A City on the Rise

By Joe Baur

There’s no better time to live here than now.

$1 billion in mixed-use investment along our long overlooked waterfront, tying together our sports stadiums alongside a brand new transit center is the talk of the nation. Estimates say the project will spur more than $600 million in private investment and create new homes for 3,000 residents. The American Planning Association recently awarded the development with the 2013 National Planning Excellence Award in the implementation category. Not bad.

Speaking of transit, construction is finally underway on the $110.4 million 3.6-mile streetcar loop. This after having to stave off the auto-oriented plans of the statehouse and an oddly masochist representative in the House of Representatives. The city stood strong for smart planning that will help attract the increasingly car-free young professional demographic that cities thrive off of. The project has been a long time coming, and the advocacy of city residents like John Schneider helped keep the project alive. Turns out, city leadership is listening after all.

There are reasons to be skeptical and pessimistic, to be sure. The national economy is hardly a bed of fresh roses, and we continue to lose population at alarming rates. But listening to the mayor speak at the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Kansas City last week, it’s a comforting reminder that we’re being led by someone who understands the importance of progressive city planning.

To address the perception of crime downtown, the mayor began eliminating skywalks.

“Smart growth itself is a crime fighting initiative,” he said. “The more people on the streets the safer you are.”

Yes, our city is truly on the rise.

It’s refreshing to witness such foresight at a time when other cities – like Cleveland — continue to make mistakes proven to be detrimental to long-term growth.

The mayor has refocused attention to the dilapidated heart of the city by pouring $44 million into a renovation project in 2005.

“The city rebuilt the parking garage, enlarged the ice rink, built a public stage and a restaurant. They also built a water works play area for kids. That project has resulted in private renovations to many of the major retailers and hotels surrounding the square,” reported Angie Schmitt at streetsblog.org.

Now music fills downtown every Thursday through Sunday during the summer, drawing folks of every stripe by bike and foot together for good food and drink.

This investment in downtown has spurred revitalization efforts in our troubled neighborhoods, including a $48 million renovation of Washington Park – a stunning achievement that shows this city is a green city. Even our neighbors have taken notice, applauding the “amazing” comeback in both our neighborhoods and downtown, asking their respective leaders to “take note.”

The most notable addition? How about a $322 million office tower that has given new life to our skyline and financial district.

For most cities, that would be plenty. But the good news keeps on coming. Yesterday it was reported that a parking garage downtown would be leveled to make room for a 30-story mixed-use building.

For those keeping score, Cincinnati is removing skywalks as Cleveland talks of building more. Cincinnati is taking down a parking garage in favor of mixed-use development, nearly a year after Cleveland demolished a potential mixed-use building for a gaudy casino parking garage. Considering the plethora of studies showing young professionals and empty nesters moving to urban cores that emphasize mixed-use development, I think I speak for us all when I say – Thank God we’re not Cleveland.

We’re hardly over the hump, but it’s hard not to be hopeful as smart decisions continue to be made, while other cities suffer from leaders who don’t “insist on better planning and urban design.

Yes, Cincinnati is a city on the rise.

— Joe Baur, future Cincinnatian?



Joe Baur is a freelance writer, filmmaker and satirist with a diverse array of interests including travel, adventure, craft beer, health, urban issues, culture and politics. He ranks his allegiances in the order of Cleveland, the state of Ohio and the Rust Belt, and enjoys a fried egg on a variety of meats. Joe has a B.A. in Mass Communication with a focus on production from Miami University. Follow him at MildlyRelevant.com and on Twitter @MildlyRelevant.



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15 Responses to “A City on the Rise”

  1. George Williams

    I opened the link to the ‘City on the Rise’ story by Joe Baur….only to find after reading between the lines that it was all about Cincinnati,,,and included a real slam on Cleveland.

    Makes me unsure if this was intentional to be posted or not, but, did not think it was a story that falls under the banner of coolcleveland.com.


  2. Hi..Here comes the frothing freak know it all God to do battle with you,etc. SERIOUSLY thou… yeah saw pic of THAT CINCY building..IS SHARP looking…IS a memorable building..HOWEVERrrrrrr…WHO THE BLANK has THAT kind of $,NEED here for said…WE are sitting on HOW much space as it is….I KNOW expensive to renovate stuff BUT… like said in my other blatherbloggerflogger posts but we are NOT exactly running over with HI $ Corporates just begging to do some kind of fancy project… I have NO idea WHAT ULTIMATE affect of MED MART is gonna be… CASINO… NEED SOMEPLACE for the cars,etc. especially with the tearup going on DOWN in ThePit behind Republic Bldg UNDER HURON rd/Terminal Tower lower level complex…

    AGAIN….IF I am the Columbia bldg owner or other and SOMEONE watlzes up to me with a SWEET ENOUGH $ buyout I WOULD BE A FOO not to take it…Gosh only KNOWS WHO WHEN WERE with WHAT kind of ‘money’ is gonna finally RENT OR BUY said… Columbia could very well have turned into a STANLEY bldg forlorn horror story…AND ENOUGH OF THOSE running around…

  3. LISTEN…..half our populace lucky if have $2 to rub together,etc.leaving THAT aside.. SEND LOLLY the trolley WITH electrified overhead part instaed of THIS full scale whutever which I dont see for US HERE… COULD U IMAGINE the battle flack that would fly?! SERIOUSsslly… TAKE A REAL hard look at THAT popular strawpollvote far as COngress,etc.coughing up $ for THAT CINCY lite railproject…

    BASICALLY got a HANDFUL of HUGE INTERESTS doing projects,shell games,etc.and FINALLY gonna run out of projects..unless a birdge or priz…

  4. SORRY…let me elaborate..battle flack..POLITICO and media based…the TeaParty and others would have field day with this..heck..already are..anyways..CERTAIN interests,areas,buildings favored n rest well hey yeahh good luck and so it goes…whip out dynamite…bye..nice implosion..or burndown..sell tickets to said event.. WHA else gona do with some of the wrecks? GOT WHOLE swatches of City no one can readlly do much with… think DETROIT DISASSEMBLED… WHA value exactly.. BACK in day when did the mfg,storage,etc.and needed a 400 M army of people to do all that THAT was one thing… not now.. THROW race thing,drug thing andrest of it into the mix.. heck… go down to w.65th &Storer were the olKmartused to be…Ok building is STILL there… “ROSES” (NEVER heard of em)….

  5. TACTICAL TAHK local franchise time…if can stop Homiies n Hoodies from stealing said..or scareem off first so can crank said over… Hey..$200 a day to rent… ultimate ruin porn..works in Vegas..THERE U get to play Mr.Bob the builditz Builder with REAL construction equipment..after SOME training,watchful eyes,isnurance disclaimer form,etc. hey…

  6. MY spelling,etc.was sloppy but I HOPE you get the gist of what I was TRYING to say…tooo much of a hurry I guess….

    LISTEN…LIMITS as to the DeepPockets crew…far as the University Circles and all that…I have NO idea on MedicalMart and its ULTIMATE end affect…THAT is a tossup….I THINK THAT will be a GOOD thing IN THE END but ALL THE POLITICO FALLOUT SURROUNDING THAT just left this nasty tinmetal taste in lot of folks mouths… I just dont see the banks to rest ponying up $ for much of anything… MAYBE some hotel jazz IF MEDMART a success…BEYOND THAT? DOUBTFUL…I DONT see it….

    JUST gonna be a LONGER turnaround time for US here… THANKFULLY SLOW population growth,expat out,retirements,priz,etc.has helped things out…H of a way of doing it but HEY…

  7. I SUSPECT a CERTAIN 15 story glassy looking NEW office bldg in EastFlats IS GONNA BE LAST MAJOR private project of its kind IN THIS area… lets face it…HOW many newish semi fancy OFFICE buildings scatttered thru THIS area MUCH less the City….. never mind the small building,warehouses,etc.

  8. A LIMITED EAST 9th type deal IS DOABLE…a NEW Capt.Franks KNOCKOFF,kiddieland (WITH H more security features),other is possible…and H lot cheapER….AND GEARED for semi special events… aka Brownies games,etc. OTHER then THAT… REMEMBER the CITY IN…. HOW many wannabe projects been FLOATED around for years… as in FERRY SERVICE to Canada,etc.

  9. SURE good ol JOE B thinks I AM *$@ *$*@*C but HEY…. FIGHTING IT ALL…time,weather,racism,ethnic thing,potholes,lack of $,LACK of politico whutever,tooo MANY OTHER city OBLIGATIONS aka bonds to pensions…. LISTEN..I AM STILL trying to get over TACTICAL TANK and other such ‘entertaino’…….JUST a LITTLE MORE metal,extreme vs.rest of survivalist stuff and CAMPS….ALMOST SEEMS ‘QUAINT”…… hey if keeps guyz n SOME galz BUSY n happy ALL FOR it….

  10. RUN the ARTS crew,IngenuityFest,etc.out there…ROTATE said so NO big fights over WHO gets to have X for awhile….Ok soooo SOME vain hope THAT popular…

  11. DEAR JOE..or ANYONE…considering the POLITICO CRAPFEST.POWERFUL interests and all the rest of it HOW the blank gonna get MAJOR $ for ANYTHING…… CRISIS all the time… FISCAL CLIFF to rest of it… TRY O TRY with straight face and body armour TRYING to peddle X projects…. IF I HAD a DOLLAR for everyone who said MOVE SOUTH MOVE WEST MOVE FARTHER…

  12. PUT THIS ANOTHER WAY…. I turned on TV news…chan 19 or 8…midweek..SOME poo slob got a *$*@ beatdown in Warehouse Dist on like West 6th or 9th by AdultieMartinee/parking garage by Shoreway interchange…LYING THERE like a log…final insult was some minority ‘giggling’ kiddie flung a plastic drink bottle at said…THERE IT ALL is in PRIME color via some webcamphone as digital trophy (NOT sure on THAT…I THINK a passerby TRYING to CONTACT authorities,other or have ‘vidence’)….LITERALLY NOT even 3 blocks from JCenter or MAYBE some passing security cop,other considering I THINK RTA offices DOWN that way….

  13. NO idea if CINCY can pull THEIR schtick off…if can FINE..go for it…

    HOW many time free,kiddie free wannabe Yups,etc.do we have to patronize all this stuff……ONLY got sooo many into the “FRIENDS”/ SEX IN DA CITY” types who are into all THIS…WHO wants to be LONE pioneer and CREATE this new wannabe empire….whether it is shuttling around handful of Yuppies,other around to newbie venues…MAYBE I sound like a *$*@ but WHA supposed to think…wha do OTHERS think….

    ULIMATELY DO WE possess the RIGHT &/or ENOUGH SKILLS,talents,CONTACTS etc.TO stay connected/INFLUENCE the NEW uber techie world order? GETS into LOT of that…. SEE OCCASIONALLY some numbers,others trotted out by likes of TeamNEO who MAYBE viewed more as TheFiddler who plays while Rome burning…. WHUTEVER gems we snag,create here far as techie crew HOW viable long term IS that….or are they gonna become obsolete,transferred elsewhere,etc.

  14. FINALLY GETS DOWN to A THIRD of population with NO car,NO $,NO skills TRYING to scrounge up WHUTEVER and it aint flying and poo cops,EMS,etc.stuck dealing with it all……in every sense of the word…IT JUST feeds on itself…BADLY….

    SAD part…EVERY time have a venue…REGARDLESS of location…GONNA have this security army.WHO IS GETTING MORE N MORE MILITARIZED by the decade,year SAD to say….JUST is….. put it THIS way… I went into HORSIEShoe to check it out…see all the hubbub…Okkkk fancy…I wasnt planning on staying long,etc. NOT exactly dressed to kill….I arrived at like 5 AM…anyways…talked more then a few min to one security personnel at a desk and THEY got THIS ‘call’ and Ok I MOVED on….Hey…I can understand…didnt stay long..LEFT THEM the credit $ I didnt cash in…figure MY contribution to HORSIE n the City….FINALLY they SORTA get SOME new patrons who check it out while got this semi hardcore customercore….which is true of rest of it….

  15. Bless Howard G…..seems THAT skwalk deal works…but THAT is the Q…FOLKS goin DOWN TO THAT for entertaino,etc.

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