OTR residents inspired by neighborhood change

A rendering from the $63 million Mercer Commons project
A rendering from the $63 million Mercer Commons project

OVER THE RHINE, OH (FOX19) - Completion of the $63 million Mercer Commons project is still more than a year away, but residents and business owners in Over-The-Rhine say they're starting to see changes for the better.

"This area is up and coming. They have wonderful businesses up and down Vine. Maybe the trolley will get through here eventually," said Sherian McCants, a local seamstress excited about the improvements.

Seth Maney both lives and works in Over-The-Rhine, and says he immediately fell in love with the neighborhood.

"It's exciting. The energy, the new places, new people, new experiences, every day," said Maney.

Anastasia Mieham with 3CDC says part of that energy is the new apartments and condos becoming available as the Mercer Commons project takes shape.

"The first phase is all condos. The second phase... We're actually breaking ground later this month, includes all apartments, and it's mixed income apartments, so half of them are affordable, and it's just adding more residents to this neighborhood that once, most of these buildings were vacant," Mieham revealed.

It's a sign of progress to many people who live in the community.

Charles Armstrong has lived in Over-the-Rhine all of his life. He agrees that the development is bringing in positive energy.

"I think one thing it's going to do for the neighborhood, it's going to clean it up. It's going to bring in more revenue, you know? More people that can afford to live down here, and it's going to clean the neighborhood up," said Armstrong.

Sherian McCants says, "I think it's going to add to the neighborhood 100%."

Mike Smith works at Venice on Vine, a restaurant simultaneously serving as a non-profit to give people jobs and education.

"It's going to make the neighborhood more accessible to families. It's going to bring a lot of business to downtown Cincinnati," said Smith.

Amy Jarden says renovating old vacant buildings is a welcome improvement.

"I think it will probably get a lot of people off the streets. When they complete it, I think it will be good for the community," she said.

Along Mercer Street, four historic buildings are being renovated, which will have a total of 11 condominiums.

Those condos should be ready for occupancy in about a month.

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