One of Cincinnati's most historic buildings. The McAlpin came into existence as a department store founded in 1850 as Ellis, McAlpin & Co. In 1880, the company opened their landmark downtown location at 13 West Fourth Street, then expanded twice, first into the Mitchell Furniture building in 1900 and then the Aeolian Pianos building in 1936.
Long-time Cincinnati residents remember the combined buildings at McAlpin's Department Store, a key downtown shopping destination for generations.
Two of the three Renaissance Revival structures were erected in 1859 and 1873 to house the John Shillito Company and the Robert Mitchell Furniture Company. Architect James McLaughlin designed the Shillito's building - as well as the Original Art Museum in Eden Park and the subsequent Shillito's location on Race Street. The Mitchell Furniture building was designed by James Keys Wilson, who also designed the entrance to Spring Grove Cemetery and the Plum Street Temple.
The George W. McAlpin Company acquired the Mitchell store in 1901, and installed the famous sidewalk clock, always remembered as the building's landmark. (In September 1999, after the McAlpin Department Store had closed, the 1,270-pound, 16-foot tall clock was moved to the old Chester Park train station in Sharonville, at Historic Southwest Ohio's Heritage Village Museum in Sharon Woods.)
In 1990, McAlpin's became a division of Mercantile Stores, the same year that Mercantile moved their corporate headquarters to Fairfield, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati.
Six years later, in 1996, the landmark Downtown Cincinnati store closed its doors, two years before McAlpin's parent company, Mercantile, was bought by Little Rock, Arkansas-based Dillard's. All McAlpin's stores were subsequently converted to the Dillard's name that year except for the one in Dayton Mall.
Today, those three buildings, with their restored facades, soaring ceilings and over-sized windows, have been transformed into The McAlpin, a 62-unit luxury condominium building that has become Cincinnati's premium Downtown destination.
From Renaissance Revival to Downtown Modern
The transition from retail icon to luxury condos wasn't all smooth sailing. For several years after the department store closed, the buildings remained empty. The city spent $8.5 million to buy the two buildings and a third building formerly occupied by Frisch's at the southeast corner of Fourth and Race Streets.
Hopes were high that Nordstrom would build a new store downtown and become a major draw for other stores and businesses. But when it pulled out of that plan in 2000 the retail and office space landscape changed for the worse.
In 2001, the city struck a deal with Madison Marquette to build 80,000 square feet of retail and another 65,000 square feet of shop space on the first two floors of the three McAlpin buildings.
But in 2004, after three years of lukewarm demand for office and retail space downtown, Madison Marquette turned to residential developer JFP Properties, which at the time was building condos a block away at the former Fourth National Bank building. The firms formed a joint venture, 4 J Redevelopment LLC and went to the city council with a new idea: condos.
After getting the green light from Cincinnati's Planning Commission, 4J began work on designing the total restoration and renovation of what today is one of the city's premiere addresses. A major part of the transformation that makes Downtown Cincinnati a great place to work - and an even better place to live!
What Makes It Special?
First, the building itself. The interior spaces have been completely transformed into thoroughly modern homes, while maintaining the soaring ceilings and over-sized windows of the historic structure.
The private entrance, which can only be accessed with a keyless computerized fob, leads into an elegant lobby, featuring a glass-walled club room, complete with sofas, kitchen and wide screen TV's. Above is the mezzanine media room with easy chairs, surround sound, flat-screen TV as well as a separate conference room.
ON the 5th floor, there is a roof top terrace and garden, with outdoor kitchen, fire pit, plantings, wide screen TV, water fountain and views of Paul Brown Stadium.
Each side of the building as its own interior atrium leading up to glass roof panels. Building mechanics include all new electrical wiring, HVAC and plumbing. There are security cameras throughout the building, including the parking levels inside the building.
Here Comes the Neighborhood!
If there's one thing that sets the McAlpin apart, it's that all of Downtown's attractions are just a few steps away! Whether it's upscale shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's or Tiffany's, a great dinner at Morton's Steakhouse, summer salsa dancing on Thursday nights in Fountain Square, catching a Broadway play at the Aronoff, you are minutes away from non-stop entertainment. Cutting-edge art? Try the Contemporary Arts Center on 6th Street. Traditional art? The historic Taft Museum of Art is just a few blocks away.
Venture a little further north west and catch a concert at the landmark Music Hall, home of the Cincinnati Symphony, Cincinnati Pops and the Cincinnati Opera.
For a more energetic outing, hike or bike to the Bicentennial Commons, stroll along the beautiful Ohio River to the Theodore Barry Friendship Park or walk a short distance from your front door to see the Reds or Bengals play.