GUEST EDITORIAL: Paycor’s Brand New Headquarters in Norwood Misses the Mark

Paycor recently moved their headquarters from Queensgate to Norwood’s Linden Pointe on the Lateral. Norwood pulled out all of the stops to ensure that they brought these jobs (and the tax dollars that come with them) from the City of Cincinnati.

When moving into their new digs, employees were literally crying out of excitement for their new workspaces. The open design and floor-to-ceiling windows are complimented by walking routes that allow employees to walk the perimeter of the floors for exercise.

However, once they step foot outside the front door the only thing any Paycor employees will be walking to are their cars.

Let’s back up though; the first phase of Linden Pointe actually had some great features. From sidewalks, crosswalks and bike parking, this development was well thought-out (other than the buildings being so far off-set from the street).

The Paycor development has absolutely no resemblance to the relatively pedestrian-friendly phase one. There are no sidewalks connecting the Paycor building to any local roads. Bike parking is also seemingly non-existent. But the biggest slap in the face to good design is Paycor’s complete disregard of the crosswalks already built in phase one towards the new development.

Instead of leading to a tree-lined sidewalk that runs to Paycor’s front door, these crosswalks lead to nowhere, seeming to indicate deliberate decisions taken by Paycor to avoid connecting their site to the rest of the development.

We can’t just blame Paycor for this mess though. Norwood’s Planning Commission & City Council approved the site plans too. The plan shows the crosswalks from the original development leading nowhere. The plan also shows no sidewalks connecting Paycor to any of the three nearby streets.

The plan does show a nice shiny building that will house lots of additional revenue. It is likely the City of Norwood did not want to push back too hard because the Paycor move was likely not a done deal. This is a shame though, because a better design would have benefited the surrounding neighborhoods and Linden Pointe as a whole by allowing for a comprehensively connected center instead of disjointed cul-de-sac style parcels.

James Bonsall recently moved, with his wife, to Norwood from New Albany, Indiana. In New Albany James served on the city’s planning commission. He has a B.S. in Business from Indiana University and currently works as an IT business analyst for a major health insurance company. You can connect with James on Twitter at @LouisvilleJames.

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  • Marshall Hunt

    I live in Norwood as well, and still can’t come up with a reason for it to still exist.

  • Scott Rudy

    As a Paycor employee, I am excited to be in Norwood! I ride my bike to and from work a couple days per week (I am a wimp and don’t ride in the rain). I park in the Paycor bike rack (on the west side of the building), have direct access to the fitness facility and showers, and love it. I also was excited to participate with many of my co-workers and families during the Zero Prostate Cancer run last year hosted by our wonderful neighbors, The Urology Group – cant wait for Sep 6 2014 for the run this year!

  • Brian Craft

    The ability to bike to work entails more than just a bike rack: building your site in proximity to existing
    thoroughfares and densely-populated neighborhoods and including shower facilities to clean up on those hot days are both much more expensive but equally critical components. The site is located at a direct stop for the MetroPlus and other local Metro route which improves the multi-modal commutability
    as well. As a Paycor employee, I can say that Paycor’s HQ answered the call on all of those points; great design decisions for (at least sometimes) non-car commuters.
    I can’t argue the author’s points about the sidewalks directly around the building…that component of the site plan could have used some more work. However, many of my colleagues walk down Montgomery Road for lunch each day without any hassle. There are some great local Norwood restaurants with a few blocks.

    • EDG

      Yeah, all that fancy cross-connection to the east looks nice but uses aren’t really compatible and I bet Paycor employees just take the Sanker sidewalk to Montgomery.

    • The sidewalks on the site lead nowhere (literally), and the building is set far off the street so that surface parking can occupy space immediately in front. This is a standard suburban office park plopped down into an urban location.

    • James Bonsall

      Hi Scott, I appreciate you bringing the perspective of a Paycor employee into the mix. I also appreciate your comments about bike commuting. I agree that for bike commuters (or residential bike storage), outdoor bike parking, even with secure racks, doesn’t work. I also appreciate you letting me know about the indoor bike parking & showers. It definitely makes me happy to hear they designed the building with bike commuters in mind.

  • Nancy Norwood

    I’m not sure how this warrants an article in UrbanCincy, but maybe this publication is easier to get into than it appears. The author is an IT business analyst and has a business degree, yet with an (assumed) small stint on a different city’s (and different state’s) planning commission, he’s presented as an expert on urban design? UrbanCincy, I would think you’d vet your guest editorial writers a bit more. I’ve read this article a few times now and have yet to find the actual story. Mentioning Paycor will get you a few more hits though, I suppose.

    • EDG

      The story is one of a planning fail.

    • As you can gather from all of our other guest editorials, they are from readers who wanted to share their opinion about something. As we note at the end of each of these postings, anyone can submit an opinion piece for consideration.

      There isn’t a story here in a news sense. This piece is someone’s opinion. With that said, the UrbanCincy team also feels like this development missed the mark on its sure design. Yes the buildings may be nice and new, but they’re not built in a way that is conducive for all modes of transportation, nor do they fit well with their surrounding urban fabric. This is a suburban office complex plopped down into an urban location.

    • JacobEPeters

      quick edit, the aerial shown is the building next to Paycor, and the bike rack image is also from the building next to Paycor, which has sidewalks that encourage walking to encourage somewhere other than a car travel lane.

    • James Bonsall

      Hi Guest,

      First, thanks for reading. I am definitely not an expert on urban design, but I did read Walkable City by Jeff Speck. In all seriousness though, you don’t have to be an expert to see the many flaws with the design plan. I also visited Norwood’s planning department to obtain copies of site plans and talked with an elected representative to get their take. In Norwood, economic development falls under the same category as planning, which could have lead the planning/economic development department to sacrifice good design in order to land the deal.

    • James Bonsall

      (Deleted duplicate post)

  • EDG

    I echo your thoughts, it’s a planning fail. The medical office IMMEDIATELY to the east at least did something nice by putting in 3 wide ped cross-connections, with the middle one having a ped island on the west side and connecting to Montgomery sidewalk on the east side. Then Paycor comes in with their whatever layout but our insides are great and it’s as if everyone had a brief economic development amnesia.

  • matimal

    no one is ever walking into or out of that place.

  • Jonathan Hay

    Just like you don’t need to go to Juilliard to appreciate a fine concert, you definitely do NOT need a planning degree to have a stake in your community and to be an advocate for good urban design. I thought the article was spot on. This is essentially an office park design plopped into a more urban setting. The actual building is fine, but it interacts poorly with the rest of the community. Maybe we should be ask ourselves if Norwood had 20 more buildings like this would it be a better or worse place to live or work?