Join us on July 8, 2015, 1 PM-2 PM
Downtown Revitalization is never an easy endeavor, but for communities striving for a healthy and vibrant urban core, there are many tools available. One of the most effective tools is the Revitalization District Liquor Permit Designation. Pioneered by Main Street Wooster and the City of Wooster with assistance from Heritage Ohio, this legislation allows a downtown to access more liquor permits than would otherwise be available, thus making restaurant retention and attraction a considerably easier prospect. Join us as we interview Main Street Wooster Executive Director, Sandra Hull, and the Wooster Chamber of Commerce Director, Justin Starlin, to discuss the Revitalization District Legislation, how it works, and what it has meant for Wooster.
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It’s time once again to honor the people, places and projects that exemplify Heritage Ohio’s commitment to growth through preservation and revitalization. Award nominations are due by 5:00 PM, Monday June 15, 2015, for projects completed by December 31, 2014. This year, nominations will be available beginning Wednesday, May 1. We will be accepting nominations for 13 awards using the 2015 Annual Awards nomination form below.
We are continuing to encourage the submission of digital video files that tell the story of the nominee or project. Just include the video file as part of the nomination form that you submit. We look forward to seeing your nominations!
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Heritage Ohio is again offering a series of workshops to help individuals and communities understand the historic building rehabilitation process.
We will be offering four workshops during 2014. Participants will have the opportunity to visit with representatives from Ohio Development Services Agency and the Ohio Historic Preservation Office. We will have a building owner share their experience in using historic tax credits, and other professionals involved in successful rehabilitation projects.
The next workshops will be:
February 24 in Dayton
April 11 in Steubenville
August 8 in Findlay
October 13 in Portsmouth
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You are invited to celebrate Cincinnati’s Historic Buildings…
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
21c Museum Hotel
609 Walnut Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
The Ohio Development Services Agency invites you to this special event to celebrate Cincinnati’s preservation of historic landmarks. Speakers include David Goodman, Director of the Ohio Development Services Agency; Mary Cusick, Chief of TourismOhio; Stephen Leeper of the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) and Kevin Pape of the Over-the-Rhine Foundation. Join us for a presentation and tour of the award-winning facility, 21c Museum Hotel and learn about other Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit projects coming to fruition in 2014.
Questions can be addressed to Nathaniel Kaelin, Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program Manager, at (614) 728-0995.
Parking available via valet (for a fee) and at nearby garages
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Work continues on the Adler Building at Front Street and Main Street in downtown Columbus. In fact, for a building far from being completed, I’d say we’ve already seen an amazing transformation. Here’s how the building appeared earlier this summer. And the images below show the building on October 1.
They say that preservationists have the power to see the finished vision of a decrepit, dilapidated building, while everyone else can only see the building in its current state as an eyesore. I hope we’re all in the midst of witnessing this preservation truism at its best.
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Heritage Ohio members are invited to join Mark Lammon from the Downtown Cleveland Alliance for a discussion about Special Improvement Districts. This webinar will have three parts 1) creation of a special improvement district and technical assistance; 2) managing the relationship and implementing the district plan; and 3) expansion and relationships outside of the SID. To register members should click HERE
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For communities and building owners who want to know more about successful building rehabilitation.
First the community needs to set the stage, and create an environment where building rehabilitation is understood and encouraged.
Second, building owners need to understand how to deal with historic buildings and what tools are available to help.
Learn how you can be more successful at rehabilitating your historic buildings.
Register for this workshop HERE
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Heritage Ohio staff and about 40 Ohioans, including Main Street Managers, and downtown revitalization advocates attended the conference, hosted this year in New Orleans. Having just completed 5 days of inspirational and educational sessions, I thought I would share my top ten things learned, in no particular order:
1. The JOBS Act of 2012 allows for locavesting and crowd funding, providing more options for financing businesses to create jobs. There are many more platforms than I realized, and they are all slightly different, so finding the right match is important.
2. The Entrepreneur – the term is thrown around so much we’ve begun to lose sight of who we mean. It can be anyone: a car mechanic, a gardener, a knitter, a computer geek. Think small, not so big. Make your downtown welcoming to anyone with a business idea; create an environment of support where business can thrive.
3. Sponsorship – believe in the value of your program and its activities. Develop relationships with your sponsors with as much thought to the follow-up as to the ask.
4. Streetscape projects can be challenging for downtown businesses. Effective communication, frequent progress meetings and a creative attitude will get the community through the process.
5. Business Enhancement Committees can create a Recruitment Manual to give them structure month after month to make the best use of your market analysis data and help you find the new businesses that belong in your community. Court your new business candidates.
6. Fundraising isn’t so hard when everyone is able to share the story of your downtown. Use your revitalization statistics. Tailor your story to the listener’s style.
7. What is trending in 2013? Diversity, young talent, young women, deliberate spending, shortened commutes, health and wellness, main stream technology.
8. Transportation – Reduce our car-centric decisions. Walkable communities are the future. Healthy and hip, they attract the young people, your town’s future.
9. Millennials (under 30 yrs.) – get them on your board and committees, or you may go the way of the dinosaurs.
10. New Orleans is a party city.
Thousands of communities across the country are doing creative work in revitalizing their downtowns and neighborhood commercial centers. You too can be part of this amazing process, it’s all about the can-do attitude.
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I am fortunate to work in a field that allows me to spend a great deal of my time visiting commercial business districts and meeting with the individuals who strive to preserve and revitalize those districts. They spend countless hours marketing the district through social media and elaborate and laborious events. Money is spent on marketing and district maps to try and attract more people to visit. Committees create business and building inventories to develop a greater understanding of what the district contains. Fundraisers and membership campaigns carry on in support all of these activities. I continue to be amazed at the amount of work being accomplished in these communities where revitalization has been made a top priority and the difference that is being made by a group of committed individuals.
Yet in district after district, the upper floors remain an enigma, a vestige of a quaint era when people used to travel vertically by stairs. First floor space is a priority in downtown as everyone wants to have retail shops to attract visitors and avoid appearing to have a vacancy problem. Upper floors are used for storage, pigeon habitats or district kindling. People seemed surprise when a fire occurs, yet it shouldn’t be a total surprise considering the amount of square footage in a tightly packed district full of flammable materials that goes unchecked for years. The inevitable result of any building that is not maintained is fire or structure failure, it is not a matter of if, but when.
These upper floors are far from a liability though. They are opportunity disguised as storage. Earning income from 1/2 or 1/3 of an asset makes as much sense as buying a car and removing the back seats and trunk. The cost of maintenance remains the same, but the utility is reduced dramatically. While I understand that there will be more debt, utility costs and property management fees associated with occupying the upper floors, it is still proportional and makes for a sound investment. Upper floor housing is actually a much better investment then first floor commercial when you look at typical vacancy rates. First floor commercial space is harder to fill than upper floor housing, which in turn costs the property owner more money in lost rent, turnover costs and marketing fees. A typical property owner must maintain the building systems and exterior with income from one floor instead of spreading the cost over multiple tenants. While any investment is a risk, I believe property owners would find upper floor housing to be a safe bet and may find that their municipality has a plethora of tools and or incentives available to assist with the process.
The benefits of upper floor housing are tremendous and revitalization organizations would do well to make this a priority when it comes time to strategic planning. Upper floor residents generate considerably more income for property owners, providing them with the resources to maintain and improve their buildings. Downtown residents spend five times more in the district then downtown workers. This is a huge benefit to all of the restaurants and retailers located within the district. Residents also give the district a vibrant and welcoming feel by creating a neighborhood ,where before there was just a shopping district or an office park.
The key to sustainable districts is multiple uses, as each use relies on the other use to survive. How many entertainment districts have dried up in previous years? Are office parks and suburbs going to attract the next generation of workers and residents? Mixed use districts have been around since the advent of cities and we would be wise to make sure our downtowns continue to offer every use.
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While in Spokane, Washington at the National Trust for Historic Preservation annual conference, I, along with many other Ohio delegates, attended a session on right-sizing. Presenter Cara Bertram, with Place Economics, conducted a survey of older industrial cities that have experienced significant population change over the last 40 years. Cleveland, Youngstown, Dayton and Cincinnati were 4 of the 20 cities selected for the survey.
We expected answers and concrete models working in other cities that we could bring back to Ohio. Instead, we learned that there currently are no success stories. The issue of vacant properties and low population has only begun to be documented and the idea of rightsizing, or the process of reshaping physical urban fabric to meet the needs of current and anticipated populations, is only a working theory. We discovered that dramatic population loss is being experienced across the nation, not just in older industrial cities, but also in Texas, where army bases have vacated, and also in Niagara Falls, NY where they are about to lose their city status along with a significant reduction in federal funds . While a few facts remain constant, such as decreased population, vacant buildings, and economic decline, the available resources change dramatically from city to city and also state to state. Essentially, Ohio needs to find creative ways to solve rightsizing issues through our own resources and funding sources because a national model is not coming any time soon.
Two Ohio cities, Sandusky and Painesville, have decided to create disincentives by using penalties to nudge people and companies to make decisions that expand the tax base. Both cities have created vacant property registries. The ordinance requires owners of vacant properties to sign a registry. Part of the registry requires that the property owner indicates who the lawful owner of the property is and provide the contact information for that owner, or in the case of out of town owners, to provide the local contact for the person acting as the owner’s agent. The property owner is then required to submit a plan for leasing the property, selling the property or developing the property. The ordinance also requires the property owner to keep the property safe and secure and maintain the property in accordance to local standards. As stated in the purpose of the Painesville ordinance, “(t)he purpose of this ordinance is to establish a program for identifying and registering vacant residential and commercial buildings; to determining the responsibilities of owners of vacant buildings and structures; and to speed the rehabilitation of the vacant buildings. Shifting the cost burden from the general citizenry to the owners of the blighted buildings will be the result of this ordinance.” The key to this statement is “shifting the cost from the general citizenry to the owners of the blighted building.” A dilapidated downtown building affects the whole city.
On a statewide level, the Ohio Development Services Agency has created the Ohio Vacant Facilities Fund to create reuse incentives for vacant buildings while investing in local businesses and creating jobs. An employer will receive $500 in grant funds for every new full-time position created in eligible facilities. The position must last at least one year before funds will be distributed. Funds can be used for acquisition, construction, enlargement, improvement, or equipment of the facility. The fund has been allocated $2 million through August 2015 and will begin accepting pre-certification requests November 26. Over the next two years, the fund has the ability to create up to 4,000 jobs.
The program can be used by all scales of employers to fill both big-boxes and main street storefronts. For example, a bakery opens in a downtown. They create 4 jobs after opening. After 1 year, they are eligible for $2000, which could be used to reinvest in their equipment to meet their growing business needs.
Employers should submit a pre-certification request form, available from the Ohio Development Services Agency’s website http://development.ohio.gov/cs/cs_ovff.htm. The request must be submitted prior to occupying the vacant facility or increasing employment in order to verify eligibility and reserve funds. All for-profit businesses are eligible, while non-profit and governments are not eligible. The building must be 75% or more unoccupied and available for use in trade or business for no less than 12 months. If the building is not occupied or construction is not complete, then construction must be at least 85% or more complete and able to be lawfully occupied with a certificate of occupancy. Also, the employer must increase employment above the Base Employment Threshold.
For more information and pre-certification request applications, please visit the agency’s website: http://development.ohio.gov/cs/cs_ovff.htm, or contact the Office of Redevelopment at email@example.com or call 614-995-2292.
 For more information on rightsizing and a full list of all 20 cities, the report in its entirety can be found on Place Economics’ website at http://www.placeeconomics.com/services/rightsizing.
 This excerpt is from the article “The Price of Vacant Property” written by Jeff Siegler and can be found in the Fall 2012 issue of Revitalize Ohio.
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