much as $5,000, allow the renters to invest in themselves through home down payment, tuition costs, retirement fund, or other personal asset. The program started in 2002 and is a raging success. I toured the facility and it's an oasis in an otherwise rough neighborhood. It's safe, secure, and clean. They are currently expanding the project to other areas in OTR. It benefits the renters, the community and the property owners. The renters get the above mentioned benefits. The community has more people who have a long term stake in the neighborhood. The property owners get stability in renters, and higher long term property value. It truly is a creative program and a win/win/win situation. Congrats to Margery and everything her team is doing in the area.

Give Back Cincinnati will be assisting them on May 1st in sprucing up three new buildings they have recently taken ownership of. Come on out and help, we'll also be fixing up the area south of Findlay Market.


Service Travel - Give Back Hits the Road

Have you ever thought about doing an international service trip? Well Give Back Cincinnati is offering an opportunity that you may find interesting. Check it out more details here. There is an informational meeting on Tuesday April 26th to learn more about the project. Give Back Cincinnati will be working with Habitat International to send 10-15 Give Back Cincinnati volunteers to Ecuador in October.


Lollapalooza Festival - Chicago July 23-24

Well, the folks at Lollapalooza are trying to re-invent themselves. For years in the late 90's the festival was a stalwart among the traveling festivals (HORDE, Lillith, others). It was a great collection of alternative rock music. Early this century the festival began to see declining attendance, and the problems culminated in cancellation of the tour in 2004.

Well Lollapalooza is back in 2005, but instead of a traveling festival they are going to the model of a single city 2-day event. In the model of Austin City Limits Music Festival (Austin, TX), Coachella (LA, CA), and Bonnaroo (Manchester, TN). The Lollapalooza event will be in Chicago putting the city on the festival map. Should be a great way to transform the event and re-invent it. And just another excuse to head up to Chicago for a weekend (July 23-24).

They announced the lineup today, with bands such as the Pixies, Cake, G. Love, and the Killers it sounds like a fun weekend.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Good Bye Maisonette

Hello Kenwood. The Maisonette ended it's long struggle of 'Do I stay or Do I go?' They have solidified a spot just down from the Kenwood mall. I suppose it's a good thing for them, but I do wonder if the location move will endanger their 5-star mobile rating.

I do wish them luck, I am sad to see them leave downtown Cincinnati. However, I am very happy to see that City Council did not fork over the $4 million that Comisar was looking for to stay in town. It is after all only 1 restaurant, and apparently one that not many people are interested in (seeing as business has been down).

They are also opening a banquet facility, and what I am guessing is a blues club (Baby Got Blues) at the new Kenwood site. Perhaps the new location, new look, and new services will equal success for this long time Cincinnati tradition.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Let the Reign Begin

What exactly is a 'transitional pope'? Many are calling Pope Benedict XVI just that. Indicating that because he is 78 his reign may be short. Seems silly to me. The man looks remarkably healthy, and in today's world there is no saying that a person can't live well into their 90's.

But it looks like we have a Pope set to continue on in the tradition of John Paul, socialy liberal, and morally conservative. I personally wish that some of the religious conservatives in the US would model themselves that way. Take the moral high ground on all issues, not just those sexual in nature (Birth Control, Abortion, etc). Speak out on the plight of the politically, religiously, and economically repressed. Take a hard line stand on poverty in 1st world countries, just the same as you do on sex education. If you are pro-life, then be pro-life all the way. I've never understood how someone can be pro-life, but be pro-capital punishment. What gives us the right to take someone's life, and if there is a one in 3 billion chance that the person being put to death is innocent, how can you be pro-life and take that risk.

But I digress. Congrats to Cardinal Ratzinger. May you help lead this world to peace!


If I Find Another Drugstore Down My Pants....

I'm going to Tear It On Down... Jake Speed sings that. And oh how true it is. Here we have a situation, where there is a CVS already less than a mile away, and a locally-owned/operated drugstore Schaeper's Pharmacy only two blocks away. But somehow Walgreen's feels the need to come into a community that doesn't want it, in a location that doesn't fit. Northside is a very active community, with people who deeply care about their town. I saw this first hand when Give Back Cincinnati worked with them for Paint the Town 2004. The involvement we received from the community leaders was amazing, there is no way we could have been successful in painting 18 low-income owner-occupied homes without their help.

It's sad to see communities that work so hard to clean up their neighborhood get turned away. Why is it that zoning and urban planning decisions can't be made in a more distributed manner? I see the need for oversite, but I don't think the current beaucratic process works.

I was at a community meeting in Carthage last night (to present Paint the Town 2006 to the community), and the frustration with the Building and Zoning commission was clear. Nearly everyone there had specific complaints about a salvage business who had moved into a residential area. How does that happen? If it were left up to the communities that fight so hard for the places they live, this approval would never have come. The reason it happened is that some beauracrat sitting in his office looking at a map took out a red stamp and pounded 'approve' on the form. He doesn't really care, he just looks at what the code is, not what makes sense... how did we get in a position in America that common sense no longer has a place in government. It's all a bunch of pencil pushers doing their 'job', it's sad really. I must have heard 4 seperate families in Carthage say "That's it, I'm moving out of this city." Now I doubt that all of them will, but still, isn't this part of the problem? You try so hard to turn your own community around, and the only answer you can get from the city, is "tough luck I'm following orders"? I guarentee that Mason isn't going to let a salvage business open up next door to a family with 2 young children whose family has owned the home for over 100 years.


Are You Ready For Some Football

Well, in 2006, you better be ready for Cable... the MNF anthem and it's prime time football will move from ABC to ESPN. ESPN will drop it's Sunday Night games, and that time slot will be picked up by NBC (which has not had football on TV in some time). NBC will also have the luxury of shifting day games to evening during the last 7 weeks of the season, ensuring quality games in prime time.


Covington set to Ascent

I talked about this earlier. But the design is set to cross it's final governmental hurdle tonight. With the reviews it has gotten, passage by the Covington City Commission should not be an issue. Now it is time to finalize the design, costs, and funding and start turning dirt. The project won't be completed in the next couple days by any means, but when it's complete it will be a gem for the Covington/Cincinnati area.

Having Daniel Libeskind architect a building in Covington is great. The Enquirer has a listing of some of his other projects:

World Trade Center
Denver Art Museum extension
Fiera Milano
Imperial War Museum North
The Jewish Museum

Sunday, April 17, 2005


Living Wage for Job Creation Tax Credit

You may have seen the debate over the last couple weeks about a proposal made in late March by Mayor Charlie Luken. The proposal would change the procedure for companies requesting a tax credit for creating jobs in Cincinnati. After some members of council (Smitherman and Reece) publicly criticized the application of Northlich for a tax break for creating 25 new jobs, the company pulled it's request. This prompted Luken to propose that any company that created 10 jobs in the city, and applied for a tax credit would get it.

I didn't support that, and still have some questions about the reduction of income for the city (heck, why not just get rid of city income tax, you'd create a lot more jobs in the city). But if they are going to do it, I like the amendment that David Pepper proposed at the recent finance committee meeting. The proposal would only provide the tax credit to those companies providing 10 or more new jobs that meet the living wage ordinance in the city. This makes a lot of sense to me. It allows the companies providing quality jobs to have a reason to locate and grow here. But it wouldn't give benefits to companies like Wendy's/Wal-mart who provide very low paying jobs.

I assume Andrew Warner (Green Party Candidate for Council, blog here) would support this, he specifically made mention to this on his blog. I don't agree with all of his platform (I probably lean a little more pro-business), but we're definitely in agreement on this specific topic.


Good News for Theater District - Bay Horse Closed

Hopefully it will stay that way. Bay Horse has been both an eye sore and a crime hot spot in the otherwise successful area. If the liquor license is pulled, perhaps this block can start to build on the success of Walnut St.

The Bay Horse has a long history of police service calls, and in general is a nuisance to the neighbors (Business and residential). This is good work for the city, police and governmental bodies working together to make sure that businesses that aren't good neighbors can't continue to be problems for the neighborhood.


Broadband, Voice, Data - It's a Party

The market continues to get cramped for the voice, data, and internet consumers in Cincinnati. Already you have Time Warner offering Cable, High Speed Internet, and Voice of IP telephone service. This prompted Cincy Bell to step it up, combining their traditional business of land line and wireless phones with DSL high speed internet, and coming this fall TV services over the phone line.

Now Cinergy is poised to expand on their 'experiment' in Hyde Park and start to expand their High Speed Internet over power lines offering. They are using it as a way to streamline their operating costs (managing the flow of power during peak times, and automating meter readings) in addition to providing high speed internet. They are also talking about WiFi offerings (which is another discussion, as Cin Bell and Time Warner are doing the same).

It will be interesting to see who can provide the best service at the lowest cost. Eventually someone has to 'win', as it doesn't seem like a good model to have this many vendors providing overlapping service and expect them all to be profitable.


Wonderful Weekend

Wow... Could the weather be any better in Cincinnati? Spent quite a bit of time outside this weekend. Walked from my house in Newport to the Reds game, stopping at the new 'hot spot' for pre/post game Reds celebrations - Game Day. Fantastic spot, and the owner has done a great job turning the former warehouse into a beautiful bar. Stop by (it's on Pete Rose Way between the stadium and Montgomery Inn Banquet Center).

Spent most of Saturday outside. Visited the business district in Bellevue (they are doing a great job of adding some new businesses to this area). Ate lunch at Bellevue Bistro (formerly Fairfield Coffee), great homemade soup and sandwiches. Then went down the street to Schneider's, one of the best mom and pop sweet shops in the Cincinnati area. After that I added some new flowers/bushes to the yard. Visited AJ Rahn's Nursery to get the plants. Great prices at this locally-owned business.

Then took some time to relax and enjoy my deck. Firing up the grill for just the second time in 2005, and then bringing the firepit back to life from it's winter slumber!

All in all it was a great weekend. I hope you all got to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather. Anyone else glad it's spring?

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