Friday, October 17, 2003

Citifest has room, with view

By Jeff McKinney
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Chuck Buttery and Jeff Troxell of Jeffers Express in Cincinnati move furniture into houses on Wiedemann Hill in Newport as part of the preparations for the Citifest tour.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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An upscale version of Citifest starts a 16-day run Saturday and is expected to attract up to 20,000 visitors looking for the latest ideas in custom-made decks and ritzy media rooms for mingling with friends or relaxing at home.

The 2003 Citifest in Newport also is unusual in that it's one of the area's few events that showcase three-story homes offering an incredible view of Cincinnati from Wiedemann Hill. The homes are packed with amenities such as elevators and garden-top patios.

Showgoers - whether it's consumers trying to pick up the latest remodeling trends or those who want to see the latest household gadgets for entertaining friends and family - can view their fantasies at the dream homes.

But these house - with price tags ranging from $800,000 to $1.5 million - aren't for the average budget.

What: 2003 Citifest, urban development of six homes, newly built and furnished, priced from $800,000 to $1.5 million.
When: Saturday through Nov. 2. Hours: 5-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; noon-10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. No admittance to show or tickets sold after 9 p.m.
Where: Wiedemann Hill in Newport. From Interstate 471, take exit 3 and follow signs to Newport Central Catholic High School. Look for signs for free parking and transportation to event. No on-site parking.
Tickets: $10 a person; children 12 and under free when accompanied by adults. No strollers or backpacks permitted in show homes.
To learn more: Call (859) 392-0444 or visit and click on shows.
"A lot of people just go for the entertainment, some come to see the latest in home technology in things like fancy media and theater rooms," said Nancye McClanahan, director of special events of the Home Builders Association of Northern Kentucky, the event's sponsor.

Like other showcase home events, such as Cincinnati's Homearama, Citifest shows that there are still some consumers who will spend big dollars to buy homes they want, regardless of a sluggish economy.

For participating builders, the show provides exposure to thousands of potential home buyers and illustrates their best work. Two of the six homes in this year's show have been sold. At last year's show, all eight homes were sold, for $695,000 to $1 million.

Jim Cutter, owner and president of Cutter Custom Homes in Cold Spring, said the shows allow him and other builders to display their craftsmanship to a large number of people instead of just showing a model home, for example, to 10 couples on a given weekend. He has sold the two homes he built for Citifest.

"We see about 10,000 people who walk through the homes and through the tour, so the exposure is enormous for us," Cutter said.

Cutter, who participates in other events such as Northern Kentucky's annual Homefest show, said people mainly buy homes at Citifest for their terrific views. He said people also come for remodeling ideas, including building decks or finishing basements.

The views and different architecture of the homes persuaded Rocky and Donna Hubbard of Amberley Village to buy a lot after visiting last year's Citifest, which was in the same neighborhood as this year's. They're having a home built there now.

"I would have never dreamed that there was such a view like this from the city," said Rocky Hubbard, a high school teacher. "These homes are nontraditional as you have rooms for entertaining at the highest elevation point, offering the greatest views."

Most of the homes have a common theme: They include elevators and are geared for retired empty-nesters who want luxury homes with views from all different levels of the home.

In fact, McClanahan said, the lot size is about 35 feet in width, half the footage of most suburban homes.

The multileveled homes are also unusual in that living space is on the upper level to capture the best views. That means it would not be uncommon to see kitchens or great rooms on the second-floor levels.

"Most people buy these homes primarily for the view," she said. "That's why you see some homes with things like swimming pools and patios with built-in grills and spas on top of the homes."

But it doesn't matter if you're a curious browser or empty-nester eager to spend your nest egg.

The theme of Citifest is basic: Sight-see, have fun and just imagine.


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