Cincinnati casino breaks ground, will it deliver on urban design promise?

Developers, city officials and community leaders gathered on Broadway Commons this past Friday to celebrate the groundbreaking of Cincinnati’s first casino and what will be Ohio’s largest with more than 100,000 square feet of non-stop gaming. Once complete, Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati is expected to attract roughly six million visitors annually.

Rock Gaming has long pledged to build a truly urban casino and design it in such a way that does not turn its back on the neighborhood surrounding it as casinos so often do. To help facilitate the process a local group called Bridging Broadway formed and has been working with city officials and developers.

In addition to announcing the name, operator and manager of the casino, developers also revealed updating renderings of what the Cincinnati casino will look like once complete in late 2012.

Inside, the casino will feature 72 table games, a World Series of Poker room with 31 poker tables, approximately 2,300 slot machines, a 400-seat international buffet, three additional restaurants and a food court, and more than 33,000 square feet of banquet/event/convention/meeting facilities.

What do you think? Are the developers delivering on their promise to design an urban casino that does not turn its back on the surrounding neighborhood?

  • One of the lesser known advantages of playing in online casinos is that you don’t have to tip the dealer. It is obligation to tip the employees of the casino when you play in land based casinos.

  • Ryan L

    Sitting at your computer on the Internet playing online poker is not as stimulating (or even the same game without seeing other people you could argue) as playing in an actual casino. I don’t think most people go to the casinos to win a lot of money, they go to enjoy themselves. In terms of pure economic reasons, online casinos are better, I admit.

    I don’t think we will actually be able to tell what kind of impact it will have until it is built and running like normal. I do think it will benefit the neighborhood as a whole, but I am sure there will be some negative aspects to the casino we don’t anticipate. I do hope the urban feel of the casino lives up to what I expect. I hope I can interact with the casino development without actually gambling in order to do so. So far it seems promising.

  • Personally, I am confused as to what that large lawn area is doing in front of the casino at Reading Road and Central Parkway. Is that just a placeholder in the renderings for a more profound public space, or are the casino developers in fact planning to leave that space as an open lawn?

    If they leave it as an open lawn I do not know what would draw people to hang around there as shown in the renderings. There is nothing engaging that open lawn space from any direction, and it also does not appear as if it will be a programmed space with performances or things of that nature. I hope I am wrong on one of these assumptions.

  • Reminds me of the Cheesecake Factory out at Kenwood.
    While I would personally prefer some kind of crazy gothic monstrosity, practically, I think some kind of early 20th century theme would be better. Something going back to Cincinnati’s heyday. The Silverado in Deadwood keeps coming to mind but a deco design would work, too.
    From your post, I guess there will be no auditorium? The Hammond facility offers performances by BOFs like Jackson Browne & Huey Lewis. I think this would be popular in Cincinnati.
    yeah, the grass & landscaping will probably just catch litter – better off without it.

  • J

    Randy, I was wondering the same thing about the extended lawn area. Perhaps the designers took “Bridging Broadway” literally.

  • adam

    @ Randy & Quimbob, a-men!

    that lawn is a terrible idea as shown, and it does look like kenwood mall/cheesecake factory, i.e. faux urbanism in a real urban place.

  • I agree, the open lawn is a very bad idea. The structure seems to attempt to interact more with this lawn than with the street which completely goes against the urban design principles of the surrounding neighborhood. Lets hope this idea is scratched and something more meaningful is created.

  • Bbrown

    Add me to this list of people who think the lawn is a horrible idea. I figured there would be some sort of superfluous water feature somewhere, maybe in the triangle space between Broadway and Eggleston, but not a gigantic lawn. Have you spoken to anyone with bridging broadway to see if they know anything about the plans for this area? It seems like they are trying to distance itself from the urban core with green space rather than blending it with the surrounding environment.

    Also, wouldn’t the city have to approve the closing of Broadway? Has this already been approved?

  • Coug

    It looks like a tacky 10-year-old suburban strip mall built in Tampa Florida.

  • J

    The person who said they lost the whole point of urban design nailed it. I think it’s an attempt to distance themselves from the jail. I do remember something being said about that. I would much rather see the casino meet the street, as someone said, but in the triangle section a small park with some trees and a decent water fountain. I don’t understand how they could close that park of Broadway, and it seems unlikely the city would have already approved that.

  • Ryan L

    Aside from the lack of urban feel, I wish that the designers would do one of the following: 1) Install solar panels on the roof since the casino will be a HUGE consumer of energy. 2) Install green roofs, or large cisterns to catch and reuse rain water. 3) At the very least paint the roof white to reduce the heat island effect. I think these are simple things that would not cost too much additional money, and some of them (solar panels and green roofs) could reduce operating costs in the future. Also, is the casino surrounded by a lawn on BOTH ends of the building?

    I think they took the Olive Garden Model for the side of the building
    see the picture displayed here:

  • woofiebear

    OMG! The original renderings had rather grown on me but if this is a refined effort somebody needs to do something quickly. This appears to be nothing more than a bunch of “lifestyle center” exteriors in a sort of smash-up. Absolutely awful. And why the doggie park in the front? Its certainly anything but urban!

  • Fortunately it sounds like the City’s Urban Design Review Board agrees with us on nearly every item we have brought up here and then some. The UDRB required several revisions of designs for The Banks which is turning out quite well right now, so lets hope the same takes place with the casino.

  • After attending the last Bridging Broadway design charrette, one of the big takeaways for the casino is the need for a public space or area that encourages interaction with pedestrians and the community. The casino property will be buying the weird triangle shaped piece of land and reworking Eggleston and Broadway Streets so it will become a 2 way path.

    Personally I feel that a public plaza with a significant sculpture piece (a la Millenium Park/ the Bean in Chicago) would be a much better use of space than that lawn.

  • Ryan L

    I agree with Jenny K. We already have the new Banks event lawn, the new event lawn at Washington Park, and the event space at Fountain Square. If we add any more it is just saturating the market for event spaces. I think that a sculpture would interact with the public much better than a large open lawn that would most likely go underutilized.

  • J

    I’m with Ryan. Too many event lawns. I think what the casino is really trying to do is snatch up that land while they can. Lots of downtown land can mean big profits later.

  • Zachary Schunn

    I think most of the important points have been made…

    I just want to point out: Never hire someone out of Las Vegas to design a building in the Midwest. This poor excuse for architecture might work in Vegas, but it shouldn’t be allowed here.

  • Dave

    Are they really expecting that much activity at 7:00 in the morning or, once the thing is built, is the sun going to start setting in the east?