Price Hill Will project to bring new businesses to Glenway business district

Residents of the west side who have bemoaned the unkempt state of the business district between the Medical Arts building and Price Hill Chili on Glenway Avenue may have a reason to cheer soon. The neighborhood redevelopment organization Price Hill Will announced this week that they have purchased nine parcels of land in that area, to help spur commercial development in the run-down strip.

Price Hill Will plans to begin clearing the lots as soon as this spring. (Dr. Ernesto Sabato’s well-tended dental office was not among the lots bought by Price Hill Will and it will remain.) They will then bring in a developer to take the lead or help Price Hill Will remake and resell the property to businesses in an effort to rejuvenate that strip of Glenway Avenue. The goal is to add businesses that complement the current mix, said Diana Vakharia, director of economic development for Price Hill Will.

The area has longstanding tenants that anchor the Glenway business district, including the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, Price Hill Chili, and the Covedale Library, as well as other medical offices, a funeral home, and a bank and assorted small businesses. Price Hill Will’s new properties include lots and buildings from 4944 to 4964 Glenway Avenue.

Price Hill Will formed a steering committee of local business and community leaders nearly five years ago to study the potential for redevelopment along Glenway north of Prout’s Corner (where Glenway meets Guerley Road and Cleves Warsaw Pike). When several adjacent lots became available, Price Hill Will worked with the City of Cincinnati to purchase the property with the idea of extensive redevelopment in the area. The funding needed for the project was available because the property is located in a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, which provides financial incentives for improving property.

One of the owners of Price Hill Chili, Steve Beltsos, was among the members of the initial steering committee, and he sees the potential benefits of drawing other types of businesses to the district, although he did mention jokingly that he would prefer not to see another restaurant in the area. At a recent meeting of the Price Hill Historical Society, that sentiment was in fact echoed by people who fervently hoped that there was not a Wendy’s or other fast-food drive-thru operation in the business district’s future.

Mary Jo Bazeley, an active member of the Price Hill Civic Club and Price Hill Historical Society who has undertaken beautification projects in the Glenway business district, said in response to hearing about the plan, “I don't want to see another empty mini-strip of shops with a sea of concrete in front of the building, we already have that.” She suggested that planners consider new buildings of two stories, with architectural character and parking in the rear. She also thought that a more upscale restaurant would be a good addition to the neighborhood.

Dr. Sabato, the dentist whose building will remain, noted that he was skeptical about what the efforts could achieve, but faced with the rundown buildings surrounding his property, he believes that even a chance for improvement is a good thing. “I hope they can bring in some retail business that can be here long-term,” Dr. Sabato said. “But it has to be in the best interests of the neighborhood. It has to be good for Price Hill. If they can do that, I’ll be very happy.”

There may not be consensus in what the best future is for the properties now owned by Price Hill Will, but it seems certain that having the organization take notice of the business district in the western half of Price Hill is a good thing.