Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Brewery District planning to target 'actionable' projects

The Brewery District of Over-the-Rhine has launched a master planning effort that could result in the redevelopment of two to three key sites within the next year.

Newly-elected Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (BDCURC) President and Christian Moerlein Brewing Company CEO Greg Hardman, Vice President and Glaserworks principal Jeff Raser, and Executive Director Steven Hampton made the announcement this morning at the Glaserworks office Downtown.

The two-month process, which will be led by Glaserworks, will examine both the 2006 Brewery District Urban Plan and the 2002 Over-the-Rhine Comprehensive Plan, then identify neighborhood assets, infrastructure, and land use.

But what makes this process different is that it will identify signature, catalytic development opportunities in the neighborhood and provide pre-development information for each site, giving developers a head start. This will include potential partnerships, resources, and funding.

"The Brewery District is worth investing in for many reasons," Hardman said. "The Brewery District is dense, walkable, urban, mixed-use development located between Downtown and Uptown, our City's two great economic centers. We believe that strengthening the great assets in the Brewery District and linking these economic centers will enhance development and tourism, and be a great economic driver for our City and region."

Early accomplishments

BDCURC began in 2004-2005 as a loose-knit group of neighborhood business owners, property owners, and residents who saw potential in the history and building stock of the area.

The neighborhood's urban plan was prepared a year later.

"We got a lot of really good ideas out of that," Hampton said. "We had some very clear, broad vision of what we wanted to bring to the neighborhood."

What emerged was the creation of an Urban Mix zoning district, initiated by residents and one of the City's only examples of a broad, citizen-led zoning change.

That mix, allowing light industrial uses to co-exist with residential, dovetails with BDCURC's vision for returning the neighborhood to its roots.

Other efforts have focused on awareness and branding.

"Doing tours, doing events like Bockfest, doing the Findlay Market Biergarten," Hampton said. "All of these things bring awareness of the history that we have here. Really, the region's history is Over-the-Rhine's history."

Several ideas from the 2006 plan are already in action – the streetcar, pre-development of market-rate housing on the hillsides above McMicken Street, business relocations such as the new Christian Moerlein Brewery on Moore Street and Rookwood Pottery on Race Street, and residential renovations – including a City pilot project to rehabilitate six buildings near Findlay Market.

"We're ready to continue to the next step, and to develop additional, actionable development projects," Hampton said.

Assembling a 'can-do' team

A small group workshop to gather opinions on what should be included in the plan will be held April 9 at Venue 222, 222 E 14th Street in Over-the-Rhine. Registration will be required and will become available on the BDCURC website on March 15.

"Through this planning effort, we're like the 'can-do team'," Hardman said. "We're going to make things happen."

"This is not just another charrette," Hampton said. "We've done those in the past, and they've been very successful. But this will be actual development that will be moving forward throughout the next year. So we're really excited about it."

Disclosure: A Hudepohl Amber Lager was consumed during the writing of this story.

Previous reading on BC:
Concentrated City services coming to Brewery District, Bond Hill (1/31/11)
Tickets on sale for Bockfest brewery tours (1/18/11)
Architectural Foundation releases Brewery District report (6/18/09)
Draft Brewery District charrette report available for comment (4/30/09)
Brewery District signage installed (8/8/08)