How to repurpose parking garages that are becoming increasingly obsolete

There are far more parking spaces in America than there are cars. The total is so high, in fact, that there are even more than double the number of parking spaces in America than there are people. There is a parking glut, not a shortage, and this problem is getting worse as more and more people are choosing not to drive at all or at the very least drive less.

What this means is that parking garages need to be designed in a way that will allow them to be repurposed for other uses. In Cincinnati, this is playing out at the new dunnhumbyUSA Centre where its garage is being designed so that office space can be built in its place in the future. All parking garages, however, should be designed in such a way. More from NextCity about how leaders in Atlanta are working toward just that:

On Wednesday the school unveiled SCADpad, a series of three micro-housing units in a parking garage near its Midtown Atlanta campus. The idea is a novel yet simple one: Repurpose underused parking garages — about 40,000 parking structures in the U.S. operate at half capacity, according to the Urban Land Institute — for housing in dense areas that need it. The 135-square-foot micro-apartments each take up one parking space, with an additional space for use as a “terrace” (seriously!), and were designed by 75 current SCAD students, 37 alumni and 12 professors. A dozen students will move into the apartments on April 15.

“Think about it,” Sottile said. “Many of these 20th-century parking structures are on their way toward obsolescence, and we’re asking questions about how those can be reinvented for neighborhoods. There’s also a historic preservation side of this. And we want to see how can we get them back into higher usage.”

Episode #33: Westwood Square

Westwood SquareOn the 33rd episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, John and Travis are joined by John Lewandowski, the Artistic & Executive Director for Madcap Puppets. We discuss the Westwood Square project that was designed as part of the city’s form-based code charrette process, and the new Madcap theatre that will be located at the new square.

For more information on form-based codes, you may want to listen to Episode 12 of The UrbanCincy Podcast, where we discussed the topic with then-Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls.

 

Smale Riverfront Park Awarded $12.5M in Additional Public Funding

Dave Prather and the Cincinnati Park Board have released a new video update on Smale Riverfront Park. This latest update covers a lot of information due to the infusion of millions of new public dollars into the project.

In early March the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced that they had awarded $4.5 million to Smale Riverfront Park to pay for erosion and flooding control along that portion of the Ohio River.

What it also means is that the Cincinnati Park Board can use other private funding it has received for other components that had been planned for the Heekin/PNC Grow Up Great Adventure Playground but put on hold until additional funding was secured. Those items include a shade canopy, sandbox, enhanced lighting and landscaping, shade trees, granite seat walls, and shade pergola.

Since this additional work can now proceed, project officials have adjusted the overall project schedule so that it can proceed immediately and be completed at the same time as ongoing work, which is slated to open in spring 2015 ahead of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game to be held at Great American Ball Park.

The City of Cincinnati also approved $8 million in additional funding for the park at the end of last month. That money, officials say, will fund the rest of the next phase of work. City leaders also note that an additional $5 million in city funds will be needed for the project in 2017 to fully complete the park.

The new funding from USACE is the first federal investment in the project in years following a ban on earmark spending that had jeopardized the schedule for completion for the 45-acre central riverfront park.

New Workshops Hope to Assist Homebuyers Looking to Rehab in Over-the-Rhine

Aside from buying the latest condominiums available through 3CDC, owning a home in historic Over-the-Rhine can be a challenge. Many buildings that are not already occupied are typically abandoned and some are in dire condition of falling apart.

There have been plenty of people who have taken on the task to rehab abandoned buildings only to find that they may have taken on too much. The Over-the-Rhine Foundation is hoping that a new workshop will help those interested in rehabbing historic buildings make the connections, get the information and understand the potential challenges involved with such a process.

Beginning in April, the Over-the-Rhine Foundation is launching a series of three workshops geared towards addressing these challenges. Organizers say that boosting home ownership rates is one of the major goals of the foundation.

“We as a foundation are committed to revitalizing the diverse OTR neighborhood, and a key objective is building community by encouraging and promoting owner-occupied development,” Kevin Pape, President of the Over-the-Rhine Foundation, said in a prepared statement.

Pape says that the three-part series will begin with an overview of the scope of rehabbing property in the 19th century neighborhood. That first session will end with an optional walking tour of rehabbed properties, while the second and third sessions will provide a more in-depth look at the process of rehab and financing.

“These workshops will help individuals gain access to the resources, expertise, and development tools needed to ensure the success of their community investments,” Pape continued.

Registration for all three workshops is $35 until April 4, when the registration fee will then increase to $50. The sessions will take place at the Art Academy of Cincinnati (map) and will occur on Saturday, April 12, May 10 and June 14. Those interested can currently register on the Over-the-Rhine Foundation’s website.

All photographs by Travis Estell for UrbanCincy.

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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