UrbanCincy to be back to regular publishing schedule tomorrow

Please excuse the infrequency of content lately.  The UrbanCincy team has been hard at work lining up new stories and features we hope you will all find quite enjoyable.  On top of that, I have been in San Francisco for the past five days.  The trip to the bay area will certainly provide content down the road as I was able to learn a lot about their transit systems, urban design, and overall city functions during my visit.

While in San Francisco I got to see virtually all of the tourist destinations but also the city’s first parklet, their new bus stops, ride a bike down Lombard Street and across the Golden Gate Bridge to Saulsalito, try out one of San Francisco’s best taco trucks while enjoying Aztec dancing in the Mission District, enjoy some of the most walkable neighborhoods in the United States, and learn a lot about the region’s transit system thanks to Jeff Wood from Reconnecting America.  I took hundreds of photographs documenting the entire journey, but in the mean time enjoy these sub-par camera phone pictures.

  • Don

    I see all these comments about all the great things in other cities. I have been to every major metro area in North America and the one thing that all the great downtowns have in common is they have lots of residents living in the city core. That is what Cincinnati lacks but nobody seems to be addressing it. Yes, the recent projects like Gateway and the Banks having some housing but it’s not enough. The majority of investment is in “attractions” like bars and restaurants and things for people to see. They’re nice but what happens is the people from the suburbs come check it out on the weekend, after they get bored with it, find out that parking is a pain and hate the threat of getting a DUI if the want to have any fun, they stop coming and 6 months later the city planners are left scratching their heads at why Cincinnati can’t get anything going downtown.

    Bulldoze some of those boarded up buildings in OTR and build a few 1000+ unit condo towers. Offer tax intensives for building large apartment complexes. When the people are there, demand will follow and then business will want to invest in downtown instead of our current plan of using taxpayer money that we don’t have to build “attractions” for people that don’t exist.

  • Nathan Strieter

    Residents can be added without destroying a national historic neighborhood. And there are many sites where apartment (not condo) towers (15 story’s) would work great with the rest of the OTR fabric. City zoning needs to be updated to allow for higher density developments, please write the city planning department. But keep in mind that the areas primed for very high density towers are in the West End, Queensgate, and along 7th & 8th streets. Also note that new form based codes will be going into effect in many “basin” neighborhoods which should aide density.

    ***Your point is valid and most in people can see that just by looking at city tax revenues based on residents but… Just a word for future posting YOU WILL NOT friends on this site, nor should you, if you start advocating the destruction of a national historic neighborhood (OTR).

  • Justin

    Do NOT bulldoze OTR. That is absolutely ridiculous. Do NOT build condo towers in OTR, that’s just as ridiculous. There are tons of empty surface parking lots in downtown that would be suitable for a condo tower. OTR needs to be preserved as is, and modern architecture needs to be avoided as much as possible as it clashes with the historic look-and-feel of OTR.

  • Don,

    UrbanCincy is, in fact, addressing the issue of Downtown Cincinnati needing more residents.

    Demolishing historic buildings in Over-the-Rhine to build large condo towers would be a short-sighted way to redevelop the neighborhood. OTR has already lost over 50% of its historic buildings due to demolitions. We need to preserve every remaining building we possibly can. We could easily add residents downtown by converting old office space into condos or apartments. Parking lots downtown could be used for new tower construction. The Gateway Quarter and other renovations in OTR will add hundreds or thousands of new residents to the neighborhood.

    It’s nice to think that we could just build a few towers and all of our city’s problems would be solved. But the best solution would be to fix up OTR’s building stock, slowly but steadily.

  • Large housing towers of more than about 250 units are becoming less and less popular because they are very difficult to build economically, especially in the current market. They require an enormous capital outlay and too long of a return on that investment.

    I also disagree with your statement that OTR ought to be the site for large, dense projects. The urban fabric there is not only gorgeous, but also functional. Build, and build dense, but do so in areas that have already had their urban fabric destroyed.

    That being said, I agree 100% that for our region to achieve its potential, we must look at how to best increase residential density in the urban core. Reexamining our zoning laws to ensure streamlined dense development is a great start. Tax incentives help too.

  • Scott Griffith

    As an OTR resident, towers are the LAST thing I want. 3 & 4 story developments max are my preference. We don’t need an increase in density, we need an increase in market price housing. Crime & non-marketprice housing is highly associated. As marketprice housing increases, crime decreases, more people are interested in the neighborhood, more business invest and the cycle continues. I love the direction of OTR right now. Think of all the new residential and commercial developments just in 2010! It’s a tremendous time to be a part of the neighborhood. I’ll get to say for the rest of my life that I was there when OTR really started turning the corner. Don’t be surprised if MPMF does a huge selling job for OTR. Visitors will be pleasantly surprised with all the new developments going on between Central & Liberty.

  • Ian

    There are plenty of empty or underutilized lots in the West End, and I’d love to see more attention paid to that side of downtown – which when you add Queensgate (which used to be the “Lower West End”) is larger than OTR+CBD combined. It’d be the perfect place for new development since its original urban fabric has been bulldozed and re-bulldozed so many times throughout history. OTR gets plenty of attention these days, but I never hear anyone talking about this almost forsaken half of the Basin – it’d be the perfect place to add new residents.

  • Demolition is out of the question for OTR. If condo’s are built they will either be renovated historic structures or low-rise infill projects like Trinity Flats. Developers will have the opportunity to go bigger if they can, given the reduction in parking requirements along the streetcar route. This should satisfy the demand for housing in the basin for the time being.

    Maybe the idea of condo towers appeals better in the CBD, Queensgate or the West End, but the focus should be on exploring present opportunities rather than large scale projects that at present require about 90% in pre-sales just to start construction.

  • Quite honestly, the demand for residential high rises does not really exist in Cincinnati. Sure the occasional project here or there might work, but a large effort to build residential high rises would almost certainly be met with great vacancies.

    In San Francisco, where there is tons of street life, most of the buildings are of the 3-5 story variety (much like Over-the-Rhine and what’s left of the West End and Mill Creek Valley). These areas boast tremendous density potentials. While we are repopulating these areas, we should also be trying to incorporate the high rise residential structures into the CBD and like areas (downtown Newport/Covington) as market forces demand.

  • Jake

    There’s really not much of a need to build these huge highrises in Cincinnati. We’ve had times in the past with a MUCH large population in our urban core housed in the same areas that we have now. I mean obviously at some point OTR held a lot more residents than it does now in the same houses that we see today. Why build these grand new high-rises when we can use what we have?? Like Ian said we have plenty to work with all over the city, not even just in OTR. And like Randy said an occasional construction of these types of things is nice, we don’t need a sudden building boom. We need to continue with zoning policies and transportation investments that will draw more residents into the ACTUAL city and add to the already growing vibrancy of the Cincinnati area.

  • Jason

    Crazy! I was in San Francisco during the same time you were! We went to Yosemite for a few days during the week, but I was there sunday, monday, friday and saturday! Such an amazing town!