Cincinnati Zoo goes platinum, grows attendance

It doesn’t take a die-hard Cincinnatian to know that the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens is one of the region’s real assets. The Zoo provides a tremendous learning opportunity for children, terrific family outings, and so much more. And while the Zoo is one of the best in the country, it is also a community leader.

The Cincinnati Zoo was just recently deemed “America’s Greenest Zoo” by the green building community. It is the first zoo in the country to have multiple LEED projects, and is the second zoo in the country to attain the prestigious LEED Platinum certification for one of its buildings. As the zoo continues to grow and improve itself, Zoo leadership has pledged that all future projects will pursue the LEED certification – a first of its kind commitment in the country.

Vine Street Village photo courtesy of the Cincinnati Zoo.

What is even better news is that while the economy continues to slug its way out of hibernation, the Cincinnati Zoo is posting record attendance numbers. Zoo officials will welcome the 1 millionth visitor to the zoo this year sometime this week. The attendance numbers represent a 23 percent increase over the same time in 2008, and also is higher than total attendance numbers posted over the past four years.

The Cincinnati Zoo (map) is open daily from 9am to 5pm for the rest of the year (except Christmas), with tickets starting as low as $13 for adults. Metro provides bus service to the Zoo via the #1 (directly serves the Zoo…this is your best option), 46, 51, and 78 bus routes (plan your trip now); bicycle parking is also available.

Whomageddon rocks Northside Tavern, benefits WVQC

Halloween, local music, and legendary rock and roll bands will come together tonight for a unique event. Whomageddon will feature local bands dressed up and performing as The Who, The Ramones, and Devo. The performers include John Curley (The Staggering Statistics, The Afghan Whigs), Andrew Higley (Pearlene, Chocolate Horse), Scotty Wood, Jason Knarr, Dave Cupp, and more. This week, John Curley talked to the Enquirer about the event and his love of The Who.
The show takes place at Northside Tavern tonight, starting at 9 pm. Admission is free (you must be 21+ to enter), but proceeds from the bar will benefit WVQC, the new public access radio station being launched by Media Bridges.
WVQC has been in the works for several months, and Media Bridges is trying to raise the last bit of money needed to launch the station. Do your part in helping to get local voices on the air–and just have a good time–by coming out to tonight’s fundraiser.

Glass House Lofts and Dandridge Town Homes Come Together for Final Friday

In combination with the Final Friday festivities this evening, you have the chance to check out two terrific residential developments near the Pendleton Arts Center. The first is the newly opened Dandridge Studio Town Homes which features price points ranging from the mid- to high-100’s. Homebuyers there can take advantage of grant money for new graduates to stay in Ohio and stimulus money benefits to help make the finances work for you.

The new town homes were celebrated by community leaders yesterday at a ribbon cutting ceremony where some people believe this is a moment where the neighborhood is “taking back” their community from the bad elements that once had a strong grasp of the neighborhood a decade ago. The Dandridge Studio Town Homes also feature a variety of unique features like cut outs to let in daylight, spiral staircases to media rooms, large windows, front and back decks, and overall well laid out interior spaces.

Also available to check out is the Glass Houses Lofts development around the corner. Only a few units remain in this gem of a restoration, but visitors will be able to check out a model unit, common spaces and the newly finished wine room in the basement designed by yours truly. There will be a DJ, food, and wine at Glass House and will make for a perfect jumping off point for your Final Friday festivities.

Dandridge Studio Town Home photographs by Jenny Kessler

Cincinnati takes critical step towards preserving historic Over-the-Rhine

The City of Cincinnati has been facing increasing pressure in regards to its policy on historic preservation, and now intends to create a special task force related to the economic development and historic preservation of one of the nation’s most important historic districts: Over-the-Rhine.

The vote is music to the ears of local preservation organizations that have been pushing for new policies in regards to historic preservation throughout the city and specifically in Over-the-Rhine. The Over-the-Rhine Foundation and Cincinnati Preservation Association first made the suggestions earlier this year and have been pushing the issue for more several years.

Interesting to note that only five of City Council’s nine members voted for the new task force. Council members Chris Bortz (C), Jeff Berding (D), Leslie Ghiz (R) and Chris Monzel (R) all voted against the measure (all four of these council members are running for reelection this November 3rd).

The move also comes on the heels of my recent appearance on City Talk Radio where we discussed (listen to the show) historic preservation in Cincinnati specifically focusing on Over-the-Rhine. During the show I discussed several critical items that must be addressed from a policy level to make historic preservation a priority in Cincinnati.

Relaxed parking requirements: Minimum parking requirements can become costly for developers working in historic districts where parking can be quite difficult to incorporate, especially for small developers. Relaxed parking requirements in historic districts can reduce cost burdens and help preserve the integrity of the neighborhoods.

Make preservation a policy priority: The City should adjust its policies to make historic preservation a priority. In cities like Savannah and Charleston they do just this by aggressively mandating preservation and even to the extent of purchasing historic properties in danger of demolition so that they can be placed in good hands and restored. City code officials need to adopt work practices that treat historic properties differently from the rest, with an emphasis on stabilization instead of demolition.

Remove the cost barriers: Relaxed parking requirements are just one way to remove the cost barriers and improve the attractiveness of investing in urban historic districts. Investment in quality public assets like parks, transportation and other infrastructure help create the dynamic urban environments that many urban dwellers demand. Investing in these improvements at the public level can make for lower capital costs for developers and/or improve the desirability of a historic neighborhood thus making price points more effective for private investment.

Don’t Be Tricked, Vote No on Issue 9 Party

On Friday, October 30 you are invited to join UrbanCincy at Neon’s Unplugged for the Don’t Be Tricked, Vote No on Issue 9 Party. At the party will be a variety of local celebrities, drinks provided by Christian Moerlein, food from Kroeger & Sons Meats, live music Jim Kennedy, bocce ball, and much more.

The festivities start at 6pm and will last until 1am. There is no cover to get in, but food and drinks are cash only. Please come out and support Cincinnati by showing your opposition to the Anti-Passenger Rail Amendment Cincinnatians will be voting on this Tuesday, November 3.

Issue 9 may end up being a tricky one for Cincinnati voters given the broad wording used and the unclear meaning of what a no and a yes vote mean. Issue 9 proponent Chris Smitherman might have said it best on the very ballot language he helped craft with his buddies at COAST.

“This is nothing short of madness and political corruption. There is no explanation for a Yes meaning No and a No meaning Yes. This is not a tradition, but an attempt to trick voters.”

Don’t be tricked. Vote no on Issue 9 this Tuesday, November 3rd and help keep Cincinnati moving forward. Cincinnati does not need any more red tape of confusing Charter language. Feel free to come in costume if you would like. The party is a come and go as you please event. Please tell your friends and make it part of your Friday night plans.