Cincinnati is home to a booming start-up scene. Fresh, exciting, new businesses are popping up left and right. But Cincinnati is also home to many abandoned, historical buildings and landscapes. That’s where HIVE comes in. A company led by Kent Hardman, HIVE brings new ideas and energy into what some considered already forgotten.
Growing up and living in Cincinnati his whole life, Hardman knew he wanted to be involved in real estate from a young age. “I grew up in Hyde Park and lived in a beautiful Tudor-style home,” Hardman recalls. “That house really put me down this path of falling in love with architecture and eventually wanting to get involved with real estate.”
After graduating from Miami University, Hardman had his first job as a marketing rep for a manufacturing company. But after two years, he decided to quit and follow a path he was more passionate about. He began buying old apartments and renovating houses. In 2011, one of his earlier projects included purchasing the Jackson Theatre and building it out to become a host to both apartments and salons.
But HIVE is much more than just real estate, Hardman says. “I don’t consider myself just a real estate developer, I’m much more than that,” he explains. “My real passion is renovating old buildings. I target properties that have deep, historical roots in Cincinnati. I really enjoy tapping into that history.”
One might wonder how Hardman masters HIVE all by himself, and when asked, he explains he isn’t really alone at all. The idea of community and togetherness is key, he says, as HIVE is actually more of a family operated business. With support from his father and brother, Hardman is able to successfully run HIVE.
But why call it HIVE? And why pick Cincinnati as its base? The name itself stems from the idea of a bee hive, Hardman explains, adding that he has multiple different kinds of real estate projects going at any given time. These projects, he feels, are similar to honeycombs; they are all different, but together make up one network, or “hive.”
As for the location, Hardman picked Cincinnati because it’s home. “I was born and raised here, I will never leave it,” he says. “I’ve become very passionate about the buildings and history involved in the city. I know this city like the back of my hand, so it’s very cool to be involved in the renaissance happening here.”
After living in one city for so long, it makes sense that Hardman wants to do the city justice through his work. Therefore, it’s not hard to understand why the motto of HIVE is “building stories.” Hardman doesn’t want his work to be meaningless, he wants people to understand the roots of it all. And along with building those stories, Hardman works to also build communities. It is because of this that most of the buildings he takes on are located on business strips that are a walkable distance for people within that certain town or neighborhood.
Take for example, one of Hardman’s proudest accomplishments, Fireside Pizza in Walnut Hills. Previously an abandoned 19th century historical firehouse, Hardman bought the building from the city for $1 and turned it into a trendy, new eatery, complete with an apartment on the top level.
“I get no more joy than just sitting at Fireside’s bar and watching people come in and seeing their reaction. Seeing people enjoy themselves in a place that I helped bring back to life, is really satisfying,” admits Hardman.
Hardman wants people to enjoy the comfort of their neighborhood in the places he renovates and is constantly on the lookout for the next historical piece of architecture to do just that. He admits a lot of times the buildings “find him.”
“Word has gotten out that I’m passionate about these historical, messy, complicated projects,” Hardman laughs. “But it’s okay because I enjoy that challenge of finding a purpose for tough buildings.”
Hardman gave some insight into his next upcoming project: The Marianne Theatre in Bellevue City, Kentucky. The theatre is an old, art deco building and Hardman will be re-developing it soon. As for what customers can expect, he explains the new theatre won’t just be one thing. It will be a space that will offer live entertainment with a bar and food component and it will also be a space available for rent.
“This project is a very challenging one,” he says. “The goal is to have something that caters to the people of the district and also attracts outsiders.”
To learn more about HIVE, visit http://www.hive513.com.