First public Revive I-75 meeting this Thursday

Once in a generation does a city get an opportunity as great as what Cincinnati has before it right now with the redesign of Intestate 75. In the mid-Twentieth Century the interstate ripped through some of Cincinnati’s most densely populated neighborhoods and has permanently cut those urban communities off from one another. When I-75 was built it even destroyed the character of the famous Crosley Field when it ripped through the West End beyond the outfield walls and quickly turned the urban neighborhood into an auto-dependent no-man’s land that left the ballpark isolated.

Cincinnati’s once remarkable West End neighborhood prior to its demolition for I-75

Today, city leaders and urban designers have a chance to finally heal those 50-year-old wounds that are still evident throughout Cincinnati’s West End, Camp Washington, Northside, Queensgate, and western Central Business District. In order to take advantage of this opportunity, Cincinnati City Councilmember Roxanne Qualls has pushed for a comprehensive look at the corridor which has led to the selection of Urban Design Associates (UDA) to develop a plan that will energize and improve the quality of life in the study areas.

“It is important to recognize the opportunity to connect and reconnect the neighborhoods and their assets relative to Interstate 75,” said Charles Graves, Director, Department of City Planning. “By linking the neighborhoods to the interstate, the City of Cincinnati will be able to capitalize on new opportunities and strengthen existing assets.”

The Revive I-75 Cincinnati Focus Area Plans will look to do just this by working with neighborhood leaders on urban design plans that will focus on New Urbanist techniques and attempt to return the neighborhoods to the form they were originally built. In order to accomplish this Pittsburgh-based UDA will rely on heavy public involvement, through a series of public meetings, to get the best understanding for the urban spaces and neighborhoods they are dealing with.

The first of such meetings will take place on Thursday, November 12 from 6pm to 8pm at Cincinnati State (map) in the Advanced Technology & Learning Center Auditorium on the second floor. Parking will be available in the Central Parkway Garage on campus, and Metro bus service is also available. Plan your trip now using Metro’s Trip Planner.

If you’re unable to attend the meeting, and would still like to share your thoughts, then please call the Department of City Planning at (513) 352-4845 or email


This Week In Soapbox 8/4

This Week in Soapbox (TWIS) you can read about how stimulus money is helping Metro through tough economic times, Monmouth Street’s continued success, Price Hill Will’s new involvement in the St. Lawrence Corner business district, the continued merging of the Cincinnati and Dayton regions, a pending facelift for the trendy Mt. Lookout Square, and CPA efforts to find a qualified buyer for the historic Hauck House in the West End.

If you’re interested in staying in touch with some of the latest development news in Cincinnati please check out this week’s stories and sign up for the weekly E-Zine sent out by Soapbox Cincinnati. Also be sure to become a fan of Soapbox on Facebook!

TWIS 8/4:

  • Stimulus money helping out cash-strapped Metrofull article
  • Newport’s Monmouth Street continues to make progressfull article
  • Price Hill Will attempting to rally neighborhood around historic St. Lawrence Cornerfull article
  • Cincinnati and Dayton to continue their merger with pending I-75 growthfull article
  • Trendy Mt. Lookout Square may soon get faceliftfull article
  • CPA accepting proposals for purchase and utilization of historic Hauck Housefull article

This Week In Soapbox 5/26

This Week In Soapbox (TWIS) you can read about the Gateway Quarter Expansion Tour coming up this weekend, positive changes happening in downtown Hamilton, new businesses opening in Over-the-Rhine, update on the City’s pilot sharrow program, a century old church being converted into condos in Bellevue and the City’s efforts to clean up and redevelop a downtrodden piece of property in the West End.

If you’re interested in staying in touch with some of the latest development news in Cincinnati please check out this week’s stories and sign up for the weekly E-Zine sent out by Soapbox Cincinnati.

TWIS 5/26:

  • Gateway Quarter celebrates latest additions with Expansion Tourfull article
  • Downtown Hamilton reimagining center city through development and artsfull article
  • New businesses opening in Over-the-Rhinefull article
  • Sharrows coming to a street near youfull article
  • Century old church in Bellevue to be converted into contemporary loftsfull article
  • Cincinnati applies for funds to redevelop Providence North sitefull article
Development News

Dog Parks Can Improve Livability of Cincinnati’s Urban Neighborhoods

The Trust for Public Land recently ranked the nation’s largest cities based on the number of dog parks available to their residents. Cincinnati fared well, coming in at #15 with 1.2 dog parks per 100,000 residents (73kb PDF) out of the 75 total cities examined.

Dog parks provide dog owners living in the city a spot where they can bring their canine friend to do their business. A secondary, and equally important, role to dog parks is the social component. Dogs and their owners alike often use their trips to the dog park as a way to socialize and interact with other dogs and owners.

This social component provides that always desired community feel as people become bonded to their neighbors through shared experiences. In the city, it also puts more “eyes on the street,” and creates a sense of vibrancy that might not be there if the owners kept themselves and their dogs cooped up inside their urban dwelling unit.

A rather large example of a good urban dog park in NYC – Source

So while Cincinnati fares well with the overall dog parks per 100,000 residents analysis, it fails in the very neighborhoods that dog parks would provide this dual benefit. Aside from the Pet Athletic Club, there is no dedicated spot for residents of Downtown, Over-the-Rhine or the West End to take their dogs. These neighborhoods are the most lacking in private yard space and need these kinds of parks to make urban living possible for the slews of dog owners out there.

There is hope though as a dog park is planned for the northern portion of Washington Park as part of its ensuing renovation/expansion. This will be a great asset for the residents of Over-the-Rhine and even those living in the northern parts of Downtown, but how about the many people living in the “Soapbox District” or over near Lytle Park?

Well there was a movement that surfaced about as quickly as it went away for a Downtown dog park. City Manager Milton Dohoney got a group of stakeholders together to study the issue with pledged support from the Downtown Residents Council. The effort, however, has been stalled indefinitely as the associated construction and maintenance costs appeared to be too cumbersome.

Please share any thoughts or ideas you may have about how to go about implementing a small dog park in Downtown Cincinnati. A donated piece of land, volunteer service and ideas about how to set up some sort of dog park endowment would be especially helpful in developing a dog park.

Historic Bank Street Demolitions (update)

Several weeks ago local and regional preservationists united in an attempt to raise awareness of a potential demolition of four historic buildings in Cincinnati’s West End neighborhood. Emails were sent, calls were made, and awareness was reached to a certain extent.

Paul Wilham led these efforts locally and did not have much luck in getting a response back from the Mayor’s office on the matter. I sent my own email out on January 9th to all nine members of City Council and the Mayor’s office. Last week I got a response from Council member Leslie Ghiz (thank you) that included comments from the City’s Code Enforcement Division and Historic Preservation Department.

833-839 Bank Street – Photo by Kevin LeMaster

In the response there were several pieces of useful information. Code Enforcement clarified that the City primarily funds its demolitions with Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). This money is not allowed to be used in demolitions that might have an “adverse impact on a historic structure” as is the case for the Bank Street properties (Streetview). As a result of this contingency, the City engages in very little demolition work of historic structures.

In the particular case here it is the private owner who is preparing to demolish these structures – not the City. The current owners, the Reed family, have applied for the demolition permits and can go forth with the demolitions as planned unless something extraordinary happens.

The Reed family has been the subject of code enforcement actions in the past. Criminal prosecution even occurred in relation to compliance issues for 839 Bank Street. As a result the City has attempted to secure the buildings by barricading them on seven different instances since 2006. The Division cites that they have “no immediate plans to demolish these buildings by governmental action,” and that the owner can choose to either demolish the structures as they currently have planned, or they can bring the properties into compliance through repair.

The question was then asked if approval is needed, from the Historic Conservation Office, for private demolition in this historic district. The response was that in this particular case the answer appears to be “no.”

Additional Reading:
“West End Buildings Doomed” – Building Cincinnati