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Cincinnati: Fountain Square: Development and News

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25 minutes ago, Brutus_buckeye said:

 

 

Council is involved solely because there are a lot of egos there who like to grandstand and take full credit for a project that they really did little if anything  ----- cough - P.G. ----- Cough cough-----

 

Or.....because Council has to approve all zone changes? Guess that's not dramatic enough of a reason for you, but it's pretty much the whole story.

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16 minutes ago, edale said:

 

Or.....because Council has to approve all zone changes? Guess that's not dramatic enough of a reason for you, but it's pretty much the whole story.

 

If we expanded the FBC or even enacted the long-dormant Land Development Code, these PD zone changes would be needed less since more urbanist development would be permitted by-right. Removing parking requirements are a start, but that only goes so far.

 

My sense is that the Council and the Mayor like to play with these projects for political points so it's not going to happen in this era of Cincinnati history.

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

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That's precisely why Cranley killed Form Based Code in Cincinnati. With a FBC developers who wanted to invest their money in this city could just...do it. Without FBC, they have to suck up to politicians first.

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Couple of things from yesterday’s meeting:

5/3 will be putting up a smaller crane in front of rock bottom on their property line, this will be to assist in the removing of the facade, with the debris bin being on vine. I believe they said this will go up in May depending on permits and will come down Feb-March next year. Also  they mentioned the North west  part of the plaza could be closed. 

Additionally 5/3 will be building a permanent stage closer to their entrance looking west, I couldn’t really make out the presentation.  

Edited by lobanio0

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42 minutes ago, lobanio0 said:

Couple of things from yesterday’s meeting:

5/3 will be putting up a smaller crane in front of rock bottom on their property line, this will be to assist in the removing of the facade, with the debris bin being on vine. I believe they said this will go up in May depending on permits and will come down Feb-March next year. Also  they mentioned the North wasn’t part oth the plaza could be closed. 

Additionally 5/3 will be building a permanent stage closer to their entrance looking west, I couldn’t really make out the presentation.  

The new stage, will be mirrored opposite of where it is located now on the square. So the back of the stage will butt up to the Fifth Third Tower. Which is what the original proposal was back in 2007 when they redid the square and 5/3 wanted the stage on the opposite end. I was interning on that project and remember the fighting over the stage placement. I am sad to see the glass rainscreen going away along the south side of the annex building. I cant remember the amount of countless hours working on details for that glass screen with the LED lights....

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Currently they just bring in a temporary festival-style stage for all of the summer concerts and gets torn down when they put up the skating rink for the winter. Having a permanent stage will be nice but I enjoyed the location on the west side of the square.

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7 minutes ago, Cincy513 said:

So are there going to be two stages?  Or will this new one replace the existing one?  

 

The temporary stage location will disappear for a permanent stage as mentioned by Travis. However I have not heard if they will demo the granite platform the temporary stage sits on during the warmer months of the year, or if it will just remain. 

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5/3 doesn't have the air rights over the former Macy's anymore, do they? It would be nice if this project were done in conjunction with whatever the plans come to be for the Macy's site. Not that there would necessarily be much interaction between the two spaces, but there could be.

 

It's a little disappointing that the public has lost all say in what happens to the city's main "public" square. Hopefully it turns out nice anyway.

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They also mentioned a new LED screen above Macy’s being paid for by 5/3. Along with a yearly maintenance program. It does sound like this will be 5/3 square soon enough. 

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Well at least the stage moving will be nice when there is some type of watch party going on at the square.  The current stage blocks the view of the large screen from a portion of the square. 

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50 minutes ago, savadams13 said:

 

The temporary stage location will disappear for a permanent stage as mentioned by Travis. However I have not heard if they will demo the granite platform the temporary stage sits on during the warmer months of the year, or if it will just remain. 

 

When they rebuilt the square in 2006, they had to move the fountain to make it look like they did something.  That has proven to be a mistake.  The fountain is much less prominent than it was for the preceding 120+ years.  In my dad's words, the event stage + the vendor tents made the square look like a refugee camp. 

 

In another 10 years, after the experts who pushed for the fountain move in 2006 have retired to Florida, the fountain will make its way back to where it was 1970-2006 -- in line with Fifth St. and facing oncoming traffic. 

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5 minutes ago, jmecklenborg said:

 

When they rebuilt the square in 2006, they had to move the fountain to make it look like they did something.  That has proven to be a mistake.  The fountain is much less prominent than it was for the preceding 120+ years.  In my dad's words, the event stage + the vendor tents made the square look like a refugee camp. 

 

In another 10 years, after the experts who pushed for the fountain move in 2006 have retired to Florida, the fountain will make its way back to where it was 1970-2006 -- in line with Fifth St. and facing oncoming traffic. 

 

I wish cellphone technology was further along back in 05 and 06. I use to sit in on all the meetings in regards to the renovated fountain square. Full on fights, screaming matches, throwing packets of paper  happened many times in regards to the layout and placement of the fountain. This was the birth of 3CDC basically and they were just starting to spread there wings. I think there are good and bad things about the design. I am sure the fountain will relocate again someday. 

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I think the fountain is is a better spot now.  You can move completely around it, sit on/around it and take pictures from all angles.  Plus there is now a full square built around the fountain with tables, seats trees, shade, ect.  Moving it back so people from the road can see it better would be pointless.  

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30 minutes ago, jmecklenborg said:

People don't even notice the fountain now. 

 

That's not true. It's still the most prominent thing in the square. I sometimes walk that way to work, even though it is out of my way, just to look at it. 

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9 minutes ago, jmecklenborg said:

People don't even notice the fountain now. 

You can easily see the fountain from 5th and from Vine.  At the corner of 5th and Vine the stage blocks the view but if that's going to be moved it won't be an issue for much longer.  Not to mention everyone very much notices all the events that occur on the square almost every night from spring to fall.  

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I think the general thinking when they moved the fountain, that people should experience the fountain up close by being on foot instead of just driving down Fifth Street, is correct. I don’t think it should be moved back closer to the street unless the streets are radically road dieted or pedestrianized. 

 

(About to commit Cincinnati blasphemy) maybe the reason the fountain doesn’t seem as prominent is that Fifth and Vine isn’t the greatest hub of activity downtown anymore. (bear in mind I don’t get to experience the square on weekdays during lunch.) Sixth and Walnut seems much more active nights and weekends without even considering OTR


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The previous square was an abomination, as was its (lack of) programming. We had a big brutalist stage that dominated the north east corner. There were different levels all over the place. We had the KKK come visit every Christmas. We had an economic development director - I can't recall her name - that was such a moron she wouldn't allow free standing tables and umbrellas cause she thought they were tacky.

 

John Altshuler came and consulted, and thank God he did. I still remember the meeting when he simply said the entire thing needed to be scraped clean and started anew. And that it could then be a great gathering space. 

 

That's exactly what happened and it couldn't be more different from before. The fountain was moved precisely because it's a fountain - it didn't deserve to be the center of attention. The center of attention was the public square, and the people and activities it would attract. The old guard who complained so bitterly about moving it (and re-doing the square) were the same people who would only drive by and say hello.

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1 hour ago, jim uber said:

The previous square was an abomination, as was its (lack of) programming. We had a big brutalist stage that dominated the north east corner. There were different levels all over the place. We had the KKK come visit every Christmas. We had an economic development director - I can't recall her name - that was such a moron she wouldn't allow free standing tables and umbrellas cause she thought they were tacky.

 

John Altshuler came and consulted, and thank God he did. I still remember the meeting when he simply said the entire thing needed to be scraped clean and started anew. And that it could then be a great gathering space. 

 

That's exactly what happened and it couldn't be more different from before. The fountain was moved precisely because it's a fountain - it didn't deserve to be the center of attention. The center of attention was the public square, and the people and activities it would attract. The old guard who complained so bitterly about moving it (and re-doing the square) were the same people who would only drive by and say hello.

 

I mostly agree with you. The old square was pretty bad for a number of reasons- the stage, the vast openness, the lack of programming, lack of retail options around it, sorry state of the garage, etc. But I don't agree that the fountain should be moved because it's a fountain and didn't deserve to be the center of attention. It is FOUNTAIN Square, after all. The fountain is not some after thought or decorative piece of flair that was added to make the plaza more appealing. It's the very reason for the square existing at all! Now, I don't think the fountain has really stopped being the focal point of the square, per se, but I do think it's pushed back a little too far from 5th street, and it kind of blends in or is overpowered by the trees, temporary stage, and Via Vite. I don't think it's a big enough issue to warrant a move, but it's not an ideal location for the fountain, imo.

 

I also think we really have to acknowledge that the square is not a real public square anymore. It's a programmed semi-private space. This has led to great things, like barring the KKK from holding rallies there and the increased programming that led to the Square being used MUCH more than it was in the past. But a public square it is not, and with 5/3 closing off the connection to Walnut, taking up more space of the square itself, building their own permanent stage and new video screen, it feels like it's moving more toward a highly programmed corporate plaza. Again, this could have positive benefits, but it marks another slide away from FS being a true public space, which I think we need to be honest about. Public spaces around the country are disappearing as PPPs increasingly replace municipal ownership and management of these types of spaces. Great for keeping the KKK and such out. Maybe not so great in other scenarios. 

Edited by edale
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It might look nice in photos in the middle of the street, but I don't think you'd find folks hanging out, eating chipolte, or salsa dancing on a Thursday night in the early version of the square unless it was more shaded and a bit wider.

 

As for the "is a square a square if its not square" question: none of the "squares" in Cincinnati would ever really qualify as squares to someone who paid attention in geometry class. Hyde Park, Mt. Lookout, Oakley... even when Westwood was planning theirs, it was more rectangular. The Cincinnati Square is a cultural term... and it more likely means "a place given back to public parks after market and streetcar functions have ceased" lol

 

Last year, I was on a team competing in the local ULI competition proposing a "square" and surrounding development for Bond Hill. Justified by looking at the radius from Fountain Square that the aforementioned squares were and suggesting that a "square" in Bond Hill would catalyze development along Reading. Our "square," as well, was not square but more boomerang shaped. You can see the presentation here with our argument outlined: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B_XiOUYWPKtITkYwSXVaUEJFNHNKOWpYa0w4YlJ4N21hWE5j For what its worth (and despite my best efforts to be humble, I can't resist sharing) we won the $5000 prize.

 rich make it rain GIF by SpongeBob SquarePants

 

 

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 7.02.18 AM.png

Edited by Chas Wiederhold
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Cincinnati.com: Fountain Square bookseller: City favoring 3CDC and Kroger over retailers

 

https://www.cincinnati.com/story/money/2019/05/02/fountain-square-bookseller-city-favoring-3-cdc-and-kroger-over-retailers/3648249002/

 

I sincerely hope 3cdc isn't simply planning to transfer Kroger office workers in the Macy building and call it a day. 

 

My guess is maybe 3cdc is looking to move Kroger workers to fountain square but would be a key tenant in a mixed use project in construction of a new tower their. I know their HQ is getting very full right now. 

 

Also, I'm almost wondering if Kroger could overtake the ground floor retail and make an Oakley inspired market place store and a Fred Meyer Jewelry store and make a target inspired store of sorts. 

Edited by troeros

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I wonder how many employees Kroger has in Blue Ash?... Fountain Place as it sits today is over 200,000 square feet so you could fit quite a few people in there. I would hope if they made the current base office they could build out a tower on top with residential or hotel etc. 

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8 minutes ago, wjh2 said:

I wonder how many employees Kroger has in Blue Ash?... Fountain Place as it sits today is over 200,000 square feet so you could fit quite a few people in there. I would hope if they made the current base office they could build out a tower on top with residential or hotel etc. 

 

CBD needs some type of retail component. I don't care if it's a small target...a envision cinema with reclining chairs and dinner service with a comedy club attached...idk.

 

CBD needs SOMETHING. Otherwise, fountain square will remain a lonely ghost town on weekdays when all the white collar workers go home after 5. 

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Boring anecdote, but when I was looking for a new IT job 10 years ago I saw some postings at Kroger.  I lived across the street from the Kroger Building on Central Parkway and found out that the IT jobs were all at their Mason location.  I refused to even entertain a job that would require me to look at their corporate building every morning before commuting for ages to the burbs.

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

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2 minutes ago, troeros said:

I thought I heard that Kroger was moving their IT blue Ash workers to downtown..

 IT is being moved to Atrium 2. But Kroger also has a huge procurement team and development teams spread out across the city. Plus 84.51 is maxxed out now and 3CDC is being weird about letting the building grow down into the parking garage the way the design was intended. 3CDC is making too much off the garage portion to give it up. The Macys base building makes since for more office space, just hope that they can build on top of the building instead of kicking the can down the road. 

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1 hour ago, troeros said:

Cincinnati.com: Fountain Square bookseller: City favoring 3CDC and Kroger over retailers

 

https://www.cincinnati.com/story/money/2019/05/02/fountain-square-bookseller-city-favoring-3-cdc-and-kroger-over-retailers/3648249002/

 

I sincerely hope 3cdc isn't simply planning to transfer Kroger office workers in the Macy building and call it a day. 

 

My guess is maybe 3cdc is looking to move Kroger workers to fountain square but would be a key tenant in a mixed use project in construction of a new tower their. I know their HQ is getting very full right now. 

 

Also, I'm almost wondering if Kroger could overtake the ground floor retail and make an Oakley inspired market place store and a Fred Meyer Jewelry store and make a target inspired store of sorts. 

 Kroger isnt going to bring a marketplace downtown. I have worked with the Cincinnati Dayton Division for a number of years, we are lucky they are building a new grocery store downtown at all. They know in urban markets the ROI is even lower due to theft. So the grocery store in there eyes is still a major gamble. You wont see them bring a store with soft goods down here at all. The bookstore would almost be wise to just move to Carew tower complex and continue to fill the arcade up again. 

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City folk need to learn that if they drive out to the suburbs and buy things then they are actually more likely to see retail expansion in the core.

 

Let me tell you how and why:

 

1. When you lock up and not buy anything or get everything on Amazon you weaken B&M. That means they have trouble keeping certain stores open and definitely aren't going to open in the core then.

 

2. Always use your shopper loyalty card. Make sure it has your current urban address on file, not your folks' house in Loveland or Stryker when you got the card in the early 2000s. If they have another way of collecting addresses, fine. Make sure they know that not every cent of city money goes to rent or in your mouth. If they see enough of these in their data analysis they will consider more locations closer to their customers.

 

3. Have kids and keep them in the city. Past age 8, too. Stores like kids. Kids like stores. Kids do not like $9 IPAs. Stores do not like $9 IPAs. Unless they're selling them.

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2 hours ago, savadams13 said:

 IT is being moved to Atrium 2. But Kroger also has a huge procurement team and development teams spread out across the city. Plus 84.51 is maxxed out now and 3CDC is being weird about letting the building grow down into the parking garage the way the design was intended. 3CDC is making too much off the garage portion to give it up. The Macys base building makes since for more office space, just hope that they can build on top of the building instead of kicking the can down the road. 

 

Kroger Digital team not Technology is moving to the atrium, this is the group currently in the landing 2 in blue ash. There are like 3 other buildings in blue ash that are not moving. Also they just remodeled atrium for digital, so doubt they move out.  

 

The technology on grooms and the buying offices are still blue ash if I had to guess it’s 3k employees 

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2 hours ago, savadams13 said:

 IT is being moved to Atrium 2. But Kroger also has a huge procurement team and development teams spread out across the city. Plus 84.51 is maxxed out now and 3CDC is being weird about letting the building grow down into the parking garage the way the design was intended. 3CDC is making too much off the garage portion to give it up. The Macys base building makes since for more office space, just hope that they can build on top of the building instead of kicking the can down the road. 

 

Wow, that's super frustrating and so predictable. They chose to build a squat little building on one of the premier corners of downtown rather than the tower that had been planned there for years, and now the little building is all full and they need more space,  and the city's left with the deathstar at 5th and Race for years to come. So dumb.

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58 minutes ago, edale said:

 

Wow, that's super frustrating and so predictable. They chose to build a squat little building on one of the premier corners of downtown rather than the tower that had been planned there for years, and now the little building is all full and they need more space,  and the city's left with the deathstar at 5th and Race for years to come. So dumb.

 

Yep.  These are the smartest guys in the room, doing what smartest guys in the room do.  

 

The damn thing looks like it's covered with rubber floor mats.   

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22 minutes ago, jmecklenborg said:

The damn thing looks like it's covered with rubber floor mats.   

 

Then Cintas can come and replace it every three months for a fresh look. 

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So I'm in Indianapolis right now for the first time. 

 

What I noticed was how much resturaunts and retail there were by monument circle. I saw a tj Maxx and the nearby monument circle mall is very nice and reminds of an urban Kenwood mall of sorts. Tons of shops and name brand stores inside.

 

This area reminds me how fountain square SHOULD be. Tons of people, tons of resturaunts and a nice amount of tourist retail destinations.

 

I'm just curious how Indy made this urban mall so populated and successful? Walking around downtown, it doesn't feel like a dense populated city like say Chicago where they have a lot of residents living in downtown lofts and apartments...It feels like a smallish midsized city no different than cincinnati...so I'm not sure how Indy made this urban mall/area around monument circle so successful while our city can't get any name brand retail (like an h & m) anywhere near the urban core whatsoever.  

 

What is Indy recipe for success? Because I would KILL for Cincy to have such a vibrant fountain square/urban mall destination where I can actually buy clothes and do some weekend day shopping. I literally spent hours just hanging out at the mall with my girlfriend and looking at the different retail shops. 

 

Again, cities need a retail destination. It's needs a retail corridor. You can't solely rely on eat and drink to be the only attraction your city relies on.

Edited by troeros

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Wasn't Circle Centre Mall having some troubles lately?  I guess they just did a big renovation last year, but I want to say it hasn't been doing so great as it was when it opened in the 1990s.  Its proximity to the convention center has been a big boost, at least for the food court, but I don't know how well that's been fairing either (I haven't been there since before the RCA Dome was demolished).   

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8 minutes ago, jjakucyk said:

Wasn't Circle Centre Mall having some troubles lately?  I guess they just did a big renovation last year, but I want to say it hasn't been doing so great as it was when it opened in the 1990s.  Its proximity to the convention center has been a big boost, at least for the food court, but I don't know how well that's been fairing either (I haven't been there since before the RCA Dome was demolished).   

 

I was their maybe 3 hours ago. Tons of people shopping. Barely any vacant store fronts in the mall, like say tri-county, tons of resturaunts too like P.F Chang's, other chain type places. 

 

It was a legit good mall! It seriously reminded me of an urban mall you would find in a bigger city like say Toronto or Chicago so I'm genuinely curious how they pulled off an urban mall that's very successful in a city that is equal in density/population to Cincy. 

 

Like I said above, it doesn't make sense. I get it if Indy was booming, with new residential towers left and right (I barely saw much construction in Indy but maybe I missed something), but it's not. 

 

The whole city sort of reminds me of Dayton but on serious, serious steroids (in that in Cincy CBD you feel like your in a slice of a bigger city with the dense towers left and right. Indy Downtown feels a little flatter, with less height in it's CBD (in my opinion at least). 

 

3cdc needs to stop by Indy and examine what Indy has done with the monument circle area and the downtown mall and see what strategies they can implement in our CBD. 

 

I'm honestly jealous and taken aback right now. Seriously didn't expect that type of retail and vibrancy. I'm so used to vacant urban mall in Midwest cities so I'm not sure how they were able to pull this off for a city their size.

 

 

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