CINCINNATI - Could Price Hill become Cincinnati’s next Mount Adams or experience a renaissance the likes of Over-the-Rhine?
Some city leaders and developers are mulling those questions over as they consider recommendations from a study released Wednesday by University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center.
Commissioned by the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, the analysis was conducted in February in partnership with the Urban Land Institute’s Cincinnati chapter and local development experts. The groups examined potential residential and commercial development opportunities and challenges across Price Hill’s evolving Incline District.
Local officials gathered in the district Wednesday morning to officially release and review the findings and recommendations from the report, called Developing Price Hill.
“There is great opportunities in these neighborhoods,” said Mayor John Cranley, who through his works as a private developer with Incline Village LLC, helped lead and invested in redevelopment efforts in the Incline District. The work yielded new condos and a restaurant, the Public House, overlooking Downtown. The investments also paved the way for the incoming Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, a more than 220-seat performance theater and arts center.
Cranley says he pulled out of his Incline Village investments after being elected last year, but knows first-hand the redevelopment potential.
“There is huge pent up demand,” he said.
According to UC’s analysis, the Incline District has several strengths attractive to investors, not the least of which is its panoramic city skyline views.
Named for the 19th Century Price Hill Incline that carried passengers from Eight Street more than 350 feet up the neighborhood’s hillside, the Incline District now has a number of properties surrounding it that have been cleared and are largely owned by public and private investors.
“Given the success of OTR (Over-the-Rhine), investors are starting to look for the next community to get a return on investment,” said Tom Rowe, former chair of ULI Cincinnati. “This is not to say the area doesn’t have challenges, it certainly has big ones to overcome.”
Among the top hurdles highlighted in the report:
- While nearly 60 percent of the Incline District study area is 35 and younger, the median income is just over $26,000.
- Major investments are needed to make the neighborhood more walkable and improve connections to public transportation – keys to attracting new retailers, restaurants and urban dwellers.
“The question is - can the area build that break-out momentum to start bringing investors in from the outside to stimulate growth and redevelopment in the area?” said Rowe.
To that end, the report offers up a number of key recommendations:
- Focus on new housing development to help create “a sense of place.” Doing so could help attract new “niche” retailer such as boutiques, restaurants, bars, yoga studios, or creative offices.
- Focus on cleared and development-ready sites that are prime for development investment, and help investors identify sources of financing.
- Target young professionals for residential rental or ownership. Many millennials have been priced out of other city markets, and the area could be marketed to them as affordable and accessible housing.
- Consider a development corporation, the likes of Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) which has driven Over-the-Rhine’s redevelopment efforts. “Developers can’t be left out there on their own, but rather a development company or organization is necessary to attract developers to a major project by creating packages and financing,” according to the report’s recommendation.
- Focus on themed development around Warsaw Federal Incline Theater. During interviews conducted for the analysis, according to the report, the theater’s development was compared to the “successful transformation of another Cincinnati hilltop area, Mt. Adams.” The report likens the 1960 the Playhouse theater development which “anchored and transformed the enclave neighborhood.”
The full report is available below and on the Port’s web site at www.cincinnatiport.org.