Dueling Bartender Event to Raise Money for St. Lawrence Square Improvements

City officials gathered in Olden View Park on Tuesday to kick-off the Price Hill Neighborhood Enhancement Program. Over the next several weeks city departments will provide a targeted clean-up effort in the neighborhood aimed at reducing blight and improving public safety.

Neighborhood leaders at Price Hill Will are also hoping to leverage the extra attention and investment for some other neighborhood priorities of theirs.

The first project they are hoping to advance is a collection of improvements to St. Lawrence Square that will include a stage, fountain, walkway, benches and other aesthetic upgrades. The second project, officials say, will look to improve the aesthetics surrounding a Duke Energy substation and neighboring lot.

In order to do this, Price Hill Will is looking to raise money for both projects through an event they will host on Tuesday, March 11 at The Crow’s Nest. The event will feature dueling guest bartenders competing for tips that will support the two projects.

“Dueling Bartenders is a series of fun fundraisers we started last fall with a showdown between Father Umberg and Sister Sally Duffy,” explained Pamela Taylor, Community Outreach Coordinator with Price Hill Will. “In this second round we are having two local authors – Dan Andriacco who writes Sherlockian mysteries and Greg Hoard who is a sportswriter and has authored several biographies.”

The fundraiser will take place from 5:30pm to 8pm on March 11, and all money raised will go toward making the improvements to St. Lawrence Square a reality. The Crow’s Nest (map) is easily accessible via Metro’s #32 and #33 bus routes from both Government Square and the Glenway Crossing Transit Center.

Snow Accumulation Highlights Cincinnati’s Over-Engineered Streets through ‘Sneckdowns’

Our streets sometimes seem to be over-engineered. Their capacities are designed for peak usage, turning radii for the largest trucks, and speeds for the fastest movement. For the easy movement of cars and trucks this may be good, but for everyone else it is dangerous and less livable.

To combat such situations, many communities across the United States have begun building curb extension to help slow down traffic and make the public right-of-way more hospitable for everyone who is not in either a car or truck. Some people call these curb extensions, and similar improvements, neckdowns.

While most of our streets have not been improved in such a way, it becomes easy to see how and where neckdowns could be placed when it snows. This is because only the areas of the road that are used become cleared. The rest stay covered in snow and are a very obvious display of the aforementioned over-engineering.

During the city’s last snow event, the UrbanCincy team took to social media and asked Cincinnatians to submit photos of area sneckdowns – snowmade neckdowns. If you see any around your neighborhood make sure you take a shot of it and send it to editors@urbancincy.com, tweet us @UrbanCincy, or upload your photos in the comment section of this story.

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Mayoral Election Will Impact Cincinnati’s Planning Future

Cincinnati is in the midst of revitalization. There have been several significant accomplishments achieved since 2007 when the city’s Planning Department was reconstituted. Initiatives such as Plan Cincinnati and the development of Form-based code have united regional leaders and communities to help build a shared vision of the city’s future.

These efforts could be affected drastically with the election of a new mayor on November 5th.

Qualls: Focus on vision and and consensus building:
In her time as Mayor in the 1990’s and when she returned to City Council in 2007 Roxanne Qualls (C) has been the leader in implementing a bold vision for Cincinnati through planning policies. In the 1990’s, Qualls lead the effort to narrow Fort Washington Way which allowed for the expansion of downtown and the conversion of the riverfront into a showcase for the city.

The award winning Banks Master Plan owes its existence and implementation to Qualls’s dedicated leadership in establishing the Riverfront Steering Committee which developed the plan. By the time Qualls returned to council the plan had advanced through Mayor Mark Mallory (D) who formed The Banks Working Group and began implementing the plan in 2008.

Qualls has also been active in developing Plan Cincinnati, the city’s recently adopted comprehensive plan. But since her return on council she has been more closely associated with bringing form-based codes to Cincinnati.

Since 2007 she has led several groups on tours to Nashville, TN and Columbus, OH to learn more about form-based codes and how they benefit cities. Last month, that vision became reality when Madisonville became the first city neighborhood to adopt the form-based code regulating plan.

The Cincinnati form-based code is a comprehensive land use regulation that was developed by the city through years of community participation. It is a code that emphasizes that new development be constructed in a form that integrates into the traditional character of the neighborhood.

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Cranley: Focus on removing barriers for developers:
Running against Qualls is former council-member John Cranley (D) who served on council from 2001 to 2009. He resigned from council in 2009 to pursue building a private development in East Price Hill.

The Incline Square project, located next to the Queens Tower apartment building, was envisioned to have a 22,500 square-foot office building be constructed along with a 58-unit four-story apartment building and restaurant space. Only the residential and restaurant portions of that development were built.

A review of Cranley’s track record on council had shown that early in his council career, he had been an advocate for making the city more “developer friendly.” In 2002, he was instrumental as chairman on the Budget & Finance Committee in dissolving the city’s long standing Planning Department, the oldest continuously running planning division in the country at the time.

The dissolution came over disagreements between the Planning Department and a developer in Oakley for the Center City of Cincinnati development. The unprecedented move generated a good amount of public outcry.

In 2002 Cranley told the Cincinnati Enquirer, “”The Planning Department was almost given the mission of causing problems, because it was completely divorced from economic incentives and any kind of market reality.”

However; Cranley did not oppose Mallory’s effort in 2007 to reestablish the department. He also signed a motion with Qualls on advancing form-based codes in 2008, but at a recent mayoral debate sponsored by the Urban Land Institute, Cranley strongly opposed them. He has also stated his opposition to planning and zoning, stating that the solution to neighborhood problems is money.

The outcome of this election will determine the future vision and progress of Cincinnati. That vision of progress is either one forged on grand visions and community outreach or one that favors minimizing regulations and oversight to increase development in the city.

UVA Demographer’s Map Illustrates Cincinnati’s Racial Segregation

Dustin Cable, a demographic researcher at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, recently published a map of the United States that shows an individual dot for each of the nation’s 308,745,538 people.

On their map each dot was assigned one of five colors based on the racial and ethnic affiliation. Whites are blue; African-Americans, green; Asians, red; Hispanics, orange; and all other racial categories are coded as brown. Cable used publicly available 2010 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

When viewed in its entirety from afar, the map makes cities look like integrated places with a merging of all the colors to create a purple shade. This, however, is not the most accurate portrait of the racial segregation found throughout American cities.

When viewing Cincinnati at a more detailed level, for example, one can see the clear separation of White, Black, Hispanic and Asian populations.

The dots are evenly distributed throughout their assigned Census Block, so some dots (or people) appear to be living in areas where they cannot (i.e. parks, water, streets).

The specific areas of interest inside Cincinnati city limits are several Uptown neighborhoods where a dense cluster of Asian individuals live, and the Lower Price Hill and East Price Hill area where a small concentration of Hispanic individuals call home.

When looking elsewhere around the region it is also interesting to observe the Hispanic population cluster in Butler County near in and around the City of Hamilton.

Cincinnati Breaks Ground on $16M Net Zero Energy, LEED Platinum Police HQ

City officials and neighborhood leaders celebrated the ground breaking for Cincinnati’s new $16 million Police District 3 Headquarters on Monday.

Located in Westwood, the 39,000 square-foot facility will replace what city and police officials consider an antiquated 105-year-old facility in East Price Hill.

While the City of Cincinnati has built or begun construction on several new fire stations, including one nearby in Westwood, this is the first new police station built in the city since in more than four decades.

“It used to be that when cities built civic buildings like this, they were places the community could come together,” Mayor Mark Mallory (D) said. “With District 3, we’re doing that again. We want people to come here and feel comfortable coming here with their neighbors.”

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According to city officials, the new police headquarters will serve 14 neighborhoods from a central location on the west side. A site that was specifically chosen due to the input provided during Plan Cincinnati.

To help further strengthen the concept of the police headquarters also serving as a community gathering place, city officials have ensured that the new facility will include community gathering space and public art. It is an approach to community building similar to what was done, with rave reviews, by Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) when rebuilding its entire building portfolio.

The location is just a block away from Dater High School and Western Hills High School and sits in what was a vacant outlot of a suburban-style strip mall. Site plans show that the new facility will be built at the street and oriented toward the sidewalk.

While Cincinnati has been seen as a leader in green building when it comes to the rebuilding of CPS, its tax abatements for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rehabilitation and new construction, and public building in general, this will be one of the Queen City’s greenest buildings.

The development team of Messer Construction, Triversity Construction and Emersion Design are aiming to achieve a LEED Platinum certification – the highest possible rating under the LEED system.

The development team also says that it has designed the structure to achieve Net Zero Energy Consumption through its geothermal mechanical systems, high performance building envelope and solar panels. The new Police District 3 Headquarters will also reduce potable water consumption by 30% thanks to on-site bio-retention cells and strategic use of site design materials.

City leadership also expects the project will reach 36.2% Small Business Enterprise (SBE) inclusion. If such a number is achieved, it would make it the highest percentage of SBE participation on any city project to-date.

According to project officials, construction is expected to take about a year-and-a-half and could start welcoming members of the community as early as July 2015.

Episode #22: Better Beer in Cincinnati

Craft Beer SamplerOn the 22nd episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, we’re joined by Carla Gesell-Streeter and Tom Streeter, creators of the website Hoperatives, which focuses on “better beer (in Cincinnati and beyond).” We discuss how old breweries like Hudepohl were able to hold their own against giants like Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors, and why craft beer is now making a comeback across the country. Tom and Carla explain how Cincinnati’s many local breweries are differentiating themselves, not only with their marketing but with their own unique styles of beer.

Further Reading: