State of Downtown report shows continuous improvement

Last week Downtown Cincinnati Inc. (DCI) released their annual State of Downtown Report. The report contains graphs and numbers relating to the development of Downtown. This years report suggests that Downtown Cincinnati has seen a large increase in the number of people enjoying the array of restaurants and arts in the center city.

Arlene Koth, executive president and Chief Operating Officer of DCI, said that when they looked back at the numbers in 2010, there were a few things that really jumped out to them. One such item was the amount of development happening downtown; not just the number of projects that have been completed, but also the amount of investment that has gone into the projects downtown.

According to the report, $1.4 billion in development took place in 2010. DCI says that they expect an additional $1.8 million worth of development to follow on that 2010 investment, and be completed in the next 18 to 24 months. Of those investments, cultural projects represent approximately 31 percent. Mixed-use development makes up another 23 percent. Residential (18%), office (15%) and transportation (13%)  investments then make up the rest.

DCI says that activity attendance downtown has saw a rather constant decrease from 2006 until 2009, but showed an increase in 2010. This recent increase goes follows the pattern seen recently with encouraging gains in new restaurants and residential buildings.

Downtown and its outlying neighborhoods, Over-the-Rhine and Pendleton, experienced a 35 percent population increase overall, with the majority coming in the outlying neighborhoods of the greater downtown area.

Businesses owners are trending towards buying the building in which they locate their businesses over leasing the spaces. Thus the newly renovated buildings stay intact and add value to downtown.  Koth acknowledges “though some building [renovations and leases] have stalled, other developments have helped to spark more desire in potential residents and help pull the buildings through the darkness and into the light.”

DCI is also responsible for all the people walking and biking the streets in bright orange t-shirts or electric blue jackets depending on weather conditions. These Downtown Ambassadors are employed to help keep downtown clean and safe by doing everything from walking people home to giving people directions out of downtown.

Though the increase in development and activities in downtown have affected downtown Cincinnati’s economy positively, there have been numerous battles in getting business offices sold or rented and in keeping crime low. The number of crimes has steadily decreased until 2008 when they increased by 21% from 1,153 to 1,402 in 2009. Compared to the 2001 crime rate of 2,013, the rate has decreased significantly.

Overall, downtown is blooming with even more new businesses and events that keep the core bustling and alive with activity.

Fountain Square picture for UrbanCincy by Thadd Fiala.