Which cities did the biggest music hits come from in 2012?

South Korea’s PSY took the world by storm in 2012 with his smash hit single “Gangnam Style.” His song, however, was an anomaly for Asian cities with regards to internationally pop song hits, with the vast majority originating from artists in North America and Western Europe. More from The Atlantic:

In this evolving international soundscape, just how global is the popular music Americans listen to? Where are its major locational epicenters? To get at this, UCLA urban planning doctoral candidate Patrick Adler took a look at the geography of two lists of the year’s best music: Pitchfork’s Top 100 Tracks and Billboard’s Hot 100 Songs.

Adler used geographic data from Twitter, SoundCloud, AllMusic, and Pitchfork to assign a location to the metro area where the artist behind each track currently resides. He gave preference to the locations identified by the artists themselves. The list is based on where artists currently live and work, not where they originally hail from. This can sometimes penalize non-U.S. locations.

Tolled highways may soon become part of everyday life in Cincinnati

The unwillingness of lawmakers to approve an increase to gasoline taxes is causing otherwise unforeseen effects. State officials from both Ohio and Kentucky have already stated that the reconstruction of the Brent Spence Bridge will require modern tolling, and now Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) is expanding the idea by proposing the use of high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on the reconstructed portion of I-75 through Hamilton County, in order to help pay for other state transportation projects. More from the Cincinnati Enquirer:

The Ohio Department of Transportation will launch a study in coming months to examine charging tolls to motorists who want to travel quickly in uncongested lanes. Motorists could pay to use these so-called “price-managed” lanes, or continue to travel for free in lanes jammed with heavy traffic.

Price-managed lanes have become a national trend as states face transportation budget shortfalls and rising congestion in urban areas. The two-year, $105 billion federal transportation bill passed last summer opened the door for states to do more tolling – and Ohio is jumping in.

Gov. John Kasich launched an aggressive effort early this year to consider tolling and other alternative funding to eliminate a $1.6 billion transportation deficit and move up construction schedules on projects across the state…At some point, the I-75 corridor stretching from the Western Hills Viaduct to I-275 could be added to the list of highways eligible for price-managed lanes. That’s because the $980 million I-75 construction projects – separated into two, eight-phase plans known as the Mill Creek Expressway and Thru the Valley – call for one new lane to be added in each direction.

Large vacant buildings should be transitioned into urban community centers

Could the Bartlett Building be transformed into something completely different? Photograph by Thadd Fiala for UrbanCincy.

Throughout the United States there are cities that have large vacant buildings and spaces in their central business district that could be utilized in a new efficient way.

In Cincinnati, the old School for the Creative & Performing Arts was recently auctioned off and is slated to be turned into apartments. In the CBD the Bartlett Building, Tower Place Mall, and Terrace Plaza Hotel remain empty or nearly empty and take up about one-fourth of a city block each.

Some think these buildings could be prime residential properties, but they could be that and more. A large vacant building, for example, could be developed into a mixed use community center.

My inspiration actually came from the Up To Speed story on UrbanCincy about a rock climbing gym in St. Louis. I thought to myself that Cincinnati can have something similar and better. Downtown Cincinnati and OTR/Pendleton are becoming destinations for young adults and families for both restaurants and bars.

Turning a large vacant building into a destination point for physical and social activity would add a whole new dimension to the city. The following ideas are what could go collectively into a large empty building:

  • Rock Climbing Gym – With the exception of the UC recreation center, all of the rock climbing centers are on the outer edge of the city.
  • Paintball Arena – This would be an extremely unique idea for the area as there are minimal indoor paintball facilities and could be a draw for different work or teambuilding groups.
  • Exercise Gym/Running Track – The gyms downtown are mostly old and do not offer enough space or have odd floor plans. Renovating a vacant building would allow plenty of space with tall ceilings and large windows that could allow natural light and have a large open space for exercise equipment. A downtown gym with enough space can offer a full menu of classes including Crossfit, spinning, yoga and Zumba, to bring in a broad range of people looking to exercise. A running track a fraction of the size of an outdoor track could be installed for those that do not like treadmill, but want to run indoors.
  • Basketball Court/Indoor Soccer – Large office buildings could utilize a few stories to carve out a basketball/indoor soccer surface and hold leagues and practices for area schools and AAU teams.
  • Batting Cages/Pitching Tunnels – The basement of a building could be an ideal area for batting cages and pitching tunnels for baseball and softball practice during the cold months. These cages and tunnels are easily moved and can be repositioned to make room for more activities inside the building.
  • Golf Simulators/Nets/Putting Green – This would be another unique addition to an urban area with little green space for golf. Workers could play a quick round during their lunch break or warm up before they go out to one of Cincinnati or Hamilton County’s public courses. This would also allow for urban dwellers a space they could walk to for golf lessons.
  • Offices – With additional amenities a building would become more attractive to businesses.
  • Apartments – To make the building a true mixed use development, apartments could be added as this would be a true “luxury apartment” with a real gym (unlike those found at too many apartment complexes that only have a treadmill and Bowflex and call it a gym) and the ability to walk to some of the most popular dining destinations in the city.

To compare a potential community center downtown with other recreational centers, the Recreation & Physical Activity Center at Ohio State University has a total of 570,000 square feet of space including the pools, while 25,000 square feet is fitness space for weights and treadmills. By contrast, the Campus Recreation Center at the University of Cincinnati has 202,000 square feet including its pools.

The options of what to include in these large, empty spaces are endless, but a truly mixed use development would be better suited for the community than simply offices, apartments, and art studio space. The gyms downtown are old and do not offer enough space, or have odd floor plans. Rock climbing and paintball would draw younger crowds, and the students in the area could benefit from having additional practice facilities.

A neighborhood needs young families as well as young professionals. This would be a good start to try and draw them to the core and keep them there.

Brian Valerio grew up in Cincinnati’s College Hill neighborhood and graduated from St. Xavier High School and Ohio State University where he studied finance and real estate. He currently works at Fifth Third Bank and lives downtown. Those interested in sharing their thoughts can submit guest editorials to UrbanCincy by emailing urbancincy@gmail.com. Please include a short bio with any submissions.

Rookwood Pavilion offering upscale outlets an urban destination

Believe it or not, Rookwood Commons and Kenwood Towne Centre once were in a heated battle over which shopping destination would become the region’s premier stop. Due to a number of factors, including a messy eminent domain case that prohibited Rookwood from expanding, Kenwood has taken firm control of that title. Rookwood hasn’t died, however, and it may be looking to become a destination for unique retailers entering urban markets. More from the Business Courier:

The Nike factory store now under development at Rookwood Pavilion is part of a larger plan to reposition the 20-year-old retail center as something you’ve probably never heard of: an urban infill outlet. The architect of that strategy, Mark Fallon, says outlet retailers pay higher rents, attract fashion-conscious shoppers and are looking to expand into urban areas.

“This opens us up to 200 quality tenants in the future,” said Fallon, vice president at Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate Inc., which handles leasing for the 257,000-square-foot Rookwood Pavilion in Norwood. “It offers (outlet tenants) an urban infill location, as opposed to being out in the hinterlands.”

Ring in the new year on Fountain Square in VIP fashion

2011’s New Year’s Eve celebrations on Fountain Square. Photograph provided by Thadd Fiala.

The Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) has provided UrbanCincy with two complimentary tickets to its VIP party on Fountain Square this year, and we are looking to give them away to our readers.

The tickets include admission to the New Year’s Eve Blast VIP Party from 8pm to 1am at Via Vite. Those attending will be treated to a panoramic view of the festivities on Fountain Square, a celebrity meet and greet, dinner by-the-bit, an open bar, and a champagne toast at midnight.

Additional entertainment will take place on Fountain Square including live music and DJs, free ice skating, a fireworks display, a holographic holiday light show, and what organizers are touting as a “special midnight reveal” of mystery box that was placed on Fountain Square in November.

Event organizers say that music will be provided by uplift i, Aristar, Flynnville Train, and Arin Ray.

Those who do not win the two free tickets UrbanCincy is giving away are still able to purchase tickets. Three VIP ticket packages are available for purchase starting from $150 per person.

Those who would like a chance at one of our free tickets should leave a comment on our Facebook page explaining what you are most looking forward to in Cincinnati’s urban core in 2013. We will then contact the winners on Thursday, December 27 with details about how to get their ticket.