By: Raymond Humienny ~Campus News Editor~
With surging growth in downtown Cincinnati, Xavier has established a presence in Over-the-Rhine (OTR). Dr. Tom Merrill, director of the School of Arts and Innovation, spoke on behalf of Xavier Innovation concerning its location at 1123 Walnut Street: XHaus.
“It’s a very versatile space, period,” Merrill said. “I don’t think we’ve even imagined all the things that could go on down there.”
The XHaus is a 650-square foot space that can be used for a variety of events including, but not limited to, business- oriented workshops, university- sponsored programs and corporate team meetings. The space serves as a meeting ground for social sustainability and innovation initiatives in the Greater Cincinnati area. Merrill said XHaus’s location presents a great opportunity for students to experience the hub of Cincinnati innovation.
“The (entire apartment complex) is owned by The Brandery,” Merrill said. “They work with five to six startups at a time, and what they were finding was that the start-ups that came in to work with them couldn’t find a sixmonth lease anywhere – that’s the duration of their program. (Now), their clients will come in and have a six-month lease, and that’s where innovation central is. The Brandery, Cintrifuse and CincyTech all now share one big office space on Vine Street. It’s called Union Hall and it’s an amazing facility.”
With local businesses and a start-up facility located directly above them, Xavier Innovation aims to build a relationship with the OTR community through social service entrepreneurship at the XHaus.
“I just had a conversation this morning with our Xavier Leadership Center (XLC) folks,” Merrill said. “They work with local corporations and organizations, and a lot those folks find it easier to meet there then trek all the way up to Xavier – if they don’t have a lot of people. We’re also very interested in getting our social entrepreneurship (to the XHaus), people that are invested in working with OTR residents.”
In addition to developing a relationship with the community, the XHaus will provide an alternate space for campus initiatives such as classroom workshops. Maximizing the utility of the XHaus space remains a major goal for the Center for Innovation.
“We’ve discussed tutoring programs,” Merrill said. “We’ve put in six of the MakerBot 3D printers, so there’s potential for 3D-printing classes down there. There is no exclusive use for this space, so we’re trying to find ways to both partner with OTR and encourage Xavier folks who want to get downtown to have a home base.”
Students brought up concerns regarding transparency about Xavier’s role in OTR at SGA’s “Your School, Your Questions” panel. Provost and chief academic officer Scott Chadwick addressed a question about the issue of gentrification in OTR. Eigel Center director Sean Rhiney weighed in on this conversation, signifying the importance of discussion regarding these matters. The XHaus is a renovated space purchased from The Brandery, the aforementioned owners of the apartment complex at Union Hall. The Brandery purchased the property in receivership from its previous owners, according to Rhiney.
Moving forward, the XHaus provides an opportunity to revitalize Xavier social services in OTR, harkening to university initiatives in the late 1990s.
To reserve the XHaus space, contact Dave Zlatic (zlaticd@ xavier.edu) at (513) 745-2067. The space fits 25 individuals at a price of $250. Visit xavierinnovation. com for more information.