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Cincinnati: Fountain Square: Development and News

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Can't they turn the Macy's space into three levels of parking and keep the other stores/restaurants?  The building is already set up for a 20 story tower.  Seems like a waste to start over. 

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I don't know that it's really worth keeping the base now that Macy's is gone and it'll have to be completely reconfigured anyway, either into parking or split up into multiple spaces. It's probably about the same cost to just take it down to ground level and start again.

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Can't they turn the Macy's space into three levels of parking and keep the other stores/restaurants?  The building is already set up for a 20 story tower.  Seems like a waste to start over.

 

Do we just accept that a parking garage has to be a part of any new development? By my count, there are already 8 parking garages within a block of this one, and they are rarely completely full.

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I don't know that it's really worth keeping the base now that Macy's is gone and it'll have to be completely reconfigured anyway, either into parking or split up into multiple spaces. It's probably about the same cost to just take it down to ground level and start again.

 

Yeah the provisions for a tower were put in place in enable Macy's to stay open during its construction.  Perhaps we haven't seen any movement on the tower for the past ten years, despite its good location, because it was always believed that Macy's closure was inevitable after the collapse of the Nordstrom store in 2000. 

 

 

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I don't know that it's really worth keeping the base now that Macy's is gone and it'll have to be completely reconfigured anyway, either into parking or split up into multiple spaces. It's probably about the same cost to just take it down to ground level and start again.

 

Could probably reconfigure the whole base of the existing building into something else and still build a tower on top. I don't think that's impossible.

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Could probably reconfigure the whole base of the existing building into something else and still build a tower on top. I don't think that's impossible.

 

Reprise the Ewok Village. 

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^looks like the website also has renderings for a redo of rookwood commons which to my knowledge isn’t happening anytime soon & those projects don’t list a client like some of their other projects. Looks to me like it’s just some sort of conceptual exercise. 

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Ugh, no conception of a street wall, just anti-urban starchitecture.  They're facing one of the premier urban plazas in the country and they're proposing a blob building with wedge-shaped stairparks and skywalks.  That is exactly the type of form that shouldn't be done in such a location. 

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I personally think they should angle the building the other direction so it opens up the plaza to 5th street thus making the Fountain Sq area seem bigger.

 

The one big thing with any development there is what is going to happen to the big video board. This has become such a fixture on the square over the last decade and there will be a public outcry if they get rid of it. I also cant see how it would fit into the current design.

 

Also would love for them to make it a JW or W brand of luxury hotel down there.

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I personally think they should angle the building the other direction so it opens up the plaza to 5th street thus making the Fountain Sq area seem bigger.

 

The one big thing with any development there is what is going to happen to the big video board. This has become such a fixture on the square over the last decade and there will be a public outcry if they get rid of it. I also cant see how it would fit into the current design.

 

Also would love for them to make it a JW or W brand of luxury hotel down there.

 

A Jw would be really nice. I would  think whoever develops it would not tear down the building that is already there. Especially if it’ll save them a few millions dollars. A hotel/apartments would be really nice. Heck maybe even western and southern could move their headquarters there.

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They also have a crazy bizzaro version of 4th and Race and list Flaherty and Collins as their client.

 

I have a feeling this might be part of a wider RFP and it's just the only concept we've come across so far.I have no issue with the shape of the actual tower, but I do take issue with how it is sited. There should be zero plaza space here. It would diminish the impact of Fountain Square. This needs to hold the street walls on all sides.

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Reztark seems to be connected with alot of other high profile projects that have been developed to completion, so maybe this has a chance?

 

As far as the rendering is concerned I love it. Reminds me of something you would see in NYC, just gives a very luxurious mood. I also love the green space, and the pedestrian walkway...to me it seems it could maybe connect with fountain square in some way, and sort of mesh into a more larger pedestrian corridor/square.

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I personally think they should angle the building the other direction so it opens up the plaza to 5th street thus making the Fountain Sq area seem bigger.

 

The one big thing with any development there is what is going to happen to the big video board. This has become such a fixture on the square over the last decade and there will be a public outcry if they get rid of it. I also cant see how it would fit into the current design.

 

Also would love for them to make it a JW or W brand of luxury hotel down there.

 

A Jw would be really nice. I would  think whoever develops it would not tear down the building that is already there. Especially if itll save them a few millions dollars. A hotel/apartments would be really nice. Heck maybe even western and southern could move their headquarters there.

 

W&S would not move the HQ there. They own the entire Eastern part of downtown. IF they build an HQ tower it will be at 3rd and Broadway or over their existing HQ now. They already own that land.

 

I am fine with a plaza that connects to the square space and makes it feel larger. People are going to cry if the video board comes down so they need to incorporate it with any new design.

 

Cant see them using the existing platform for a tower because it would not support a tall enough building and the footprint building on top of the existing structure is not as good for today's design standards.

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Ugh, no conception of a street wall, just anti-urban starchitecture.  They're facing one of the premier urban plazas in the country and they're proposing a blob building with wedge-shaped stairparks and skywalks.  That is exactly the type of form that shouldn't be done in such a location. 

 

I disagree. I think this has a very open and appealing feel, I bet it would be an attractive and busy area, I also assume at least part of the ground level would be some form of retail or restaurant. I don't understand the necessity for a street wall. The Kroger building does just that and it's supremely univiting, same with the base of the Terrace Plaza, which is so beloved on this forum.

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The one thing about Cincinnati compared to other cities is that the buildings tend to be more boxy and don't have grand plazas with outdoor dining patio capability that can be found in other cities.

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Ugh, no conception of a street wall, just anti-urban starchitecture.  They're facing one of the premier urban plazas in the country and they're proposing a blob building with wedge-shaped stairparks and skywalks.  That is exactly the type of form that shouldn't be done in such a location. 

 

I disagree. I think this has a very open and appealing feel, I bet it would be an attractive and busy area, I also assume at least part of the ground level would be some form of retail or restaurant. I don't understand the necessity for a street wall. The Kroger building does just that and it's supremely univiting, same with the base of the Terrace Plaza, which is so beloved on this forum.

 

There's a difference between a bland adherence to a street wall, and an activated street wall which is definitely what jjakucyk is talking about. Kroger and the Terrace Plaza have street walls that have essentially no entrances off them, no active uses, etc. so they are dead.

 

An active street wall with proper ground floor uses, building entrances, etc. that feels active is precisely what makes urban areas special. You CAN create impactful plazas that are really great public spaces that activate the space, but the problem is that they often don't go anywhere close to far enough and therefore just become front lawns. Being that this is a mixed use design, I would hope they'd find a way to make it active at all hours, but the reality is that we don't have many good examples of this in Cincinnati. Most plazas are bad and kill street life rather than activate it.

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I was going to post this last night but then the UO server went down.  Fortunately I was able to save the text. 

 

A street wall defines space, and in the context of a plaza it creates an outdoor room by becoming the walls of that room.  Blank monolithic walls like Kroger or Terrace Plaza are not the same thing in an environment like this.  They still need windows, doors, activity, and a human scale to their components.  This is basic urban planning and architecture. Adding more outdoor spaces...again let me reiterate...right next to one of the signature plazas in the country, dilutes and confuses Fountain Square. 

 

That's a big part of the reason why Hyde Park Square works and Oakley Square doesn't (yeah they're really not squares, they're esplanades, but let's not go down that rabbit hole).  Oakley doesn't have the building frontage or the building height to properly enclose the space.  Thus when you're in the square you don't feel like you're in a place, you feel like you're in the median of a highway.  Hyde Park also has the benefit of a tree canopy that further divides the space in the square into something of a room within a room.  If that exact same street and square existed but without the taller buildings flanking it, say replacing them with single-family homes surrounded by lawns, then it wouldn't be a place worth going to.  It would be little different than Jack Casino's front "yard," Glendale's Floral or Van Cleve parks, Westwood's town hall triangle, or the Laurel "Recreation Area" on Ezzard Charles.  An outdoor space for people, whether plaza, park, square, or garden, is diluted by empty undefined space surrounding it. 

 

On top of all that, multi-level plazas and parks with excessive understory (shrubs, tall ornamental grasses, etc.) repel usage because of all the hiding places for unsavory individuals.  Even if there aren't any such people, the inability to see very far leads to uneasiness and fear.  Thus people tend not to go to such places, further reinforcing their scary nature.  They're also harder to keep clean. 

 

The best public spaces are level, or with just a couple of steps, and they're broadly open without many hiding places.  Bravo to ResTark for making lots of places to sit and water to play with, but that already exists across the street.  The real fraud is showing the Vine Street plaza bathed in sunlight, which it will only be first thing in the morning at certain times of the year.  The rest of the day it will be a dark hole.  Plus, the shape of the building looks like an aerofoil designed to funnel as much wind into Fountain Square as possible. 

 

If this were a couple blocks away, then I wouldn't mind it so much, but it's competing with Fountain Square rather than complimenting it.  If they put this exact program on a two or three story podium with storefronts facing all the streets then it wouldn't be the downtown equivalent of a single-family home with a big yard next to a park.  Their non-handicapped-accessible outdoor space would likely get just as much use being up there and not for public use than it will as designed, once the novelty wears off.  Ok that's a bit hyperbolic but this has little appeal compared to Fountain Square itself. 

 

William H. Whyte's one hour video "The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces" is the definitive resource on this sort of thing.  Unfortunately its copyright holders are meticulous in having any online copies of the video taken down, and it and the associated book are both fantastically expensive, costing hundreds of dollars.  I do have a copy myself though, so maybe we can do a movie night sometime?  The next best thing is Andres Duany's early 1990s San Antonio lecture which covers plazas along with a lot of other principles of new (and old) urbanism. 

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^ The airfoil part is something I have not thought about and that would be a major concern too. Plus sunlight is also hard the way those buildings will be oriented.

 

I like the concept of it. Wish it would be a little taller. But after reading your post, see exactly what your complaints are about and it makes sense.

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I am no fan of the circa-2006 Fountain Square redesign.  With all of the tents, my dad remarked that it looks like a refuge camp. 

 

The fountain itself is now an afterthought, despite being positioned in the center of the square.  Previously, it faced Fifth St. traffic, and before that stood in the center of an esplanade. 

 

Plus, the P&G stage turns toward the inside of the square, withe the back of the stage facing the square's busiest corner, whereas the old square's permanent stage faced south. 

 

 

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Adding more outdoor spaces...again let me reiterate...right next to one of the signature plazas in the country, dilutes and confuses Fountain Square. 

 

So I actually agree with all of your points, except this. I want to like Fountain Square. I want to be proud of it. But it just doesn't do it to me. I think on a list of best public spaces in the country it would be somewhere in 5,000th range. It's not even the best public space in Cincinnati. There are probably 20 plazas in NYC that work better. Heck, Market Square in Knoxville is world's better. I wish it had more "wow" factor as the front porch to our city. The elevation changes and pathways also don't make any sense. And as was already mentioned, the stage placement is not ideal.

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^ The thing about the design which I did not pay attention to very well at first was the tiered plaza (or what appears to be a tiered plaza) This was what the Ftn Square redesign was supposed to remedy and a problem with the old Fountain. It was like a maze to navigate with skywalks and other impediments coming into play. It appears the new design incorporates a lot of what those same features.

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^ The thing about the design which I did not pay attention to very well at first was the tiered plaza (or what appears to be a tiered plaza) This was what the Ftn Square redesign was supposed to remedy and a problem with the old Fountain. It was like a maze to navigate with skywalks and other impediments coming into play. It appears the new design incorporates a lot of what those same features.

 

Exactly. I'm not fundamentally against tiers, I just think there are too many, they don't make sense, and the elevation changes are weird. What exactly is the point? Market Square in Pittsburgh is kind of boring but it least it is functional. Dilworth Park in Philly is able to incorporate a ton of different features without feeling crowded or like a maze because it lacks unnecessary elevation changes and has open pathways.

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I wouldn't exactly use Dilworth Park as a good design for a public space. It's a hot-mess, in all honesty (just as much as Fountain Square, just more modern).  Though it's certainly better than what used to be there...

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I wouldn't exactly use Dilworth Park as a good design for a public space. It's a hot-mess, in all honesty (just as much as Fountain Square, just more modern).  Though it's certainly better than what used to be there...

 

Well what used to be there was disgusting, but I like the new design. And people in Philly love it. It gets used a ton. The interactive fountain is as well done as any in the country, in my opinion. And the subway entrances are sleek and grand. The historic markers are also a nice touch that we could use in Fountain Square. Plus there are way more trees.

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What is everyone’s ideal height for this plot of land? I was thinking somewhere around 450ft. Also does anyone know if the building that houses rock bottom brewery can support a building built in top of it?

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650-800

 

I like where your head is at. 800 footer here, another 650 footer on the lot by the convention center, and a handful of other 150-300 footers scattered about and suddenly the skyline is much bigger.

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Yeah that proposal isn't nearly tall enough for what I would like to see. Something like the 3rd to 1st tallest in the city.

 

But that won't happen unless we get a major new corporation of some sort to the region.

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I really don't think it is. If you do a hotel/residential tower it could likely work. The Cincy market isn't much different than the Cleveland market in terms of price per square foot and construction costs and they're building a 396' tall residential tower. Put that on top of a 10-15 story tall hotel/retail podium and you have a 550' tall mixed used building. It's feasible. It'll be a challenge no doubt, but it's not impossible in the current market.

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If stacked and tiered appropriately it could work. We could use some upgraded class A+ office space in town. have a parking garage as the base with retail on the lower levels, In addition, stack a luxury hotel on top of it and then add a few floors of high end condos it is not that unrealistic to get there. With Air BnB, it makes it even easier to some extent.

 

But to your point, it is not the economic growth, but it is the institutional money in the market. Right now, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and some other 2nd tier cities like St. Louis do not have that "it" factor to attract the big institutional office money (although the Radius project has started some of this). They don't care if the projects are full because it sort of is a shell game where they swap it around the institutional community every 3-6 years and hope the chairs don't stop moving while they own it. Right now 2nd tier markets like Nashville and to a limited extent Columbus are seeing some of this money even though many economists do not feel those markets can support these projects.

That is going to be the biggest challenge to something like this.

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jmicha[/member] so it turns out I can use sketch up but I can't load import it to google earth. Can you throw a 750' box at the site and see how that looks?

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jmicha[/member] so it turns out I can use sketch up but I can't load import it to google earth. Can you throw a 750' box at the site and see how that looks?

 

So when you're in the sketchup model did you geolocate the model? If so, go to file>expor>3d model and select the google earth file (.kmz) then open Google Earth and load it. If you can't get this to work I can quickly do it when I'm free but that likely won't be until later this weekend.

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I'm with jmicah and jjakucyk on this one. The proposal is great but the loss of the street wall is a non-starter in my book. It would be so easy to fix though. Just make that "plaza" space indoors a la IDS Center in Minneapolis:

 

 

50on50.jpeg

Edited by ajknee
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