By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer
LOVELAND - A facelift is coming to the city's outdated business district on Loveland-Madeira Road, but shoppers won't notice any immediate changes.
City council last week added new restrictions to its zoning code for the redevelopment of properties south of Highridge Drive to West Loveland Avenue.Guidelines call for more-uniform architecture, neutral colors, streetscape, sidewalks, improved access and signage, as well as buildings that are closer to the street.
The regulations, written after a year of studies and meetings with businesses in the corridor, fit in with the city's vision to revitalize the district with more offices and retail, Assistant City Manager Tom Carroll said.
The corridor now is home to a mishmash of strip centers, auto repair shops, other small businesses, restaurants and convenience stores. Turnover is common.
At least one strip center had experienced a 40 percent vacancy rate in recent years as shops died for lack of business or moved to higher-traffic shopping areas. But, that seems to be on the mend, officials with the Loveland Area Chamber of Commerce said.
"Loveland-Madeira Road didn't get into its current condition overnight. It's not going to be fixed overnight," Carroll said.
It could be at least five years before any real changes are made because some of the businesses are economically viable and not apt to move or shut down, he said.
In the meantime, the city could start adding landscaping and sidewalks on the east side of the street as early as next year to spark redevelopment and attract new business, Carroll said.
"The wheels are turning in a good direction," said Martin Schickel, president of the Loveland Area Chamber of Commerce.
"Overlay districts and beautification are great. But, they are not the driving force. What it's going to take is entrepreneurs who buy property and move businesses in."
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