In the past five years, there have been a lot of ribbon cuttings in Over-the-Rhine. (I don't have an official count, so let's just go with "a lot.") There have been so many, in fact, that the one we're itching to talk about actually happened last summer. ... August 24, 2015, to be exact.
That's the day Union Hall opened.
Without even knowing it, you've probably passed this tech-mecca-in-the-making countless times.
Located at 1313 Vine Street (right across the street from The Mercer), Union Hall is home to Cincinnati's startup scene. Literally. (The building houses Cintrifuse, CincyTech, and The Brandery.) Think huddle rooms, MacBook Airs, and white boards galore.
You want to see a next-level brainstorming session in action? This is the place to go.
You want to know about the next idea that will disrupt your life (in a good way)? Look no further.
You want to see the inside of this place? ... Hold your horses, we'll get there.
First, let's get the 411. For all the nitty-gritty intel about Union Hall, we turned to Eric Weissman, Cintrifuse's Director of Marketing.
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Cincinnati Refined: What's the vision for Union Hall, and how has it evolved since it's gone from being an idea to a reality?
Eric Weissman: Union Hall (which was one of the original names of the building) was conceived as a hub for innovation, attracting entrepreneurs, investors, and service providers from all over #StartupCincy. It's really a manifestation of a long-play strategy, building an active network to sustain future growth in our region. It's also serving as a lightning rod for groups outside of the area looking for greater proximity to our ecosystem. Iron Yard, for instance, recently announced it's actively searching for a spot in OTR (near Union Hall) for its code school campus.
CR: How does "membership" work (i.e. who are members, if they aren't employees of CincyTech, Cintrifuse, and The Brandery)?
EW: We prefer to use the word "residents." In addition to those working for/with The Brandery, CincyTech, and Cintrifuse, Union Hall is home to entrepreneurs running tech-based, potentially scalable startups. Currently, we have ~75 folks with seats, but that number will increase once the new Brandery class starts in June. Full capacity is ~150.
CR: Take us through the renovation process.
EW: The entire process took almost two years. Union Hall is actually three buildings combined into one. Each address was in various states of disrepair. For instance, 1311 was just a facade being held up by the two buildings on either side. The largest of the three buildings was 1313, and it was only slightly better, having been used as a nightclub in the '90s. 1315 wasn't in too bad of shape, but it was basically a total rebuild. It's tough to call the project a complete gut, because of the need to maintain certain historic elements -- stairway, beer hall, railing, etc. -- but it was pretty close!
CR: What are the final touches/ additions to come?
EW: We're in the design stage of painting murals along a few of the more prominent walls inside the building. This will provide energy and flow to the space, creating a memorable experience. The Beer Hall is being reconfigured to allow for more co-working space, while still accommodating events. We're also making acoustic enhancements throughout the building.
CR: What's the quick rundown on renting out the space for private functions?
EW: Events held at Union Hall are focused on innovation. For instance, it's home to tech meet-ups, roundtables, and Innovation Xchanges. In short, we cater to events that tie closely with the mission of making #StartupCincy the premier destination in the Midwest for entrepreneurs and innovation.
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Want to get a peek inside the world of Union Hall? Hop into the photo gallery above.
Want to learn more about the facility in general? Visit Cintrifuse's website.