Uptown Commons update and breakdown

Towne Properties has released more details and more renderings for their Uptown Commons project on the southern edge of the University of Cincinnati located in between Calhoun and McMillan streets. The renderings themselves are high-quality, but I’m going to take this chance to share some of my thoughts and concerns on this developing project plan.

Office building located at Vine, Calhoun, and McMillan streets looking west

The design for the office building is solid and I think will work well for this site both aesthetically and functionally. The scale of the building seems right and I really appreciate the use of glass to give it a more contemporary feel in the contemporary feeling Uptown area.

The park space seen in the above image seems to illustrate the incorporation for any future streetcar that might run up Vine and cut over to run west along Calhoun. This is a forward-thinking approach that will pay off big time for both the community and Towne Properties when the streetcar system is built.

Office building looking west from Old St. George church

On the site plan this area behind the office building is labeled as a plaza. From this view though it just has me confused what it would ever be used for especially with the apparent wall along Calhoun Street. There is the potential for a highly used plaza here with the new office building and other nearby commercial uses, but the spot will surely have to be better thought out than what this rendering indicates for it to really work.

Overall view of project site

If a new traffic signal is installed at Ohio Avenue per this plan, then the traffic signal at Scioto should be removed. Ohio and Calhoun is often congested and could probably use the signal for improved vehicular and pedestrian safety. Scioto and Calhoun doesn’t really need the signal as the southern portion of Scioto is rarely used due to its steep incline and the northern portion isn’t really used at all as service to the university is now routed through Dennis Street adjacent to Panera Bread.

The whole project could use more residential units if you ask me. Office space and the hotel will be great additions to this area of Uptown and will help to diversify the mixture of uses, and also spur more activity during non peak school times. McMillan Street also seems to get ignored to a certain extent. The previous idea of townhouses here seemed to work well, but probably not any more with this terrible housing market.

Renderings provided by Cole + Russel Architects

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.