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Seeking Community, Minority Businesses Head To Walnut Hills

Triversity Walnut Hills.jpg
Ann Thompson
From left: Triversity Construction President Jim Watkins and Developer Robert Sanders discuss progress at Triversity's future headquarters on Curtis Street, just south of Peebles Corner in Walnut Hills.

The Cincinnati neighborhood has always had a Black business district but it's getting bigger.

The 1000 block of McMillan Street in Walnut Hills is filled with Black-owned businesses - a barbershop, florist, bakery, hair salon and restaurant. President of the Walnut Hills Area Council Kathryne Gardette is proud the Cincinnati neighborhood has remained diverse, and is thrilled more minority businesses are moving in.

“We are of the one percenters and of the no percenters. We are that diverse," she says. "But what holds us together is our community and wanting to ensure that our community stays diverse."

When Triversity Construction moves its headquarters to Walnut Hills next spring, the neighborhood will gain another Black-owned business.

President Jim Watkins says the company wanted to be part of a community. “A place we could literally walk across the street or around the block and have a cup of coffee and get some food and hang out after work.”

Watkins talked to WVXU at Caffe Vivace, a place where his employees could get a cup of coffee and listen to jazz.

Triversity joins Just Q’in, Esoteric Brewing and Mortar as the most recent minority-owned businesses moving to Walnut Hills.

Jilson Daniels is vice president of economic equity at The Port. One goal is to increase diversity in different Cincinnati neighborhoods including Walnut Hills, Price Hill, Avondale, Bond Hill and the West End.

Since 2013, The Port has been focused on preparing sites to sell developers in Walnut Hills from Hamilton County’s Land Bank. The agency converts property back into a useful purpose. It sold the Curtis Street site to Robert Sanders, Principal Sanders Development Group . Sanders used to work for The Port.

“Curtis Street, it always kind of sat in the back of my mind as a potential opportunity to bring jobs. As a former business banker, small business is really important to me and what better way to impact them by trying to add foot traffic to what they basically put their livelihoods out there for.”

The Cincinnati native who grew up in public housing is also working on other projects in the West End and Bond Hill which allows developers to discount rent in historically blighted properties.

As The Port’s Jilson Daniels continues his work in Walnut Hills and beyond, he heard this recently from a Price Hill person at the Triversity groundbreaking in Walnut Hills. “I believe they made comments about how they wished that they could do what Walnut Hills is doing.”

Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology