Monthly Throwdown

Well today is the last day of the month…and similarly the last day you can vote on what you think about downtown’s progress (or lack thereof). So what I (and I’m sure others) want to know is…why did you vote the way you did? Is it anything specific, pure emotional response, what?

Hopefully this can stir some good discussion, about different opinions, regarding downtown. A new poll will be coming for the month of September, and this discussion will most likely become a regular monthly event (I like the name “Monthly Throwdown” for some reason). Lets hear it and please…don’t hold back, just make sure it is constructive dialog. I don’t like to moderate comments (only deleted 1 comment ever) and I would like to keep it that way…so keep it civil.


2Q State of Downtown Report

I don’t know how many of you get the quarterly emails from Downtown Cincinnati Inc. (DCI), but I do…and I am obsessed with the quarterly reports that they put out on the state of Downtown Cincinnati. No fluff…no shenanigans, just facts. If you would like to receive the quarterly emails as well just let them know. From here though I am going to highlight some of what I think are the most important numbers/pieces of information from the 2Q report:

  • The CBD/immediate periphery saw 44 condo sales and 9 single family home sales in the 2Q, selling for a median price of $279,032 and $228,000 respectively.
  • 10 new retail establishments opened (including bars/clubs) while 8 retail establishments closed…but in all honesty, a good chuck of the businesses that closed had other issues not related to downtown.
  • Downtown hotels continue to boast the best occupancy rates in the region (62.6%) and also saw the largest increase in occupied rooms over 2006 (+3.4%). Downtown hotels also boast the highest cost per room ($126.12) and accordingly the highest revenue per room($79.00) in the region.
  • Part 1 crimes (more serious crimes) are down 11.4% and Part 2 crimes (quality of life crimes) are down 16.1% over the numbers from the same time period for 2006.
  • DCI Ambassadors assisted 13,858 pedestrians, removed 23,740 lbs of trash, addressed 3,019 instances of panhandling, removed 513 graffiti tags and distributed 3,800 Go To Town Guides.

As for development…there is either proposed or under construction:

  • 4,877,160 sq. ft. of space
  • 2,641 residential units
  • 13,800 parking spaces
  • For a grand total of $1,450,300,000 in total investments.

NIMBY Tip of the Month (8.07)

I think that this might become a regular feature that will be some fun for everyone!

We all have heard of the dreaded NIMBYs before…and if you haven’t then here is a quick summary to catch you up. NIMBY stands for Not In My BackYard; and it is representative of those individuals that oppose things from happening or have distaste for things that are happening near their sacred property.

Now there is nothing wrong with wanting to protect your property’s value, but NIMBYs usually take it a bit to far. So without further ado here is the first NIMBY tip, that will hopefully save these individuals a lot of heartburn in the future.

Tip #1:
When house-hunting avoid locations near highways or other heavily traveled thoroughfares. It is most likely that these routes will not only remain heavily traveled, but actually become more crowded with traffic. All this traffic tends to make some noise…so if you buy a home a stones throw away from I-275, for instance, you should probably expect some noise issues.

Please note that this interstate was here before you purchased your house, therefore you really don’t have any room to complain about the negative attributes the interstate carries along with its vehicles. I’m sorry, but no sound walls for you…and in all honesty if your home builder decided to clear cut the site of all its trees, then you should be the one responsible for the screening/buffers that you so desire.

It’s not everyone else’s fault that you bought a bad product just because it was located on a cul-de-sac. Dry those tears, because you bought that house and the backyard (I-275) that came with it.

**Please note that the house, in the above image, was built in 2001…I-275 began construction in 1958 and was fully completed by 1979. I would say that roughly 20 years is enough time to scout out a better home location.

Development News Politics

Cincinnati and its long history with Urban Planning

Urban Planning has a long, rich history in the Queen City. You can date this back to the influential and charismatic individual named Ladislas Segoe (1894-1983). Segoe was involved in nearly all types of professional planning…advocating for an increased presence of private planners and even operating his own successful private practice: Ladislas Segoe and Associates of Cincinnati, Ohio. Needless to say Segoe was extremely influential in the great deal of planning that took place, in Cincinnati, in the early 20th Century.

During the early 20th Century you saw a lot of firsts for the planning profession…especially in Cincinnati. In 1923 ground was broken on the planned community of Mariemont; planned by John Nolan the community boasted many concepts (small blocks, mixed uses, mixed owner/rental units) that are now the foundation of what is considered new urbanism.

Shortly thereafter, in 1925, Cincinnati was recognized as being the first major American city to endorse a comprehensive plan. This plan was revolutionary for American cities and was primarily drafted by Ladislas Segoe and Alfred Bettman. This plan outlined park corridors throughout the city, systems of grand boulevards, complimented the Park Plan of 1907, and included the now requisite transportation component of modern comprehensive plans.

General Park Plan: 1907 Kessler Park Plan

Ten years later in 1935 the Resettlement Administration, established under the Roosevelt administration, set forth to build three ‘Greenbelt towns.’ One of those ‘Greenbelt towns’ being Greenhills in Cincinnati. These towns became the case studies for future planned communities like Columbia, MD and Reston, VA. Shortly thereafter, in 1941, Ladislas Segoe publishes the first of his “Green Book” series entitled: Local Planning Administration.

After this frenzy of breakthrough planning activity, taking place in Cincinnati, you have to fast forward to the very recent history. In 2002, Charlie Luken and City Manager Valerie Lemmie were under extreme pressure to make budget cuts…and not surprisingly, Valerie Lemmie pushed to have the Planning Department abolished from the Cincinnati government structure. Combine this with the idea that this move would make the City more ‘developer friendly’ and you have an abolished Planning Department. The move didn’t necessarily have the desired impact and has actually hampered the City’s efforts to update it’s comprehensive plan, and perform long-range planning that is essential for any community.

Five years have past and Mayor Mark Mallory is living up to his promise of re-establishing the Planning Department in Cincinnati. Charles C. Graves III was hired as the director of the re-established department and will start his job on September 4th. Hopefully with the support of the Mayor, City Manager and City Council Cincinnati can return to it’s proud ways of being a progressive area for professional Planning. There is a lot to catch up on first and foremost, but the progressive minds in professional Planning at least have a place to gather again in Cincinnati government.