Owner hopes new restaurant, bar in two 19th century Hamilton buildings energizes downtown

The man working to create a restaurant and bars inside two 19th century Hamilton buildings said businesses such as his would help draw people to the city’s developing downtown.

“The more shops and artsy areas and bars and restaurants that are fun that we can get, we’re going to create a situation similar to the OTR (Over-The-Rhine in Cincinnati),” said Jon Park, who owns buildings at 20 and 26 South Third St.

“I think that’s one of the city’s goals and one of the goals I’m trying to help create.”

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Crews are working to combine the first floor of both buildings to create a 5,000-square-foot space that will be home to a restaurant and two bar areas with a menu focusing on American cuisine including burgers, chicken, sandwiches, soups and more, Park said.

“(It will offer) good, quality food at a reasonable price,” he said. “I think it’s a good fit for Hamilton. It’ll give (local) people a lot of options where they don’t have to drive clear down to downtown Cincinnati or Oxford or wherever they may have to go to get some live entertainment or karaoke or whatever the case may be.”

A building at 26 S. Third will be transformed into a two-story bar featuring two walk-up outdoor ordering areas and a patio, Park said. It will feature live music and karaoke, plus daily happy hour specials.

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Names of the new restaurants and bar have yet to be finalized, said Park, who hopes to open both businesses sometime in the first half of 2020.

“The more bars and restaurants and options that people have, it creates an influx of people,” Park said.

Park said the late 2021 opening of Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill and the number of people it is expected to draw was “the main factor” for his purchasing the site.

He said he was going to take a wait-and-see approach to see what effect the opening of the project had on property values but was encouraged by city officials to pursue his vision for the site.

“They’ve been behind me 100 percent,” he said. “The city’s been pretty interactive in the whole process and they’ve been good to work with.”

Park said he is converting the two upper floors of 20 S. Third St. into apartments, with four studio apartments on the second floor and two larger apartments on the third floor, which once served as a ballroom, Park said.

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“There’s 20-foot-tall ceilings up there (on the third floor), so we’re going to do large luxury apartments up there with sleeping lofts in them,” he said. “There are 10 windows that are 10-and-a-half feet tall so it’s going to have great daylight.”

The building at 26 S. Third St. was constructed in 1885, and the building at 20 S. Third St. was constructed in 1890, according to Butler County Auditor’s Office records.

Park purchased both building in March 2016, spending $56,000 for 20 S. Third and $64,000 for 26 S. Third. Overall investment for the project, not including property acquisition, is estimated to be $1.25 million.

The project isn’t the only building-related work occurring in the area.

South Third Street recently was blocked off and a crane was being used to lift a new motor onto the building for one of its two elevators at Kirsch CPA at 2 S. Third, according to Diane Glover, business development manager for the accounting firm.

Staff Writer Mike Rutledge contributed to this story.

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