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Streetcar: Year One

Streetcar: Year One
Posted Monday, July 14th 2014 @ 4pm  by 700WLW News

(Over-the-Rhine) -- In the last 18 months, 35 businesses have contacted the Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce about opening up in the neighborhood, and the Chamber President says the streetcar is part of that.

It was a year ago that the contracts were signed on the streetcar project, which, when it's completed, will link the Banks with Over-the-Rhine.

Emilie Johnson says there's been a lot of construction in the neighborhood, but the contractors have been very communicative, and businesses don't seem to be suffering. She says while there's been a consistent, growing interest among businesses opening in the neighborhood, she doesn't see a spike.  Instead, she points out that it usually takes about 18 to 24 month from concept to opening doors, so there could be more businesses opening before the streetcar starts running, in September of 2016.

The President of the OTR Community Council says there has been a big increase in the number of building permits in the neighborhood since the streetcar work started.

Ryan Messer admits if anything, the neighborhood may be developing too quickly. He suspects the city's building permits office is overwhelmed, and he worries about diversity may suffer as people are priced out.

In the next year, the streetcar won't be taking on passengers, but it will be running, for testing and training.  And Messer says that will help inspire more development. 

Messer says there's a long list of people who want to invest in the neighborhood, either in residential properties, or in commercial developments.

In the last week, a pretzel maker and a breakfast-lunch café opened up on Vine Street, where a clothing retailer is about to start business, and on Main, the redevelopment of the Woodward Theater is underway.

Messer says the redevelopment of OTR would still happen had the streetcar been canceled, but he says, it wouldn't be happening as quickly as it is.


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