PHOTOS: Streetcar Maintenance Facility, OTR Track Work Nearing Completion

Construction of the Cincinnati Streetcar system has been moving quickly over the past several months. In the Central Business District, track work on Walnut Street has been completed between Central Parkway and Seventh Street, and two stations are under construction along this stretch.

Downtown drivers will soon get a break from track construction until next year, when crews will return to the CBD to finish the Walnut Street track after the holiday season.

In the mean time, crews have moved to the Northern Liberties to finish up the Over-the-Rhine portion of the system. The special track work in this area includes turnouts on Henry and Race streets, connecting to the Maintenance & Operations Facility, and turnouts to Findlay and Elder Streets, which will allow the Uptown Connector to be built in the future without disrupting service.

Crews recently finished resurfacing portions of Elm and Race streets along the route, which means that underground utility work has wrapped up. Many of the streetcar stops in Over-the-Rhine are also now complete and many of the new traffic signals have been activated.

While much has been accomplished, a significant amount of construction remains, including track work along Main and Second streets in the CBD. But anyone taking a walk down Race Street, in Over-the-Rhine, today should get a good impression of what the finished track and stations will look like.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

EDITORIAL NOTE: All 14 photos were taken by Travis Estell for UrbanCincy between October 21 and November 1, 2014.

Take a Look at These 20 Breathtaking Photos of Cincinnati’s Center City

Many of you who read UrbanCincy get to see and experience the center city on a regular basis, but others of you cannot. But for those of you that do, rarely do you get to take a bird’s eye view of the city.

Brian Spitzig, an occasional contributor to UrbanCincy, recently took a flight around the inner city to take what turned out to be some incredible aerial photography. He took hundreds of photos, but we went through them and selected some of the best to share with you.

This is the first part of what will be a two-part series. The following 20 photographs are all of Downtown and Over-the-Rhine, while the next part of this series will focus on neighborhoods outside of the greater downtown area.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you like what you see here, you can follow Brian Spitzig on Instagram.

Latest Excavation Work at Smale Riverfront Park Creates Beach Along Ohio River

Great weather seems to always bring great news for construction projects, and this is the case in the latest project update for Cincinnati’s $120 million Smale Riverfront Park.

In the video, project manager Dave Prather points out that the structure enclosing Carol Ann’s Carousel now has its roof decking and framing in place, with the glass wall panels being readied for installation soon. Prather further showed where the elevator shaft has been completed and the large skylight that will form the roof of the building, thus allowing for a flood of natural light inside.

“Keep an eye on this side, it’s really gonna have a transformation” Prather noted. “But right now you can get a sense of how open the structure is.”

Since the last project update, the cascade water features and light fixtures are now in place at the Vine Street Fountain & Steps, which mirror the setup at the already complete Main Street Fountain & Steps. The area is now just awaiting the installation of its granite surface.

One of the more interesting elements of this project update is the excavation work at the river’s edge to make way for the Great Lawn. Now virtually complete, the excavation work as created a beach of sorts going directly into the Ohio River. The completion of this work has also opened up a variety of new views of the Roebling Suspension Bridge that were not previously visible.

Prather then discussed a wall that is now in place along the river bank where the riverwalk will continue from already completed portions of the sprawling park.

“We are now able to connect with the river in a way never had before,” Prather noted proudly.

All components of the current phase of construction work are still anticipated to be completed in late spring or early summer ahead of the 2015 MLB All-Star Game to be held at Great American Ball Park.

Findlay Market Ready to Work With Developers Poised to Transform Area Around It

The area in Over-the-Rhine south of Liberty Street has seen hundreds of millions of dollars of investment poured into it over the past five to seven years. The part of the 319-acre neighborhood north of Liberty Street, however, not so much.

While this makes sense for a number of reasons, especially considering that is where Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) placed their initial focus, it is a bit odd that one of the region’s landmarks – Findlay Market – was largely spared investment throughout this entire period. Yes, Ohio’s oldest public market saw gains in terms of sales and number of shoppers, but the area surrounding the 162-year-old market sat essentially untouched.

This is about to change.

With 3CDC acquiring a collection of properties from the City of Cincinnati surrounding Findlay Market, visitors to that area will soon see new life in the form of apartments, shops, offices and restaurants.

One of the earliest projects to be announced is the $14 million redevelopment of an entire block of Race Street that will be led by Model Group. When announcing the project to the public, the Walnut Hills-based development company also stated that the project would include a small grocery store.

With this project marching forward, and several others looming, how exactly does Findlay Market – the area’s longtime anchor – fit into the picture?

“The Corporation for Findlay Market expects to be heavily involved in all the new retail, working with property owners on product mix,” said Joe Hansbauer, President and CEO of Findlay Market. “We will be careful to make sure that competition exists, without diluting.”

With retail traditionally following the arrival of new residents, developers will need to take to ensure that appropriate demand exists in the area before introducing too much new retail. According to Hansbauer, that is already being considered, even with the potential arrival of a new grocery store across the street from Findlay Market.

“We are directly involved in the discussions, and even introduced the proprietor to Model Group,” Hansbauer explained with regard to the new grocer expected to come online with the development. “The concept will only work if what they offer compliments and fills holes in the product offerings of the market.”

He says that this has been a long-standing issue, with potential customers skipping trips to Findlay Market due to the inconvenience presented by not offering all of what they want or need. The idea is that additional retailers can help capture some of these missed shoppers now, thus adding to the customer base for existing vendors.

One of the biggest opportunities for the area, with the addition of new residents, office workers and shops, is the possibility for more activity during the weekdays and weekday evenings. As of now, these are some of the slowest times for vendors.

“Once it is proven that there are customers and business to be had, adjustments will be made,” Hansbauer emphasized. “As the neighborhood gets populated with office and residential, there will be higher demand for later hours.”

In a nod to the significant progress made over recent years, he went on to note that is was not long ago when Findlay Market was only three days per week, not six as it is presently, and had much more limited hours of operation. But in order to take the area to the next level, Hansbauer believes it may not just be food that helps drive the change.

“I think there is a lot of opportunity for complimentary retail near the market. We think the Findlay Market area will be a retail district in a similar way that Vine Street has become a restaurant district.”

With track work and stations being completed around Findlay Market right now for the Cincinnati Streetcar, it is not difficult to see the near future where those districts are seamlessly connected to one another, and other destinations that lie further south in the central business district.

Will Wendy Lea take Cintrifuse to the level of launching high-growth companies?

Cintrifuse tapped a high-profile Silicon Valley exec to fill its CEO role the other month, and now they’re looking to see how they can grow the two-year-old startup incubator into something that starts churning out big successes. So, which of their member startup companies will be the first to make it big and produce hundreds of jobs locally? More from The Enquirer:

So the pieces are in place for Lea, who has built companies from the ground up and is hardly intimated by the huge expectations. She shares them. The new CEO won’t be happy with Cintrifuse simply being a force in the region or state. Lea expects Cintrifuse to deliver on its local promise while taking on a national profile.

“I have a real sense of urgency to build on the foundation that’s been created. (The business community) had a vision, they assembled a team, they’ve got these assets together,” she said.

“And now I need it to go a lot faster and be a lot stronger and more visible. Cintrifuse has a structure and it’s very organized. We should be able to go fast.”