Five Cincinnati neighborhoods known as Uptown are planning on a lot of economic growth in the coming year -- and they're also looking at the housing needs that will come with that growth. Uptown consists of Avondale, Clifton, Corryville, Mount Auburn and University Heights. A group that promotes the area is looking at residential needs and possibilities, beginning with Avondale.
Uptown Consortium President and CEO Beth Robison says they commissioned a study to look specifically at that neighborhood's housing market and trends because of its proximity to the new I-71 interchange. The interchange is getting credit for fueling development, including the Innovation Corridor and a new $110 million National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health lab.
"We want to develop, with our neighborhood partners, a comprehensive housing strategy that we can all get behind," Robinson says. "Really, it's based on the premise that it's just as important to keep the residents that we have as it is to welcome new residents."
It's possible to do both, she says.
The study found 20 percent of the housing parcels in Avondale are vacant. She says that means there's a lot of room for developers to construct new buildings.
"We saw some market forces and some interest from developers and investors, and with our community partners determined that we really need to get in front of this and make sure housing is developed in such a way that there's a diverse variety of choices and options to address different income levels and different needs," she says.
Robinson says gentrification is a concern, and points to a pilot project with Children's Hospital where homeowners could apply for forgivable loans for exterior property improvements. She says if the recipient stays in the home for five years, the loan becomes a grant. That program is about to be expanded. Robinson says the Consortium has also worked with the Home Ownership Center of Cincinnati, and helped first-time buyers make down payments.
Robinson says what the Consortium and community partners want for Avondale is balanced growth. "It's really the responsibility of those of us working in the community and the Avondale community leadership to make sure the growth and the development are in a balanced way that addresses the needs of the current residents and improves the overall livability."
The report, from Dinn Focused Marketing, found low home ownership rates in Avondale, aging housing stock, and a high number of vacant properties compared with neighboring communities.