Walk north from Over-the-Rhine’s Gateway District and for ten blocks you’ll see the spoils of redevelopment: bars, restaurants, businesses, residences, and green space. Press past Rhinegeist into the Mohawk district and the redevelopment stops.
It’s tough to say, “Well, redevelopment just hasn’t gotten there yet,” because that infuses the plot with a rather lame sense of inevitability. Still, Mohawk already shows signs of movement.
Mohawk straddles West McMicken in the upper reaches of Over-the-Rhine. To the north, the area is hemmed by the ridge that leads to CUF and, more generally, Uptown. That ridge is cut by just a few arteries—Vine Street, West Clifton Avenue, and Ravine Street. All of them pass through Mohawk, making it an important traffic conduit if nothing more.
But Mohawk is more, as indicated by the Mohawk Area Plan initiated by the city last year. The plan maps Mohawk’s assets, including several gateway intersections that would put 12th and Vine to shame. It then outlines a vision for the district with transit, more housing, safety improvements, and catalytic projects.
Of those catalytic projects, several are noteworthy: the Jackson Brewery, the Imperial Theater, and the Mockbee Arts Center. While not yet ubiquitous in our cultural vocabulary, these three projects will take center stage as Over-the-Rhine changes into its second and third phase.
- The Jackson Brewery: Founded in 1829, the Jackson Brewery is the oldest commercial brewing site in Cincinnati. To my knowledge, it remains unused, but its prominent location overlooking Over-the-Rhine places it among the best redevelopment opportunities in the city.
- The Imperial Theater: A former vaudeville house, the Imperial Theater is already being redeveloped into a multi-use facility for artists. When complete, it will create a neighborhood attraction in eastern Mohawk that should encourage private development nearby.
- The Mockbee: Already in use as an arts and music venue, the Mockbee Arts Center anchors western Mohawk. It’s arguably more connected to Brighton, but only because the underutilized single-family homes along West McMicken effectively divide Mohawk in half. Redeveloping those homes (and the continued thriving of the Mockbee) will introduce a sense of connectivity to the area.
And if you really want to go down the rabbit hole, consider the prospect of a new Bellevue incline connecting the streetcar to Clifton. It's less fantastical than you might think, though it is assuredly fantastical.
Alas, we haven’t scratched the surface here, nor done justice to Mohawk’s quiet beauty and faithful residents. But it’s a safe bet we’ll be writing more about Mohawk in the years to come. Because we could easily see it becoming another jewel in the crown of our city.