A year of living downtown has taught ex-suburbanites Craig and Mary Hudson a few things about themselves and their fellow urban dwellers.

Namely, it’s not age but attitude that determines who will embrace this lifestyle. Mary Hudson says it was an 86-year-old dear friend of theirs who understood the Hudsons’ move best when she saw their new condominium in the old R.L. Polk building, now Park Place at Lytle.

“When she walked in the door, she just shook and said, ‘This is so exciting,’ ” Mary remembers.

The Hudsons, who raised five children in Blue Ash and are now retired, talked for years about how fun it would be to live in an urban setting. Now they’ve arrived, living closer to their longtime volunteer work at the Cincinnati Museum Center and ushering duties at Music Hall.

The move Downtown gives them a reason to walk everywhere. There’s salsa dancing on Thursday nights at Fountain Square, and they’ve joined the Mercantile Library, Taft Museum and St. Xavier Church — all while leaving the car in the garage.

All ages of people are embracing the urban lifestyle, from Downtown to Oakley and across the river in Bellevue, Covington and Newport. Condo sales may have cooled in the past year, but the market’s not frozen as it is in many other U.S. cities. Many real estate specialists here say the enthusiasm for urban is perhaps stronger than ever, especially for younger professionals seeking bargains. With fuel hovering at $4 a gallon, both young workers and older empty nesters yearn to be closer to their daily destinations. The major obstacle is current homeowners waiting for the market to rebound before they sell and make their move into condo life.

Although these new city dwellers cannot be pigeonholed into one demographic definition, Realtors identify a few common characteristics.

Christine Schoonover, Huff Realty’s director of business development, cites what she calls her 20-year study: These urbanites share a sense of adventure.

“They all love their city, they all want to be downtown where everything’s happening,” Schoonover says. On a recent weekend, for example, theatrical productions were sold out, Great American Ball Park drew a huge crowd, and Fountain Square was filled with people and families for a movie showing.

“Once they get it in their system” they don’t want to leave, she adds.

Developers are responding to this itch with condominium communities that combine new or character-filled refurbished buildings with the features of urban neighborhoods that people find most appealing. For developers, it’s less costly than creating high-end condos in the suburbs, says Daniel Bennie, an attorney with Barron Peck Bennie & Schlemmer Co. who advises numerous developers.

Bennie recently has been involved in Gateway Condominiums on Vine in Over-the-Rhine, and a number of infill projects along the humming Gateway Corridor there.

“It seems to me that developers will continue to seek locations where they do not have to create anything, but just take advantage of existing amenities,” Bennie says. “Central business districts and university neighborhoods present an opportunity for baby boomers to relocate to an area that already has a rich array of existing amenities, rather than have developers construct new on-site facilities.”

A sense of community — having these condo residences available within established neighborhoods — seems to be a requirement for these buyers, says Patty Payne, vice president of builder services for Sibcy Cline. “They like the connectivity of being able to walk to the grocery store and to the movies, and at the same time feel safe and secure,” Payne says. That’s why the urban flats of Marburg Square in Oakley work for young professionals — they foster the feeling of security for owners who have to travel often for work, she says.

Payne adds that giving urban condo consumers what they want, where they want it and at a price they’re willing to pay is the reason for the success of another Sibcy Cline listing, Jordan Park. Located in Mariemont, these residences are not inner-city urban, but not far-flung suburban, either. Jordan Park is on the town’s square and embraces the Mariemont Tudor revival style. It offers one-level living, an in-demand feature for the active adult market, Payne says.

Here’s a sampling of some current urban condo projects.


The Verona at Eden Park is the sixth building that Comey & Shepherd has listed with the developers of the Gates of Eden Park, according to Trina Rigdon, a Comey Realtor. Its 76 units feature high ceilings, original hardwood floors, open floor plans, walk-in closets, outside porches and 8-foot doors.

While the appointments in the historic building on Park Avenue in Walnut Hills are worth noting, so are the condos’ price tags: $139,000 to $239,000.

“There’s a shortage of quality condo renovation (projects) at our price point,” says Ed Horgan, a partner with Gates of Eden Park, a developing group that also seeks to “have a positive effect on the (surrounding) business district.”

The Verona’s proximity to attractions such as Krohn Conservatory, Cincinnati Art Museum, Playhouse in the Park and Mount Adams just adds to its appeal, Horgan says. He touts its prime location and the fact that many residents are first-time homebuyers.


Condo developments Downtown and near the Ohio River continue to attract interest.

On the Northern Kentucky side, the $224 million South Shore complex is nearing completion. It has close to 200 condos with river view terraces, an office tower and a proposed marina.

The Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge in Covington, the dramatic, swirling tower designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, is now completed. Of the 72 units, 13 “homes” and five penthouses remain, according to Debbie Vicchiarelli, senior vice president and chief marketing officer. All of these available Ascent properties have views of the Ohio River and the cities on both sides of it.

Vicchiarelli adds that The Ascent is not only spectacular looking, but also has “social life that is so much more than most expected. Everyone knows what it is like on the outside — amazing. The news is you can’t match the amenities or neighborhood inside either.”

Water’s Edge in Bellevue is geared toward higher-end condo buyers. Its three buildings have 12 units each. Each unit is about 3,000 square feet, plus 650 square feet of covered terrace, says Sibcy’s Patty Payne. Developer Joshua One has also given Water’s Edge buyers a primo amenity: their own private garage.


Back in Cincinnati, One River Plaza is coming to Pete Rose Way: a two-tower, 140-unit Miller-Valentine project. A smart interior design and serene views of the river or park distinguish these homes, Huff’s Christine Schoonover says.

The plaza also will feature a walkway to the Purple People Bridge. Prices range from $450,000 to $2.5 million plus.

Downtown at 353 W. Fourth St., a glass and steel building now going up will be known as Parker Flats, and its 57 units are 80 percent sold, Schoonover adds. The Flats feature 16-foot ceilings and an 8-foot high glass door that retracts, giving way to outdoor living space. Price range is $200,000 to $380,000.

A project by innovative Middle Earth Developers is nearby, at 335 W. Fifth St. The 26-unit Williamson Lofts are housed in an historic, converted apartment building. They range in price from $150,000 to $280,000.

“Middle Earth has a reputation for cool and for knowing what young people really want,” Schoonover remarks.

Preconstruction incentives are being offered for The Edge, a 77-unit loft style project on Culvert Street near the Purple People Bridge. Plans call for adding six floors to the existing six-story structure, where glass will rule.

Developers promise panoramic views of Mount Adams, the Northern Kentucky skyline and, amidst the downtown perspectives, the nearby gardens of the Taft Museum. Eco-conscious buyers will note that The Edge is LEED registered.

Besides the obvious draws of these and other urban condos — nice kitchens, buildings and parking —“what’s really hot is the trend of convenience” these homes provide, says Michael Sweeney, president of Comey & Shepherd Realtors’ city office.

The luxuriously restored gem of condo conversion on Fourth Street, The McAlpin, and the contemporary Adams Crossing (close to the Montgomery Inn Boathouse) are two of the major condominium properties in Sweeney’s extensive urban portfolio.

Easy access to a variety of restaurants and nightlife attractions add to the feel of a big playground for adults, Sweeney says about Downtown living. It’s that kind of singular appeal, he adds, that keeps urban home sales relatively healthy, despite the softening of the general real estate market.

“In the urban market, it’s a little more insulated because you can’t recreate this environment,” Sweeney notes. “There’s still a lot of interest, and a lot more would be moving if they could sell their homes in the suburbs.”

There also are a lot of cheerleaders for the urban lifestyle, from retirees to young families.

“The word I use is ‘simpler.’ Everything is simpler,” says Craig Hudson, the Blue Ash retiree who moved downtown. “It’s simpler to go to the barber’s, simpler to go to the bank, simpler to not have to cut the grass.

“There’s just a whole list of simplers,” he concludes.


From their single-family row house in Mt. Adams, the Franz family of four orbits “a 5-mile radius of downtown at all times,” says Brad Franz. He and his wife, Davida, and their 2- and 4-year-old daughters enjoy the energy, activity and excitement of living in an urban setting.

“It’s very convenient, in the center of everything,” from the ballpark to other attractions, all within walking distance, Franz says. And as a young family, they’re not alone. “Even though there’s a relatively small family community here, it’s pretty tight-knit,” Franz says of the 30 or so families in his neighborhood. The Mt. Adams Mom Club is one of the binding forces.

“Members shoot e-mails to each other saying on Wednesday we’ll be at the park or they’ll be whole-family gatherings for pizza,” Franz explains.

And, he notes, lest anyone worry that Mt. Adams children are being deprived of that staple experience shared by so many of their hometown peers, fear not: Mt. Adams has a soccer league for kids 3 and up.