Over-the-Rhine’s transformation through the years has been very visible. Where crumbling facades and boarded-up buildings once stood, new condos and single-family homes are being created. Very little is being torn down, only renovated and reconstituted to its former glory. The facades remain the same, the structure as close as possible, and the historical integrity intact.
The streets of Over-the-Rhine are becoming lined with homes full of life instead of abandoned, empty shells. With the addition of condo developments, the area is attracting the type of clientele that would normally have gravitated toward Hyde Park or other upscale neighborhoods.
"It’s remarkable how different things down there were even just two years ago," says John Hueber, owner and founder of John Hueber Homes. His company has been integral in the development and reconstruction of many condos and homes in OTR. "Previously, we focused on keeping the pricing down on homes in OTR, because the urban feel was drawing in young professionals. But now more established and growing families are shopping down there, and they want nicer amenities and more bedrooms. We’re seeing an influx of empty-nesters as well."
Initially, most homes being renovated in OTR were outfitted with the basic amenities in order to keep the cost low. This invited the young professional demographic, attracted by the ability to walk to nearby restaurants and bars.
Today, many of those young professionals have begun to grow families of their own, and a need for larger, more accommodating spaces is arising. In addition, with the growth of OTR’s restaurant district beginning to surpass that of other walking neighborhoods in Cincinnati, there has been a notable demographic shift in homebuyers. "To accommodate this shift," says Hueber "we began working to create a broader range of appeal."
Newer construction is becoming more varied. Although the basic, young professional-appropriate homes and condos are still there, there are more expensive and upgraded homes beginning to join them. Hueber explains that many older, more established Cincinnatians prefer nicer amenities and different spaces, such as rooms for offices, decks, garages and upgraded appliances. "This was a rather rapid trend," says Hueber. "No one thought it would turn this way so quickly."
With the addition of more varied home builds, Over-the-Rhine is quickly becoming one of Cincinnati’s strongest housing markets. Hueber says that many of the new homes are more expensive, with more upgraded amenities, which means they are finally being sold closer to market value.
With the addition of the new condo developments and apartment complexes that have been filling up at a rapid pace, OTR homes are becoming a commodity for Cincinnatians looking to venture out of the box.
According to Hueber, many of the homes being renovated are even selling before they’re complete. Townhomes and other single family homes available in the area are suddenly setting the precedent for highest home sales in OTR since renovations began, which shows a certain gentrification to a once desolate neighborhood.
Every home in Over-the-Rhine has to go through a rigorous approval process before it can be put up for sale in the district. Historic approvals entail the building retaining most, if not all, of its original façade and inside structure. Because of this, many homes seeking LEED approval have to tiptoe a delicate line between historic integrity of the building and the new additions that help the construction to remain a green facility.
"We were faced with crumbling buildings and broken facades, and we worked to replace and re-engineer everything we had to while still keeping the origins of the buildings intact," says Hueber. "The buildings are now far more structurally sound than when they were originally built. And what’s really cool about that area is that those buildings have been there for so long, and they’ll last another hundred years or more."