Constructed in 1912, Price Hill Masonic Lodge had been vacant for 35 years. With neighborhood revitalization gaining traction, the large, blighted building reflected poorly on the progress being made in this highly distressed community. The nonprofit Community Development Corporation, Price Hill Will, knew the renovation of this historic, 21,232 sq. ft. structure would be catalytic, bridging the neighborhood’s emerging business/entertainment district with residential streets and creating much-needed space for popular arts/education programs and community events.
Renovating a large, historic structure in a low-income community presented numerous financial challenges. As a nonprofit CDC, Price Hill Will was not able to support conventional debt and needed to rely on grants as well as government and philanthropic resources. Price Hill Will raised $925,000, and the project was able to secure a $3 million grant from the City of Cincinnati, and $3 million in state tax credits, leaving a $3 million financing gap, insurmountable for the small nonprofit. Without $8 million in New Markets Tax Credit financing from Cincinnati Development Fund, Inc., Brownfield Revitalization, and U.S. Bancorp CDE, this project could not have moved forward.
Construction was completed in August 2020. The project created 181 construction jobs with a payroll of $3.5 million over a 15-month period and 32 new permanent jobs with an annual payroll of $1.1 million. Renamed ARCO (Arts + Community), the building also serves as the headquarters for Price Hill Will, which owns and operates the venue. In addition to providing leasable event space for neighborhood groups, community events, and private celebrations, ARCO is home to MYCincinnati, a popular nonprofit youth orchestra program that provides 130+ neighborhood children with free, high-quality, after-school musical instruction. Also based at the theater: the Price Hill Harmonic orchestra and the Creative Action Residency, a year-long program that engages a national artist to work with MYCincinnati’s ensembles. ARCO is now an active community space and a shining symbol of the revitalization occurring throughout the East Price Hill neighborhood.