All signs point to Camp Washington as next neighborhood success story
The initial signs of revitalization already are there. Artists and art galleries have moved into the neighborhood. A San Francisco restaurateur with Queen City roots is opening an outdoor coffee garden.
It’s still cheap to invest in the Camp. According to the “Made in Camp” neighborhood plan, recently completed by consultant Urban Fast Forward, the median home value is $73,300, while median rent is $616, cheaper than housing up the hill in Uptown or south in Over-the-Rhine and downtown. Nearly 27 percent of the neighborhood’s 704 housing units are vacant.
Sean Mullaney, a sculptor who’s also invested in real estate, bought space in OTR but demand was too high in that neighborhood to use it for studio space. He became intrigued by Camp Washington after the Wave Pool art organization moved into an old firehouse. He needed a space where he could make huge sculptures and bought nearly 10,000 square feet of property on three parcels on Colerain Avenue for $104,000 in 2016.
“I priced myself out of my old building,” he said. “I could see Camp Washington become the cultural and artistic corridor of Cincinnati. There’s a do-it-yourself mentality in the Camp. I do sort of like this organic growth without blowing it out of proportion. A lot of it has happened behind the scenes.”
While residents left, Camp Washington’s business community never went away. In the 1940s and '50s, the neighborhood’s companies generated 42 percent of the city’s earnings tax revenue, according to a 1978 report. Today, 150 businesses operate there, a strong base for the idealized urban environment: a place where people can live, walk to work and play after their day is done. One out of every five residents there already walks to work or takes the bus.
“This is the last manufacturing, warehouse district in the city,” said John Yung, an urban planner who helped draft the “Made In Camp” report. “It’s kind of on the cusp, in that there’s a good artistic community that’s forming there. If I want the urban experience, and I can’t afford Over-the-Rhine, a spot in Camp Washington could be a pretty good deal.”