The Death of Newport’s 1,100′ Millennium Freedom Tower Proposal

The progress being made at the $80 million second phase of Newport on the Levee is encouraging, but just around the block another highly touted project from the late 1990s stands next to a parking lot that has lingered for far too long.

For nearly 16 years, the $2 million World Peace Bell has sat less than proudly at Fourth and York Streets. The monument itself is fine, but has had to deal with being, “wedged between a parking lot and a White Castle.”

This was not how it was suppose to go. Instead, the 66,000-pound World Peace Bell was meant to be joined by the ostentatious Millennium Freedom Tower. Of course, the approximately $100 million structure was never built, but many may forget the original development vision.

The super-tall structure would have served primarily as a monument, but would have also included a restaurant and bar approximately midway up the tower, and office space closer to the top. It would have also boasted the world’s largest carillon, gardens, event space and a several-hundred-foot free-fall ride. The proposal came amid a flurry of proposals to more or less turn Newport’s riverfront into a theme park type destination.

Much like Newport on the Levee’s second phase, something will eventually be built on this site, but it will assuredly be more modest than what was originally proposed. But unlike what is rising a couple of blocks away at the foot of the Purple People Bridge, whatever eventually rises at this site will almost certainly be better than what was originally proposed.

  • Wow that tower is ugly, and really doesn’t make much sense. I think they should build an underground parking garage on the site, no matter what is developed on top. I also like the idea on Rachel Comte’s site of creating a park similar to Washington Park on the site. http://canyoupictureitnewport.weebly.com/a-central-park.html

    • I really like the idea of the park as well, but like Mr. Yoder said, it is probably unlikely that it will happen due to the existing value embedded in the site.

  • EDG

    Don’t forget they don’t really use it because it’s so loud it broke a bunch of windows in the area. Newport can’t get out of its own way, Donald Trump thinks it’s is classy…

    • That was the bell in St Francis de Sales that broke windows.

      “the bell reputedly could be heard 15 miles (24 km) away when first rung, rattling nearby buildings and loosening stone & mortar. It was soon decided to immobilize the bell, and for more than a century “Big Joe” has relied on a foot hammer striking its rim.”

  • Robert Yoder

    Now, say what you want – Northern Kentucky really was reaching to sky on proposals back in the late 90s.

    Now, I don’t even think the Freedom Tower was the wildest idea to come out of Forward Quest, that most certainly has to be the Sky Loop: See: http://citybeat.com/cincinnati/article-4611-news_northern_kentucky_group_wants_sky_loop.html

    Now, it’s fun to laugh at these proposals, but these did have the affect of making Northern Kentucky realize could be something other than the hinterland of Cincinnati. I served on the Central Area Loop Study at the time, and I enjoyed how NKYs proposals sent the Ohio representatives into a fit.

    A forgotten fact about the site, is that Wayne Carilse installed pilings on the site – I remember the months of pounding. So, one reason that nothing has been developed on the site — is it is prepped for a large multi-story building. You can like “World Peace Bell” Park idea, but it’s not the highest and best use of the property, and it’s privately owned. Actually, there was a proposal for a park on the block north of the World Peace Bell – and a Tank Transit Center. Which lead to a huge eminent domain/historic preservation fight, and a proposal to move the Challenger Pipe Building – but that’s another story.

    Also, the World Peace Bell never broke a single window when it rang. I know if you go on the Ride the Ducks tour they say it happened – but it’s not true. One shouldn’t use an organization the hands out yellow duck calls as a reliable source for local history. The Bell used to ring all the time, you could ring it by pressing the button on a garage door opener. I think I heard one of the motors for the striker failed a while back and it hasn’t been replaced. That’s why it doesn’t ring anymore (I could be wrong on this, but it wasn’t because windows broke.)

    • Neil Clingerman

      The wiki article also makes no refrence to windows being broken, the bell is run occasionally too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Peace_Bell

    • Yes they were. This was not so much meant to mock Northern Kentucky, but rather highlight the proposal that I think a lot of people either never knew about, or have forgotten over the years.

      We will need to do the same for some of Cincinnati’s outrageous proposals…like the Crystal Forest that was once planned for Fountain Place.

    • EDG

      Or the carousel imo

    • SCADgrad.

      The new carousel will be a nice family addition to the Cincinnati Parks.

    • Are you talking about Carol Ann’s Carousel at Smale Riverfront Park? Why do you think the carousel is outrageous? I think it’s going to be an very popular destination at a very popular park.

    • EDG

      I just think it’s odd to have it enclosed when people mostly go down there for the fountains and park in nice weather, and it further blocks views of the bridge like the elevator shaft in front of yard house

    • EDG

      Either way, it’s an unused monstrosity between a parking lot that should be your town square, a white castle, and a beautifully restored courthouse that almost seems out of place now because of what’s happened around it.

      As someone who used to live in there, NKY should just focus on being a neighborhood to downtown. I think the Newport and Covington riverfronts have over time turned out as poorly as they have because they’re competing with something they cannot naturally compete with. Focus on urban residential because that’s what you’re good at.