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Cincinnati: Downtown: Court Street Developments and News

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Not sure if it was mentioned here yet or not, but the Monro auto shop on Central parkway next to the new downtown Kroger currently has fencing up around the lot and the small auto shop is being demolished.

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4 hours ago, troeros said:

Not sure if it was mentioned here yet or not, but the Monro auto shop on Central parkway next to the new downtown Kroger currently has fencing up around the lot and the small auto shop is being demolished.

Does anyone know what is supposed to replace it?

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Per CAGIS: DEMO OF EXISTING PARKING LOT / CONSTRUCTION OF NEW ASPHALT, CURBS, BLOCK WALL, STORM SEWER AND LANDSCAPING FOR A PAY PARKING LOT 

 

https://cagis.hamilton-co.org/opal/apd.aspx?entcode=cinc&ezstdadrtag=35|E|CENTRAL|PKWY|GJ1502231583|||CINC|CINC|00760002019600035C|007600020196|007600020196|CINCINNATI&APD=2019P00368

 

Bonus: Dumpsters!

 

Quote

Covenant or Easement for use of dumpsters to be executed upon establishment of Condo Association for adjacent Court Street development

 

Edited by mcmicken

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I hope this is just a temporary parking lot (similar to 3cdc and there construction of the race and liberty parking lot), used as a way to make temporary revenue until a developer make a large sum offer for the lot. 

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Isn't that what all downtown parking lots are though?  They'd have more incentive to sell to a developer if their tax burden wasn't shifted to everyone else for operating what is essentially a vacant lot.  

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27 minutes ago, jjakucyk said:

Isn't that what all downtown parking lots are though?  They'd have more incentive to sell to a developer if their tax burden wasn't shifted to everyone else for operating what is essentially a vacant lot.

 

Sure, but we are assuming there are a row of developers all lined up waiting to throw offers at this lot. 

 

This is still Cincinnati. We are not a large city where developers are just itching like crazy to build. 

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Even big cities with high cost of real estate have some surface parking lots. They are a scourge that can only be eradicated through policy (laws, taxes, regulations), correcting/reversing all the existing subsidies for cars. 

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10 minutes ago, jwulsin said:

Even big cities with high cost of real estate have some surface parking lots. They are a scourge that can only be eradicated through policy (laws, taxes, regulations), correcting/reversing all the existing subsidies for cars. 

 

Yes, I understand this. But at the end of the day you still need a developer to make an offer on that owners lot in the first place. 

 

If there is no interested parties for this lot, then what exactly is the point of tacking on these extra restrictions and regulations to the owner?

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1 minute ago, troeros said:

 

what exactly is the point of tacking on these extra restrictions and regulations to the owner?

Any policy that makes it less attractive/profitable to own a surface lot will push owners to do something else with the property, or sell it at a lower price to a potential buyer. 

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21 minutes ago, taestell said:

Cars are still ignoring the "don't block the box" giant white hatching and stopping in the intersection, I see.

 

I saw someone do that at 12th and Main last week too.  They pulled up almost into Main as if they were planning to make a left turn on red.  Would be some easy ticket revenue if the police gave a shit. 

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If 3CDC wants more of the OTR vibrancy to spill over to Court Street, this task force needs to consider making improvements to Central Parkway which currently serves as a barrier between the two neighborhoods. In the past year, Cincinnati Public Schools and Music Hall officials have also made comments about how dangerous Central Parkway is. There are many intersections that could be tightened up by adding new bumpouts. Better yet, retime the traffic lights to give pedestrians a walk signal before cars get a green light, allowing for them to get out into the intersection and improve their visibility.

 

Here is my suggestion for Central Parkway and Main.

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This is a pretty good list of projects, but $30k is not very much money at all.

 

Hopefully this is more than lip service. I also think pedestrian improvements are way more important in other areas of the city than downtown.

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The idea of making Court Street pedestrian-only between Vine and Walnut was listed as one of the projects that this group will tackle. I don’t think that’s a particularly good idea, and to make matters more confusing, the Kroger corporate office building has a parking garage exit on that block of Court Street.

 

Here is one idea that popped into my head. Why not:

  • Move the “street” to the north part of the right-of-way. This will maintain full access to/from the Kroger garage.
  • Instead of having angled parking in the median have perpendicular parking on the south side of the street.
  • The reclaimed space can be transferred to the south side of the street to create a really nice, wide pedestrian zone. Imagine the storefronts on the south side of Court Street being filled with new restaurants and bars, with a ton of outdoor seating available in that zone. You could even have street festivals there.
  • Keep some of the parallel parking on the north side of the street for deliveries at the Kroger building, but expand the sidewalk in front of the historic buildings that 3CDC is currently renovating into condos.

 

5214B740-0AC6-456E-B527-E1C2F8CE556C.jpeg

 

To me, this seems like a better compromise than making that block ped-only. You still maintain full vehicular access and about 1/2 of the parking spaces. But you make a much better pedestrian experience and have the opportunity for far more street life than exists today.

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I would like to see Court become the city's first Woonerf. Just make it a wipe open, brick ROW with street furniture, trees, etc. and no clear delineation between the sidewalk and street.

 

I don't think it needs to become pedestrian only, but give them equal access to the ROW

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First off let me say I am very happy that this task force, with knowledgeable people who I trust on it, was assembled. I hope they are successful turning some one ways into two ways. 

 

But.

 

As Travis suggests above, I don’t think that making Court pedestrian only between Vine and Walnut is a particularly good idea. Jeff Speck mentions in Walkable City all the failed pedestrian mall experiments that have happened across the country. I don’t think that block is pedestrian-unfriendly now, in fact i would call it predestrian friendly. It lacks businesses in the storefronts, but I think the arrival of Kroger store has the potential to change that, and the new businesses and the Kroger store might benefit from having the existing street parking there. It would be much more beneficial if the base of the Kroger tower could be renovated to open up to the street to include storefronts or offices.

 

I don’t think it’s broken, and I think it is overcompensating for percieved deficiencies of the empty storefronts to try to spend resources there when so many other streets actually need reconfiguring. 


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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I agree with the two posts above. In general I’m just confused where the idea of pedestrian-izing Court Street even came from. There are so many other streets in the urban core that are more in need of improvement than Court Street. Any one-way street that can be converted back to two-way will be a big win, and hopefully this group can start laying the groundwork for Fourth Street to be converted in the future, after the ramp to I-75 is removed.

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Court St (east of Vine) is already probably one of CBD’s best streets for pedestrians in its current configuration: two way, single lane of traffic, 24/7 parking, bumpouts at intersections. There are so many better places to spend the (very limited) budget on pedestrian improvements throughout the CBD. A good place to start would be putting bump outs at every intersection. 

Edited by jwulsin
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Pedestrian malls CAN work wonderfully, if there is already a lot of foot traffic and latent demand for more pedestrian space. They shouldn’t be put just anywhere. This was the mistake of the past - thinking a random physical design could just attract the people. Instead, best practice today follows the behavior of people first and designs accordingly. 

 

This notion that pedestrian only streets don’t work full stop isn’t true. Philly is putting in new pedestrian only alleyways, every Australian city has countless pedestrian only lanes, many of which command the highest rent/sf in the Southern Hemisphere, of course New York now has jumped on the bandwagon, big parts of Central European cities are ped only, etc. 

 

If they’re going to be redoing Court St then sure, make improvements, but in general Cincinnati should identify the streets where the most pedestrians already are and make those the best pedestrian experience possible. And then see where the bottlenecks are (like Central Parkway at Main). 

 

This will build momentum and give the political evidence needed to do it elsewhere. 

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The Court Street pedestrian idea feels like it could just be Kroger attempting to get their own "Fountain Square" type space.

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If 3cdc is going to “pivot” towards the CBD, I think it should focus on residential, parking-lite mid rise buildings on smaller lots like this Monro lot to have the greatest bang for their buck. (I’m thinking buildings like the Eight and Main project or even smaller.) I appreciate the new Kroger project and think it will be a success, but I think the garage plus tower model is a slow, complicated, and potentially even risky method of development. Instead if they focused on acquiring the smaller pay lots (especially on the street corners) and built on the footprint on what’s there, instead of trying to assemble a huge site, they could have success building up active corridors, blocks, and streets. That’s something the market isn’t so interested in doing but could make sense for a non profit entity like 3cdc who is interested in building up street activity. Downtown’s greatest weakness when it comes to walkability vibrancy etc. IMO is that the large (mostly modern) buildings/garages etc. can create “dead zones” where they are not activating the street in a way that breaks up the rhythm of the street and that is simply not seen in OTR.

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www.cincinnatiideas.com

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I think anything fronting Central Parkway should be a 6-7 story building minimum. Not sure what your threshold is for "midrise". But yeah, not every development needs a parking garage in its base, and I think a lot more development needs to rely on existing garages for parking instead of building new. Obviously this partnership with Kroger created a unique opportunity, and it makes sense to pursue a garage.

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5 hours ago, northsider said:

the former Monro is completely demolished now and they're treating the site... BUT FOR WHAT? I'm wondering if it's related to the 3CDC Court Street project.

If they turn it just into parking for those buildings i'm gonna scream

Its a parking lot. With bonus dumpster enclosure!

 

https://cagis.hamilton-co.org/opal/apd.aspx?entcode=cinc&ezstdadrtag=35|E|CENTRAL|PKWY|GJ1502231583|||CINC|CINC|00760002019600035C|007600020196|007600020196|CINCINNATI&APD=2019P00368


 

Quote

 

DEMO OF EXISTING PARKING LOT / CONSTRUCTION OF NEW ASPHALT, CURBS, BLOCK WALL, STORM SEWER AND LANDSCAPING FOR A PAY PARKING LOT 

 

This project received approval of a Use Variance to allow the proposed parking facility (ZHUV180013). The Zoning Hearing Examiner (ZHE) approved plans show a 36" dimensional stone wall around the perimeter. The permit application now shows an 18" concrete wall with a 30" metal fence above. Additionally, the parking facility shows a dumpster enclosure that was not depicted in the Use Variance plans. 

While we are not opposed to a wall/ fence combination, we would like to see the wall remain at approximately 36" in height to better block the headlights and hoods of parked vehicles. If the fence above the wall is a metal picket-type fence that has transparency this would be an acceptable change so long as the total height of the wall/ fence combination does not exceed 6' in height. If you wish to keep the 18" concrete wall with 30" fence above, you will need to submit a non-substantial change request to the Zoning Administrator indicating why you made the change and why the lower wall will not create adverse effects on adjacent properties. The Zoning Administrator will decide whether the change is non-substantial or will require an additional hearing by the ZHE.

Additionally, we need to know the purpose of the refuse storage area. Are these containers serving adjacent properties? If so, easements will be required and documentation must be submitted showing such.

--

Plans substantially conform to ZHUV180013 decision - Covenant or Easement for use of dumpsters to be executed upon establishment of Condo Association for adjacent Court Street development

 

 

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If Court Street is closed off to become a Pedestrian Mall we should be looking to Knoxville for inspiration. The Market Square really punches up for a city Knoxville's size:

 

 

knoxville2.jpg

knoxville.jpg

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I have always thought Court was under-rated and could be so much more. The Kroger will be huge for this area because the other block was pretty dead with the County Admin Building sucking life from the street.

They need to figure out something to do with the parking lot on the other side of Court. If they can have a development that brings housing and some entertainment value, it will truly create a 24/7 destination. During the week, that area is always packed because of the Courthouse and County buildings.

 

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I know this is a longshot, but if the city/county really want to revitalize Court Street and the NE quadrant of downtown, they need to start making long-term plans to move the jail. If the two blocks now occupied by the jail were replaced by new buildings and the missing section of Court Street (between Sycamore and Broadway/Eggleston) was rebuilt, it would really change the entire feeling of the area. Not to mention, the front of the casino would actually face downtown rather than facing...the back of the jail. Of course, this would actually require visionary leadership from the Hamilton County Commissioners.

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Trouble is, it's the SMALLEST streets that should be pedestrianized.  Those are the only ones that have any chance of being activated enough by people and buildings to not feel empty and creepy.  In Downtown Cincinnati we really only have alleys that are sufficiently narrow to be truly pedestrian corridors.  Think Gano, Ruth Lyons, or Ogden.  Aside from those, the rest of the alleys are generally too small, but the "real" streets are too wide.  If there was a market building put back in the center of Court that would help, but even Elder Street around Findlay Market (especially on the south side) is pretty barren most of the time.  Could Court Street be done better?  Yeah probably.  Something more like Piatt Park might work.  But totally pedestrianizing it without it also being a major transit corridor or pedestrian route is not a recipe for success IMO. 

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^ Court street at Lunchtime is packed. With everyone at the Courthouse and Admin buildings plus Kroger HQ, there is a very good crowd of people down there. If you add a few hundred more apartments/condos to the area besides the Kroger building, you have the recipe for some long term success. Plus, you also have the new Kroger store to anchor the area pulling people in. It adds another reason for people to use the streetcar too.

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Cincinnati has a lack of parks and greenery in its core. I find it hard to believe that a park that sits in front of one of the largest Fortune 500 companies in the country, the first full-service grocery store in central Cincinnati, and a slew of of soon to be residential units and other commercial uses won't be active. This is a prime location for a park and I can't think of many other places in the CBD that could be converted as easily as Court Street. 

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1 hour ago, jjakucyk said:

Trouble is, it's the SMALLEST streets that should be pedestrianized.  Those are the only ones that have any chance of being activated enough by people and buildings to not feel empty and creepy.  In Downtown Cincinnati we really only have alleys that are sufficiently narrow to be truly pedestrian corridors.  Think Gano, Ruth Lyons, or Ogden.  Aside from those, the rest of the alleys are generally too small, but the "real" streets are too wide.  If there was a market building put back in the center of Court that would help, but even Elder Street around Findlay Market (especially on the south side) is pretty barren most of the time.  Could Court Street be done better?  Yeah probably.  Something more like Piatt Park might work.  But totally pedestrianizing it without it also being a major transit corridor or pedestrian route is not a recipe for success IMO. 

 

I agree that making it fully pedestrianized is probably not wise, and I also think the suggestion of creating a small park in the center of Court sounds like a good idea. It makes me think of this portion of the Hayes Valley neighborhood in San Francisco: 

 https://www.google.com/maps/@37.7767201,-122.4244771,3a,75y,204.67h,83.57t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1segjTUlsos_1DCoi2mJtGMA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

 

 

Small, tight streets to force cars to go slow, but a usable green space in the median. With how small many of the restaurants are around Court St. it seems like a situation like this would be great for people grabbing take out and eating in the park. 

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3 hours ago, DEPACincy said:

If Court Street is closed off to become a Pedestrian Mall we should be looking to Knoxville for inspiration. The Market Square really punches up for a city Knoxville's size:

 

 

knoxville2.jpg

knoxville.jpg

 

I lived in Knoxville when the downtown was totally and completely dead.  The ENTIRE downtown.  Market Square had a Subway and a restaurant called The Tomato Head.  There was also a bar called The Mercury Theater that closed around 1998. 

 

Knoxville's 1990s mayor Victor Ashe (curiously George W. Bush's roommate at Yale) killed off downtown so that his brother could sign leases to the displaced tenants out in West Knoxville suburbs. 

 

The rush back into Knoxville in the mid-2000s was spurred by a marijuana cartel that laundered its cash through four bars that it opened on desolate Market Square.  They all ended up going to jail but the square and the entire downtown came back strong in the 2010s. 

 

Market Square doesn't really look any different now as opposed to in the 1990s.  The streets were closed then as now.  The difference was getting Victor Ash out of there and an influx of new cash, even if it was of unscrupulous origins. 

 

 

 

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pedestrian sometimes. The four blocks between the two blue suspension bridge sculptures on third street, could be developed for hosting all kinds of street fairs, community walks and runs, beer fests, brat-fests, and any other fests that come along. Permanent structures could include metal pavillions for vendors, runners, etc. All those events, those outdoor events, would have a place and space for their fans.  There is plenty of parking, it's near downtown, and next to the banks and the river park. how does this relate to court street... court is basically one block long if you stay away from the already busy governmentbuildings.

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Hopefully better signage codes will be in place to prevent someone slapping a huge neon SUBWAY sign on the front of a historic building like in the above Knoxville image.

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I was sent an e-mail today from Derek Bauman about the future of Court Street. I've paraphrased it below. There is a survey linked.

 

The Downtown Pedestrian Task Force is circulating a survey asking respondents how they would use a transformed Court Street between Vine and Walnut Street. One of the project goals is to transform this block into a vibrant and pedestrian-oriented civic space that can provide flexibility for programming and encourage strong indoor/outdoor spaces for adjacent businesses. 

 

Please complete the survey below by Thursday, March 28, and feel free to share with your friends, coworkers, and neighbors:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2QNWTPV

 

If you have any questions about the survey, you can e-mail Derek Bauman: derekbauman@gmail.com

 

Continue the conversation below with what you shared in the survey!

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Do it! 

 

I participated in one of the input sessions the other day. Lots of concern over the loss of parking.


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

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I think the biggest thing to help Court is to encourage bars and restaurants and cafes to open with outdoor space front Court. I would limit parking to 15 minute free spaces in a smaller quantity than currently allowed to allow delivery drivers and food pickups to continue unimpeded. Allow traffic to continue through Court, but create a Woonerf instead of the current setup. Make the lanes very narrow through "sidewalk" infrastructure, and allow pedestrians to cross throughout the block.

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I don't care about the loss of parking as there's already plenty/too much downtown, but Court Street as currently built is has some of the best potential of all streets in the urban basin. The parked cars, particularly the pull-in spaces, help to calm traffic. It's two-way, with one travel lane in each direction (it may be two, technically, but isn't striped nor treated that way aside from turn lanes at the ends). The parallel parking serves as a break between pedestrians and vehicles. There are already nice, wide pedestrian spaces that could be activated with some storefronts without losing the traffic lanes and parking, IMO.  Turning the entire street into a pedestrian plaza would be a downgrade.

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here's a proposal I just drew up. Would allow for parking still, but would empahsize the pedestrian experience. This would also allow the city to maintain the existing trees rather than transplanting them or removing them.

 

The parking is parallel.

image.png.8957ce5168810786232d335d85352130.png

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9 minutes ago, ryanlammi said:

here's a proposal I just drew up. Would allow for parking still, but would empahsize the pedestrian experience. This would also allow the city to maintain the existing trees rather than transplanting them or removing them.

 

The parking is parallel.

image.png.8957ce5168810786232d335d85352130.png

 

Without the businesses along Court sustainably booming to drive activity early in the morning to late at night this much open pedestrian space is as much a liability as asset. This block of Court is not naturally a crossroads with lots of built-in pedestrians and it is so wide it would take a lot of pedestrians to feel activated. 

 

36 minutes ago, Ram23 said:

I don't care about the loss of parking as there's already plenty/too much downtown, but Court Street as currently built is has some of the best potential of all streets in the urban basin. The parked cars, particularly the pull-in spaces, help to calm traffic. It's two-way, with one travel lane in each direction (it may be two, technically, but isn't striped nor treated that way aside from turn lanes at the ends). The parallel parking serves as a break between pedestrians and vehicles. There are already nice, wide pedestrian spaces that could be activated with some storefronts without losing the traffic lanes and parking, IMO.  Turning the entire street into a pedestrian plaza would be a downgrade.

 

Agree with this. I think it may be better to take a hands off approach, let the Kroger store open and see if there is re-ignited demand for the storefronts along Court.


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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Here’s a revised version of my proposal. It’s basically what Lammi proposed above except that I added a bump-out in front of 3CDC’s Court Street Condos project, allowing any ground-floor restaurants to have a larger outdoor space, and have perpendicular parking on the south side of the street since there is so much space to fill. In this scenario I would probably suggest truck loading / food truck parking on the north side and 2 hour parking on the south side.

30246599-E87D-4B23-8336-E0E85E99B6A3.jpeg

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OH, COME ON! We've gotta be visionary and rip off the band aid!

 

Here, please put on my pair of rose tinted sunglasses, and buckle your seat belts.

 

NO MORE THRU-STREET AND LOTS OF TREES AND CRUSHED AND PACKED LIMESTONE! In a car at West Court Street, you have two options if you're a normy: Turn left to go north on Vine or go straight into a subterranean garage. In a car at East Court Street, you have two options if you're a normy: Turn left to go south on Walnut or go straight into a subterranean garage. The garage would hold double the amount of cars that this one block currently holds and would cost the same as on street parking today. Up above, you have a park much like Occidental Square Park in Seattle. One really awesome thing that would take place at the Court Street Plaza would be the gathering of FCC supporters on their march to UDF Stadium in the West End. Every day, the plaza would be filled with lunch time crowds, public art, ice sculpture competitions, movie nights, concerts, bocce ball, cornhole, ping pong, weiner dog races, giant chess, light shows, psychos, Furbies, screaming babies in Mozart wigs, sunburned drifters with soap sud beards, Ice sculptures (did I already say that?), winos, Germfs – German smurfs – a Teddy Ruxpin wearing mascara, an old lady wearing Kid ‘N Play hair, and none other than DJ Baby Bok Choy.

Court Street.png

Edited by Chas Wiederhold
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Occidental Square Park in Seattle for reference: https://www.google.com/search?q=occidental+square+park&safe=off&rlz=1C1GCEU_enUS821US821&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiv8rONj5ThAhUI74MKHVB6BkcQ_AUIDygC&biw=1536&bih=782

 

I posted about the conceived idea of Court Street on twitter a while back. If you squint hard, you can see how life would be different today if the Kessler Parks Plan was fully implemented:

 

 

Edited by Chas Wiederhold

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