Located along Panzeca Way, immediately north of the massive Eden Avenue Parking Garage, the contemporary four-story building will house classrooms, labs and office space for the College of Allied Health Sciences. According to project manager Dale Magoteaux, classrooms will be located throughout the building, while lab and office space will be located in the building’s south and north wings, respectively.
The dean of CAHS, Tina Whalen, says that department heads closely coordinated with building designers to ensure that the needs of students, researchers and faculty were met, while also ushering in a new landmark building for the university’s east campus.
“We are thrilled that Perkins+Will has created a signature building for the college that will highlight our many educational, research and clinical service initiatives,” Whalen said.
The standout design for the $98 million Health Sciences Building will be further accentuated by the fact that it will be fronted by a nearly 1.5-acre green space that will create a natural entryway to the Kettering Lab Complex.
University Architect Beth McGrew says that the green space is part of the university’s larger commitment to creating a healthy and equitable campus environment.
“This is why green space is being created, as well as abundant natural light in the new structures, to provide a more enjoyable work place,” McGrew explained. “Along with this will be new classrooms to make space among the colleges more equitable with more opportunities for sharing.”
The schedule calls for the project to be completed in the fall of 2018, which is the same year the College of Allied Health Sciences will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
The project is part of a much larger program that is upgrading the surrounding collection of buildings through renovation or demolition and rebuild. That program of work is expected to be completed within the next three years.
Since launching nearly two years ago, RedBike has been embraced by the region in a way even the bike-share system’s early proponents had not imagined.
When RedBike opened to the public on September 15, 2014 it included 29 stations, but has since swelled to 57 stations spanning two states, four cities and more than a dozen neighborhoods. The ability to expand and integrate the system across state and city lines is particularly notable as it is a feat most other bike-share systems in North America have not yet achieved.
“Red Bike has gotten off to a dream start. Our community has embraced this new form of transportation,” Leslie Maloney, President of the Red Bike Board of Directors and Senior Vice President of the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, said in a prepared release. “We will work to continue providing the highest quality and most fun transportation option in Cincinnati.”
Following the trends of bike-share systems elsewhere throughout the world, approximately 74% of its riders have either never ridden a bike before or at least not within the month before RedBike opened. This data makes many bike advocates in the region looking for ways to improve road safety for the surge of new cyclists out on the streets.
The biggest news in RedBike’s recently released annual report, however, pertains to its finances.
While many bike-share systems around the country have struggled financially, RedBike has been able to operate in the black since its inception, and has grown its cash reserves year-over-year.
In 2014 RedBike had a total of $234,251 in expenses and $1,144,911 in revenues. That net income grew in 2015 when the bike-share system had $484,389, but $1,740,792 in revenues. This net income, RedBike officials say, is used to purchase capital equipment necessary to keep the system fully functional.
While it is difficult to find bad news in the financial details released by RedBike, one might look at the fact that direct program income (user fees) cover only 65% of program expenses. When factoring in sponsorships, a fairly reliable and steady stream of income, it covers nearly 118% of program expenses.
All of the other income sources help to further stabilize the system, keep it operating at reliable and optimal levels, and are helping build a reserve fund that could be used to offset unexpected capital expenses or lower than anticipated operational performance.
“UC Health is thrilled to be the presenting sponsor of the RedBike program,” said Dr. Richard P. Lofgren, President and CEO of UC Health. “As someone who lives downtown, all I have to do is look outside to see how successful this program is, and how bike share has been embraced by the citizens of Cincinnati.”
On Thursday, the City of Cincinnati celebrated the start of its bold, new road rehabilitation effort. The six-year program will include the resurfacing and rehabilitation of aging streets, replacement of city vehicles outside of their life cycle, and establish a new focus on preventive road maintenance that city officials will save money in the long-run.
The $109 million Capital Acceleration Plan is a strategic policy shift at City Hall, and represents a large infusion of money into road repair. The new focus on preventive maintenance is particularly noticeable as it represents an eight-fold increase in spending on that front.
“This is much bigger than just spending money to improve the condition of local streets. CAP is about making an investment in the city and people who live here,” City Manager Harry Black said in a prepared release. “This strategic investment in our roadways and infrastructure will serve as the foundation of Cincinnati’s sustained long-term growth.”
City officials say that the investments will improve the condition of 940 center-line miles of streets over the next six years. In its first year, its $10.6 million for street rehabilitation and $4 million for preventive maintenance, officials say, will impact 16 different neighborhoods and improve 120 center-line miles of roads.
With so many streets poised to be improved over the coming years, many people advocating for safer bicycling and walking conditions on the city’s roadways were optimistic that across-the-board improvements could be made. In fact, their cause for optimism is not without cause. The City of Cincinnati’s Bicycle Transportation Plan, which was adopted by City Council in June 2010, calls for incremental improvements to the city’s bike network as road resurfacing projects take place.
“Many of the facilities recommended in this plan can be implemented in conjunction with already scheduled street rehabilitation projects,” the Bicycle Transportation Plan notes. “When this coordination occurs, costs for implementing the bicycle facilities may be reduced by over 75%.”
The Bicycle Transportation Plan goes on to state that City Hall will be opportunistic and take advantage of every occasion where bicycle facilities can be included with street rehabilitation projects or other capital projects. Taking such an approach, the adopted policy says, “will reduce costs to the lowest levels possible.”
Such an approach has left many people who use bikes as a means of transportation frustrated; and with $69 million of CAP going toward road improvement projects, it would seem like a great opportunity to maximize the improvements by performing these projects in a manner that also improves safety conditions for the city’s rapidly growing number of people commuting by bike.
Based on statements from City Hall, however, it seems that it will prove more so to be an opportunity lost; and put the city in an impossible position to meet its adopted policy objectives within their target time frames.
“The building is designed for space for work between outside companies and the university. There will likely be offices, labs, and open work areas. The interior has opportunities for collaborative areas, and open areas with flexible work space layout,” said University Architect Mary Beth McGrew.
UrbanCincy reported in January 2014 that UC intended to demolish the building, which is located at 2900 Reading Road and was originally built as a Sears, Roebuck and Co. department store. However, the university later decided to preserve the structure, seeing the potential for this renovation to spur new development in the surrounding area.
“It is to be hoped the renovation of the building owned by the university will entice others to develop in the nearby lots. This building might indeed be a catalyst,” added McGrew.
Technically a renovation project, it hardly meets the definition of being one that focuses on historic preservation. In fact, many UrbanCincy readers who have seen the renovation in progress have been curious about the extent to which the original building would be preserved.
While the core of the original 1929 structure is being saved, the 1945 addition has already been demolished. Additionally, much of the brick exterior of the original 1929 building has also been removed. The prominent brick tower on the structure, while being saved, is also being obscured by the addition of a fourth floor.
McGrew explained to UrbanCincy that brick on the tower will be preserved and replaced, where the brick had been damaged, by recovered brick from elsewhere on the structure. Aside from the tower and some accent areas, the rest of the structure will be clad in modern glass treatment.
“The brick was supported in large part by steel angles that were in very bad shape,” McGrew said. “The new façade material will be a brick of similar color and size.”
A major consideration, as the project’s title would suggest, is the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists that share the roadway. The current excessive width of the road, coupled with the speed of cars, contributes to an environment incongruous to pedestrian and cyclist safety.
Other elements being considered include pedestrian and cycling facilities, development potential on the south side of Liberty Street, streetscape aesthetics, automobile capacity/safety, and the preservation of on-street parking.
Both current and past public input, like the 2011 Brewery District Master Plan, stress a strong desire to improve the connection of urban fabric between the northern and southern portions of Over-the-Rhine.
“Liberty Street cuts off two sections of OTR,” said Frank Henson, a local cycling advocate. “All other north-south routes get cut up by the expansive width of Liberty; and I support narrowing it, with the inclusion of space for bicycle facilities.”
Many believe that the narrowing of Liberty Street can accomplish both of these objectives; although questions remain about how much narrowing is appropriate, and what should be done with the additional space that is made available.
According to data from the OKI Regional Council of Governments, Liberty Street has an annual average daily traffic (AADT) count of 14,278, which is actually less than the much narrower Ludlow Avenue’s 14,551 AADT in Clifton.
Ludlow Avenue has parking on both sides of the street, aside from peak hours from 7am to 9am where it is prohibited on the south side of the road, and 4pm to 6pm where it is prohibited on the north side of the road. This means that Ludlow Avenue, with its nearly identical traffic count, has fewer lanes of traffic during both peak and non-peak hours.
Martin Luther King Drive, near the University of Cincinnati’s main campus, has the same width as Liberty Street, but carries upwards of 20,000 AADT; and portions of Reading Road carry more than 25,000 AADT with just five lanes.
As a result, one could then deduce that travel demand on Liberty Street is far, far less than its width warrants.
Should Liberty Street be significantly narrowed, based on these figures, it could still absorb its current capacity, and, if necessary, divert traffic to Central Parkway, Fort Washington Way, or one of the many east-west thoroughfares that also have highway access.
Option 7d includes a “shared use bicycle/pedestrian pathway;” and while this widened path is intended to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists, it is generally considered a less safe practice, as compared to separate facilities, to mix the two due to the faster travel speeds of people on bicycles.
An option that has bike and pedestrian facilities, preserves on-street parking, while also providing three travel lanes could reduce speed, increase safety, provide additional space for development, and still manage capacity based on comparable traffic counts.
The Ludlow Avenue and Reading Road examples disprove the idea that any decrease in capacity would be crippling. However, should demand increase, traffic is also highly divertible to other thoroughfares within a short distance.
Residents and interested parties can express their opinions on Tuesday, March 1 from 6pm to 8pm at the Woodward Theater in Over-the-Rhine. City officials say that they hope to narrow the alternatives to two following this meeting.