PHOTOS: Downtown Construction Boom Underway

With well over $2 billion in new construction projects underway in Cincinnati’s urban core it is not hard to miss with construction fencing, cranes and lifts working at full tilt all over downtown and Over the Rhine. Many new construction and building renovations are underway throughout downtown and Over-the-Rhine. This gallery features photos of 16 projects taken this month. If added up the projects in the photos below are just a fraction of overall development with just over $400 million in construction activity.


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  • Matt

    Cincinnati does appear to be sustaining it’s economic position in America and its metro economy. That is something Detroit, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Cleveland and some other metros can’t say. But I don’t know if we could call it a “boom.” Go to Nashville, Austin, Denver, Seattle, or Brooklyn for that matter, to see what a “boom” looks like.

    • Jesse

      It’s true. Still, the development is encouraging. Cincinnati may need to distinguish itself regionally before trying for the “Big Boom.” Outperforming our neighbors that have more name recognition such as Pittsburgh and Detroit would be a win. Hopefully we are seeing the beginning of at least that part.

      We all know Cincinnati has had significant success in areas where our regional peers still struggle, but how do you turn that into the kind of buzz that generates national interest? People still want to pin a Rustbelt turnaround story on the region so they look past us to see if Detroit or Cleveland are ready for prime time yet. They invariably are not, so the whole region gets dismissed all over again.

      If we can accelerate the redevelopment here and become the first city in the region to recapture something like the bustling urban feel all the great Midwestern cities used to have maybe we can make a compelling case that the transformation everyone is looking for in Detroit has already happened in a much prettier, friendlier with better weather.

    • Neil.C

      Still Detroit has old money behind its transformation. Looking at the BS surrounding the Dennison Hotel proves that Cincinnati’s old money doesn’t give two cents about its own city. Until Cincinnati gets that or finds a suitable alternative, I don’t see it being a top performer.

    • Matt

      Booming cities are driven by new money. That’s what Cincinnati needs to ‘boom.’

    • Plenty of new money is coming in. Though I’m not certain it’s more than other Midwestern markets, and it’s certainly less than in coastal cities.

      Good news for Cincy (and other Midwestern cities) is a more subdued boom compared to coastal cities also means a more shallow downturn. NY and San Fran are not really seeing “booms” any more, since they are already seeing rental rates decrease. Many other cities are seeing increased vacancies. Cincy is still improving.

    • Matt

      This recent report from Brookings is very useful in comparing Cincy to the rest of America. It shows Cincy as a middling metro holding it’s own but not moving up the ranks of American metros.

    • Eric

      Booming cities are driven by population growth

    • Matt

      What drives population growth? Are you arguing that population growth just spontaneously emerges before, and therefore causing, new investment?

    • Eric

      Interest in place drives population growth as clearly seen in what 3cdc is doing.
      Cincinnati is a 2 million metro. If 500,000 people moved into the city it would be one of the greatest growth “booms” outside of Texas.

    • Matt

      “Interest in place” sounds like you are arguing for a spontaneous, and therefore unexplainable, emergence of interest in living in a new place. You’re suggesting that the rise and fall of metro economies is not fundamentally different than the rise and fall of hair styles. That’s just not true. Cincinnati’s weaknesses can’t be blamed on the fickleness of the professional and entrepreneurial classes. Taxes, work force demographics, infrastructure, economic networks, and public services explain population growth, not random fades.

    • Eric

      It’s not the exact science you think it is

    • Matt

      I agree. It’s not random faddishness either. There isn’t some kind of ‘conspiracy of the cool kids’ working against Cincinnati. Cincinnati’s internal dynamics are the cause of it’s mixed fortunes. The social, political, and economic patterns created by Cincinnatians themselves are the central force in Cincinnati’s development. If investors avoid Cincinnati, they have substantive reasons for doing so. They’ll only invest in Cincinnati if they can’t find a better, and/or more secure, return on their investment elsewhere. Professionals won’t build their networks here if they can do that more easily or successfully somewhere else.

    • Matt

      It’s not random fades either. There isn’t some ‘conspiracy of the cool people’ secretly working against Cincinnati. If investors and businesses can get better and/or more secure returns on investment in Cincinnati than somewhere else, they will invest. That investment is what drives population growth.

    • Matt
    • Eric

      You don’t even have to go that far, just drive to the near north sides of Columbus or Indianapolis to see the thousands of apartment units built in the last few years.

    • Matt

      That’s partly caused by Columbus and Indy not have many older buildings to redevelop. Neither is in the same league as Nashville, Austin, or Denver in the various measures of growth. Columbus and Cincinnati’s labor forces are growing in lock step with each other. While Denver and Austin are seeing far larger labor force growth with significantly lower unemployment and greater wage growth.

    • Eric

      The article is about growth around downtown and otr

    • Matt

      The investment happening in downtown and otr is happening because of metro Cincinnati’s economy. Real estate investors look at metro numbers to decide where to invest. No one is deciding whether to invest in housing in OTR versus Mason. They’re deciding whether to invest in Cincinnati versus Columbus.

    • Eric
    • Matt

      Austin, Texas, Is Blowing Away Every Other Big City in Population Growth

      Austin doesn’t have anything remotely like 3cdc or OTR.

  • Matt Jacob

    What’s everyone’s feelings on the infill? Here’s my take:

    I’m really liking the 15th St. Townhomes design so far, but will wait for the final facade to judge. Shaping up to be the best of the bunch for now.

    Kruckmeyer – beautiful building, but I’m not a fan of the paint colors personally.

    The Allison is ok, but has issues: a little too much repetition of the same features so that it doesn’t feel as random, the dark single column of bricks to “split” the scale to look like multiple buildings is worse upclose than it looks from a distance/photo, and the rooflines are good in the way that they vary but are sterile compared to the surroundings (adding one cornice or other detailing to break up the block would have helped substantially).

    Republic Street Townhomes has the same problem of too much repetition of the same features. Overall not bad though.

    Elm Street Rowhouses are pretty blah and sterile. I appreciate the detailing, but at least vary them a little and use a color other than beige to give each some unique character. A few street trees in front here could make this block fine overall, but just not great.

    The Jose Garcia pictured seems like a good one-off design that adds in contemporary design to the neighborhood, just hope not large numbers of this type. The infill 3 buildings down the street (which I think is also Jose Garcia) is a modern masterpiece and definitely the best modern infill.

    15th and Vine will be interesting to watch how they blend the old and new. I like that they are reusing the historic bones on the front and also setting the new building up for a more traditional floor plate for office.

    580 Building did a great job of repurposing the contemporary brick facades for residential by punching those balcony/porches. Same with on the top south face. It was already a pretty good looking building with the modern ground retail and dark glass tower, but I think this is hands down the best major rehab project in the city. The insides are spectacular.

    8th and Sycamore has a good design, but worries me with that lime green/brown hologram sheeting. We’ll see how it looks when it’s all done, but wow is that a bold choice.

    Holiday Inn – first infill hotel in downtown in how long is, no surprise, suburban in styling. The surprise is the stacked stone columns on the street level, which seems out of place outside a mountain cabin and in an urban environment (at least in Cincy).

    AC hotel at the Banks looks a little more urban, but we’ll see when the facade is done.

    • I pretty much agree with everything you said. Except I will say that the Elm Street Townhomes look flat-out awful. The attention to detail is incredibly low, from the lack of a cornice on the 15th Street side of the building, to the vinyl siding that’s visible to anyone walking down Elm Street. That design would be fine in a Mason subdivision…to build that in the Over-the-Rhine historic district is insulting.

    • Eric

      Given Towne’s record of shoddy development, the design outcome of this project isn’t surprising. But how was this cookie-cutter, profiteer construction even allowed?

    • I was wondering what the hell they were thinking with those stone columns. They are as bad as those PF Chang wooden doors on Mita’s at 5th and Race.

  • Eric

    The photo you have captioned “Race Street infill designed by Jose Garcia” is actually designed by Terry Boling. The Race Street infill designed by Jose Garcia is three doors down at 1506 Race Street.