CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Opening day for the new Cincinnati streetcar was three weeks away, but it was already changing the lives of a lot of people who live and own property near it.
Supporters of the Cincinnati streetcar promised it would spark new development and their promises were starting to take shape. All along the route, new buildings were popping up and old buildings were getting new life and new money. They didn't plant the community garden because a developer has big plans for the corner, a $25 million project.
The streetcar wasn't carrying passengers yet but it was already delivering on the promise of change. Geneva "Grandma Skeeter" Lewis has lived and worked at 15th and Elm for 47 years. The property, valued at under $10,000 when she got there, is right across 15th from a New Town properties project. It's on the streetcar line and on the market.
The asking price is $1.5 million. A few years ago, that asking price would have been laughed off but not today. She's just a block from Liberty and Elm. Source 3 developers want to spend $25 million there.
“We’re going to do a new building with 86 units, rehab four old buildings which will give us 28 more apartments, a total of 15,000 square feet retail on the ground floor and a 155 space parking garage,” said Mike Heekin of Source 3 Development.
A sea change, considering it's north of Liberty. But the area around Findlay Market is heating up especially properties on the streetcar line. Aaron Etzler bought the 11,000 square foot apartment building at Race and Green for $28,000 in 2002. When Local 12 News showed up Friday, August 19, a real estate broker had just called with a potential buyer. The numbers were encouraging. Experts said they were way above projections.
And Grandma Skeeter hoped the development train stayed right on track. Source 3 Development said they were about 70 percent of the way through the approval process for their project at Liberty and Elm. They go before the Historic Preservation Board September 12.
The streetcar has a new name. It will be known as the Cincinnati Bell Connector. Bell bought the naming rights.
It starts carrying passengers September 9, 2016.