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CitiRama Goes Green

Urban home show demonstrates latest trends and benefits of homebuilding

By Chris Charlson · March 8th, 2010 · CityLiving

Situated just uphill from Northside’s central business district, an excavation site of 36 empty lots is soon to become the place many folks will call home.

The Rockford Woods subdivision has reached phase two of development, meaning that the time has come for homebuilders to turn the remaining empty spaces into humble abodes by kicking into construction mode. In a collaborative effort with the Home Builders Association (HBA), six homebuilding companies are set to construct and showcase some of their finest designs at Rockford Woods, where CitiRama 2010 is scheduled for June 3-13.

CitiRama is an urban home show spawned from Homearama, which stands as the longest-running home show in the country after 49 consecutive years of operation. Currently in its ninth year, CitiRama is annually held at an up-and-coming urban housing development; previous locations selected by HBA include Price Hill, Westwood, Hartwell, Mount Lookout and Downtown. Northside hosts its second CitiRama this summer.

“While Homearama is a suburban show, CitiRama is more focused on urban living,” says HBA President Elect Josh Blatt. “Homearama homes tend to be very high end, luxury houses, while CitiRama houses are very nice but more focused on affordability and geared toward a first-time homebuyer.”

Blatt reports that each of the six homebuilders — PotterHill Homes, MI Homes, Graystone Custom Homes, Perry Bush Custom Homes, Maronda Homes and Maple Street Homes — will showcase one home in CitiRama 2010. The houses are priced from $190,000 to $250,000, a modest investment compared to some of the million-dollar homes featured in Homearama.

“We really want to showcase affordability and urban living with this show,” Blatt says. “Northside is an eclectic neighborhood, and we want to show residents what urban living can be like.”

While some might associate urban living with noisy traffic and old drafty windows, CitiRama homebuilders are committed to creating modern, efficient homes that offer homebuyers the perks of living in the city, stripped of pitfalls like mandatory on-street parking and high energy bills.

This year’s homebuilders are particularly focused on building certified “green homes,” which are specially designed to be energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

“Northside is such a fun, eclectic neighborhood,” says homebuilder Carolyn Rolfes of PotterHill Homes. “We’re excited to be in Northside because the residents have a strong sense of community and because they seem to really understand ‘green.’ ”

Although there’s no concrete definition of a “green home,” according to Blatt, homebuilders use this term loosely for a house that’s been inspected and certified as energy efficient by an independent third party organization.

“Energy Star certifies every single one of our houses,” Rolfes says. “When we get that certification, we find that the home is 50-percent more energy efficient for heating and cooling.”

According to Rolfes, PotterHill Homes earns this certification by using high-efficiency gas furnaces, programmable thermostats and blown cellulose insulation, which helps prevent air drafts.

In addition to spending less money on energy bills, Rolfes says that homebuyers will receive tax credit for building a home within city limits that’s been certified by either Energy Star or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

“While Energy Star is an energy efficiency model, LEED is a whole-house green approach,” she explains. “They look at things like water usage, material usage and indoor air quality. LEED goes a step beyond Energy Star by evaluating the entire house.”

In this case, a homebuyer who builds a brand new home in Rockford Woods can receive a 10-year tax credit for up to $290,000. After jumping through the hoops of getting it LEED certified, a 15-year tax credit will be rewarded and the cap increases to $500,000. If the home is LEED platinum certified, meaning that everything in the house is “green” (including even the furniture), a 15-year tax credit and unlimited cap will be rewarded.

“The city of Cincinnati is very progressive with this (certification),” says Rolfes, who has reaped the benefits of the homebuyer tax credit firsthand by building herself a home in Madisonville through PotterHill Homes.

Although “going green” seems to be a primary focus of this year’s CitiRama, Blatt emphasizes that the event is generally a great way for people to come out and see what homebuilders can do using some of the industry’s newest technology and innovations. The event is open to the public, and guests are welcome to tour all six professionally decorated houses, which will be staffed by homebuilder representatives to answer any questions.

“Anybody interested in learning more about green building (should attend),” Rolfes says. “But more so, CitiRama is a great place to get some new decorating ideas and just see what’s new in homebuilding.”

The CitiRama groundbreaking ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. March 18 at Rockford Woods, accessed off of Hamilton Avenue just north of The Comet. The ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for June 1.

CitiRama 2010 will be open to the public daily June 3-13. Show hours are 4-9 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. General admission for adults is $7 with discount tickets available at Kroger. Kids under 12 can attend for free.



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