Tuesday, December 02, 2008

KZF Design Renovating Building Downtown

KZF Design Inc., an architecture, engineering, interior design and planning firm, announced in a press release that they will be renovating a 36,000-square-foot space in two connected structures located at 700 Broadway, at the junction of Seventh and Eighth streets. According to KZF this will be a 6 million dollar project that will comply with LEED-Silver certification. A target date for completion of the project is the Summer of 2009.

Currently KZF is located in the Baldwin Building in Walnut Hills.

There is no news for increasing jobs at KZF, but this demonstrates their stability and their investment in the future of Downtown Cincinnati. Their press release does indicate that they will have 30% more space than their current space in the Baldwin Building, so expansion would not be hampered by a lack of space.

For more info on KZF, check out their website.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Another Idea for Revenue

One more way Hamilton County could generate money to fix its budget:

Have a raffle.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

HamCo's Budget Woes

By now, we all know the story: the County faces a $31 million shortfall in 2009. The Board of Commissioners has determined, apparently, that the only way to fix this is to cut spending. But that seems to be looking at problem from only one of two possible angles. Why aren't we having a discussion about increasing revenue?

There are two ways to generate a significant amount of revenue for the County's general fund. First, the Board could raise the sales tax. Popular? No, of course not. But perhaps better than laying off hundreds of our neighbors. Second, the board could eliminate the "property tax rebate."

What is the property tax rebate? It's a commitment made to voters in 1996 that if a sales tax increase to build the new stadia were approved, 30% of the funds from the increase would be returned in the form of a property tax rebate. Commissioner Pepper has made it clear that we're not allowed even to discuss the rollback of the rebate. But other than to point out that the promise was made, he doesn't really say why. Presently, we redistribute about $19 million in sales tax revenue to property owners.

Let's look at the promise. It was made over 12 years ago. Bill Clinton was President. The economy was great. Local governments had tons of money to spend. No one on the Board then remains on the Board now (in fact, at least one was voted off because of the stadium deal). Many residents of HamCo now weren't residents then (like me). Many who were residents then have moved away. How long does a promise (one that was not written into the referendum and with no legal backing behind it) bind a county? All the way to fiscal insolvency?

We are no longer in a position to redistribute wealth through the "property tax rebate." It's time to seriously think through these issues, even if the solutions are politically unpopular in the short term.

What's the right answer?
  • A. Slash $31 million from the budget, closing Queensgate (leaving the Sheriff, rather than our judges, to decide which accused individuals remain in jail pending trial) and laying off hundreds of our friends, relatives, and neighbors?
  • B. Raise the sales tax rate?
  • C. Roll back the property tax rebate?
  • D. Secede from the Union. Start printing money like it's Mardi Gras!
I'm curious as to whether I'm the only person who thinks it's insane for our local leaders to bind themselves to a commitment made nearly a decade-and-a-half ago.

Friday, November 28, 2008

We Are The Champions

The UC Bearcats--that's right, the UC football Bearcats--are the champions of the Big East Conference.

Today's win by Pitt over WVU means that UC would win any tiebreaker, should it lose tomorrow's game with Syracuse at Nippert. Of course, Coach Kelly insists that his team will be ready to play tomorrow.

Who's going to Nippert tomorrow? And who will follow the Bearcats to their bowl game (probably Orange but perhaps Sugar) on January 1, 2009?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Support the Underdog--Give to the Freestore Foodbank!

Cincinnatians love underdogs. (And hot dogs. But that's another post.) Our favorite historical Reds and Bengals teams are teams that overachieved. Neither UC nor Xavier spend nearly as much on their athletics departments as do bigger schools, and that's why we get so excited when they're able to compete with the Big Dogs.

Our love of the underdog is another reason to support the Freestore Foodbank this season. I'm not sure if you've given this much thought, but when the Foodbank predicts "record need," it's not because the stereotypical homeless person is going back for seconds. It's because record numbers of people--the real underdogs of life, if only temporarily--need help.

Some of the people who need help this year are probably in your neighborhood. They're the couple with kids who was struggling to just get by, but is now in dire straits since one of the parents lost his or her job. It's the single mom or dad who lost one of his two or three part-time jobs. It's the senior citizen down the street who's desperately trying to avoid having to make a choice between buying groceries and filling prescriptions. Most of these people aren't chronically poor or low-income, but are caught in the harsh vice of these tough economic times. They'll go--reluctantly--to the Foodbank to get through the next few months, and then get back on their feet. These same folks, a year or two from now, will be generous donors to the Foodbank once they're able.

Your love of the underdog should also inspire you to help the Cincinnati Blog in its efforts to do well in the Battle of the Blogs. Hard to believe, given this stature Griff earned for this blog, but we really are the underdogs. Look at our competition, most of which has oodles of donors at its disposal: The Dean requires registration to comment on his ramblings, so he's got the email addresses of everyone who's ever commented at the Beacon, and he's using them. Alex Triantafilou, in addition to being of counsel to one of Cincinnati's largest firms, has the HamCo GOP email list at his disposal--and he's purportedly using it. David Pepper (besides receiving all those royalties from the sale of Dr Pepper*) is an associate at one of America's fifty largest law firms. And now we're in the hole--someone just added $5,000 to Pepper's tally! (Great work, Commissioner!!!) Here at the Cincinnati blog, we don't require registration for comments and we're decidedly middle class.

So click on this link to help two groups of underdogs: people who really, really need and deserve your help this season, and we humble Cincinnati bloggers.

And let me add this to my fellow lawyers: if you're at a firm where you're getting a bonus this year, you need to spend some of that money to reduce your tax liability. What's better than a charitable contribution to the Freestore Foodbank? If you're a solo practitioner or a small-firm attorney who's settling a case or collecting fees in these final six weeks of the year, same thing--got to burn some of that cash, or you're gonna get hosed on April 15th. So get yourself a deduction: you know you want to. (Check with your accountant, of course. I'm not a tax lawyer and don't pretend to be one.)

Once more: the Freestore Foodbank.

*Really. It's a law. Anyone with the last name "Pepper" automatically gets five cents for every can of Dr. Pepper sold.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Little Bluer: Coates Defeats Groppe

The Hamilton County Board of Elections has finally finished the official vote count. In the race for Recorder, the Election Day tally had Republican incumbent Rebecca Groppe ahead by about 3,000 votes. But no media outlet ever officially called the race, as over 20,000 ballots (provisionals and last minute absentees) were yet to be counted. That meant that Democratic challenger Wayne Coates was very much still in the race.

Tonight, we know the outcome: Wayne Coates has been elected County Recorder, winning 50.34% of the votes cast in that race (a margin of about 2,500 votes). The Clerk's race also tightened, with Republican Patricia Clancy winning with 50.51% of the votes over Democrat Martha Good (a margin of 3,800 votes). I don't know enough election law to know whether either of these results triggers recounts, or the ability of candidates to request such recounts.

By all accounts, Ms. Groppe served the residents of this County faithfully while in office, and we wish her well. Wayne Coates brings a great deal of experience as a public servant to the post, and will no doubt bring fresh ideas. He'll need to, given the County's budget troubles. Coates is currently bailiff to HamCo Municipal Court Judge Ted Berry.

Where's the Beef Fraud?

Turns out "voter fraud" wasn't much more than concern trolling. (Enquirer article here.) Over 400,000 ballots cast, and only four raise possible issues?

While we're on the topic: let's give the HamCo Board of Elections a round of applause for running a fairly problem-free election. Other than some confusion early on Election Day regarding the ID requirement (some poll workers thought a valid driver's had to have an address that matched the poll book--that's not true, and the BoE spent over an hour on this point alone in training, and then called all the polling places once it became evident that some folks still didn't get it), we had a really clean, error-free election.

Time to gear up for City Council 2009. Anyone want to declare his or her candidacy in the comments?

CEAs Kicked Ass!

Last night's Cincinnati Entertainment awards were one of funnest events I've ever attended in Cincinnati. As an avid local music fan it was invigorating to weave around a mob of Cincinnati's best musicians to get to the Por-O-Lets. The pre-show had a totally fun and dare I say really fucking cool vibe. I mean the Fairmont Girls doing live fashion commentary (the Trashies) that was beamed to the big screen inside the theater, you can't beat that. They added a charm that was part Cincy Charm, part New York snark, part Hollywood, part out right friendliness. They were having fun and treating the people coming inside as both real people and as something this city needs to understand better: as cool.

The performances were great. Bootsy's band rocked and the James Brown emulator did this move I almost can't describe. He went to a head stand, legs straight up in the air, and using his arms slid across stage ON HIS HEAD in what I could best describe as an upside-down moonwalk. The audience gasped in glee when he did that. I admit, I gasped in glee mostly, but I wasn't the only one!!

The local bands were exceptionally good: Sundresses (I final got to see them live!), Eclipse, and the Seedy Seeds. All three won an award by the way.

The show ended with Ralph Stanley. When he did O' Death there wasn't a sound other than his voice audible in the entire Emery Theater. Even the people at the bars in the back went quiet. I don't know of a more haunting and thrilling sound I've heard in a very long time. Ralph is getting old and it showed, but the crowd really had fun. People really did Banjo. I can't explain why, but they just do. I think Steve Martin did a bit on the Banjo. You just can't do much that is depress on the Banjo, it is either happy or a pickin' fire.

Also, great job by the video team. With the combination of the pre-show and the affects during the show, it was really classy, in an MTV Video Music Awards type of way circa 1994.

The pizza at the after-party at the Know Theatre from Dewey's really hit the spot. I didn't make it upstairs for the Trashies, so I don't know who won, although the lead singer for the Lions Rampant pulled up next to me at the bar with a small toy doll, so I think he might have one a runner-up prize. He is definitely going for the Kurt Cobain strain of rock-persona/style

Here is more from CityBeat, which included the list of winners:
Bluegrass - Rumpke Mountain Boys
Blues - Sonny Moorman Group
Country - The Turkeys
Experimental/Electronic - Chick Pimp, Coke Dealer at a Bar
Folk/Americana - Jake Speed and the Freddies
Hard Rock/Metal - Foxy Shazam
Hip Hop - Eclipse
Indie/Alternative - The Seedy Seeds
Jazz - Faux Frenchmen
Punk/Post Punk/Hardcore - Knife the Symphony
R&B/Funk - Daughters and Sons
Rock - 500 Miles to Memphis
World Music/Reggae - Super Massive
Singer/Songwriter - Kim Taylor
Best Live Act - Foxy Shazam
Best Musical Ambassador for the City - Bootsy Collins

New Artist of the Year - Daniel Martin Moore
Album of the Year - The Sundresses
Artist of the Year - Seabird

Here's more from Mike Breen.

Also, here's a video by Cameron Knight of CityBeat with an audio/photo montage that if you listen carefully, you will here me speak, with my trademark stutter (ugh!).

UPDATE: More from Anna Mae at theconveyor.com

UPDATE #2: For full Fairmont Girl Trashies coverage, hit their blog.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Random Aside

A few months ago, I decided I was grown up enough to discard my Xbox. (I'll admit, I considered, for more than a brief time, upgrading to Xbox 360.) It wasn't an easy decision, as I credit beer video games for the retention of my sanity during law school. But I thought that giving up the last vestiges of adolescence was the right thing to do, even if it took until my mid-30's to do it.

And then last night, I saw the ad for Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Are you kidding me? I can have Scorpion fight Superman? Raiden against Batman?


I. Need. This. Game. (And, of course, a system to play it on.)

If you see an overweight thirty-something-year-old on Santa's lap when you're out doing your holiday shopping this year, please stop by and say hello. (And call the paramedics for poor old Saint Nick.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cincinnati 28, Pitt 21

Everything's coming up oranges. (Except the winner of next week's game.)

O Cincinnati, magic name
I proudly to the world proclaim
No sweeter word e'er charmed my ear
None to my heart was e'er so dear;
A fountain of eternal youth,
A tower of strength, a rock of truth.

Varsity, dear Varsity
Thy loyal children we will be.
Thy loyal, loyal children we will be!

Coach Kelly has got to teach his guys (and our fans!) how to finish games, but another great win for the program!

At least one Cincinnati team has a shot at playing in January! (And if you watched ESPN-2's coverage, you learned that Bootsy Collins has apparently jumped on the Bearcats bandwagon. I just hope he doesn't write them a song that we have to listen to....)

Battle of the Blogs Sweeping the County!!!

I was honored when Griff first agreed to let me blog here. By then, for some time, the Cincinnati Blog had been--well, the Cincinnati blog. And the chance to join up with Jack (who I already knew of) and Julie (who's become one heck of a blogger) was too good an opportunity to pass up.

This week, though, my honor has turned to pride. I'm proud to be part of this blog in particular, and the Cincinnati blogosphere in general. What started out as just a simple post hoping to raise money for the Freestore Foodbank has (with no small amount of help from the Beacon) swept across the blogosphere like a California wildfire.

The Bearman is contributing based on blogs that link to his archives. Kate the Great has a terrific post on why you should give. Julie, who just became an affiliate to Greater Cincinnati Independents (a coalition of local restaurants) is donating her referral fees to the Freestore through the end of the year. Local politicians have gotten into the Battle, with HamCo Commissioner David Pepper and GOP Chair Alex Triantafilou joining the fray. The media is even starting to pay attention: see CityBeat (attempting to compete and cover the story at once) and WCPO.

The Freestore Foodbank seems excited by the competition, and has even created a way to help track the winner. The Freestore has created special url's (don't ask me how they work, I just know they do) that will tell them where their incoming hits are coming from. I've updated our links. So you can click on this link, or any other Freestore Foodbank link in the last few posts, and the Cincinnati Blog will get "credit" for the contribution in the Battle.

Too often, the blogosphere is just a consortium of echo chambers. We here at the Cincinnati Blog tend to talk to the center-left; Julie talks to food afficionados; Alex T. talks to GOP members; the Dean talks to the hopelessly confused; you get the picture. The Battle of the Blogs showcases the real power of the internet in the twenty-first century: the power to pull people together from across political, economic, and demographic boundaries to work for a common cause.

It's kind of humbling to be a part of.

And...if you need one more, selfish reason to donate to the Freestore: charitable donations are a great way to reduce your 2008 tax liability.

Local bloggers who haven't posted yet: I'm gonna call more of you out on Monday. (5chw4r7z, where are you?)

Cincinnati Santacon 2008

I don't think this is the first time a pack of wild Santas have descended on Cincinnati, but if you are looking an interesting day,, keep December 13th open and get yourself a Santa suit. The only think missing from the site is reference to Mrs. Claus. Frankly, women dressed as Santa are not appealing, unless, they alter the suit. Mrs. Claus, however, can be, shall we say, wow! if done right. I'm not making fashion pronouncements here, just thinking out loud. Maybe dreaming a little.

Cincinnati Unchained Today!

Get out and support Local Retail in Cincinnati!!!

This is a great effort by the team over at Buycincy.com. If you see the guys out and about, give them a pat on the back for doing a true service to their community. Cincinnati needs small businesses and the easiest way an individual can help out the small businesses of Cincinnati is by giving them your patronage!

I plan on shopping at some of the stores in the Gateway Quarter (Metronation, Park+Vine, etc) so join me there or hit Shake It! Records in Northside.

Friday, November 21, 2008

CEAs Sold Out

For the first time ever, the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards have sold out. Awesome news for Music fans. Glad to know there is strong support for local music!!! There is still an option to get the Ralph Stanley only tickets, but you may not get them, check out the link about for your possible chance!

If you can't make it out, be sure to still support the effort to bring the Emery back to its glory! More Here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Great Way To Give Thanks

Last week, I challenged Cincinnati bloggers to raise money for the Freestore Foodbank, which expects record demands through the end of the year (right after the massive power outage taxed its resources to the limit).

I'm really happy to say that local bloggers have picked up the gauntlet, and are flinging it back in our faces!!!

So again, here's the link to the Freestore's virtual food drive. The Dean came up with a simple way for bloggers to tally their results. If you give in response to the Cincinnati Blog's imnpassioned pleas, then please either note your donation in the comments (feel free to be anonymous) or email us (you can email either the blog or me) and we'll post your donation (anonymously, if you wish).

This is going to be a tough, tough year for a lot of people. Folks are losing their jobs, both in the private and public sectors. If you're in a position to give, there's never been a better time to do so. And with the virtual food drive, it's never been easier. For about twenty bucks, you can buy a family of four a meal.

And besides, there's no way Griff can permit the Dean of Cincinnati to win this contest!

The Dean is already starting to call out local bloggers who haven't joined the cause; I guess I'll do the same. Kate: your greatness is on the line here!!!! Randy: there's nothing more UrbanCincy-ish than the Freestore!!!

We Need Charter Reform. Now.

Early this year, we had here what I thought was an excellent conversation on what Cincinnati government should look like. I suggested the City Manager is too powerful, and we need to amend the Charter to create a truly "strong mayor" form of government--one in which the mayor appoints department heads and proposes a budget.

And this week, Milton Dohoney proved me right.

Can anyone imagine an elected official telling his or her constituents that their choices are either (a) a new fee, or (b) reduction in police and fire services? Really, those are the only two choices? There aren't other places (apart from the City's principal responsibility to its citizens) that can be cut? I know that my world is upside down when I find myself in agreement with Chris Monzel.

But now, of course, the Kabuki dance will begin. Now that Dohoney has set forth an unpopular (untenable, frankly) budget proposal, Mayor Mallory will swoop in with a "better idea." It's all so disgustingly predictable.

It's time for a strong mayor. The Charter could be amended so the mayor's position would be altered as of the start of the next mayoral term. But it's time to start running City government as if both City leaders and City residents are grown-ups.

An aside: I love that fact that HamCo Commissioner David Pepper, while clearly busy with the nuts and bolts of trying to run a local government in the recession our Republican friends brought upon us, is thinking about what the overall structure of county government should look like. The Cuyahoga County proposal to create a Commission president (what some states would call a "county executive") with real authority is intriguing, to say the least. (It would resolve my complaints about leaving the budget to an unelected Administrator.) I'm no expert on local government structure, so I'm not sure what it takes--action by the state legislature? The County could, apparently, also adopt (through a plebiscite) a charter form of government. What if we did? Can we have charter governments (cities) within charter governments (the county)? It's the kind of thing I'm glad we have our leaders thinking about and discussing, and I hope to see more of this.

License Suspensions: A Possible Solution

Earlier this week, I blogged on license suspensions, in response to an Enquirer piece on the topic. I suspect that most people don't realize the portion of the municipal court docket devoted to traffic offenses. (If you're curious, go to the Clerk's website and pull up any particular judge's docket for any given day. Any case that has "TRD" in the case number is a non-OVI traffic offense.)

Here's my suggestion: create an expanded "traffic diversion" program for license suspension cases. Not every defendant would be eligible: for starters, I would toss out any OVI suspension, 12-point suspension, or any case involving either an accident or failing to comply with a police officer.

But for those cases (the vast majority) still eligible, we could, if the judges and the prosecutors agreed, do the following. Tell any offender who is on his/her third or lower suspension charge in the past five years that his/her case will be reset in 45-60 days. If the driver is able to come back with a valid license and proof of insurance, then the prosecution will agree to reduce the charges to a single, non-moving violation. If not, then the matter will be set for trial, and--absent a showing of good cause--no continuances will be granted on the trial date. Once you've been through the diversion program, though, you will be ineligible for subsequent diversion for some period of time (five years, perhaps?).

Why is DUS such a problem in municipal court? Judges are reluctant (understandably) to lock people up for DUS offenses. After all, typically, the people who get caught driving under a suspension are poor and are suspended because they couldn't afford insurance. Most of the time, no one was harmed as a result of their offense. Often, courts will grant continuances in order to give someone time to "get valid," setting the case "for plea"--which means while the case is on the docket, the arresting officer isn't required to appear. Usually, if a person's record isn't bad, the prosecution will amend a DUS charge to "failure to display a valid license"--still a first-degree misdemeanor, but one that carries no points. And it's understood that judges usually won't incarcerate individuals who come back with a valid license.

The trouble with amending to an arguably lesser, but still non-moving violation is this: if the person cannot show proof of insurance from the date of the ticket (not the date of conviction), s/he gets suspended by the BMV all over again. And we're back in the cycle. Cases are set for trial not because a defendant actually intends to try the case, but because s/he wants to see if the officer will show up. But that means an officers spends anywhere from part to all of a morning sitting in a courtroom waiting for a case to be called. (And if the officer doesn't show up, the case is either continued or dismissed outright.)

An expanded diversion program could reduce drag on the courts' dockets. People with defenses (stolen identity, for instance) could still opt out and take their cases to trial. But most will want to get valid. And by reducing to a non-moving violation, two things happen: first the individual isn't subject to an FRA noncompliance suspension; and second, the court is able to recover costs. What's more, for those people who entered the program, their cases could be handled entirely in the arraignment rooms--meaning they never get to the regular docket. It'd save the time of judges, prosecutors, police officers, and public defenders.

Such a program would require a great deal of cooperation. The prosecutors (both city and county) would have to agree to it. The judges would have to agree to play hardball with cases that reached their dockets (i.e., no continuances "to get valid"--only for valid, trial related purposes, such as the unavailability of a witness). But it may be possible to work out some system where we can keep reduce the stakes to such an extent defendants will be willing to resolve them at arraignment, before a magistrate.

This proposal is just that: a proposal. There are probably problems I haven't thought of. But I hope it's a starting point for discussion.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What Do You Want at the Emery?

I've been very excites about this year Music CEAs taking place at the historic Emery Theater (Get your tickets NOW!). Efforts are underway way by the Emery Center Corporation to restore the grand theater to the greatness and huge relevance it held for most of the 20th Century. For a taste, check out this photo gallery from CityBeat showing just a little of the storied past of this great venue. Estimates are that the restoration will take at least 3 million dollars to complete. See below for a press release on the efforts.

The key element I want to find out is what do you want to see take place at a restored Emery? Give me your ideas in comments. Here are some of mine:
  1. Where better to see the headliners for Midpoint?
  2. Music Now! needs a bigger venue!
  3. Why Can't the Oxford Film festival move again?
What else comes to mine? Post your thoughts and get your ticket to the CEAs today!

If you want to help out raising some of the money needed to make this happen, send me your contact information (email: cincyblog@aol.com) and I'll pass it along to Emery team and get your efforts moving in the right direction. If you have limited time, at least spread the word about this effort to bring more hands on culture to OTR and Downtown. This is a chance to have a world class venue be the home for great music, theatre, film and events that will augment the growing arts community in Cincinnati.

Here are the details on Saving the Emery from the ECC:
$3 Million Projected to Reopen the Emery Theatre

The board of the Emery Center Corporation (ECC) has been working on plans to reopen the Emery Theatre. After lying dormant for about a decade, this historic concert hall/auditorium will host 650 guests for the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards on Sunday evening, November 23. The ECC hopes that this event will demonstrate the potential of the hall to fill a niche in Cincinnati’s varied array of performing arts facilities and that other events will follow.


A restored Emery Theatre is envisioned as a mid-sized performance venue and an educational, community-based arts facility with world-class acoustics. The concept is to operate the Emery as a presenting hall for performances aimed at a young urban audience. The Emery can accommodate local and touring musicians, choral groups, lectures, movies and multi-media presentations, festivals, corporate meetings and conventions.

Current Activities

In January 2008, the University of Cincinnati (UC) charged the ECC to identify a viable manager and program for the Emery Theatre by the end of this year. After several years of dormancy, the ECC’s board of trustees has been meeting regularly and working intensively on this challenge. Numerous professionals and volunteers have participated in preliminary construction work and planning.

  • Urban Sites carried out $15,000 of interior demolition and debris removal.
  • Over 100 Give Back Cincinnati volunteers participated in a major cleanup, painting and cleaning of the lobby and orchestra level.
  • GBBN Architects have produced a code analysis and scope of work to establish the minimum work required to reopen the hall.
  • Al Neyer, Inc., has prepared a cost estimate.
  • Property Advisors has produced a valuation study establishing the market value and equity in the building.
  • A new preliminary operating plan projects a $500,000 annual operating budget.

Phased Revitalization

The ECC believes the revival of the Emery Theatre can be accomplished in a two-phased restoration. The first phase could open the orchestra and first balcony (1100 seats total) by the end of 2011, in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the hall in January 2012. The second phase could open the second balcony for a total of 1600 seats at some future date.

Projected at just $3 million, Phase I could open the Emery’s doors at relatively low cost and capitalize on this currently underutilized resource. The viability of the project is enhanced by potential income from the apartments, either through rent or condominium sales, which could yield $1 to 2 million in equity toward the theatre’s renovation.


Completed in 1911, the Emery Theatre/former Ohio Mechanic’s Institute-College of Applied Science (OMI-CAS) Building has a distinguished heritage, having been endowed by philanthropist Mary Emery and designed by architects Samuel Hannaford & Sons. The Emery Theatre has the highest quality acoustics and was compared to Carnegie Hall by the renowned conductor Leopold Stokowski. This nearly flawless concert hall was the home of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra from 1912 to 1936.

Many Broadway stars and world-renowned performing artists have appeared on the Emery stage, including Russian ballet dancers Nijinsky and Anna Pavlova, actresses Bette Davis and Katherine Cornell, and composers John Philip Sousa and George Gershwin, who played his famous "Rhapsody in Blue" with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra here shortly after premiering it at Carnegie Hall in New York.

Recent Redevelopment

The Emery Theatre/former OMI-CAS Building came under the ownership of the University of Cincinnati in 1969. When OMI-CAS moved to its new Edgecliff Campus in 1988, the building sat vacant, and the theatre was operated for a decade by the American Theatre Organ Society. The Emery Center Corporation (ECC) was created in 1988 to promote the restoration and sustainable operation of the Emery Theatre.

While restoration of the theatre was delayed, the rest of the complex was redeveloped in 1999-2001, with 59 units of market-rate housing, interior parking, and commercial office and retail space. The $9.7 million project included exterior renovation and interior stabilization of the theatre. The complex is leased long-term (40 + 40 years) to the Emery Center Apartments LP (ECALP), and the ECC holds a sublease for the theatre.


Cincinnati has pent-up demand for a mid-sized theater. The Emery will have 1600 seats, as compared with 3400 in Music Hall, 2700 in the Aronoff, 2400 at the Taft, and 900 at CCM’s Corbett Auditorium. Cincinnati needs a hall for mid-sized audiences to complement our other performing venues. Cincinnatians drive to other cities in our region such as Louisville, Columbus, Indianapolis, Lexington, and Dayton to enjoy entertainers who skip Cincinnati for lack of a suitable venue for their touring shows.

Key characteristics

* Proscenium: 54 feet wide, 45 feet high at the top of the arch
* Stage depth: 35 feet deep, could be expanded to 60 feet
* Stage loft: 72 feet high
* Wing space: 15 feet wide (both sides)
* Rigging: New counterweight system needed
* Gym: 54 X 80 feet (for rehearsals and events)

Open to the Public

The Emery is scheduled to be open to the public one night only this year. On November 23, the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards will be held in the Emery and all bar proceeds will be given to Save the Emery. Tickets are required and can be purchased at cea.citybeat.com This event is happening with a temporary certificate of occupancy. Stop in to enjoy the award show and take a look around. Then buy a drink and tip heavily! There is more work to be done.