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Cincinnati: Over-the-Rhine: Mercer Commons

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How are they financing this? Are they using the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit? Or some other funding mechanism? I ask because I know the LIHTC has restrictions on how units that are for low-income are filled v market rate units. i.e. low-income units are always low-income units.

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This is a pretty disappointing timeline...... 6 more months for final design?  I would have thought the Parvis lease up might have been a sign that the rental market in OTR is hot and they need to get this moving ASAP!  At this rate we'll be waiting for 2012 for ground to be broken and along the way Kasich might take notice of the $4mil Ohio Historic Preservation Grant and reallocate it to save barns in his home district.

 

Patience, my friend. 3CDC is a small organization and has a lot on their plate right now (Washington Park/ finishing up Saegerhalle, Westfalen, & Parvis/ Metropole Hotel, etc) and this project particularily has many pieces.

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Look at this way, aside from a few homes on Pleasant St, it doesn't look like there will be any new residential units built in OTR for at least another year. That is disappointing.

 

 

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Look at this way, aside from a few homes on Pleasant St, it doesn't look like there will be any new residential units built in OTR for at least another year. That is disappointing.

 

This is false.

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I don't mean to come off as negative.  3CDC does awesome work, along with others in the neighborhood. I'm just impatient I guess. I would not live here had it not been for 3CDC.

 

As far as my comment being false, please then do tell what you know.  A handful of units up by Findlay Market perhaps that the BDCURC has been working on.  Gateway Quarter there will not be much.  High quality rental is what is needed.

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^ Specifically for MBS's strength in providing low income housing in new developments.  They have a track record of success for new multi-million dollar low income developments and 3CDC wants a strong partner as they propose this new model.

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How are they financing this? Are they using the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit? Or some other funding mechanism? I ask because I know the LIHTC has restrictions on how units that are for low-income are filled v market rate units. i.e. low-income units are always low-income units.

 

This is why it's slowed up.  They want this changed but still want to receive the LIHTC. 

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Ya-  While Mercer Commons seems to be delayed- 3CDC may be moving several other projects forward.  ie: 13th street between Race & Republic, the three boarded up buildings at 14th and Pleasant and the Weilerts building are all in pre-development, with some movement going on at the corner of 14th and pleasant recently (separate from City Home).

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Ya-  While Mercer Commons seems to be delayed- 3CDC may be moving several other projects forward.  ie: 13th street between Race & Republic, the three boarded up buildings at 14th and Pleasant and the Weilerts building are all in pre-development, with some movement going on at the corner of 14th and pleasant recently (separate from City Home).

 

That would be cool.  On the OTR work group maps it shows "Current / Under Construction" projects and "Pre-Development" projects.  Mercer is listed as a current, while the others you mention are listed as predevelopment so I assumed they are in line behind Mercer but I suppose each project has its own timeline.  It would be great if they are accelerated as 13th St is going to be a gateway into the park.  3CDC via OTR holdings picked up more buildings in the area on the 1200 block of Republic and on the NW corner of 13th/Republic recently too. 

 

Color Building / Weilerts also got a good size historic preservation grant and I think Model planned on moving their offices to the Color Building, hopefully that kicks off soon.  I worry about those buildings...

 

 

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Next OTR project on horizon

3CDC says historic building must come down

10:06 PM, Jun. 11, 2011

 

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20110612/BIZ01/306120003/Next-OTR-project-horizon

 

OVER-THE-RHINE – The conflict has played out countless times in other venues, as developers and preservationists square off over tearing down historic buildings.

 

But this time, the purple stucco structure would be the first historic building demolished in Over-the-Rhine by Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC). The nonprofit developer has spent the past five years investing more than $160 million in the neglected neighborhood, home to one of the largest collections of 19th Century Italianate architecture in the country.

 

 

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Mercer Commons gets $5M state loan

Business Courier

Date: Tuesday, June 28, 2011, 6:18am EDT

 

The Ohio Development Financing Advisory Council has approved a $5 million loan for the Mercer Commons project in Over-the-Rhine.

 

The $51 million development will bring commercial and housing development to a cluster of 20 buildings and 26 vacant parcels near the intersection of 14th and Vine streets.

 

http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/morning_call/2011/06/mercer-commons-gets-5m-state-loan.html

 

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My latest post on Mercer Commons. Much has been said about 1314 Vine, but what about the other building on the chopping block? Namely, 1329 Walnut:

 

http://overtherhine.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/the-fate-of-1329-walnut-and-mercer-commons/

 

DUH!  In that case we need to rehab that building immediately, put in a wine shop called Deutshe Republik and have it be a tour stop on the American Legacy tours for its contribution to American Colonization history.  This sounds like an easy money maker, 3CDC.  Plus, that building is adorable, and it shares a party wall with another historic building that will be rehabbed.  I see no reason to tear it down.

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3CDC will be making an informational presentation on Mercer Commons at the OTR Community Council meeting on Monday July 25.  The meeting starts at 5P, I would guess the presentation wouldn't start till 5:30 at the earliest.  Community Council meetings are held at the OTR Rec Center and are open to the public.

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My latest post on Mercer Commons. Much has been said about 1314 Vine, but what about the other building on the chopping block? Namely, 1329 Walnut:

 

http://overtherhine.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/the-fate-of-1329-walnut-and-mercer-commons/

 

I know this position isn't popular here, but I think 1314 Vine and 1329 Walnut are not very attractive buildings, and they are currently standing in the way of a brilliantly designed project that has the potential to be THE game changer for OTR south of Liberty.  Mercer Commons will bring 155 residential units (almost as much as what has been completed to date in the Q), substantially increase the density in this section of OTR, which currently is a borderline urban prairie, and will bridge Vine and Main streets, finally creating an environment that encourages movement between the two commercial districts.  There are so many other abandoned buildings in OTR that are literally falling apart, and a major project like this could be a catalyst for private investment to save many of those buildings.  Sometimes we have to lose a few buildings to save many more, and with the quality of infill proposed, I don't feel bad at all losing these two buildings.  To make the development work economically, these buildings have to come down, and I think OTR is better for it.  The preservation community should applaud the progress 3CDC has been making, and focus their efforts on other streets that really need attention (I'm thinking Elm, Republic, the entire area by Findlay).

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I agree that this project should not be derailed due to these two buildings. I still have hope that they can find a way to integrate them into the project in some manner. Unfortunately with the 1314 Vine building, so much has already been done to change the historic facade that I don't believe it to be worth saving. :-/ As sad as that is, it is a reality we must face. I'm not as familiar with the Walnut St. building to make a judgement.

 

** All opinions stated are just that. They are by no means professional judgements, just the opinions of a resident.

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If they want to save the buildings so badly, they should move them somewhere else and rehab them.


“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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Every old building in OTR has some trivial historical significance.  You can't save them all.  The building is an eyesore and wouldnt be very attractive even if it were restored to its full glory.  Tear it down.  The most biggest and best project in all of the Q awaits. 

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Part of the historic character of Over-the-Rhine is the fabric and density of historic buildings, even the simple nondescript ones.  We are within a building or two of losing over 50% of the historic building stock.  At what point do you cease to have a historic neighborhood if you tear down everything that is "trivial"? 

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i agree.  you only demo. as an absolute last resort.  yes this development is very important to OTR but there has to be a creative solution.

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I agree.  Design around them.  It can be done and once the stucco is removed and the bay windows replaced, then will you see the true beauty of 1314.

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I agree.  Design around with them.  It can be done and once the stucco is removed and the bay windows replaced, then will you see the true beauty of 1314.

 

 

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You guys should try to get some kind of perspective from 3CDC or the architect on this before you write "journalism" pieces on the buildings that don't show up in their renderings. How much is actually salvageable? What's their current interior condition? What kind of obstacle do they actually pose to the development plan, from the developers or designers perspective?

 

I mean come on, some of you do actually work in this industry. This might not be as simple as just finding the Sanborn maps and creating an overnight celebrity out of a building shell that you don't really know that much about.

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You guys should try to get some kind of perspective from 3CDC or the architect on this before you write "journalism" pieces on the buildings that don't show up in their renderings. How much is actually salvageable? What's their current interior condition? What kind of obstacle do they actually pose to the development plan, from the developers or designers perspective?

 

I mean come on, some of you do actually work in this industry. This might not be as simple as just finding the Sanborn maps and creating an overnight celebrity out of a building shell that you don't really know that much about.

 

I write the OTR blog. It's a blog with a fairly narrow audience so I wouldn't suggest anyone consider it "journalism". I'm interested to know how you would define "journalism", Civvik.

 

And FWIW, I know a lot more about this issue than I choose to air online.

 

The point of the post was to begin to articulate the history of 1329 Walnut like I did for 1314 Vine. Nothing more, nothing less. If the people of Cincinnati have a choice in the direction of Mercer Commons (and they most likely will through the HCB if 3CDC doesn't have it declared a PD), it'd be best they know something about the buildings that are currently on the chopping block.

 

You may notice I stated my support for 3CDC and Mercer Commons in the post and did not explicitly call for 1329 to be saved at all costs. 1329 is, however, the more significant and easily salvageable building of the two.

 

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that 3CDC will be presenting to the HCB about Mercer Commons at 3pm on Monday at Two Centennial Plaza, 7th floor.

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Look, I think you do a nice job with your blog, but you're kind of talking out both sides of your mouth with the issue of these buildings by saying that you support the Mercer Commons development almost as a disclaimer in the posts about the buildings they want to knock down. Especially if you know more about them than you let on in your blog posts. So what's the agenda? It really does not seem clear to me.

 

I would think the highest aim would be to get 3CDC to articulate why they felt these two buildings had to go, and then presenting the historical background in that context. Without that context, these buildings seem like sacrificial lambs. There's already been unnecessary hackles raised over 1314 Vine.

 

I've said this here before: Not every old building becomes historic. We've got a whole mess of 20th century building stock that is going to hit the historic threshold in the next generation, and we've got to foster a pretty clear and pragmatic attitude about what's special and what's not, or the whole process is just going to turn into a shitstorm.

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I support the preservation and development of OTR so I can see how you might think I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth. Mercer Commons as it is currently designed is not 100% to my liking. However, I do not think that gives me license to impugn its merit. It holds great promise for OTR. That being said, each historic building in OTR matters to its historic fabric. Once an historic building is destroyed, it is gone forever.

 

So far, 3CDC has not involved the public in its proceedings about Mercer Commons or its potential demolitions of 1314 Vine and 1329 Walnut. Its presentation Monday at the HCB is a first step in the process.

 

 

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FWIW, not every old building within a historic district is in fact historic itself. There are a variety of ways in which a district can get its historic designation and Over-the-Rhine fulfills every one that I can think of off the top of my head. It has a large historic collection of buildings, significant historical events took place there, and significant historical people lived or worked there.

 

So with that being the case, we can toss the idea of OTR losing its historic designation out the window.

 

The real concern among most people, I think, is the loss of "historic fabric". This is a reasonable concern, but if the urban form of "new fabric" respects and compliments the old, then it shouldn't really be that much of a problem.

 

The battle cries of OTR losing 50% of its historic fabric are worthy cries, but the reality is that even if every single vacant lot was built upon with modern infill, the district would still overwhelmingly feel historic in nature.

 

In terms of Mercer Commons, I decidedly undecided about these two structures. I can understand both arguments being presented, but in the end I am just happy that OTR even has these kind of problems today. Five years ago this wouldn't have even been an issue, so I'm glad the conversation and debate is being had. That means some positive stuff is happening in OTR.

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Agreed with Randy but I don't think CPA, OTRF, etc. would say losing the historic designation is a real possibility if it wasn't.  But I'm not an expert on historic designations.

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Once OTR really hits its stride in private investment (streetcar), the feel of OTR will change with the density increasing more noticeably than now, mostly because the current efforts have been concentrated in a specific area.  I'm just hoping that whenever, if ever, the Brent Spence project gets going that the atmosphere created by all that freed up property west of downtown will be urban.  Modern, faux-historic, either one would be okay with me as long as the scale is appropriate for a central district.  Hopefully the city planning will be better than City West, which didn't address neighborhood vitality.  Where are the restaurants?

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I noticed that they are using part of what will become Mercer Commons for valet parking now.  The neighborhood is really taking off...

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in the end I am just happy that OTR even has these kind of problems today. Five years ago this wouldn't have even been an issue, so I'm glad the conversation and debate is being had. That means some positive stuff is happening in OTR.

This is very true.  Although demolitions are still happening in OTR, it is much less than what was happening a few years ago.  Not only that, but crappy ugly buildings that have been vacant for 20 years are being sold at higher and higher amounts.  20 years ago I knew a guy who was begging people to take buildings like these off his hands, they were only a liability.

 

That said, 3CDC is making a huge mistake demolishing these 2 buildings (if that is indeed their plan).  There is a huge parking lot south of 1314 Vine that is owned by OTR Community Housing.  There is no reason they couldn't expand their project into that lot in exchange for offering parking spaces in their new garage to OTRCH.

 

No matter how complimentary the new buildings are, they never contribute to the feeling of the neighborhood in the same way as the old buildings..  I especially like the one at the SW corner of Mercer and Walnut.  If I'm not mistaken, it is one of the oldest buildings in the neighborhood. 

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No matter how complimentary the new buildings are, they never contribute to the feeling of the neighborhood in the same way as the old buildings..  I especially like the one at the SW corner of Mercer and Walnut.  If I'm not mistaken, it is one of the oldest buildings in the neighborhood. 

 

Agreed, but then I see comments like these and am reminded that people have varying degrees of appreciation for historic context and styles: http://overtherhine.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/the-fate-of-1329-walnut-and-mercer-commons/1329walnut/

 

####

 

Here are a few renderings I put up on flickr and the OTR blog:

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/overtherhine/sets/72157627143037401/with/5969373263/

http://overtherhine.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/mercer-commons-renderings/

 

5969931462_e4d2dd1b0b_b.jpg

MercerOver by OverTheRhine, on Flickr

 

 

 

5969776414_0a66c3e574_b.jpg

Mercer Commons by OverTheRhine, on Flickr

 

 

5969218753_1313f0e1b0_b.jpg

Mercer Commons by OverTheRhine, on Flickr

 

 

5969775780_66d9c26e73_b.jpg

Walnut & Mercer by OverTheRhine, on Flickr

 

 

5969218425_ac3501d887_b.jpg

Mercer St. by OverTheRhine, on Flickr

 

 

5969218393_473f8997c1_b.jpg

Mercer & Vine by OverTheRhine, on Flickr

 

 

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/overtherhine/5969373263/#in/set-72157627143037401/

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Okay, I can understand the desire for a parking structure and can see how it would make the most sense to level 1314 Vine.  It sucks, but this is an important project that needs to move forward.

 

As for 1329 Walnut...WTF!?!  That building they plan to put in its place is awful.  Its massing doesn't fit the context at all, the random window placement is far from the Italianate/Second Empire tradition, and it's not a necessary building in Mercer Commons complex.  To level a beautiful building (and yes, 1329 Walnut is beautiful...I was standing in front of it at 5am on my way to work this morning soaking in the details) for this garbage is almost incomprehensible.  3CDC has done a fantastic job maintaining the historic integrity of the neighborhood so far.  I really don't understand why they'd set a bad precedent for future developers who will most likely be less conscientious. 

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Here's an interesting earlier overhead rendering of Mercer Commons that does not show 1329 Walnut being demolished:

 

Ignore the yellow box.

mercerfootprint1.jpg

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^ this rendering dates back to 2008.  The other ones are from 2010 and 2011. I've seen the above rendering brought up on many blogs that they may be saving these older buildings.  The current plan is the top pictures.  I think it would end a lot of confusion if the internet just erased this older rendering- haha

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^ this rendering dates back to 2008.  The other ones are from 2010 and 2011. I've seen the above rendering brought up on many blogs that they may be saving these older buildings.  The current plan is the top pictures.  I think it would end a lot of confusion if the internet just erased this older rendering- haha

 

Yes, it's old. So at some point it was decided that it would be better to demo and replace 1329 with a four story contemporary structure.

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