Great weather seems to always bring great news for construction projects, and this is the case in the latest project update for Cincinnati’s $120 million Smale Riverfront Park.
In the video, project manager Dave Prather points out that the structure enclosing Carol Ann’s Carousel now has its roof decking and framing in place, with the glass wall panels being readied for installation soon. Prather further showed where the elevator shaft has been completed and the large skylight that will form the roof of the building, thus allowing for a flood of natural light inside.
“Keep an eye on this side, it’s really gonna have a transformation” Prather noted. “But right now you can get a sense of how open the structure is.”
Since the last project update, the cascade water features and light fixtures are now in place at the Vine Street Fountain & Steps, which mirror the setup at the already complete Main Street Fountain & Steps. The area is now just awaiting the installation of its granite surface.
One of the more interesting elements of this project update is the excavation work at the river’s edge to make way for the Great Lawn. Now virtually complete, the excavation work as created a beach of sorts going directly into the Ohio River. The completion of this work has also opened up a variety of new views of the Roebling Suspension Bridge that were not previously visible.
Prather then discussed a wall that is now in place along the river bank where the riverwalk will continue from already completed portions of the sprawling park.
“We are now able to connect with the river in a way never had before,” Prather noted proudly.
All components of the current phase of construction work are still anticipated to be completed in late spring or early summer ahead of the 2015 MLB All-Star Game to be held at Great American Ball Park.
The Columbus-based business opened its first “barcade” to overflowing crowds late last summer and added a Cleveland-area bar in Lakewood earlier this year.
It’s the kind of place that is perfect for those that want to cherish their memories of the late 1980s. Not only do the arcade games date back to that time, but the cocktails served at 16-Bit Bar+Arcade also take their names from the icons of that era.
While there is no food provided, Allen says that customers are always able to bring food in from neighboring restaurants. That means that you can hang out, eat and drink inside while playing throwback arcade games and enjoying music and television from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
“It’s a throwback concept; when you step inside, you’re really immersing yourself in the ’80s and early ’90s,” Allen explained. “It’s next to impossible not to smile about something.”
The barcade would have opened in Over-the-Rhine even sooner had 3CDC had its way, but the owners were not quite ready for expansion a year ago. Allen did say, however, that they have been looking at spaces in Over-the-Rhine for the past year; and that he’s happy to finally have the paperwork signed.
Occupying 4,300 square feet at Mercer Commons, the Cincinnati location will be the largest 16-Bit to-date. Allen says that it will have almost the same style as their locations in Columbus and Cleveland; and that they will have the same amount of arcade games, but with a bit more room to move around. Located at the corner of Walnut and Mercer Streets, the location will also have garage doors that open up along Mercer.
“We are dedicated to giving everyone that walks through our door a killer experience while exceeding their expectations,” Allen said. “We truly appreciate the feedback and input, we will continue to evolve and refine the business to meet as many expectations as possible.”
Once open, 16-Bit Bar+Arcade will be open Monday through Friday from 4pm to 2:30am, and Saturday to Sunday from 12pm to 2:30am. The owners are aiming to open up sometime in the first quarter of 2015.
EDITORIAL NOTE: All five photos were taken by Flickr user Sam Howzit in July 2014.
The fifth annual Asian Food Fest (AFF) is coming to Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine on Sunday, October 5.
Festival organizers say that the event aims to promote diversity through Asian food and culture, and features items from countries all over Asia including Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, and the Indian subcontinent.
This year the AAF has formed a food council to work with each of their vendors to put together a collective menu that organizers believe will provide a unique experience for festival attendees. With a variety of small plates priced from $2 to $6, they hope those who attend can take a thorough food tour of Asia in a single day.
An exciting change for AAF this year is its move from The Banks to Washington Park. Lam Dang, marketing director for AFF, says that Washington Park, with the help of 3CDC, will provide a lively backdrop and a more comfortable place to hose a festival of this nature.
“At The Banks there wasn’t any natural area to sit down and eat, or to hangout on the street,” Dang told UrbanCincy. “We brought in our own tent and tables there but still the overall feel was very rigid, though The Banks did have a nice view of the city.”
Dang also said the lack of mature street trees or buildings to naturally shade the festival also made it a bit uncomfortable at times. To that end, he expects the softer landscape at Washington Park to make for a great venue for the festival.
Dang says that the benches, chairs and tables in grass area and the fountain steps in Washington Park will make it very easy to find a place to eat food and enjoy the performances offered at AAF. And with Washington Park’s playground, interactive fountains and dog park, it creates a family and dog friendly atmosphere that was simply not possible on Freedom Way.
Along with food, this year’s festival will also feature a human foosball arena where people will be able to hop into an inflatable, life size foosball arena. As it to be expected, there will also be Asian beer, cultural dances, vocalists, and Asian inspired arts and crafts.
Admission to the festival is free, but donations are encouraged. Proceeds from Asian Food Fest are used to support the Asian American Cultural Association of Cincinnati, and to host future Asian cultural events throughout the region.
The festival will take place this Sunday from 11am to 9pm at Washington Park, which is well-served by Metro bus service. There are also dozens of free off-street bicycle parking spaces available, and there are multiple Cincy Red Bike stations within a short walk.
For those coming from the west side along the Ohio River, Cincinnati’s western riverfront serves as a bit of a welcome mat. However, after losing residents and jobs since mid-20th century, many in the area believe now is the time to rethink this historic area.
While oft-viewed as an industrial stretch, it is a little known fact that Cincinnati’s western riverfront is actually one of the region’s largest green corridors with riverfront parks and wooded hillsides. And just a few feet down from the busy streets and railways, there is a different Cincinnati – one community leaders believe has the potential to serve as a national example of environmental stewardship and urban recreation.
Perhaps the biggest asset this area boasts is the Ohio River with its views and access to unique amenities. The existing amenities offered by the river and surrounding hillsides, combined with potential amenities from a string of riverfront parks, have the ability to create a powerful attraction for new residents and jobs. It is because of this potential that community leaders see so much value in Ohio River Trail West, which is part of the city’s larger Western Riverfront Plan.
The proposed three-segment first phase of Ohio River Trail West. formerly known as the Western Riverwalk, ties together the reconstruction of the Waldvogel Viaduct, ongoing redevelopment in Lower Price Hill, and repurposing of the former Hilltop Concrete property into a park.
URS estimates that the first two segments within the first phase of work will cost approximately $1.3 million and build upon the much larger Ohio River Trail. This particular phase of trail would extend roughly 3.7 miles downriver to the Gilday Recreation Center.
The biggest of these three pieces of the puzzle is the $55 million reconstruction of the Waldvogel Viaduct. As part of the planning and engineering of the new viaduct, there will be improved views and access to the river from Lower Price Hill. Once the viaduct’s construction is complete, more than 16 acres of riverfront property will become accessible at the former Hilltop Concrete site, which had once been planned for a new rail-to-barge shipping facility, and will now become Price’s Landing.
Olyer School – an architectural treasure and a foundation of the Lower Price Hill community– recently underwent a $21 million dollar renovation; and the reconstruction of the Waldvogel Viaduct will reconnect the neighborhood to the river for the first time in over 60 years.
Meanwhile, the western end of the first phase of Ohio River Trail West is the Gilday Recreation Center, which will support the trail through its current configuration and planned upgrades.
It is estimated that the stretch of properties between the former Hilltop Concrete site and Southside Avenue are controlled by no more than five entities, and project planners have already secured roughly 70% of the right-of-way needed for this first phase of work.
So while ownership and access are typically major hurdles for projects of this variety, proponents are particularly excited that all of the needed right-of-way required for the first phase of work is either controlled already, or is vacant and potentially available for the new trail. Furthermore, each endpoint is owned by the City and will be able to provide both access and parking for future users.
“If you think about the proposed investment here…this could serve as a landmark development for the west side of Cincinnati,” Mallory stated.
The efforts were then given another jolt in April 2014 when current Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley (D) allocated $250,000 to the project for ongoing engineering work, and pledged to support the project going forward.
There is currently no timetable for phase one construction activities, but project proponents hope to finalize engineering work and secure construction funding for phase one over the next year or so.