After years of planning, discussion and debate, construction that will renovate and expand Washington Park will officially begin today in historic Over-the-Rhine. The initial work will include excavation on the north end of the park that will eventually house a 450-space underground parking garage.
Project officials say that the underground garage is what sets the stage for the two-acre park expansion to the north. This expanded park area will include, above the garage, will include a 37,000-square-foot lawn, public plaza, and performance space for programming activities.
“We’re dedicated to returning the park to its original stature as a beautiful, public, green space with a variety of features for all neighborhood residents as well as visitors to enjoy,” said 3CDC President & CEO Stephen Leeper in a prepared release. “Creating great civic spaces like Washington Park and Fountain Square is one of 3CDC’s most important goals. They attract residents, businesses and visitors and truly define the character of a neighborhood.”
Over the past several months citizens have also had input on the design and process in which the renovations take place. One of the primary concerns has been around the disruption to the park itself and how nearby residents might be able to avoid total access denial. To address those issues, 3CDC in partnership with Turner Construction Company and Megen Construction Company have developed a plan that will keep the southern half of Washington Park open during the initial construction phase.
“Creating great civic spaces like Washington Park and Fountain Square is one of 3CDC’s most important goals,” Leeper continued. “They attract residents, businesses and visitors and truly define the character of a neighborhood.”
The project start is a realization of a plan first laid out in 2002 by residents, business owners, and other stakeholders in the historic neighborhood. That plan specifically called for the redevelopment of Washington Park, and the addition of a parking structure that could serve future business and residential growth nearby.
Project officials say that additional park renovations will proceed once the garage site is excavated, and that they anticipate the entire project to be complete by late spring 2012.