When Vinni Brown decided to return to Cincinnati after spending 11 years in San Diego – and previously to Westport, Connecticut, Paris, France, and Dallas, Texas – she compared it to jumping off a mountain.
“It was the scariest decision to actually pack my car and watch it go to Cincinnati,” she says. “I only trusted that the signs were there. The signs said, “Go home. Go home. Go home. It will be the best for you. ‘”
She went to the airport with five suitcases, landed in Ohio, and moved in with her mother in Hyde Park. She still had an apartment in San Diego and an office for her real estate and interior design business. Eventually she moved to 580 Walnut Street. But after a few more months and a few back and forth movements, she decided to make the stay permanent.
“I went to my California office and told another agent that I wanted to make the move to Cincinnati permanent. After a lot of eye rolls and the look of “I can’t believe it,” he had a cash offer for my apartment that night, ”she says. “I tidied up my office, handed in my key and booked the moving van. It went that fast. “
And she hasn’t looked back since. As a broker and interior designer at Coldwell Banker, Vinni almost raves when she talks about how lucky she is to be in Cincinnati.
“The city’s young, hip vibe … is contagious,” she says. “For someone like me, in my 50s, I see all these little kids and this funny stuff. But it’s not just young children. My husband and I are going to go to a great restaurant in OTR tonight and then listen to a jazz band. There is always something to do.”
As the Cincinnatians know, downtown wasn’t always such a scene. Vinni, who attended Glen Este High School, got her first downtown apartment on Fourth Street and Plum Street in the early 1990s.
“I loved downtown,” she says. “I loved the atmosphere of the city and the people who lived in this building.”
She worked for Channel 9 as a promotional producer and taught a step aerobics class at the YMCA. To get there, she rolled the scooter.
“We didn’t have an Uber and all that. I didn’t even have a car back then, ”she says.
And her favorite spot was a place called Neons, which Vinni calls “the coolest bar in OTR back then”.
She got married and moved to Hyde Park, where she renovated her first home. Her husband’s job at L’Oréal took her to Dallas for three years, Paris for three years and Westport, Connecticut for one year. Then they took a leap of faith with a startup and moved to San Diego, where they lived for 11 years.
Even during the move, Vinni brought her three sons back to Cincinnati for a two-week visit each year. Although they left the city at a young age, they still call Cincinnati “home” to this day. Her son Hunter studied at the University of California at Santa Barbara and has been back in Cincinnati for about 18 months.
“While everyone doesn’t understand leaving California, I have a penchant for excitement and change, and this city gave me the opportunity for both,” Hunter wrote in an email. “I was able to discover new places, nice restaurants, cozy bars and good-natured people with solid intentions. The skyline doesn’t hurt either. ”
He added that the city changes as quickly as the weather. “There’s a new bar one week, a new club the next, followed by a new art gallery opening across from a small wine and cheese merchant that is building its customer base!”
During her time in San Diego, Vinni went back to school at 44, graduated from the Design Institute, and became interested in the real estate business.
She called her mother – who also works in real estate – for advice on how to remodel homes and how much to invest until her mother finally told her to get a real estate license. She built a house she was working on on a model house, added interior design to her business, and started a successful “concierge” model. She has since transferred this model to her Cincinnati office.
After she and her husband divorced and their sons went to college, Vinni moved into an apartment but eventually got tired of living in San Diego.
“I always felt like a fish out of water there,” she says. So she came back and moved in with her mother, who eventually went to Florida for the winter. Then came a chance meeting in a bistro in Mariemont, where she met her current husband, Mark Witte, followed by a growing desire to return permanently.
Vinni and Mark – the executive directors of the TriHealth Cancer Institute – now live in Mt. Adams. He’s originally a West Sider and they still go to Price Hill Chili once a week.
Since she’s back, Vinni says she’s noticed the big changes happening downtown, but also praised the city for its art scene and philanthropic character.
“Look at the theater. We’re one of the few cities that has every art and sport, and none of them are in the red, ”she says. “And everyone is philanthropic, that’s the other thing. I’m going to the Heart Ball tomorrow, last weekend we went to another fundraiser, a Good Sam fundraiser the weekend before. “
And forget the clumsy, boring reputation of the Midwest that the city might once have.
“I find it an artistically interesting city with many layers,” says Vinnie. “Every weekend we look away from our balcony and something is going on in the city center. Or there is always something on the fountain square. I’ve never been to a city where this happens. “
Because our Boomerang series was so popular in 2019, we decided to continue it in 2020. If you or someone you know grew up here, left for various personal, professional, and sentimental reasons and want to be back with you, soapbox, email [email protected]