KZF Releases Preliminary Designs, Cost Estimates for Wasson Way

A newly released feasibility study, produced by KZF Design, finds that construction of the 6.5-mile Wasson Way Trail would cost anywhere from $7.5 million for just a trail to $36 million for both a light rail line and trail totally separated from one another.

The cost estimates vary so much due to the three potential design options studied. The lowest cost alternative looked at placing a 12-foot-wide trail along the entire existing rail alignment. This, however, would make the inclusion of a future light rail line extremely difficult.

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The most expensive alternative would construct an entire new trail alignment that does not interfere with any existing rail right-of-way. This would include the construction of several new bridges and completely preserve the ability to easily construct the long-planned light rail line adjacent to the new trail.

Alternative B, which was recommended by KZF and priced at $11.2 million, was a bit of a hybrid. It would include a 12-foot-wide trail offset from the existing rail alignment, but utilize existing rail right-of-way at pinch points along the corridor.

The 45-page study is the first detailed look at the corridor, which has been hotly debated and discussed over recent years. Much of the controversy has surrounded whether or not both light rail and a trail can be accommodated. KZF’s findings appear to show that much of the corridor could in fact accommodate both, but that some segments may prove to be difficult, albeit feasible.

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If project supporters are able to advance the trail plan, KZF estimates that it would connect eight city neighborhoods and approximately 100,000 residents with an overall network of more than 100 miles of trail facilities.

“It is hard to build in the urban core, and to find an intact corridor ripe for development is a unique thing,” explained Eric Oberg, Manager at the Midwest Rails to Trails Conservancy. “If this is done right, this can be the best urban trail in the state of Ohio. I have no doubt.”

Some of the most difficult segments of the corridor are the nine existing bridges where the right-of-way is extremely limited. If both light rail and trail facilities are to traverse this corridor together, additional spans will be needed in order to have safe co-operation.

In addition to introducing what may become the region’s best urban trail and light rail corridor, some proponents also see it as an opportunity to fix other problems along the route. Most notably that includes the congested and confusing intersection of Madison, Edwards and Wasson Roads near Rookwood Pavilion.

While the newly released feasibility study offers the most detailed analysis of this corridor to date, the City of Cincinnati has yet to close on its purchase of the former freight rail line from Norfolk Southern.

City officials are reportedly in negotiations with Norfolk Southern now, and have made an initial offer of $2 million. In April, Mayor Cranley’s Administration also allocated $200,000 to the project.

Greiwe Development to Break Ground on $35M Hyde Park Condo Building This Week

Developers are aiming to break ground on a $35 million condo building in Hyde Park this week, following a months-long demolition effort that began in late October and cleared the site of five existing buildings, some of which dated back 80 years.

Greiwe Development and North American Properties (NAP) say that the demolition work cleared the way for what will become a modern four-story building that will house 30 luxury condominiums at the corner of Observatory Avenue and Shaw Avenue in Hyde Park.

Named 2770 Observatory, the development will also include a 77-space underground parking level accessible from Shaw Avenue.

The development will boast some of the priciest new residences in the region, with units priced between $700,000 and $2 million.

“Hyde Park combines the sophisticated lifestyle of Cincinnati’s premier neighborhood with the exciting air of arts, innovative restaurants and blocks of unique shopping,” said Rick Greiwe, principal of Greiwe Development.

Not everyone is thrilled about the luxurious direction in which Hyde Park continues to head. Former residents expressed frustration to UrbanCincy, saying they were given notice to vacate their apartments “by the end of the month” so that demolition work could proceed.

Over the years, this transition has led to a migration of priced-out Hyde Park residents to seek more affordable options nearby in Oakley, East Hyde Park or Evanston.

Griewe, however, says that the vibrancy of Hyde Park Square is part of what drew his development team to this location, and that the active and engaging lifestyle of city living is what is appealing to his firm.

Both Montgomery and downtown Cincinnati are locations where Greiwe says they would like to do additional work.

The announcement of 2770 Observatory comes as a wave of residential infill projects have been sweeping across Cincinnati’s neighborhoods. Thousands of new residential units are either currently under construction or planned to get started soon in Northside, Walnut Hills, Downtown, Over-the-Rhine, College Hill, Corryville, Clifton Heights, Columbia Tusculum and Avondale.

Instead of the residences being rentals, as is the case for most other projects around the region, 2770 Observatory follows in the footsteps of 2801 Erie Avenue and Michigan Terrace, which were completed in 2009 and 2007, by injecting high-end condos into one of the city’s toniest neighborhoods.

Griewe Development has become known for high-end, urban residential projects. In Mariemont, the company has completed 106 units in the heart of the village. That overall development program has been built over four different phases including Emery Park, Nolen Park and Jordan Park.

The development team says that they are pursuing a LEED Silver certification for the Hyde Park project, and that it is being completed without any financial assistance from the City of Cincinnati.

Cincinnati-based GBBN worked as the lead architecture firm on the project, while Messer Construction has been selected to build it in conjunction with NAP. Construction work is expected to begin this week, with units becoming ready for occupancy in fall 2015.

Indianapolis Developer to Continue Oakley’s Housing Boom with 272-Unit Project

Yet another Indianapolis-based developer is entering the hot Cincinnati residential market. This time the developer is Buckingham Companies and the location is Oakley.

According to the Business Courier, an UrbanCincy content partner, Buckingham has been eyeing the Cincinnati market for some time. They decided that now was the time to move on the seven-acre site immediately southeast from the $120 million Oakley Station development which will include nearly 600,000 square feet of office and retail space, 302 apartments and a movie theater at full build out.

The developers are citing the location’s close proximity to Downtown and the neighborhood walkability offered in now-booming east side city neighborhood as the main draws.

Buckingham hopes to break ground on the project this May and open the summer of 2015. At full build out the project will include 272 apartments in seven, three-story buildings. Residences will range from 812 to 1,600 square feet and likely cost around $1 to $1.50 per square foot.

The development says that they will pursue LEED for Homes, the U.S. Green Building Council‘s newest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certifications, for the project.

The site is located immediately adjacent to a freight rail line owned by CSX, and currently includes two industrial warehouse buildings and approximately 11 single-family homes along Cardiff Avenue. Both the homes and the warehouses date back to the early 1900s. Initial reports indicated that the developers may renovate one of warehouses into 41 apartments.

The project announcement comes immediately after the developers acquired seven of the properties earlier this week. Of the remaining five homes, three are held by separate, unaffiliated LLCs and the other two are listed by the Hamilton County Auditor as owned by individuals who live elsewhere.

UrbanCincy, Niehoff Studio to Host Regional Discussion on Wasson Corridor

In May 2013, UrbanCincy partnered with the Niehoff Urban Studio to produce an event that highlighted the final work of engineering and urban planning students studying bus rapid transit and bikeways throughout the region. We then showcased their work and engaged the capacity crowd with a panel discussion between some of the region’s foremost experts on the subjects.

One of the hot topics at that event was the Wasson Corridor, which runs through the heart of Cincinnati’s eastern neighborhoods.

The Future of the Wasson Way Bike Trail and Light Rail Corridor

The corridor has long been in regional transit plans as the location for a light rail line, but recent advocacy efforts have been working to convert the abandoned freight rail right-of-way into a recreational trail for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Following UrbanCincy’s controversial editorial opposing the corridor’s conversion into a bike/ped trail, the conversation has shifted to one focused on creating a multi-modal corridor that accommodates the long-planned light rail and the newly envisioned recreational trail.

The next stage of that dialogue will occur this Thursday back at the Niehoff’s Community Design Center in Corryville.

Over the past semester, interdisciplinary students from the University of Cincinnati have been studying the Wasson Corridor and will be presenting their work at this event.

Following the open house where guests can view the final projects, UrbanCincy will then host a panel discussion with Michael Moore, Director of Cincinnati’s Department of Transportation & Engineering (DOTE); Eric Oberg, Manager of the Midwest Rails to Trails Conservancy; Mel McVay, Senior Planner at Cincinnati DOTE; Nern Ostendorf, Executive Director of Queen City Bike. The discussion will be moderated by UrbanCincy’s Jake Mecklenborg.

The event is free and open to the public. The open house portion of the evening will take place from 5pm to 6pm, and the panel discussion will follow immediately at 6pm and go until about 7:30pm.

Light food and refreshments will be provided and a cash bar will be available during the open house. The Niehoff’s Community Design Center can be accessed directly off of Short Vine at the southeast corner of Daniels and Vine Street.

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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