No. 1: Walnut Hills
Cincinnati's Walnut Hills neighborhood had a lot to brag about in recent years, with rehabbed apartment projects like the Maliana and restaurants like Gomez opening.
But the revitalization is poised to grow into a flood of new businesses and residences in 2018, as Model Group begins work on transforming the derelict Paramount Theater into a vital retail, restaurant and residential center, including the first black-owned craft brewery in the Tri-State.
The Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation secured the rights to the closed Kroger supermarket site, ensuring that engine will be behind getting the property back in vital use.
Bobby Maly, a Model Group principal, pointed to several neighborhoods that are ripe for redevelopment, but if he were just starting out?
"If I had a dollar and early on I would put It in Walnut Hills," he said. "I think it’s the lowest cost of acquisition and close proximity to the two biggest job centers (Downtown and the hospitals/UC)."
No. 2: Avondale:
Arguably the most hard-luck neighborhood out of many contenders in the urban core, Avondale is finally seeing a resurgence of residential and retail development, highlighted by Avondale Town Center.
The strip mall had high vacancy rates and a rundown appearance, but it's being replaced with new apartments and retail.
Market-rate housing is being added with The Pointes at Avondale, and subsidized housing has been transformed by HGC and RWB along Reading Road.
Daytime population will surge with construction of a new Cincinnati Children's Medical Center hospital tower, spurring additional demand for retail.
No. 3: Price Hill's Incline District:
The eastern edge of East Price Hill's resurgence was cemented with the addition of the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater and Incline Public House. That fortune is due to spread west with the transformation of the vacant and blighted Masonic Lodge into a special events center that with two ballrooms suitable for wedding receptions, Cincinnati Youth Orchestra concerts and other private functions.
New and rehabbed housing and businesses are cropping up, too, ensuring the momentum is continuing.
No. 4: College Hill:
College Hill's redevelopment corporation has been quietly buying up promising properties for years and promoting others. The work showed some signs of paying off in 2017 with the opening of Brink Brewing Co. and groundbreaking on a new affordable senior apartment complex in the heart of the Hamilton Road business district.
Developers are bullish on the prospects for the neighborhood in 2018. "We’ve got a decent amount of stuff we’re trying to work through the details of in College Hill," Michael Berry, a South Block Properties partner, said. "I’m personally most excited about (College Hill development corp.) acquiring key properties and getting control. I think they’ve consolidated a lot and are moving from acquisition to developing properties."
The big prospect remains College Hill Station, a sprawling open site at the North Bend Road and Hamilton Avenue where a Kroger supermarket and Shuller's Wigwam restaurant and events center once stood. St. Francis Group's contract to develop the site was not renewed late this year, but a new developer will be in place early in 2018.
No. 5: Westwood Town Hall area: Westwood is Cincinnati's largest neighborhood by population, and it's faring much better in recent years. The hottest part of the neighborhood is around Westwood Town Hall, which welcomed West Side Brewing and news of the conversion of the old Cincinnati Bell transfer station into the new home of Madcap Puppet Theater.
An influx of $4 million into rehab of the Town Hall, Bell building and a new urban park surrounding them has already spurred the nearby Ruehlman building to have fully occupied storefronts for the first time in 50 years. That includes Muse Cafe, an instant neighborhood gathering space. With property values rising, the good fortune is expected to spread further along the Harrison Avenue business district and nearby streets.
And 2018 may reveal the fate of another community anchor, Mother of Mercy High School's austere old building. The all-girls high school will merge in the 2018-19 school year with McCauley High School and move its students to the College Hill campus.
No. 6: The West End: City leaders announced on Dec. 19 that the West End will be home to the next Citirama in September 2018 along Ezzard Charles Drive between John, Clark and Cutter streets. The showcase will include 54 new houses in an area that has already been growing.
As of this writing, West End was still in the running to be home to FC Cincinnati's proposed soccer stadium, which would mean a $200 million-plus influx of development into the neighborhood.
No. 7: Madisonville:
Far from the city center, Madisonville has retained its own eclectic character, punctuated in recent years by the addition of a thriving urban chicken farm culture and community gardens.
But there's more than chicken scratch for investors there, with a craft brewery in the works in a former bank building and plans for new apartments along Madison Road in the old business district.
Further south along Red Bank Road, development continues to spread out from the MedPace anchor, including construction of The Plaza at Madison Circle luxury apartments and a boutique hotel coming to Red Bank.
No. 8: Pendleton: Model Group, Chris Lacey and other developers have pumped millions into the Pendleton neighborhood just north of Central Parkway and east of Over-the-Rhine.
A new brewery is on the way to complement Urbana Cafe and a host of rehabbed grand Italianatte brick buildings.
Office space is coming online, and Model's Maly expects to see additional rehabbed housing now that a critical mass has been established.
No. 9: Uptown around the MLK Interchange
The opening of the Interstate 71 interchange with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Drive has sparked a flurry of activity along previously depressed stretches of Reading and Madison roads and nearby streets. Terrex Development is moving forward with plans for a hotel, office space and retail on a sprawling site at a Reading and MLK corner, and plans are afoot for additional nearby development, including University of Cincinnati's Gardner Neurological Center and UC's 1819 Innovation Hub.