Historic Firehouse To Become Cornerstone In Walnut Hills' Rebirth
Fireside Pizza Announces New Restaurant Location
A once-dilapidated firehouse is poised to become a cornerstone in the rebirth of Walnut Hills, thanks to the active community groups and public-private partnerships driving progress in the neighborhood.
Leaders from the City of Cincinnati and Walnut Hills community gathered this morning at 773 E. McMillan St., which will be redeveloped into restaurant space housing Fireside Pizza and a second floor apartment and anchor the new Firehouse Row development.
The developer, FC16, LLC led by Kent Hardman of the Hardman Investment Group, is purchasing the firehouse as part of a package of properties it will redevelop. The package includes an adjacent brownstone and two parcels of vacant land, all owned by the City.
The brownstone (at 771 E. McMillan St.) is planned to be developed either into three apartments or possible commercial use. The vacant land (at 767 and 769 E. McMillan St.) will be a future parking lot for the residential & commercial space.
The City has agreed to sell all four properties for a total of $1.00.
"This project underscores the importance of city government working hand-in-hand with active neighborhood partners who have a vision and a plan to get it done," City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. said.
Under the terms of the deal, FC16, LLC will receive an eight-year, 75% tax abatement for the firehouse property. FC16, LLC also will receive a forgivable loan of $81,000 to go toward the rehabilitation of the firehouse's residential space. The loan will be forgiven so long as FC16, LLC develops a separate, privately-owned property across McMillan Street within 10 years. Private investment for this work is approximately $643,000.
FC16, LLC is working in partnership with Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation on Firehouse Row as part of the neighborhood's efforts to breathe new life into its once-bustling business district.
"We have spent the last several years partnering with the City to secure and stabilize buildings in and around the Peeble's Corner Business District. This development marks the beginning of a new phase of redevelopment that will bring Peeble's Corner back to what it once was -- one of the most vibrant and walkable business districts in the region," said Kevin Wright, executive director of the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation. "The re-development of one of the City's most historic firehouses is just the beginning of the revitalization of Walnut Hills. There is much more to come."
In 1977, the Cincinnati Fire Department moved out of 773 East McMillan St. because of a building fire that occurred while the firefighters were out on a call. Over the past 36 years, plans have come and gone to redevelop the building for retail or residential -- or just tear it down altogether.
Work finally gained momentum in 2009, when the City began the McMillan Redevelopment initiative to demolish or rehabilitate buildings along the McMillan Business District.
City staff worked with community groups -- including the Walnut Hills Area Council, Walnut Hills Business Association and Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation -- to advance their vision for their neighborhood.
The firehouse was in a severe state of disrepair from being vacant for decades, so the City used Tax Increment Financing funds to stabilize it in mid-2012. The adjacent brownstone, vacant since before the City took ownership in 1992, was saved with historic stabilization funds from the City’s Property Maintenance Code Enforcement Division.
The principal developers of FC16, LLC, have a proven track record for similar renovations, renovating multifamily homes in Oakley and recently completing a rehabilitation of the Jackson Theater on Eastern Avenue in the East End.