Neighborhood keeps identity amid redevelopment

Feb 13, 2015

Pendleton is in the northeast corner of Cincinnati's central business district.  The heart is just north of the Horseshoe Casino.  While you may not realize it, it is not a part of Over-the-Rhine or Downtown.  It is its own neighborhood, with its own identity.  And the people who live there want to keep that identity as developers come in. 

The owners of a popular bar in Over-the-Rhine are now working on opening another tavern in nearby Pendleton.  Nation won’t be the first bar in the neighborhood, or even the first new business.  But it is the first in a new wave of development.

Aaron Kohlhepp says he and his partners opened Rhinehaus in Over-the-Rhine to be a neighborhood bar, and they’re using the same concept with Nation.  And it might work even better in Pendleton.

“As you go up 12th (Street), as you go up 13th, Pendleton, Spring, all these other little side streets, it’s all houses,” Kohlhepp says.  “So it’s definitely more of a neighborhood feel than Over-the-Rhine is.”

Kohlhepp says Nation is just one of a few commercial properties under construction or in the planning stages in Pendleton.

Bobby Maly of the Model Group is a developer with an eye on the neighborhood.  His company is working on Broadway Square, which will have a coffee shop, restaurants, office space, and about 117 apartments. 

Maly says, with his project, he's trying to avoid the controversy that comes with gentrification, where long time residents are priced out of their homes. 

“Anytime you’re working with a historic neighborhood that has existing dynamics, existing neighbors, it’s always more complicated than building in the cornfields,” Maly says.  “We’ve been working with the community for a long time to make sure that what we’re doing is consistent with what they want for their neighborhood.”

The community is involved, in part, through the neighborhood council.  President Tabatha Anderson welcomes progress and redevelopment, but says “We don’t want to be ‘Little OTR.'”

The Over-the-Rhine bell tower actually sits in Pendleton.
Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Anderson says Pendleton wants affordable, family housing.  That's a lot different than Over-the-Rhine, where condos are selling for six figures to empty nesters and young professionals are lining up to get into the newest restaurants. 

She says there are concerns about the development that's on the way, but she's confident Pendleton won't become a twin of its neighbor.

“We have some commercial things coming into the neighborhood at the Broadway Square development,” she says.  “Pendleton is a neighborhood that marches to its own drum.  And that’s just how it’s always been.  So we don’t sit and look at what everybody else is doing.  We just look at what works for Pendleton.”

Anderson says, historically, developers and the city left Pendleton alone.  But that's changing, in part, because the Horseshoe Casino opened in 2013.  Anderson says community leaders challenged casino operators to hire from the neighborhood, and they're taking the same proactive approach with these new developers.

“Basically we have said we are willing to work with you. We want to work with you. We’re not trying to stop any of the development,” Anderson says.  “But we want it done in a community-friendly way so that it’s not disruptive to the neighborhood.”

That suits Aaron Kohlhepp of Nation.  One of his business partners is the vice president of the Pendleton community council.  Another is getting ready to move into the neighborhood. 

“There’s so much going on.  With what the Model Group is doing, with what Core Redevelopment is trying to do with the old SCPA, we really hope to be the cornerstone place of this development," Kohlhepp says.  “We want to be that spot for the neighborhood people.”

Nation is expected to open this spring.  Groundbreaking on another big project, the Alumni Lofts, is around the corner.  That will turn the former School for Creative and Performing Arts building into apartments.  Broadway Square should be finished before the end of next year.