Price Hill Will has signed a purchase agreement to buy the historic Masonic Temple Lodge on Price Avenue.
The intent is to turn the lodge – empty for decades – into a space for the community and Price Hill Will’s main offices, said Pamela Taylor, community outreach coordinator. It could also house Price Hill Will’s growing Music for Youth Cincinnati Orchestra, known as MYCincinnati, a free music program for neighborhood children.
The lodge’s location in the Incline District could keep the momentum of the entertainment district going, she said.
“All boarded up, it’s emblematic of the troubles that have plagued the neighborhood,” Taylor said, “but getting it revitalized could help lead the charge” for East Price Hill’s rebirth.
The property is currently owned by Priceview LLC, according to the Hamilton County Auditor.
Because Price Hill Will is a social service agency focused on the health and safety of residents as well as neighborhood improvement, job creation and the arts, a community landmark would be an ideal home, Taylor said.
Before buying the building, Price Hill Will plans to do a feasibility study to find out what it will cost to renovate the 1911 building, designed by Samuel Hannaford and Sons.
Hannaford was an architect famous for designing other Cincinnati landmarks including Music Hall, City Hall, the Emery Theater, the Cincinnatian Hotel and the Cincinanti Observatory.
The hope is to renovate the building, valued by the Hamilton County Auditor at $20,000, for around $2 million, Taylor said, and move the main offices operating on St. Lawrence Avenue.
The study will be paid for with a $25,000 grant from the Ohio Capital Impact Corp., an affiliate of Ohio Capital Corp. for Housing, a Columbus-based nonprofit focused on constructing and preserving affordable housing.
The lodge is in “sad shape” today, Taylor acknowledged, but there have been efforts in recent years to save the building, which is located at 3301 Price Ave. and operated as a Masonic Temple for 77 years.
After being listed as condemned in 2011, the East Price Hill Improvement Association pressed the city to identify it as a local historic landmark and funds were identified through the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority to stabilize the building, Taylor said.
At roughly 9,300 square feet, the building has two stages and could be used for community events like weddings and birthday parties as well as house MYCincinnati, which has 55 child participants and more than two dozen on its waiting list, Taylor said.
Because the deal isn’t yet sealed, Taylor said Price Hill Will does not want to release the sale price or information about how much money it put down to hold an option to buy the building.
“When the purchase is completed, we’ll be freer to announce the details,” Taylor said.