Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Tearing down of plant is one of many projects

Fairfax: Ambitious agenda for 2004

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFAX - This eastern Hamilton County village of 1,950 residents is planning several ambitious redevelopment projects in 2004.

Work gets under way next year to tear down the former Ford transmission plant along Red Bank Road and to clean the site of contaminants. This month, the state gave the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority a $3 million grant for the work.

From left, Tim Timmers, Amelia; Steve Timmers, Fairfax; Adam Flanigan, Fairfax; Erin Chamberlain, Anderson Twp.; and Jay Karassik of Columbia Twp. share a laugh at the Wooster Tavern in Fairfax.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
A new development is planned there for offices and retail, including a grocery store. The new shopping center is expected to open in 2006 and bring at least 1,000 jobs.

"People don't really think of Fairfax as a bustling business area with entertainment," said Michael Newton, co-owner of Wooster Tavern. "They think of Mount Adams or downtown Cincinnati. So, hopefully, this will spark some interest in the community."

The new year also will bring the start of a $1 million plan to make it easier to walk and drive in Fairfax's downtown district along Wooster Pike between Red Bank Road and Mariemont.

The plan calls for larger sidewalks along Wooster Pike, turn lanes, a center median with greenery and a more standardized, upscale look to the signs and building facades.

"The overall goal would be to make it more customer friendly for our residents, more of a town center," Mayor Ted Shannon said. "The sidewalks are so close to the street that if a truck comes by, you get blown over. Our business district will die if we don't do something to improve the conditions for residents, make it easier to walk and park."

The village also could get its first multi-housing development in 2004. About 100 condominiums or town homes are proposed near the downtown in the area south of Wooster Pike between the border of Mariemont and Spring Street.

Allen Jones of Fairfax City East LLC. and PJH Construction LLC., declined to comment about the condominium project, saying it's still in feasibility studies.

map He said Fairfax is ripe for revitalization, noting that it is near upscale communities such as Mariemont and Hyde Park. It also has an excellent school system (Mariemont) and close proximity to downtown Cincinnati and Interstate 71.

"If they didn't have a flooding problem, they would be much further along than they are," Jones said.

In the meantime, some businesses are trying to keep the momentum going.

Wooster Tavern, a popular watering hole, recently converted into a sports bar with 16 televisions and Sunday hours. A second-story bar with a pool table, video games and dartboards also has been redecorated.

The result: packed crowds, especially on Sundays.

"I would like to see some more business come into Fairfax," said Adam Flanigan, 23, a lifelong resident who tends bar part-time at the tavern. "I'm excited that the grant went through for the old Ford building. There is a lot of wasted space down in that area."

Village plans for '04

Fairfax has some big projects on the horizon in 2004:

• A multi-housing development is proposed with about 100 condos or town houses near the Wooster Pike downtown district.

• Work should begin on tearing down and cleaning up the old Ford transmission plant along Red Bank Road. A new development is proposed there that would bring shops, offices and at least 1,000 new jobs

• The start of a $1 million downtown redevelopment plan that would make it easier to drive and walk along Wooster Pike between Red Bank Road and Mariemont.

• Fairfax leaders expect to form a tax increment-financing district over the entire village to fund redevelopment efforts downtown and in other areas.


E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com

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