Cincinnati Projects Win State Historic Preservation Tax Credits

A brewery and event space in a northern OTR historic district, a mixed-income project involving 17 buildings in three parts of OTR and renovation of a landmark hotel in Walnut Hills all scored the credits.

Jun 26, 2019 at 6:32 pm
click to enlarge Clyffside Brewery - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Clyffside Brewery

A sprawling mixed-income development in Over-the-Rhine, a brewery and event space in the northern part of that neighborhood and Walnut Hills' historic Manse Hotel are among the 13 local projects that have won Ohio State Historic Preservation Tax Credits, the Ohio Development Services Agency has announced. 

Developers can use the credits to raise capital for rehabbing historic buildings. In Cincinnati, the awards went to a number of ambitious projects.

Clyffside Brewery won $1.3 million in credits for an effort to renovate the former Hamilton Brewery building at 244-246 West McMicken Ave. Brewing occurred at the site beginning in 1846 and continued for more than 110 years through a succession of companies, ending in 1957 when Red Top Brewery closed. Clyffside's redevelopment plan calls for three event spaces, a brewery, offices, a tap room and an outdoor beer garden. The $13.5 million project has also secured $2 million in federal historic tax credits and other financing. 

The building is at the heart of one of Cincinnati's most recent local historic districts, the Sohn-Mohawk District. 

A large redevelopment effort by the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation and Model Group called "Willkommen" scored $5 million in credits for a $50 million project rehabbing 17 historic buildings in three clusters in Over-the-Rhine near Ziegler Park, 15th and Walnut and at Liberty and Race streets. One of the buildings in that last location is home to neighborhood mainstay restaurant Alabama Fish Bar, which 3CDC says will continue on there.

The project will also include construction of as many as three new structures. The developers say the project will be mixed-income, with 40 percent of the residential units renting at 50 percent to 80 percent of the area median income, or about $40,000 to $65,000 for a family of four. The project also includes 30,000 feet of retail space. 

Another project by Model Group looking to rehabilitate the Manse Hotel in Walnut Hills won $1.2 million in credits. The $12.7 million project will renovate the building for 60 apartments for seniors and families available below market rate.

The landmark black-owned hotel won local historic designation earlier this year.

According to documents presented to the Cincinnati Planning Commission, the original building, first constructed in 1876 as a single-family house, became a vital gathering place for black Cincinnatians and a stopover for black visitors to Cincinnati when a black businessman named Horace Sudduth purchased it in 1931. At the time, accommodations in the city were still segregated, and black residents of Cincinnati had few places where they could celebrate weddings, hold meetings of social and professional groups or put up distinguished out-of-town guests.

Sudduth converted what was then a boarding house into a full-fledged hotel, adding what he called the Moderne Wing not long after he purchased it.

It’s hard to overstate the cultural significance Sudduth’s new hotel would come to have for Cincinnati’s black community. Before its closure in 1973, the hotel hosted Ezzard Charles' first press conference after his heavyweight boxing title victory in 1950, famed Cincinnati Reds first baseman Frank Robinson, James Brown and Duke Ellington. Some historians believe Hank Ballard wrote “The Twist” in the hotel before recording his version at King Records. A more widely-promoted version by Chubby Checker eclipsed Ballard’s version, becoming a pop culture icon.

The projects were among 13 awarded throughout Southwest Ohio and 28 across the state worth $28 million.