Via Vite will host a grand opening party for their new rooftop bar and dining space overlooking Fountain Square. The new space, referred to as a piazza, features an outdoor bar and unobstructed views of Fountain Square and video board.
The piazza will naturally expand the outdoor dining options Via Vite has been adding in between its main entrance and the Fountain Square Garage headhouse, and follows the same general design concepts used on the existing Via Vite structure.
Managers say that the new space can handle approximately 40 to 50 people, and guests will be able to get both drinks and light food served there. Management also says that the piazza can be reserved for special events.
Via Vite opened in 2007 following the $49 million renovation of Fountain Square and its underground garage.
The restaurant sits directly above the parking garage entrance along Vine Street, and was opened by the son of Nicola Pietoso who continues to run the acclaimed Nicola’s Ristorante Italiano in Over-the-Rhine.
When millions of fresh eyes recently trained on our city, Great American Ball Park (GABP) bore no scars from its labored birth which required a divisive election, moving an interstate highway, and seven years from the evening it was sketched-out on a restaurant placemat until the first pitch was thrown.
Nested comfortably in Cincinnati’s new riverfront, GABP’s unlikely location in the former eastbound lanes of Fort Washington Way (I-71) entailed narrowing the highway by half and extending downtown’s street grid to the Ohio River shore. Consolidating the garage and roadway budgets for the Reds and the Bengals in one place gave us a flood-proof waterfront for the first time in our 225-year history and provided the foundation for The Banks.
The construction of Great American Ball Park on the riverfront allowed for the rest of the land to be lifted out of the Ohio River floodplain, thus leading to the development of The Banks and Smale Riverfront Park. Photograph by Randy Simes for UrbanCincy.
Proponents of an alternative ball park site at Broadway Commons park gathered signatures to place the stadium location question on the November, 1998 Hamilton County ballot. Shown how the Reds could be the keystone of a new neighborhood on the Ohio, the site at Second and Main won by a 2-1 margin.
Great American Ball Park wasn’t the first time Cincinnatians resisted progress. In the mid-Nineties, we actually voted not to build the Aronoff Center for the Arts. Influential arts patrons feared its construction would cause the abandonment of Music Hall. So they put a proposal to scuttle the project on the city ballot, and it passed. But the Aronoff was a project of the state of Ohio, which built it anyway.
Remember the ridiculous debate about moving the Tyler Davidson Fountain? Many influential Cincinnatians opposed 3CDC’s total renovation of Fountain Square a few years ago, which was the decisive building block for a 24/7 downtown. Getting property owners to underwrite Downtown Cincinnati Inc. also took some doing, but the central business district is now clean and safe with energized stakeholders.
Not building Great American Ball Park at Broadway Commons has allowed for that site’s development into the new Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati in Pendleton. Photograph by Randy Simes for UrbanCincy.
We argued about expanding our convention center, but that eventually got done too. More meetings came to Cincinnati, a spiffy new hotel opened, another will open soon, and money flowed into our economy.
So tell me, had the naysayers prevailed, which of these civic assets would we happily do without?
Such is The Cincinnati Process. We reflexively enforce the status quo, yet we often succeed spectacularly in spite of ourselves. Detractors can easily challenge any public proposal if they set their minds to it. They can exploit uncertainty. They can delay and drive up the costs. And they have the referendum as a ready tool. Successful sponsors learn to right-size their projects for local appetites, adapt in response to new information, and gain supporters as complex issues are resolved. The ironic result is that the most criticized ideas—the ridiculed ones, the ones they said would never happen—those are often the ones able to run the gantlet and exceed expectations.
The circumstances that shaped our 21st century waterfront were so rare and of such scale they won’t be repeated in any of our lifetimes. Fortunately, agile planning and execution has given us momentum and confidence for seizing other opportunities for improving our city. Going forward, Cincinnati can have progress or The Process but probably not both.
This guest editorial was authored by John Schneider, who led citizens’ efforts to build Great American Ball Park and the Cincinnati Streetcar, and was originally published in the November 15, 2012 print edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The editorial, however, was never published on the Internet until now with permission from the Cincinnati Enquirer. If you would like to have your thoughts published on UrbanCincy you can do so by submitting your guest editorial to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The tickets include admission to the New Year’s Eve Blast VIP Party from 8pm to 1am at Via Vite. Those attending will be treated to a panoramic view of the festivities on Fountain Square, a celebrity meet and greet, dinner by-the-bit, an open bar, and a champagne toast at midnight.
Additional entertainment will take place on Fountain Square including live music and DJs, free ice skating, a fireworks display, a holographic holiday light show, and what organizers are touting as a “special midnight reveal” of mystery box that was placed on Fountain Square in November.
Those who would like a chance at one of our free tickets should leave a comment on our Facebook page explaining what you are most looking forward to in Cincinnati’s urban core in 2013. We will then contact the winners on Thursday, December 27 with details about how to get their ticket.
The Western & Southern Open is taking place right now, and a men’s and women’s champion will be crowned this weekend in what has become one of the world’s top ten tennis tournaments.
Once finished, the tournament will have drawn hundreds of thousands of tennis fans to Mason, but more importantly, it will have given Cincinnati exposure to millions of television viewers around the United States and the world.
The tournament is a huge regional draw, and it gives the region an annual chance to make its pitch as to why people should visit, invest, or move to the region. This year, the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau decided to build off of Lonely Planet’s choice of Cincinnati as one of its top travel destinations for 2012. Unfortunately, however, the 30-second commercial does not come close to selling the narrative written by the independent travel guide.
There was no mention or view of the Contemporary Arts Center in the recent Cincinnati USA television commercial. Photograph by Thadd Fiala.
“Seen Cincy lately? The pretty city on the Ohio River – off the main cross-country interstates – gets bypassed by many road trippers, but it’s quietly transformed itself in the last decade into a worthy weekend getaway,” Lonely Planet wrote about Cincinnati. “Life centers around the river – much which can be seen by foot: river walkways are best on the Kentucky side, reached via a couple bridges including John Roebling’s Suspension Bridge (a prequel to his famous Brooklyn Bridge). Narrow, twisting (and steep) brick roads of the Mt Adams district lead past 19th-century Victorian townhouses and the free Cincinnati Art Museum, while the once-dangerous, emerging Over-the-Rhine, just north of downtown, is home to the Findlay Market and a sprawling collection of historic Italianate architecture.”
After reading that, someone unfamiliar with Cincinnati may be intrigued to visit the city to experience its architecture, waterfront, historic neighborhoods, and judge the stated transformation first-hand. What Cincinnati USA’s television spot showcases (see below), however, is the tried and true regional selling cards to families looking for an affordable weekend getaway.
There is nothing wrong with selling a good product to a captive audience, but if Cincinnati wants to start attracting new people and new interest, it will have to do something new.
If Cincinnati USA wants to build on the Lonely Planet mention, then they should sell the region on what Lonely Planet is pitching. Show the millions of tennis fans a scene from Over-the-Rhine on a Friday evening, Fountain Square on a Saturday night, the twisting streets of Mt. Adams, the University of Cincinnati’s Main Street, people biking across the Purple People Bridge, and shoppers at Findlay Market on a Saturday morning.
Fortunately, the Cincinnati USA commercial did pay attention to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center which was prominently mentioned in the Lonely Planet write-up.
Cincinnati has always been an affordable place and a great place for families. This narrative has been perfected over many decades. This strong calling card should not, however, preclude the region from telling the world about a new narrative that has come to life over the past decade. It’s a story about a resurgent city focused on youthful energy, innovation, independent thought, music, and a unique urban core that is hard to match anywhere in America.
Cincinnati was a different place ten years ago. It was a city still reeling from the destruction left behind by the civil unrest in 2001, and had a downtown in decline with retailers closing up shop and office vacancies soaring. The Banks project was regarded as a pipe dream, a field of mud between the elevated islands of sports stadiums and a lonely museum overlooking construction on the opposite side of the Ohio River.
Over-the-Rhine was a different place ten years ago as well. The corner of Twelfth and Vine Street consistently rated as the most dangerous in the city. Block after block of boarded buildings stood silently as echoes of an era time forgot. This was Cincinnati’s center city, a dried up husk of its former glory where redevelopment projects stalled and floundered and everyone returned home before dusk.
Phase one of The Banks has been built [LEFT], and a major revitalization of Over-the-Rhine is underway [RIGHT]. Photographs by Randy A. Simes for UrbanCincy.
There is a saying that it takes a village, but in this case, it took a plan to change the area’s trajectory.
The Center City Plan as conceived in 2002 by consultants as a report to the city’s Economic Development Task Force. What the plan did is lay out a vision and way forward for the city to begin restoring the vitality of its largest economic center.
“The Economic Development Taskforce was a public-private partnership that looked at how the city could thrive,” City Spokesperson, Meg Olberding, explained. “The task force laid out a structure whereby the public and private sectors each have their role, but must work together.”
City officials and 3CDC were tasked with making the goals laid out in the Center City Plan a reality. In particular, the plan detailed four initiatives aimed at restoring vitality.
Redevelop Fountain Square: The plan recommended that the city, “transform Fountain Square into the city’s retail, cultural and civic heart”. Consolidation of retail at street level and creation of an attractive public space went into the redesign of the square. The removal of pedestrian skywalks also seen as a way to focus pedestrian activity on the street.
Revitalize Over-the-Rhine: With regards to Over-the-Rhine the plan said, “Without intensive focus on Over-the-Rhine, efforts in the center city will be wasted.” Starting with a focus on the Vine Street corridor as the primary retail corridor, the plan envisioned a catalytic development agency spurring redevelopment along Vine Street in the historic neighborhood. The plan was to start at Central Parkway and work north towards Liberty Street.
Build the Banks: The plan initially tasked the agency that would become 3CDC with the mission of building The Banks project. Years later the project moved forward under a steering committee to overcome conflicts that arose from the various parties involved in the riverfront redevelopment.
Restore Washington Park: It was recommended that the city, “Implement a comprehensive development strategy to make Washington Park a civic treasurer.”
Of the many recommendations that stem from the Center City Plan, nearly all of them have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented today. The success of the plan, and those implementing it, can be seen every time a new project breaks ground, a new business opens shop, or a new cultural attraction takes root.
Other less visible accomplishments can be credited to the implementation of the other recommendations of the Economic Development Task Force such as the evolving direction of the Port Authority, the Plan Build Live initiative, and the city’s revised marketing approach.
Olberding concluded that, “This has proven to be a winning strategy for the City and one that will be more and more important as we take Cincinnati to the next level of growth and opportunity.”
New data released by the Ohio Department of Health says that state’s four-year-old, voter-enacted, smoking ban is not in fact negatively impacting Ohio businesses. The analysis goes completely against the claims made by those originally opposed to the idea of a public smoking ban, and highlights how campaign rhetoric is often left unquestioned.
In 2005, Cincinnatians heard over and over how the $48.9 million ($4M public funds, $44.9M private funds) renovation of Fountain Square and its underground parking garage would end up as a waste of scarce public resources. Since its renovation, public activity, private investments and the number of businesses in the area have gone up, and crime has gone down. Furthermore, you could argue that the renovation of Fountain Square was the initial force that sparked the urban renaissance currently taking place in Cincinnati.
A crowd gathers for a fashion show and concert on Fountain Square in August 2011. Photograph by Thadd Fiala for UrbanCincy.
The trend continues in 2011 as transit opponents wage yet another battle against the Cincinnati Streetcar and the future of rail transit in the Queen City. It was less than two years ago that this same group of opponents asked voters if they would like to hold a public vote on all rail transit expenditures in Cincinnati. The voters rejected that proposal and yet in 2011 Cincinnatians are being asked to vote on the first rail transit expenditure to come about since November 2009.
Rigorous public debate should take place in America, that is, in part, what makes the nation so unique. The problem is that voters seem to have a short memory, and the media often has no interest in reminding them of the false rhetoric put forth by the same parties in the past.
Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) is not a new group, and does not include new political players. The small group of well-connected men running COAST have been around Cincinnati politics for some time.
These are the same people who, under the auspice of Citizens for Community Values (CCV), amended the City’s charter to legalize discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, which was terrible for the city and later repealed. These are the same people that called the renovation of Fountain Square a guaranteed boondoggle. And these are the same people that continue to beat the boondoggle drum in regards to the Cincinnati Streetcar project.
This group has perpetuated falsehoods for too long. Cincinnatians, and reality, continue to reject their special interest ideologies focused on holding the city back, but yet, it is time once more to entertain their tired antics. This November I look forward to Cincinnatians voting against this group’s proposed anti-rail transit Charter amendment, and sending them a bit further into the depths of irrelevancy.
For the second year in a row, Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) has commissioned EcoSculpt on Fountain Square. To celebrate Earth Day in Cincinnati’s living room, the event is sculpture contest by area artists with works made entirely out of recycled and/or recyclable materials.
12 local sculptors are working today to install their works. From whales made of trash to crocheted plastic bags, the resulting art will be available to view through April 28. With some works as large as ten feet tall by ten feet wide, the result is a visible statement about utilizing and encouraging the use of recycling and recyclable materials in everyday Cincinnatians’ lives.
The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (GCEA) is EcoSculpt’s official sponsor. “We are excited to be a part of such an innovative event,” said Sean Fisher, General Outreach Manager for GCEA. “EcoSculpt not only spreads a message of environmental responsibility, but also provides a stage for emerging artists in the area.”
The event will culminate in an awards program on Earth Day, April 22 at 12pm on Fountain Square. Those interested can check out the sculptures on Fountain Square this weekend, and vote on their favorites at online. The votes will be used to help determine the 2011 People’s Choice Award winner.
EcoSculpt 2010 photograph by Thadd Fiala for UrbanCincy.