Sunday, May 9, 2004

Home values soar
while Newport remakes itself



Carrie Hellmueller and Chris Reid
Carrie Hellmueller and her fiance, Chris Reid, in the living room of her Newport home, which he is helping to fix up before moving in after their November wedding.
(Jeff Swinger photo)

FOUR CHART TOPPERS
Newport: Home values soar while it remakes itself

Mason: Big new homes and top schools

Maineville: It's affordable, on scenic river

Clifton: Both neighbors, houses diverse

BY THE NUMBERS
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The construction of $1 million homes with views of downtown Cincinnati and a new image as a hot place to live helped boost the value of homes sold in Newport last year by more than any neighborhood in the region.

The average sale price of homes in Newport rose 29.3 percent from 2002 to 2003 and 55 percent since 1999. That compares to a 6.5 percent gain for all Northern Kentucky neighborhoods from 2002 and a 17 percent increase from 1999. For Southwest Ohio neighborhoods, that compares to 3 percent last year and 15.2 percent from five years ago.

Residents, builders and real estate agents credit Newport on the Levee, one of the region's trendiest entertainment centers, and newly built mansions on Wiedemann Hill for revitalizing Newport and making it a hit with homebuyers.

Wiedemann Hill, which will host its third Citirama home show this fall, was the first major residential project in Newport in about 40 years.

The chance to reap a strong return on her money prompted Carrie Hellmueller to buy a three-bedroom home in Newport last year.

A 25-year-old sales director at Atria in Sharonville, Hellmueller invested $117,000 to buy a two-story, 108-year-old brick house. She's pleased her home is near Wiedemann Hill.

"It's a starter house for me," she says. "But the main reason I bought it is that I believe it will be a good investment."

Newport has seen a major transformation from 30 years ago.

"Newport was not the place you wanted to live," says Nancye McClanahan, director of special events for the Home Builders Association of Northern Kentucky. "But with all the revitalization that you have going on there now, that is spilling into the residential neighborhoods."

Homes in Newport generally are older and often can use some fix-up work. They include Newport's east side, including the Mansion Hill and Gateway districts, where houses are 100 years or older and include Victorian and Italianate architectural styles. On average, they can cost $200,000 to $300,000, depending on the amount of rehab completed, says Jim Brulport, a Realtor at Huff Realty in Highland Heights.

Then there are homes on Newport's west side, typically also a century or more older, which sell for an average of $60,000 to $70,000. They include ranch, two-story traditional and Victorian and Italianate houses.

Brulport said Liberty Row, a new housing development being built on Newport's west side, will feature homes for low-income and moderate-income families that will cost from $110,000 to $126,000.

Brulport says another attribute for Newport is its proximity to Great American Ball Park, U.S. Bank Arena and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Jim Russell, director of core equity strategies at Fifth Third Asset Management, agrees Newport is a good investment.

The area has been seeing neighborhood revitalization, he says, and Newport on the Levee "has been a home run."

Jeff McKinney




SPECIAL REPORT: SWEET INVESTMENT
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Home values soar while Newport remakes itself

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