Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Potterhill unveils affordable net-zero energy model at Northwind

Potterhill Homes unveiled its net-zero energy Solaris Collection model home during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its Northwind development on Tuesday.

The energy-efficient home is the culmination of four years of work by Potterhill to develop a net-zero energy home at an affordable price point.

"We're all about green building and energy efficiency and construction, and, in fact, we have three certified green professionals on staff," said Potterhill Homes President Carolyn Rolfes. "We're always trying to outdo ourselves, and always trying to find new, affordable ways to bring green technology to the Cincinnati home building market."

All homes at Northwind, located on 7.1 acres along Kirby Avenue in Northside, are available for between $150,000 and $200,000 and come with geothermal heating and cooling and solar panel systems.

Seven of the 25 home sites have been sold.

The NorthPointe Group acquired the property in 2008 after emerging as the winning bidder in the City's request for qualifications (RFQ) process, and Potterhill was named as the builder.

"There couldn't be a better place for us to introduce this net-zero energy home to the public than the City of Cincinnati, and in particular the Northside neighborhood, stand behind green and energy efficiency," Rolfes said.

A battle worth fighting

Also unveiled Tuesday was a plaque honoring Mary Jackson, a community advocate and activist who helped kill a highway project that would have destroyed the Northside neighborhood.

Jackson, who died in 2005, began a grassroots effort in the late 1950s to bring the project's negative consequences to state and local governments.

Called the Colerain Connector, the project was envisioned in the Cincinnati Metropolitan Master Plan of 1948 as a quick connection through the Kirby Avenue valley linking Interstate 74/Colerain/Beekman interchange and Hamilton Avenue.

During that time, more than 200 homes and businesses were razed.

Former State Rep. William Mallory, Sr. remembers touring the area shortly after taking office.

"One day I was at the savings and loan on Hamilton Avenue where we were having some kind of ceremony, and I said, publicly, that we're going to take our land back," Mallory said. "It took them 30 years and they tore peoples' houses down, and they never, ever built the connector. And those people were displaced, and it made me very angry."

Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls also remembers touring the area during her first term as mayor.

"This was after such tremendous political leaders as former State Rep. William Mallory, Sr. actually recognized that it would be just absolutely the worst thing in the world to do to just make this an expressway for people rushing to get out of the City and to get home after work," Qualls said. "It's fine and good for people to travel on our roads, but, through our residential neighborhoods, we really want to encourage people to live in what are some of the 52 finest neighborhoods in the entire region."

Between 1982 and 1998, the Ohio Department of Transportation continued to present alternatives for the roadway to the community. With the help of Mallory, Qualls, and strong neighborhood opposition, ODOT scrapped the plan for the connector in 1999 and returned the land back to the City.

"It is a testament to this community that you have persevered, and today you have emerged victorious," Mallory said.

Northside Community Council President Tim Jeckering said that the 50-year battle was one worth fighting.

"It just goes to show you that sometimes things take a little long to get done, but, if you stick with them, you can get them done," he said. "To stand here during National Homeownership Month and talk about the houses that are finally being put back here on this land where 200 homes of our community were taken down on a premature basis – and irresponsibly so, in my mind – to have the homes go back here in this area is a win for me."

"This is a testament to the dedication and determination of the people in this area," said City Manager Milton Dohoney. "For the people who are outside of the City who don't appreciate what the City has to offer, all they have to do is come here and look around."

Previous reading on BC:
Northwind breaks ground in Northside (10/29/09)
Model for 25-home Northwind development to open this winter (8/10/09)
Land sale could bring 25 homes to Northside (12/2/08)
Northside: Colerain Connector redevelopment update (3/28/07)