Westwood Coalition members and the boards of the organizations that make up the Coalition met on July 7, 2015 with four purposes:
- Very briefly share each organization’s purpose or scope and a high level look at its current focus, goals, and objectives
- Briefly highlight each organization’s assets
- Identify tasks that should happen in the near future to move forward with the revitalization of the historic neighborhood business district
- Identify possible cross-organizational, task-oriented groups to work on the tasks and bring their recommendations to the Coalition
Here is a brief summary of each organization’s purpose and areas of focus as well as their identified assets, as described by heads of the various groups. These notes are not comprehensive. Any questions should be directed to the organization’s leadership.
Westwood Historical Society is focused on education and research regarding Westwood’s history. It seeks to uncover local history. Its membership includes many people who don’t live in Westwood. While it researches buildings, it is not renovation-oriented. It has a newsletter and presents programming regularly. Westwood Historical offers a home tour every two years and has been engaged in projects related to the Bell Building and the Gamble House. Its assets include the deep, collective knowledge of WHS members; its ties to Westwood people, buildings, and history, along with its connections to the broader community of people and organizations interested in Cincinnati and other local history; and its wealth of historical information and archives about the past of the historic business district and Westwood, generally.
Westwood Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation is business- and development-focused. It is engaged in the nuts and bolts of the neighborhood business district redevelopment, including the recent City approval a community entertainment district. Another project is related to property acquisition and redevelopment on Bracken Woods Lane. WestCURC has a depth of knowledge and experience in technical matters, provides consultation for area businesses, and works to align resources and people. Its assets include strong, effective communication with city offices and local organizations, skill in networking and process, a deep understanding of the city’s processes and mechanisms, grant writing, and community engagement.
WCA is Westwood’s community council, representing the concerns of Westwood to the city and providing a forum for discussion of neighborhood issues. It reviews zoning and building code issues and offers input on variances and liquor applications. It takes a lead on public safety issues and communicates about local happenings. It is currently focusing its attention on outreach and membership growth, reformatting its newsletter and developing policy around communications, providing input on the land development code, zoning and building code violations, chronic nuisance and public safety, and reviewing its bylaws. Assets include a long-standing focus on civic responsibility, public safety, zoning, beautification, and serving as a voice for the neighborhood. It has strengths in grant writing, relationships and networking with the city, marketing & design, data analysis and project management, and the community gardens and other beautification.
Westwood Works is a connector, seeking to connect passion, resources, and people. Works is an asset–based community development organization that celebrates the Westwood community. It advocates for a positive, collaborative, and meaningful approach to community building. Works is known for its leadership in events and celebrations like the beer gardens, Westwood Art Show, and Deck the Hall. It is also strong in information sharing and promotion of other Westwood organizations and events. Westwood Works recently hired an executive director to leads its fundraising efforts. Works’ current areas of focus include activating the grounds of Westwood Town Hall with programming and bringing people together by building, organizing, and connecting. It’s sometimes referred to as the “gateway drug” to community engagement in Westwood.
Groups of participants identified a number of tasks related to historic neighborhood business revitalization: tasks appropriate to local people and their talents and tasks that are reasonable to accomplish, at least in part, in the coming year. The identified areas of focus are listed here. Next, the Coalition will refine the task list and review the names of people suggested for engagement in this work and will contact them in the coming month. We also welcome suggestions and self-nominations. Just email us. We will also ask if anyone is working on any of the tasks already, if anyone has information relevant to the task, and how to facilitate information amongst the groups.
- Develop a shared master calendar and a plan for the promotion of Westwood events (already in progress)
- Develop a plan for the strategic placement of events and develop plans for several new events in the historic business district, including Westwood Town Hall.
- Conduct a market study and steps related to phase 1 activation. Expand the catalog of sites in the historic business district, noting current zoning for each and any opportunities.
- Develop the narrative, a brand, and a marketing/media strategy for the historic neighborhood business district. Share existing Welcome to Westwood information for new residents. Once branded, create a banner to promote the business district.
- Develop an outreach plan for the business district, for connections with business owners, investors, churches and other organizations, and realtors.
- Develop an infrastructure plan for the historic business district to address lighting, sidewalks, and streetscape, public safety, town hall grounds, play space, clean up and beautification, and free wifi.
We will post more information about these focused task groups as they are refined and established. Thank you for your interest at the Westwood Coalition, its represented organizations and businesses, and engaged residents take the neighborhoods priorities and vision and give them life to revitalize Westwood’s historic neighborhood business district.