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thomasbw

Cincinnati Streetcar / Cincinnati Bell Connector News

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I love those pictures looking down the line throughout Over the Rhine.  It shows just how great of an urban neighborhood it can really be with the form, etc.  I really believe that if there was a tunnel built to get to uptown, the area would just explode because it would allow everyone who works at the hospitals, etc. to live a car free life.  That would make it so attractive to employers, etc.  I don't think it would be that hard to increase the downtown (OTR, Pendelton and downtown proper) and uptown population by 30k all together, and that is just for professionals, not students.  I don't think it's a pipe dream, we just need a governor who believes in mass transit and believes in Ohio's core cities.  A guy like Minnesota's governor.  We can get there.

 

At the very least people should start using the bus system that is already there.  Metro Plus for instance makes commuting from OTR to "Pill Hill" very fast, and in general bus service between OTR and uptown is adequate - the two are close enough that in spite of the downsides of bus transit  its not that bad.  I think that's the first step towards people demanding better - at least help create a culture of transit use which I think the streetcar is a good piece of the puzzle and get more people to demand better.

 

When I lived in Cincy btw, the only time I ever used the bus was to go from uptown to downtown - and literally the only thing I could really use it for was commuting to work as downtown was super dead.  These days there is stuff in downtown and OTR so the areas where the bus system is good are far more useful than they used to be.

 

Yup yup.  I live car-free here just fine.  Metro*Plus is a really easy ride between downtown and uptown, as well as Kenwood.  Getting to any of the Zipcars when I need them is not an issue.  Getting to the airport for a long-term rental is pretty painless too.  With transit apps giving me directions everywhere there's never an issue.

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I was thinking about the Downtown library branch and how it has two parking lots and an underutilized plaza along Walnut, right next to a streetcar stop. In a few years, the library could make more efficient use of that space and/or make a bit of money by selling it off to a developer.

 

12L1V

 

One option would be to put an addition onto the current library building, making it span the full block from Vine to Walnut. The first floor could be used for additional space for the library (including a new Walnut Street entrance) and new retail spaces along Walnut, with apartments above.

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And if there's any building type where a courtyard is the appropriate disposition of outdoor space, it's a library.  They don't have to worry about security, and the building itself shields the courtyard from the noise of the city.  The drivel of leftover outdoor spaces we see in the aerial view above don't add much to the public realm, and they're not useful for patrons either. 

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I was thinking about the Downtown library branch and how it has two parking lots and an underutilized plaza along Walnut, right next to a streetcar stop. In a few years, the library could make more efficient use of that space and/or make a bit of money by selling it off to a developer.

 

One option would be to put an addition onto the current library building, making it span the full block from Vine to Walnut. The first floor could be used for additional space for the library (including a new Walnut Street entrance) and new retail spaces along Walnut, with apartments above.

 

That's a great idea, and original enough that it might make some national publications. I'm seeing some "This library lets bookworms move right in" clickbait headlines.

 

Seriously, the main public library would be a way better amenity for apartments than a little workout room with a treadmill and a TV.


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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Here's the streetcar stop on Walnut next to the library under construction:

 

16402019876_7beca29eba_c.jpg

 

16402016076_287c54e7e6_c.jpg

 

People getting off here should be greeted by something more welcoming than a brick wall and a grassy knoll.

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And if there's any building type where a courtyard is the appropriate disposition of outdoor space, it's a library.  They don't have to worry about security, and the building itself shields the courtyard from the noise of the city.  The drivel of leftover outdoor spaces we see in the aerial view above don't add much to the public realm, and they're not useful for patrons either. 

 

The library was built in the early 1950s when there were very few open spaces in the center city.  Within 10-20 years this space was joined by upwards of 100 surface parking lots within a 5-6 block radius. 

 

 

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But wasn't the original portion of the library only that one corner that's up to the two sidewalks it fronts and the rest, including the excessive open spaces, came later?

 

The library is nice, but it's insulting to the urban fabric. The Walnut Street side is especially bad. I can handle the little plaza on the Vine side even though I don't think it's necessary but the rear of the building, the parking lot, that grassy knoll, and that blank brick wall are all terrible. That land could easily be sold off to a developer and the functionality of the library would be no different.

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I think developing the lot spaces into some revenue generating development is a great idea, but it raises a lot of questions.  Would the Library get public backlash for straying from its core mission and engaging in real estate development?  Would they be under a lot of pressure to keep the housing affordable that a private developer wouldn't experience?  Would there be conflicts of interests regarding other nearby future developments, leading to unintended consequences, with the Library exerting political influence to try to protect its investment? What happens in thirty years when the development is making less money and the mechanical items etc. for the development need to be overhauled? 

 

It's probably nothing that can't be solved by some Public Private Partnership led by 3CDC.  But one can see the kind of complicated issues that UC is experiencing with the Emery building. 

 

EDIT: just saw jmicha's post about selling off the land.  That might be the best way to avoid issues like these.


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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I actually think the Walnut side is far better than the Vine side.  Yes, the parking lot is ridiculous, and the expansion is kind of silly when you think about how they could have used that parking space, but let's face it, there are hundreds of empty lots downtown that are a higher priority than these spaces.

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I think developing the lot spaces into some revenue generating development is a great idea, but it raises a lot of questions.  Would the Library get public backlash for straying from its core mission and engaging in real estate development?  Would they be under a lot of pressure to keep the housing affordable that a private developer wouldn't experience?  Would there be conflicts of interests regarding other nearby future developments, leading to unintended consequences, with the Library exerting political influence to try to protect its investment? What happens in thirty years when the development is making less money and the mechanical items etc. for the development need to be overhauled? 

 

It's probably nothing that can't be solved by some Public Private Partnership led by 3CDC.  But one can see the kind of complicated issues that UC is experiencing with the Emery building. 

 

EDIT: just saw jmicha's post about selling off the land.  That might be the best way to avoid issues like these.

 

The library would not be involved in the development of the land. Under my proposal, the library would sell or lease the land to the developer, and the library's usage of the first floor of the building would be included in that agreement.

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I think developing the lot spaces into some revenue generating development is a great idea, but it raises a lot of questions.  Would the Library get public backlash for straying from its core mission and engaging in real estate development?  Would they be under a lot of pressure to keep the housing affordable that a private developer wouldn't experience?  Would there be conflicts of interests regarding other nearby future developments, leading to unintended consequences, with the Library exerting political influence to try to protect its investment? What happens in thirty years when the development is making less money and the mechanical items etc. for the development need to be overhauled? 

 

It's probably nothing that can't be solved by some Public Private Partnership led by 3CDC.  But one can see the kind of complicated issues that UC is experiencing with the Emery building. 

 

EDIT: just saw jmicha's post about selling off the land.  That might be the best way to avoid issues like these.

 

I don't think public libraries of this kind have much of a role anymore and they should consider redeveloping the site but using a land lease and/or rent to reduce or possibly eliminate the county's library property tax.   

 

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The award for strangest streetcar stop goes to the Race Street stop at Findlay Market. Since the streetcar is traveling in the rightmost lane at that point, there isn't room for a regular streetcar stop that bumps out from the sidewalk. Instead, the entire sidewalk has been raised to the height of the streetcar doors.

 

16257724549_6da0287d07_c.jpg

 

Two other random photos...

 

Streetcar stop at 7th & Walnut:

 

15821438034_9fc29be888_c.jpg

 

Intersection of 3rd and Walnut rebuilt and ready for installation of streetcar tracks:

 

15823874733_c7a19fdfa6_c.jpg

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That Race Street stop is sub-optimal. The rest of the stops I've seen look great.

 

You know it's why it's that way? Because of the stupid double-back alignment required to go up Vine Street, which I bet will never be used, we had to slim-down the stop -- one of the most important stops where many people will be burdened with groceries -- in order to make the broadway turn onto Elder. This was really bad planning.

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This seems big...

 

Streetcar prompts upscale condo developer Rick Greiwe to target downtown Cincinnati

 

Rick Greiwe, who set the standard for upscale condominiums in the region with a Mariemont development that includes $1.5 million units, said he plans to follow the tracks of the Cincinnati streetcar and build downtown.

"My company's primary focus will be condo construction downtown in the next 10 years," Greiwe said in an exclusive interview with the Business Courier. "Anywhere two blocks from the streetcar is going to be great."

His plans call for new construction rather than renovating existing buildings.

 

And we may have a champion for the Uptown Connector:

 

"If we want to be a place where young people want to relocate to and empty nesters want to live, you have got to have those kind of amenities," Greiwe said. "We're there. Now we need to connect (the streetcar) to Uptown. Then you have an urban center with 160,000 people living and working and playing in one place."

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This article makes me so happy. Greiwe seems to really understand urban design and not just cheaping out to make the biggest profit. The fact that this article has come out now makes me wonder if he already has a project underway that's set to be announced soon.

 

He'd also make a great champion for the Uptown connector. His typical client has wealth and with wealth comes a larger voice (for better or worse) and this could help sway some of the powerful people in this city who have met and worked or bought from him.

 

I'm extremely excited to see what he comes up with. Hopefully we get something really iconic out of this.

 

In conjunction with this someone on Facebook who is a realtor has stated that the Seven at Broadway building already has a waiting list far larger than the building itself can hold. This is all good news for the future of the streetcar route Downtown.

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It is good that the discussions are happening and that there are potential clients looking to open up shop in OTR. I'd rather see it integrated into a more urban building, but this is good news.

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That Race Street stop is sub-optimal. The rest of the stops I've seen look great.

 

You know it's why it's that way? Because of the stupid double-back alignment required to go up Vine Street, which I bet will never be used, we had to slim-down the stop -- one of the most important stops where many people will be burdened with groceries -- in order to make the broadway turn onto Elder. This was really bad planning.

 

Well, there's some open space behind it if they want to spruce it up more.  Maybe add some covered benches and a Portland Loo?

 

Paul Grether mentioned on a tour that once they build the Uptown Connector this stop will see x2 the streetcars of any other stop, because it will be the last stop on the OTR/downtown loop for streetcars going up the hill and the first stop on the OTR/downtown loop for streetcars coming down the hill.

 

BTW have any of you guys seen the small "secret" streetcar stop they built out up by the MOF? I assume it's for changing drivers.

 

 

 


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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That Race Street stop is sub-optimal. The rest of the stops I've seen look great.

 

You know it's why it's that way? Because of the stupid double-back alignment required to go up Vine Street, which I bet will never be used, we had to slim-down the stop -- one of the most important stops where many people will be burdened with groceries -- in order to make the broadway turn onto Elder. This was really bad planning.

 

100% agreed, which is why I proposed the Ohio Ave route five years ago. ;-) What can you do?SMDH...

 

The thing that irritates me the most though is how they threw a step into the middle of the sidewalk. WTF is that?

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If we used the existing track stub-outs to go up Vine St. as planned couldn't we get up to Corry St. at least for cheap?  Isn't some of the design work complete? What about the dreaded environmental impact study?  Do you think we could get that done for $20-$30 million? That would be small potatoes compared to some of the proposed amounts handed out to projects around the country in the recent federal budget.

 

I thought the $50 million pulled by the governor would have been for additonal length Uptown such as getting to the Zoo.  Maybe our goal should just to be to get up the hill on the cheap?


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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I'm extremely excited to see what he comes up with. Hopefully we get something really iconic out of this.

 

Or just a ton of decent development that revitalizes underused buildings and fills in some surface lots.  Iconic would certainly be nice, though.

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Well he has said that he's not interested in renovation so we'll be seeing new builds from him.

 

I should clarify that by iconic I mean something that stands out in terms of quality and design and not necessarily something gimicky/trendy or overly dominating like many people associate with 'icons' in a city.

 

If we got a handful of skyscrapers and some low rises that are modern and offer a unique product that stand out as symbols of the streetcar's success I'd consider those iconic, just not in the typical sense of the word.

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I'm extremely excited to see what he comes up with. Hopefully we get something really iconic out of this.

 

Or just a ton of decent development that revitalizes underused buildings and fills in some surface lots.  Iconic would certainly be nice, though.

 

About those surface lots. . .

 

"It is going to be partnerships that you form with landowners because there aren't many willing sellers downtown. A parking lot is like an annuity."

 

Nice article overall.

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The problem with parking lots is that they make tons of money while having super low property value. A building might be worth more, but not to a parking lot operator who will never see the profits a building can make since they will have sold to a developer for a tiny amount and lost their huge monthly income source. As much as I hate them, parking lots are great businesses in a city with relatively low land value in its core. That is changing though thankfully.

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Well he has said that he's not interested in renovation so we'll be seeing new builds from him.

 

I should clarify that by iconic I mean something that stands out in terms of quality and design and not necessarily something gimicky/trendy or overly dominating like many people associate with 'icons' in a city.

 

If we got a handful of skyscrapers and some low rises that are modern and offer a unique product that stand out as symbols of the streetcar's success I'd consider those iconic, just not in the typical sense of the word.

 

It depends on his design team...

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This is great news! Can't wait to see this unfold. It will be great to finally have local developers working on big projects downtown. Things like this validate all the hard work that was put in to fight for what we believe in.

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And so far he has shown that he has a good team behind him and I don't expect that to change.

 

Yeah the condos in Mariemont are top notch and fit perfectly into the asethetics of the neighborhood.  Its an improvement over the midcentury apartment buildings they replaced frankly.  I'm hoping to see the same from him in Downtown Cincy.

 

Getting rid of the parking lots through partnerships sounds like a great idea too - I know a lot of folks here don't like the idea of more garages, but I think that's probably what he's talking about, some kind of combined parking/apartment developments that are a win for refilling the city and a win for the parking lot guys who still wish to profit from their lots.

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I'm extremely excited to see what he comes up with. Hopefully we get something really iconic out of this.

 

Or just a ton of decent development that revitalizes underused buildings and fills in some surface lots.  Iconic would certainly be nice, though.

 

About those surface lots. . .

 

"It is going to be partnerships that you form with landowners because there aren't many willing sellers downtown. A parking lot is like an annuity."

 

Nice article overall.

 

Just because an asset is like an annuity doesn't mean that we can't put a present-day value on it. We have a way of doing that using the maths.

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Did anyone else see WCPO report that an "accounting error" that stated the numbers incorrectly is what caused Cranley to freak out over the contingency fund? SMH...

 

Somehow Chris Seelbach, PG Sittenfeld and Amy Murray were able to read these mysteriously cryptic numbers. Must be magic.

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The award for strangest streetcar stop goes to the Race Street stop at Findlay Market. Since the streetcar is traveling in the rightmost lane at that point, there isn't room for a regular streetcar stop that bumps out from the sidewalk. Instead, the entire sidewalk has been raised to the height of the streetcar doors.

 

16257724549_6da0287d07_c.jpg

 

 

 

I can't tell from the angle. Is there room for a shelter there?

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I believe so. They've stated that only the Music Hall stop will be without a shelter so I would assume this stop will receive one.

 

Music Hall and the Vine & Central Parkway stop wont have shelters.  The Central Parkway stop is in park property technically.

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