The Art Academy of Cincinnati expands its campus to include dorms and commercial spaces

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As a 150-year-old independent college of art and design, the Art Academy of Cincinnati attracts students from around the country and the world. Soon, they’ll have a place to live on the Academy’s Over-the-Rhine “campus.”

The Art Academy of Cincinnati is planning to renovate a series of buildings on Jackson Street, across the street from the main Academy building, into 33 dormitory-style units for students.

The college has partnered with developer Urban Sites to handle what will be an $8.3 million project.

The project is scheduled to begin in September and be completed by September 2020. It will house up to 110 Art Academy students.

“The goal is to start to create a campus-like feel for our students,” says Joseph Girandola, Art Academy’s newly named president.

The Art Academy’s recently retired interim president, Mark Grote, was involved in the planning.

“We now have a campus and not just a large building in Over-the-Rhine,” he says. “It will provide our students with modern dorm facilities in a historic urban environment.”

The units will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, and the developers hope to use historic tax credits as part of the financing. In addition to the dorms, two commercial spaces totaling 4,200 square feet will be available for rent.

“We feel this partnership further strengthens the Art Academy presence which, in turn, will serve to strengthen the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood,” says Danny Lipson, chief development officer for Urban Sites.

In 2005, the Art Academy moved from the hilltop environs of Mt. Adams and the Cincinnati Art Museum to Over-the-Rhine, which, at the time, was far from the destination it is today.

The building that the Academy moved into at Twelfth and Jackson was the home of BarrelHouse Brewing Co., one of the first brewpubs in Cincinnati, which opened there in 1995.

The dorms will be one facet of other major strategic initiatives the college is planning to increase enrollment and transform its campus.

It’s also planning an expansion to house new high-tech programs in film and animation and serve as a working and teaching space for Cincinnati’s design and marketing community.

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