East Price Hill leaders hope city gives funds to renovate old Masonic Lodge

CINCINNATI -- When Bill Burwinkel looks at the Masonic Lodge in East Price Hill, he sees opportunity to continue growth in the community.

"This project is absolutely critical to the continued renaissance of East Price Hill and the Incline District," he said. 

Community leaders acknowledged during Mayor John Cranley's budget presentation this week that the building doesn't look like much now.

"It's already been placed on the National Register of Historic Places," Jeff Cramerding said. "Unfortunately, right now it's an eyesore. It's blighted, has been for about a decade. The windows are boarded up. It drags down the entire neighborhood."

That's why the community is asking for $2.5 million from the city to turn things around. Burwinkel said the whole project will cost $10 million.

"Of that $10 million, there's 47.5 million in historic and new market tax credits," he said. "Those tax credits have already been committed."

Cincinnati City Council Member David Mann agreed the project is worthwhile, but said he needs more information before voting.

"It's a lot of money to give to one building in one neighborhood in one year, so if there are alternative ways to fund it and spread out the payments, I'd like to look at it," he said.

Burwinkel and Cramerding said the building would be used for a variety of groups like Price Hill Will, the local Community Development Corporation and MYCincinnati Youth Orchestra.

"In addition, it will give us a great medium-sized event venue, which is missing anywhere in Price Hill," Burwinkel said.

RELATED: East Price Hill has a grand events space in its sights to bookend its Incline District

The renovated lodge building would join the Incline House, Warsaw Federal Incline Theater and new housing, restaurants and shops in the neighborhood. 

Debate on the budget is set to continue next week. The City Council needs to pass a budget by the end of the month.

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