Early revitalization efforts in Over-the-Rhine began as early as the 1980s. Revitalization efforts as we know them today received the most significant boost in the early 2000s with the formation of the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) by the public, corporate and private investment leaders in Cincinnati, and increased private investments by Urban Sites, The Model Group, Eagle Realty Group, and other developers. Community partners, including the OTR Chamber, began addressing with significant resources the neighborhood’s biggest challenges, which included shoring up vacant buildings and lots, numerous problem properties, and crime. 3CDC, Urban Sites, Model Group and other property developers acquired and secured hundreds of the most deteriorated buildings and vacant lots, and redeveloped the buildings for a variety of mixed uses, including residential, retail storefronts, and office. The 2002 Over-the-Rhine Comprehensive Plan, which covers strategies on housing, economic development, safe and cleanliness, transportation, and quality of life, has acted as a guide for much of the development taking place today.
The historic buildings in Over-the-Rhine have provided generations of Cincinnatians, diverse in ethnic and cultural backgrounds, with places to live, work, play, shop and meet. Increasing numbers of residents and visitors are rediscovering the charms of Over-the-Rhine, and it is home to lively commercial activities, prestigious arts and cultural institutions, and year-round community events throughout the Main Street, Central Vine Street and Findlay Market business districts. The renovation of Washington Park in 2012 and the relocation in 2010 of the School of Creative Performing and Arts (SCPA) have leveraged new and existing commercial strength along Race, Elm and Central Parkway. Increased parking garage options at Washington Park and at Mercer on Central Vine supports residential, retail and the emerging office scene. Mercer Commons will add another 18,000 square feet of commercial space and 150+ residential units by 2014.
Echoing the booming of tech-start-ups on Main Street during 1990s, Central Vine Street welcomed its second business incubator, Cintrifuse, to join the existing Brandery, a business accelerator. Main Street draws not only night life entertainment, but also a collection of entrepreneurs including local artists and artisans and fashion-minded small business owners. Over-the-Rhine is defined by locally-owned, independent businesses. Since 2006, more than 175 new businesses have opened in Over-the-Rhine, and Walnut Street is also undergoing redevelopment. In the past few years, three breweries with tap rooms open to the public, opened in Over-the-Rhine: Christian Moerlein Brewery, Rhinegeist Brewery, and Taft's Ale House. In the adjacent Pendleton neighborhood, construction is underway to repurpose the former and now vacant SCPA building into residential apartments. Horseshoe Casino, now Jack Casino, opened in early 2013 and is one block southeast of Over-the-Rhine.
The art and cultural landscape in Over-the-Rhine includes Art Academy of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras, Cincinnati Opera, School for Creative and Performing Arts, Ensemble Theatre, Know Theatre, and in 2017, the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company will move into its new building; and Music Hall, and Memorial Hall. Both Memorial Hall and Music Hall are currently undergoing extensive renovations. Annual community events bring thousands of visitors to the neighborhood, including free seasonal programming in Washington Park, Bockfest, OTR 5K and Summer Celebration, Fringe Festival, MidPoint Music Festival, Cincinnati Red’s Opening Day Parade, Second Sunday on Main, City Flea and others.
Historic Findlay Market is Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market founded in 1852 and one of Over-the-Rhine’s most cherished institutions. Surrounding Findlay Market is the Brewery District, which embraces Over-the-Rhine’s brewing heritage. The passion for crafts beer and underground tunnels connecting a series of underground breweries that sprung during the Prohibition Era drives many locals regardless of expertise in architecture, urban conservation or beer-crafting to bring visitors and life back to the area.
With city-wide collaboration and determination, Over-the-Rhine is moving steadily toward a future with an economically vital, socially and cultural diverse, and nurturing neighborhood.