Jump to content
Guest oakiehigh

Cincinnati: Downtown: Fort Washington Way Cap Project

Recommended Posts

Dave have you read it?  It's definitely one of the best discussions of American cities, and has some of the best writing on Cincinnati to be found anywhere.  He did an incredible amount of research on Cincinnati to write just 10 or so pages spread throughout the 300+ page book. 

 

There is also a lot of general discussion of the battle over public ownership of transit companies and the way rapid transit commissions (like park boards) were hijacked by the auto industry.  The primary legacy of Cincinnati's rapid transit commission was Central Parkway -- similarly the Detroit rapid transit commission also only ended up building roads with bonding ability enabled by the state legislature.  This was all a symptom of cities not having the ability to tax themselves enough to pave their streets for automobile needs.  The era was very brief because state gasoline taxes were enacted one-by-one throughout the 20's, which finally provided a funding mechanism for street paving. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the idea of downtown is the same as uptown, than downtown is many neighborhoods (west end, OTR, etc).  At the same time "capital D" Downtown is an obvious reference to CBD. (I don't literally mean with a capital D, but the difference in how it's being addressed.)

 

I'm surprised the The Chamber hasn't branded Mid-town more. 

 

Midtown is basically Evanston, Norwood, Western Hyde Park and Western Oakley.

Key Developments being Xavier (and Xavier Place/Square development) Keystone, Rookwood, Rookwood Exchange, Surrey Square and maybe you could make a case for Oakley Station. 

 

 

But back to the Caps...

 

The Cincinnati Bridge Condition report is out-- Building Cincinnati covered it here:

http://www.building-cincinnati.com/2012/03/condition-of-city-bridges-remains.html

 

And while he didn't mention the Second street bridge (technically 2nd street is a bridge) I've heard that part of it has a 5 out of ten rating while other parts are 8 out of 10.  REALLY bad for something that's only 11 years old.  Also, I heard Freedom Way bridges were ranked as 8's even though they are only 1-3 years old.  There are dozens of bridges that are 20-30 years old that are still 9's. 

 

Am I the only person that is worried about this? Maybe I don't understand the ratings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, we read it in the urban history seminar at UC a number of years ago. It definitely is a book that makes you go . . .oh so that's how the powerful people shape our environment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They are ripping out the vegetation from the Walnut St. planters. Anyone know the details why? Bridge maintenance?

Elastizell onsite presumably to reseal the planters.

"It's just fate, as usual, keeping its bargain and screwing us in the fine print..." - John Crichton

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Letter to the Editor: Cap Fort Washington Way to eliminate barrier

 

Baseball 2012 is now upon us. The Banks are already alive and exciting with both fans and residents, more of both to come in the very near future! The Phyllis W. Smale Riverfront Park is well underway.

 

As I walk daily around downtown and to The Banks I constantly pass over Fort Washington Way. I believe this is still somewhat a psychological barrier for many Cincinnatians. To traverse these few blocks from our city center to any of the exciting Riverfront attractions seems miles rather than just the few blocks it really measures.

 

Cont


"It's just fate, as usual, keeping its bargain and screwing us in the fine print..." - John Crichton

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's on Deck?

 

The city of Cincinnati is launching a national design contest to “connect the blocks” between downtown and The Banks residential/retail district rising on the riverfront.

 

A park? More stores, more bars? A Ferris wheel, perhaps?

 

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20120914/BIZ/309140088/What-s-deck-

 

I think a park would be fine, so long as it was more like open space than a landscaped park (a la Smale Riverfront Park). What space does downtown have for pickup football, ultimate frisbee, kickball, etc.? It's Washington Park's event lawn and nothing else, right? Which seems a little sparse. The upside of just putting grass fields there (maybe with lines or something) is that it would be cheap and be a pretty beautiful venue for pickup sports, or informal tournaments (maybe select soccer could happen there). The downside is that it may not look as nice as public monuments or a ferris wheel. But I think it would be functional. Maybe I'm overestimating the number of people downtown who would be interested in that sort of thing, though.

 

There are plenty of decks for capping, though. Maybe two could be used in that way, and one could be something more 'monumental'--like a Ferris wheel, or something else.

 

Anyway, I think that as long as it somehow gets capped, it would be a big win for the Banks and the rest of downtown.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Open space" is not the same as a lawn, open space is undefined, and if you don't define it you usually get crap.  Open space can just as easily be a parking lot, or a berm next to a highway, or a smelly water retention pond.  The only real criteria for open space is no buildings.  If you want a lawn, say you want a lawn, don't say open space. 

 

That said, what about Yeatmans Cove?  There's plenty of open lawn for playing there.  Also, to go to the effort to cap a highway and then not put buildings on that cap is a huge waste of resources.  The point of capping is to reclaim that land for productive (i.e. taxable) use.  To use it as a park makes it a drain on city coffers.  We also don't need park or plaza space there.  Fountain square (plaza) is just two blocks north, and Smale (park) is a block and a half south.  It really needs buildings to stitch the fabric of the city together there.  That doesn't mean there can't be some nice public space, like an arcade or something. 

 

If you want to see what a failure of highway capping looks like, from an urbanistic perspective anyway, just look at the Big Dig in Boston.  The whole problem was that the Central Artery sliced through the heart of the city, separating neighborhoods from each other and taking up valuable real estate.  Well, although there's no longer an ugly raised highway, it's still a scar sliced through the heart of the city, separating neighborhoods from each other and taking up valuable real estate.  There's so much "open space" left that even a busy vibrant place like Boston can't keep most of it filled with people, and that's a major problem for any park. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are multiple blocks down there, I would think that having both green space and buildings would be ideal. I always imagined having green space in the middle few, then buildings capping the ends. Another possibility would be to incorporate both on each block, which could be done in interesting ways. Imagine retail or small commercial buildings with public green roof space!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Green roofs or roof terraces don't really make effective public spaces unless there's some way to access it from ground level (say the building is on a very steep slope where the high end is at grade).  Otherwise, it's just too much of an inconvenience to go up some stairs or take an elevator just to go from outside to outside.  It's also a case of "out of sight, out of mind" which leads to underutilization and perceived lack of safety. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seething tells me while they were built to support 4-6 they will be 2-4 for safety reasons. The whole thing is already a decade into its lifecycle, and probably won't see any buildings until 15-18 years into its life.

 

I'd be willing to get that engineers

Come back & for safety reasons tone it down.

 

If say it should have buildings on a couple blocks & maybe have 1 that is a lawn/Pavillion. Also, it will be retail, not residential.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd like to see at least a block of it as another park, although more like Hauck Botanical garden with lots of trees and plantings along a defined trail. A forest-like oasis in the middle of the city where you can escape all the concrete. No grass, please--Smale Riverfront park has the grass covered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part and parcel:  I would think active water features (if technically possible) would be a great idea for the "ends" of the caps. 

 

1.  They would provide visual interest.

2.  They would buffer some of the highway noise that will flow out of the end of the tunnels.

 

This would accomplish the goal - I suspect many will have - of incorporating some public space.

 

I would agree that making the rest suitable development (comm, res, retail) is best.

 

Thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part and parcel:  I would think active water features (if technically possible) would be a great idea for the "ends" of the caps. 

 

1.  They would provide visual interest.

2.  They would buffer some of the highway noise that will flow out of the end of the tunnels.

 

This would accomplish the goal - I suspect many will have - of incorporating some public space.

 

I would agree that making the rest suitable development (comm, res, retail) is best.

 

Thoughts?

 

I like the idea of a sculpture garden/ water feature in the park elements of the caps.  As far as the buildings themselves, the inherent question to me is what use truly bridges the gap between the Banks and the rest of Downtown.  I am skeptical that a predominantly retail development is needed.  Something unique yet in synergy with the existing office/ residential mix of the city would be ideal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just think that park space at this location is a waste of space. No one is going to want to hang out at these long, narrow parks between 2nd and 3rd Street when they can walk to the Riverfront Park or Fountain Square nearby.  Even if we only cover it with 3- or 4-story buildings, it's going to make The Banks feel connected to the CBD and hopefully make 2nd and 3rd feel more like streets and like less like highways.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

World's first urban roller-coaster?

Actually Las Vegas already did this.  They have one on top of a building and another at the hotel that looks like NYC and there might be more of them in downtown Vegas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just think that park space at this location is a waste of space. No one is going to want to hang out at these long, narrow parks between 2nd and 3rd Street when they can walk to the Riverfront Park or Fountain Square nearby.  Even if we only cover it with 3- or 4-story buildings, it's going to make The Banks feel connected to the CBD and hopefully make 2nd and 3rd feel more like streets and like less like highways.

Agree with all of this.  Fountain Square close by and parks to the south of the area, so there is no need to add more park area.  Even if they aren't large buildings, we still need the feeling of connecting to both areas.  It would bring the whole area together.

 

I remember a long time ago they envisioned a large green house at Fountain Square West called Crystal Forest.  I remember it being a really large and nice looking structure.  Either this is a really bad picture or it just wasn't what I thought it could've been.  This picture here looks nothing like I remember it looking like: http://acincinnatihistory.blogspot.com/2009_04_01_archive.html  Could be an idea for something above one of the caps if I could find a better rendering. 

 

In that same link, I know it has nothing to do with the caps, but I really liked that idea for the CMC office towers at Union Terminal. 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would love to see these four blocks as buildings and for second and third to be reduced one lane in each direction allowing for large trees to be planted in the areas they aren't already to create a parklike sidewalk giving the best of both worlds along this stretch. These two streets could become very visually appealing while still allowing for the four blocks the caps are to be built on to be entirely built out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So is this a sure fire thing? I mean, if the City of Cincinnati is holding this contest, I'm guessing there's a sincere interest of actually filling the caps and connecting the city to the banks.

 

Personally, I wouldn't mind some type of modern art pieces surrounded by a small pleasant garden. That's just me though..and personally, I'm betting if this does happen than it'll probably be more offices/retail stores.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dallas is nearing completion on the same concept.

 

http://www.theparkdallas.org/

 

It's amazing how similar the two projects are. They are covering a congested highway through the heart of downtown Dallas and are using the incremental green space as a new park to spur development. So far is has paid huge dividends with a massive 42 story (yet controversial) condo skyscraper nearing completion, three museums, and new restaurants being completed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would love to see these four blocks as buildings and for second and third to be reduced one lane in each direction allowing for large trees to be planted in the areas they aren't already to create a parklike sidewalk giving the best of both worlds along this stretch. These two streets could become very visually appealing while still allowing for the four blocks the caps are to be built on to be entirely built out.

 

This makes so much sense to me, just a theory but I assume that reducing each street a lane will in turn reduce the amount of lane changing that occurs. It's often kind of hectic driving down there when people are zipping around each other and you have to cross 4 lanes of traffic to turn. But really I think that this is such a huge opportunity for the city that it has to be done right, and we as citizens need to demand that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^That's part of the reason it's still a barrier to pedestrians. The traffic isn't fun to cross even at a proper crosswalk at the correct time. Reducing each road one lane and adding that extra 6' (or whatever the exact dimension is) to each sidewalk allowing for larger scale plantings, street furniture, public art, etc. would allow for a very comfortable pedestrian experience and greatly reduce the crossing length. I would also like to see bump outs at the crosswalks in addition to lane reductions in order to further reduce the crossing length. Making it feel like you are intended to cross as a pedestrian is key to the long term success of The Banks and eventually the caps and whatever is built on them. This spot could easily serve as an entrance to the city from the highways in certain directions and should show itself off in the best way possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just do all of the sidewalk expansion on the FWW sides of 2nd and 3rd.  The sidewalks and pedestrian areas that abut FWW will have to be completely rebuilt anyway.  They are in deplorable condition and I'm surprised they don't create an exposure for the city.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^It would be a shame to lose the trees that are already there, but you make a good point. The sidewalks are some of the worst in the city. They aren't, by any stretch of the imagination, flat anymore, need many replacement pavers, and just lack any creative design whatsoever. I would certainly be happy if we just saw some trees planted on the non-FWW sides of 2nd and 3rd and saw uniquely designed expanded sidewalks along the FWW caps.

 

Regardless of what happens with sidewalks and potential lane reductions (wasn't there talk of reducing 2nd by a lane recently?) all I know is that I don't want parks on the caps. There's no reason to steal any of the limelight away from the Central Riverfront Park by over saturating that part of downtown with parks and The Banks will feel infinitely more connected to the rest of downtown than they do now if it was continuous buildings all the way down to the Central Riverfront Park.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think people are forgetting where, exactly, the piles were driven.  They were driven so that there would be gaps between the existing bridges and the beginnings of the caps.  This was so that FWW would not technically become a tunnel, which brings all sorts of other requirements with it.  This means if they want to do 670-type things what has been built already is of little to no use.  If they want to do full caps and make it a tunnel they will still have to do quite a bit of prep work with more piles.  Also, remember that piles were driven for decks only between two full blocks -- Race to Walnut.  Piles were driven halfway from Race west to Elm and halfway east from Walnut to Main. 

 

Ignoring those issues for a moment, allow me to suggest this design feature -- keep 2nd and 3rd their existing widths close to the highway ramps, but narrow them for the two blocks between Race and Walnut, removing each lane closer to the trench.  Move the street wall of new buildings away from the trench, so that the Transit Center entrances could be rebuilt and embedded in the buildings.  Meanwhile, any buildings on the outer caps (w of Race, e of Walnut) would retain the existing assumed street facing.  So as you'd be coming off the interstate in either direction, buildings on the set-in corners would have more prominence and therefore more value.   

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...