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Cincinnati: Downtown: 1010 On The Rhine / Downtown Kroger

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Key questions and answers about Kroger’s proposed downtown mixed-use tower

 

Officials with Kroger, the city of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. have announced the grocery giant will build and open a store downtown as a part of a mixed-use development project at Central Parkway and Walnut Street.

 

Who’s paying for it? The complicated financing structure includes an $8.5 million grant from the city of Cincinnati; conventional loans; equity from the companies building the residential tower, Kroger and 3CDC; New Market Tax Credits contributed by the Cincinnati Development Fund and a contribution from the Cincinnati Equity Fund II, money contributed by the city’s largest corporations for urban redevelopment that is overseen by 3CDC.

 

More below:

http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2017/06/06/key-questions-and-answers-about-kroger-s-proposed.html


"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

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Awesome news.  The financing structure looks complex and a lot of money given to this by grants, but it will be well worth it to get more development happening in the downtown core, Court Street, and other areas downtown that are very quiet, and also the continued uptick in OTR

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Also, as a more cynical take

 

 

 

All of that public money and zero affordable housing units.  I'm a bit baffled as to why they can't throw 20 affordable housing units onto a project like this -- they wouldn't need parking places. 

 

 

 

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If you squint, you can see the Kroger signs at the bottom.  Two story Kroger, current layout reminds me of the Mariano's in Lakeshore East (Chicago).

 

I feel like this news was broken a few weeks ago on this forum. Who needs the enquirer or business courier when you find out the news ahead of time on UO

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WCPO says, "Kroger plans to close its Over-the-Rhine store at 1420 Vine Street, transferring its 60 employees to Court and Walnut. It will donate the Vine Street store to 3CDC so the site can be redeveloped."

 

That's a big space to work with.

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What is everyone's opinion on this: Is this a better overall project then what we would have gotten under a Roxanne Qualls administration (at 4th and race)? If yes, was it worth the wait?

 

I think it is a much better location as it will serve OTR and Downtown well, it directly on the streetcar line and has the largest "grocer only” in the world as the grocer and not an unknown entity that can close after 5 years (which was part of the 4th and race deal) I see the only negative is that we didn’t get a high-rise built at the 4th and race site.

 

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If you squint, you can see the Kroger signs at the bottom.  Two story Kroger, current layout reminds me of the Mariano's in Lakeshore East (Chicago).

 

I feel like this news was broken a few weeks ago on this forum. Who needs the enquirer or business courier when you find out the news ahead of time on UO

 

I've seen the local news quote UO posts during broadcasts.

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Also, as a more cynical take

 

All of that public money and zero affordable housing units.  I'm a bit baffled as to why they can't throw 20 affordable housing units onto a project like this -- they wouldn't need parking places.

 

Guarantee that 3/4ths of the market-rate apartments don't "need" car spots either; they just want them. Our public policy refuses to differentiate between the two.

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With 500+ spaces in this development hopefully that allows for nearby construction/rehabs to allow for no-onsite parking requirements.

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What is everyone's opinion on this: Is this a better overall project then what we would have gotten under a Roxanne Qualls administration (at 4th and race)? If yes, was it worth the wait?

 

I think it is a much better location as it will serve OTR and Downtown well, it directly on the streetcar line and has the largest "grocer only” in the world as the grocer and not an unknown entity that can close after 5 years (which was part of the 4th and race deal) I see the only negative is that we didn’t get a high-rise built at the 4th and race site.

 

I don't look at those projects as an either/or scenario. Fourth and Race was downsized and some of the money was given to Eighth and Sycamore. Central Parkway and Walnut is its own thing that may have happened regardless of what happened with those other two projects.

 

I think what you're referring to is the fact that Fourth and Race was supposed to have a grocery store in the ground floor. In that case, I would say that we're better off with having a grocery store at Central Parkway & Walnut rather than one at 4th & Race. We're also better off with the existing OTR Kroger site being redeveloped, which can only happen because Kroger is building a single store on the edge of the CBD and OTR which can serve both neighborhoods.

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This is great news, and honestly I'm not too surprised about the parking garage.  This corner of downtown is surprisingly parked full with the county administration building, the courthouse, and job and family services, all of which are very 9-5.  The A&D Parkhaus garage on Sycamore for instance closes to daily parking before 9:00, and getting a monthly spot anywhere near here is not easy.  While it's great that this is right on the streetcar line, especially with the Vine Street Kroger closing to be redeveloped, I do hope that the garage space might take some pressure off other surface lots so they can get redeveloped.  Having garages downtown isn't great, but can be looked at as a necessary evil, while IMO surface parking is criminal. 

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With 500+ spaces in this development hopefully that allows for nearby construction/rehabs to allow for no-onsite parking requirements.

 

The garage will support required parking for other 3CDC projects on Court. They own some more buildings on that street.


“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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This is great news, and honestly I'm not too surprised about the parking garage.  This corner of downtown is surprisingly parked full with the county administration building, the courthouse, and job and family services, all of which are very 9-5.  The A&D Parkhaus garage on Sycamore for instance closes to daily parking before 9:00, and getting a monthly spot anywhere near here is not easy.  While it's great that this is right on the streetcar line, especially with the Vine Street Kroger closing to be redeveloped, I do hope that the garage space might take some pressure off other surface lots so they can get redeveloped.  Having garages downtown isn't great, but can be looked at as a necessary evil, while IMO surface parking is criminal.

 

The real question is, are there enough garage spots for Dusty to stop complaining about the ones that got taken out near his office for the streetcar?  :laugh:


“To an Ohio resident - wherever he lives - some other part of his state seems unreal.”

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With 500+ spaces in this development hopefully that allows for nearby construction/rehabs to allow for no-onsite parking requirements.

 

The garage will support required parking for other 3CDC projects on Court. They own some more buildings on that street.

 

Yeah, that's a really important part of the equation that I don't believe was mentioned by the city today. Once 3CDC reaches Liberty, they will probably focus most of their efforts on pushing south into the CBD rather than pushing north. This parking garage will help support that development.

 

The real question is, are there enough garage spots for Dusty to stop complaining about the ones that got taken out near his office for the streetcar?  :laugh:

 

He will never stop whining!

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I know that this project is about shovel ready at this point but I do have some architectural grievances to file.

1) That the apartments' only outdoor space is common is a pet peeve of mine. A small balcony for each unit seems like it would be a game changer. That subtracts from the SF but also from the conditioned space, plus you get a balcony. I don't understand why that didn't get past the developer's pro-forma. I'm sure the architects argued for it.

2) The glazing on the apartments doesn't appear to have operable windows at this point. I'm not being dramatic: I'd probably die if my home did not have operable windows.

3) The garage is huge, and it's not going anywhere. I believe the openings need to be screened with a perforated metal or mesh from floor plate to floor plate. Without doing this, the building will seem hallow.

 

And one not-grievance, but opportunity: What are the chances that Court Street could reclaim the parking spaces for a Piatt Park style park? Those ~98 parking spots could be moved into the garage. Return of the Canal Street Market (which was the homeliest of all of Cincinnati's downtown markets)?

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^ you don't want to get rid of the Court Street Parking. It is good for the smaller businesses in the area for quick visits. I imagine Kroger would want to keep it too for some quick stops where people don't want to go to the garage. Plus, as someone who uses the courthouse frequently, it is a nice amenity for quick trips down there.

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^ you don't want to get rid of the Court Street Parking. It is good for the smaller businesses in the area for quick visits. I imagine Kroger would want to keep it too for some quick stops where people don't want to go to the garage. Plus, as someone who uses the courthouse frequently, it is a nice amenity for quick trips down there.

 

There would still be street parking on the north side of the west bound lane and the south side of the east bound lane. I want this to work, haha.

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I do like the idea of making it more of a park/plaza.  Even if you did have to keep the parking though, it would probably make more sense to tighten down the time limit, like 30 minutes max. 

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I know that this project is about shovel ready at this point but I do have some architectural grievances to file.

1) That the apartments' only outdoor space is common is a pet peeve of mine. A small balcony for each unit seems like it would be a game changer. That subtracts from the SF but also from the conditioned space, plus you get a balcony. I don't understand why that didn't get past the developer's pro-forma. I'm sure the architects argued for it.

2) The glazing on the apartments doesn't appear to have operable windows at this point. I'm not being dramatic: I'd probably die if my home did not have operable windows.

3) The garage is huge, and it's not going anywhere. I believe the openings need to be screened with a perforated metal or mesh from floor plate to floor plate. Without doing this, the building will seem hallow.

 

And one not-grievance, but opportunity: What are the chances that Court Street could reclaim the parking spaces for a Piatt Park style park? Those ~98 parking spots could be moved into the garage. Return of the Canal Street Market (which was the homeliest of all of Cincinnati's downtown markets)?

 

As an architect, you will rarely see balconies on an apartment development. They are an insurance nightmare and most developers/owners will just avoid them so they don't have to insure the building for a higher cost. This is because the thought process is most renters are more negligent than a home or condo owner. Therefore they might throw things off the balconies or even have parties beyond maximum capacity on balconies, or worse. 

 

Comment about operable windows again goes two fold. One being insurance companies don't like the idea of the exterior being perforated allowing the chance of people falling out, throwing out items, etc. Other being someone could leave windows open, leave for weeks on end and allow the weather to come into the building and cause damage. Both operable windows and balconies are more likely in a condo project than an apartment complex.

 

I am an agreement with you on the parking garage it needs to be finessed. Again it comes down to ROI though and alot of developers will look at what has already been achieved through design and say that is enough. Push comes to shove and things start to become over budget you will start to hear Value engineering pop its ugly head out and those panels you see now might just become horizontal guardrails at every level. 

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I have already seen many "homeless activists" lamenting the loss of the current OTR Kroger.

 

Josh Spring, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, also expressed misgivings that the Kroger relocation might signal another step toward gentrification in Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. From the Enquirer:

 

"By and large the majority of everything new has been targeted at folks with high incomes. We want to see these 3CDC (Cincinnati Center City Development Corp.) projects be for everyone," Spring said. "The jury is still out on what this will be like. Ideally, they would not follow the same exclusive trend."

 

The current OTR Kroger is neglected. It rarely has fresh produce in stock. It has more junk food than fresh food.

 

Will the new Downtown Kroger have more organic produce and craft beer and other expensive stuff that many OTR residents won't care about? Sure. But they will also do a much better job of keeping fresh food in stock. And there is no indication that they will charge more for groceries in the new store compared to the old one, as I have seen some people suggest. (As far as I know, in the Cincinnati area, Kroger charges the same prices throughout all its stores; it does not charge different amount for the same item based on where the store is located.)

 

I just don't buy the argument that moving the store a few block is going to be a massive burden for residents of OTR, considering that they are going to get a much better store in return. Now, killing the Walnut Hills store and telling those residents to drive to Corryville... that's a burden.

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Josh Spring is a clown and I really don't know how he has credibility. His complaints are total BS, partially for the reasons you cited above, and secondly, he seems to forget that one of the largest natural food markets in the region is right in OTR in Findley Market. Getting rid of the blighted Kroger which is small and carries limited inventory does nothing to the poor residents in the area that want fresh food since that Kroger store is a whole 3-4 blocks from Findley market.

 

Why cant people just ignore that idiot.

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I saw someone calling the area North of Liberty a "food desert" ... umm, hello, Findlay Market? Sure, it would be nice if Findlay stayed open later to serve residents who want to do normal grocery shopping there, but that's a solvable problem.

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I suspect that Josh Spring is a bit of a fraud.  He owns two derelict buildings on E. Clifton and three lots on York St. in the West End that he bought cheap 5+ years ago and could easily sell today for over $100,000.  We'll see if he sells for a nominal fee to a non-profit or if he pockets $200k+ and leaves town. 

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I saw someone calling the area North of Liberty a "food desert" ... umm, hello, Findlay Market? Sure, it would be nice if Findlay stayed open later to serve residents who want to do normal grocery shopping there, but that's a solvable problem.

Lol that's insane!

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Downtown Kroger will bring city more than a grocery

 

court-walnut-renderings-1*660xx4444-2500-278-0.jpg

 

With Kroger announcing the first downtown grocery store in more than 40 years this week, Cincinnati leaders involved see more than just a place to buy groceries for residents and workers in the city’s basin.

 

More below:

http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2017/06/09/downtown-kroger-will-bring-city-more-than-a.html


"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

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I saw someone calling the area North of Liberty a "food desert" ... umm, hello, Findlay Market? Sure, it would be nice if Findlay stayed open later to serve residents who want to do normal grocery shopping there, but that's a solvable problem.

Lol that's insane!

 

Anyone who fights to keep the OTR Kroger open is a loon and a moron

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I suspect that Josh Spring is a bit of a fraud.  He owns two derelict buildings on E. Clifton and three lots on York St. in the West End that he bought cheap 5+ years ago and could easily sell today for over $100,000.  We'll see if he sells for a nominal fee to a non-profit or if he pockets $200k+ and leaves town. 

 

Josh would never sell the properties.  He would insist to make them low income housing and insist the City of Cincinnati pay for ALL the improvements.  Any money he would make would be used to buy up other properties to do the same.


"Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago." - Warren Buffett 

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I saw some architects discussing on Facebook how this building would cast a shadow on the American Building during the winter months, or perhaps even the majority of the year. I'm curious how the people on UrbanOhio feel about that. Many cities have rules requiring setbacks so that large buildings don't cast massive shadows on their neighbors. I'm not sure if Cincinnati has any such rules.

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As an owner of a south facing unit in the American Building I can tell you I could give a s#!^ about the additional short period of time per day that the building would have a shadow.  The building is on a major thoroughfare in the city.  It should have some tall buildings on it.


"Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago." - Warren Buffett 

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It seems very misguided to restrict or force alterations of new construction in a CBD because of the fear of shadows at certain times of the day, if sunny, at certain times of the year.

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I know that this project is about shovel ready at this point but I do have some architectural grievances to file.

1) That the apartments' only outdoor space is common is a pet peeve of mine. A small balcony for each unit seems like it would be a game changer. That subtracts from the SF but also from the conditioned space, plus you get a balcony. I don't understand why that didn't get past the developer's pro-forma. I'm sure the architects argued for it.

2) The glazing on the apartments doesn't appear to have operable windows at this point. I'm not being dramatic: I'd probably die if my home did not have operable windows.

3) The garage is huge, and it's not going anywhere. I believe the openings need to be screened with a perforated metal or mesh from floor plate to floor plate. Without doing this, the building will seem hallow.

 

And one not-grievance, but opportunity: What are the chances that Court Street could reclaim the parking spaces for a Piatt Park style park? Those ~98 parking spots could be moved into the garage. Return of the Canal Street Market (which was the homeliest of all of Cincinnati's downtown markets)?

 

As an architect, you will rarely see balconies on an apartment development. They are an insurance nightmare and most developers/owners will just avoid them so they don't have to insure the building for a higher cost. This is because the thought process is most renters are more negligent than a home or condo owner. Therefore they might throw things off the balconies or even have parties beyond maximum capacity on balconies, or worse. 

 

Comment about operable windows again goes two fold. One being insurance companies don't like the idea of the exterior being perforated allowing the chance of people falling out, throwing out items, etc. Other being someone could leave windows open, leave for weeks on end and allow the weather to come into the building and cause damage. Both operable windows and balconies are more likely in a condo project than an apartment complex.

 

I am an agreement with you on the parking garage it needs to be finessed. Again it comes down to ROI though and alot of developers will look at what has already been achieved through design and say that is enough. Push comes to shove and things start to become over budget you will start to hear Value engineering pop its ugly head out and those panels you see now might just become horizontal guardrails at every level.

 

As another architect, I'll begrudgingly let you have the balcony one... but I am completely astounded that, as an architect, you think that having operable windows is a risk not worth taking for insurance reasons. I have never lived in a building without operable windows. Even my 250 sf micro-studio in Seattle had two 12" Tilt-turn operable windows adjacent to the 4' picture window. As for the water risk, an awning opening window could solve that. There are solutions. An architect's job is to show value in solutions... not to break every time the insurance company or developer says something is too expensive. That type of attitude is why we can't have nice things.

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Why do seemingly all architects feel the need to announce to the world that they are architects? :roll:

 

Because they are living George Costanza's dream. :-)


"Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago." - Warren Buffett 

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Why do seemingly all architects feel the need to announce to the world that they are architects? :roll:

 

Because we have giant egos of course!

 

In all seriousness though... if this were a discussion about heart attacks, I would probably announce myself as a cardiologist if I was one. We're talking about the architectural opportunities and merits of this project, it is hoped (and rarely awarded) that an architect's expertise would be valued in the conversation.

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One can still offer valid critique without being an architect, you know. I'm a planner but I don't preface every post about transit, development, whatever with "well, as an AICP Planner..." because it's unnecessary. I don't mean to be malicious, and I definitely appreciate informed posts and the discussion that's going on here, but I notice this at work, on this forum, and especially noticed it when I was in grad school. The architecture students would kind of gloat about how they were architects, even before they were certified and practicing!

 

Rant aside, I do think it would be cool to have balconies on this building, but the insurance explanation makes a lot of sense and is something I had not thought of before. The general hope for all new big developments is that they will spur additional proximate development, but I think this project is particularly well suited for doing just that. Proximity to a grocery store is a huge selling point, and that, coupled with the streetcar, could bring a lot of new development to this area. I also love to see that 3CDC is focusing on the northern CBD. Southern OTR is booming and very vibrant, with potential for even much more activity, and the CBD around FS is also doing pretty well these days, especially around Walnut Street, but the northern section of the CBD is dead in many places. There is just so much room for growth in this part of the city, and I'm glad to see the city and developers embracing height here. Towers in the 15-20 story range are perfect for this part of downtown, imo.

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Well, architects and engineers and financial planners all see these projects differently. The problem I have with a lot of proposals (not just in Cincinnati, but elsewhere) is that they are designed by architects without consideration for engineering or financial considerations. Starchitecture is the term, I believe, where every building needs to be a snowflake. Exaggerated, without concern for other buildings, the environment or context.

 

Of course, engineers may and will see it differently. And financial considerations will ruin many a starchitect because it's unfeasible to even consider some of these proposals - dead in the water.

 

This isn't a terribly unique building, nor should it be. Not every mid-rise needs to be special. Just doing its job well and being inclusive in respect to its surroundings can and should be enough.

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I was just looking at google earth images of downtown and this is a huge space to be filled and I'm really excited about it.  Across teh street is another big one for the Monroe Tire Service, and just south of there as well.  If they can get infill on those two lots as well that will be huge, in addition to fixing up Court in that immediate area.  After this, I don't know where you go in the CBD besides to the west along Court and up to Elm, but if they can get some dense infill on those other lots that will be huge.

 

I also think Main Street corridor is ripe for some huge development but we haven't seen anything definitive yet with those two condo towers cancelled possibly to be made into apartments and also that redevelopment of the skinny bank building with the new build apartment building next door.  Man, if only we could get all these projects going at the same time!

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The casting shadows argument is bunk.  Central Parkway is so wide, and from March through September the sun is so high that you don't get those shadows.  When you would, in the morning or evening in winter, it's usually either cloudy, or you'd need to draw the blinds because the sun is at such a low angle and would come roaring in otherwise.  At our 2nd floor office on Central Parkway and Sycamore we needed to get blinds for the south facing windows, despite the Justice Center right across the street, because of the low morning sun angle in winter.  For the past three months or so the sun is so high in the sky and rises so far to the north that only a tiny sliver of sunlight comes in through the windows anyway. 

 

As for balconies, operable windows, and starchitecture, for one there really aren't all that many starchitects out there.  The ones who get hired are usually hired for the signature one-off buildings like condo towers, museums, and university buildings.  This project is a bit too market-oriented for that, same with a lot of hotels and other office buildings, apartments, etc.  It's not usually the architect driving anything, it's the financiers/developers who made many decisions from the start.  This is especially true with anything branded like hotels, which come with pre-designated prototypes and standards that need to be met.  I'm sure someone ran the numbers in the preliminary planning stages that balconies and operable windows would not only be more expensive but not worth the tradeoffs.  For one thing, on high rises there's pretty strict wind design loads and air/water infiltration requirements that need to be met.  Those are a LOT harder to meet with operable windows or balcony doors.  The same goes for sound isolation, where operable windows and doors can only achieve marginal performance at best, which isn't usually good enough in a downtown location.  Plus, because high rises are subject to so much wind pressure, any operable windows, even ones that only open a few inches, can wreak havoc with the HVAC system, especially common exhaust or fresh air intake ducts.  Even plumbing stacks and the elevator shafts can start to act like wind tunnels.  That doesn't mean there aren't ways to do it, but $$$.

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To frame the discussion a bit:

 

There is a difference between talking about this building architecturally in a scientific sense  and talking about it architecturally in a professional sense.

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Every residential building in Sydney is all but required to have balconies. We have an Apartment Design Guide (don't let the word Guide fool you, it's practically law) that is based....now I know this is hard to stomach....human needs, behaviour, lifestyle. It's a different climate here but it's essential for quality apartments here. Now on the flip side it can sometimes be onerous to meet all the requirements (60% of all units need to be cross-ventilated, over looking requirements, etc) and the setback controls seem arbitrary and sometimes suburban, but it guarantees a certain level of quality for the humans who live there, not decisions exclusively based on financial modeling, engineers or starchitecture

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Just being able to step outside every once in a while or merely opening your door to an outdoor space makes a world of difference even if it's not visually "being used" to Jake's standards.

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More details on the financing for this project

 

http://www.wcpo.com/news/insider/downtown-cincinnati-kroger-twin-tifs-and-a-streetcar-kicker-how-taxpayers-will-finance-the-store

 

A total of $30M+ in subsidy seems like a lot considering the project is roughly $90M. And this could set the precedent of large projects getting around the 15% property tax contribution to the streetcar operating fund.

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"The grocery TIF would deliver the remaining 75 percent, or $473,000, back to the project, where 3CDC said the money will be used to cover free parking for Kroger customers."

 

Talk about the High Cost of Free Parking ... free parking costs taxpayers $473,000/year.

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Another way to look at it: Kroger wants to take the $95k/year that they would normally be expected to give to streetcar operations, and instead spend that money on providing "free" parking for their customers in the garage. It's literally taking money away from transit riders and giving it to car drivers to make it easier for them to park their car in a dense urban area.

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^ If you want a vibrant urban market you have to cater to what the customers want and not force them to look for other options. Kroger wants to make it easy for their customers, and if free parking is what is required to do so right now, then more power to them. Kroger and 150 apartments are a better amenity to the neighborhood than the streetcar is right at this moment. If their customers prefer to drive 2 blocks with their groceries in their car instead of taking the streetcar, then more power to them.

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If Kroger wants to provide free parking for their customers, fine. But it's not okay for taxpayers to give them half-a-million dollars per year in TIF funding to provide them with free parking. How do we even know Kroger's calculations are correct for the amount of parking that this store needs? Most people will be walking or taking transit to this store. They do not need one parking space per customer here like they do in their suburban stores. They need some, but probably not nearly as much as they are asking taxpayers to give them.

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