Construction on new uptown building begins soon


Photo by the City of Oxford

An artist’s rendering of what the Caroline Harrison Building at the corner of High Street and College Avenue will look like.

By Leanne Stahulak

Workers will soon break ground for a three-story apartment/retail complex on a vacant lot at the corner of High Street and College Avenue, in the heart of Oxford.

Mayor Mike Smith said he believes the project will go out to bid for various construction companies soon, a process that could take six to eight weeks. He’s hoping construction will start before fall.

“We’re all really excited about it because that could be a new anchor building for that end of the street,” Smith said. 

To Smith’s knowledge, the lot for the building was acquired around four years ago by West High Street Investments. It once used to hold a gas station, but otherwise it’s been vacant for several years. When the project started moving forward, it prompted the “Changemakers of Oxford” mural to be relocated, since the new development would block the artwork hanging on the wall of the Rittgers & Rittgers Law Firm.

A construction fence now surrounds the vacant lot at High Street and College Avenue, and heavy equipment has been moved to the site. Photo by Leanne Stahulak

According to the “What’s Happening Over There?” Story Map provided by the City of Oxford,  the Caroline Harrison Building will feature 11 two-and-three bedroom loft apartment units on the second and third floors, while the first floor will host four commercial tenant spaces. 

The property will be managed by Red Brick Property. The loft units are already available for rent for the 2022-2023 school year on Red Brick Property’s website, running from $4,400 to $4,600 per semester. 

The structure will be named for Caroline Scott Harrison, former first lady to President Benjamin Harrison and daughter of Miami professor John Witherspoon Scott. Harrison has a rich history in Oxford, from her attendance at the Oxford Female Institute (which now houses the Oxford Community Arts Center) to her meeting and marrying her husband, who was a student of her father. The Harrisons married in 1853 in Caroline’s family’s home, then located at 131 W High Street, which is the address of the new building. 

The new building is to be named for Caroline Scott Harrison, first lady to President Benjamin Harrison and an Oxford native whose family home once occupied the site. Her statue, seen here, is in the garden behind the Oxford Community Arts Center. Photo by Leanne Stahulak

While the project has been in the works for at least four years, the new construction permit just went through on April 30, with the building valued at an estimated $4.5 million. Robert Treadon & Associates will be the main architects for the project. 

Smith said no businesses have leased the first-floor commercial spaces yet, but there’s a thought that the spaces may be selected by new start-ups. These start-ups would stem from the proposed College@Elm Innovation & Workforce Development Center initiative, which is a joint entrepreneurial space helmed by Miami University and the City of Oxford in a facility being refurbished on Elm Street.  The proximity of the two buildings, Smith said, could prompt new start-ups to flock to the empty Harrison building.

The Oxford Observer could not reach West High Street Investments LLC, the main developers of the building, for comment. The Observer was directed to Lindsey Myers, a Talawanda High School and Miami University alumni currently residing in California, but he did not respond to a request for comment.