‘We can’t do it all overnight’: Officials hope new attention can help rebuild this Hamilton neighborhood

Hamilton’s impoverished Second Ward neighborhood, where residents have been calling for development help from the city, will receive an economic-development plan from Miami University students.

The city’s Lindenwald neighborhood received a similar plan last year, which energized the community and already has led to at least one concrete improvement. The students recommended a high-profile mural be painted on a building in Lindenwald’s business district, and one will be painted there this year.

The group of Miami students, known as Miami Advanced Planning and overseen by associate geography professor David Prytherch, developed a 39-page report called, “Pleasant Avenue Revitalization Strategy, Lindenwald, Hamilton, OH,” which looked at key buildings in the area and offered suggestions for how they could find new uses.

Hamilton Planning Director Liz Hayden announced the study during a meeting between residents of Hamilton’s Second and Fourth wards and city officials. It was the second of four meetings that were requested by the community, which urged city officials to help foster businesses. The areas once had many local stores and other businesses but now have many empty storefronts.

The next two meetings are scheduled for 6 p.m. on Feb. 11 and March 11 at the Booker T. Washington Community Center, 1140 S. Front St.

During Monday’s nearly two-hour meeting, attended by numerous city officials, neighborhood residents responded to Mayor Pat Moeller’s earlier request for suggestions on what areas should receive emphasis for development. Among those areas were Pershing and Central Avenues. Residents were particularly hopeful about bringing restaurants or sports bars to the neighborhood.

In a related development, former Hamilton resident Eric Broyles, an entrepreneur living in the Washington, D.C., area, told this media outlet last week that a popular barbecue restaurant already operating in Cincinnati called Goodies will open at a property he owns on Fourth Street, perhaps this summer.

Before the Feb. 11 meeting, some community members plan to meet with city economic development officials and others to learn about how they can help foster businesses in the area.

Chamina Curtis, with the strategic planning team of South East Civic Association (SECA), which represents the two neighborhoods, asked that residents be able to meet with the Miami students to inform them about the neighborhood’s challenges and opportunities. She was told that could happen.

Hayden said she was heartened to see the enthusiasm Monday among SECA and residents for helping build businesses in the area.

SECA President Bob Harris said he is hopeful the Miami students’ plan will help.

“I welcome that, but people have to realize that things are different for the Second Ward than what they are for Lindenwald,” Harris said. “You’ve got a poverty-stricken neighborhood (in the Second Ward).”

He remembered when the area had many local businesses.

“There are some components we need to address, in terms of crime,” to help make the area more friendly to businesses, “but this was not tonight” for that discussion, Harris said.

“We have to address ways to minimize the crime, and alleviate it, and make it a safe place for people to come, live and shop, and the whole ten yards,” Harris said.

“We need a drug store, we need a grocery store, we need a gas station,” he said. “Those are things we need to work towards. We can’t do it all overnight.”

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