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Three eastside neighborhoods could form entertainment district

CINCINNATI (Angenette Levy) -- Columbia-Tusculum is teaming up with the neighborhoods of the East End and Linwood to form an entertainment district.

The district would make as many as 15 additional liquor licenses available at a reduced rate in the three neighborhoods.  The licenses are hot commodities. Each city gets a set number based on population. With population declining in Cincinnati with each census, fewer licenses are available.

"They  can get a liquor license for around $2,500 a year as opposed to having to pay something on the open market which might be $25,000  to $40,000," said Matt Ackermann, treasurer of the Columbia-Tusculum Community Council and the 3 East Business Association.

An entertainment district would also drive new development in the neighborhoods such as a grocery store or other shops. Older buildings would also be rehabilitated.  In the East End, Eli's BBQ occupies an older building.

In Columbia-Tusculum, Allyn Raifstanger has watched his neighborhood evolve. He opened Allyn's Cafe in 1991. Old, dilapidated buildings used to occupy some lots in the neighborhood. But some new developments have taken shape along Columbia Parkway. Columbia Square opened several years ago. Restaurants such as Green Dog Cafe and Buz have opened in the Square.

"There's certainly a saturation point but there's room for more, there is room for more restaurants and entertainment, more unique places I think," Raifstanger said. He added, "There's a great synergy I think if you look at combining efforts in this area."

In Linwood, Bella Luna and Terry's Turf Club have enjoyed success on Eastern Ave. More businesses could join them in areas zoned for commercial use.
"It means further developments, it means hopefully it's a more desirable place to live and it creates jobs in the neighborhood, too," Ackermann said.

The 3 East Business Association will vote on moving forward with an entertainment district Wednesday morning. Cincinnati City Council would have to approve the district.

Other neighborhoods in Cincinnati have entertainment districts including Over-the-Rhine, Northside, Price Hill and The Banks.

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