New businesses help change Pendleton's nefarious old reputation

CINCINNATI -- When 3 Points Urban Brewery officially opens on Friday, it'll be the fourth bar or restaurant to open on the block in the last couple years. And more are coming soon.

There's a lot of buzz around Pendleton these days. But longtime residents and businesses like the Verdin Company and Mr. Bubbles have weathered bad times to get to these good ones.

People at a preview event for the new brewery this weekend said they were attracted to Pendleton because of its arts scene, and because of the new momentum and a feeling that what's happening there is different.

"I think there has been a lot of incentive for people to come in and see Pendleton and now there is a huge incentive for populations to come down and enjoy a full night, other than, you know, struggle for parking and then only be able to go to one place," said Aaron Westendorf of 3 Points. "There's now this whole neighborhood you can experience and park down the street and go out and explore."

Other new businesses include Lucius Q and Boomtown Biscuits. And there are early adopters like Nation and Urbana Cafe. 

The neighborhood has worked hard to fight a longstanding stigma to reach this point. Pendleton's reputation for illegal drugs was once so prevalent that it was known as the "drug drive-thru." The city even built a barrier to shut down 13th Street at Reading Road in 2004, when it was described as an open-air drug market.

Residents fought back, and eventually the barrier came down.

"It was hurtful to the business, but more so it was hurtful to the people to feel like you have to be closed in," said Tabatha Anderson with the Pendleton Community Council.

Fourteen years later, crime is down noticeably. And the businesses like 3 Points aren't the only newcomers to the neighborhood. Apartments and condos are being renovated, with the neighborhood's popularity being boosted in part thanks to its proximity to Ziegler Park and pool, and to Over-the-Rhine.

Westendorf lives just blocks away from the brewery.

"It's fun to be in a city and be able to walk down the street and wave to someone you know," he said. 

All the new businesses aim to be good neighbors.

"We're not out ot gentrify this neighborhood," Anderson said. "This neighborhood has historically always been an integrated neighborhood - African-American, Appalachians, Germans. Why in the world do we want to change it now?"

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