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Cincinnati: Over-the-Rhine: School for the Creative & Performing Arts

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Excuse my ignorance, but what is SCPA?  Also, for what purposes are they doing demolishing?  Just curious.

 

Yes, it is the School of Creative & Performing Arts.  It will be the first K-12 performing arts school in the country and will be located in the heart of Cincinnati.  It is occupying a block that about 80%-90% consisted of a surface lot.  The rest consisted of some deteriorating buildings and some random hole-in-the-wall shops.  This is a VAST improvement and will drastically help clean up that part of OTR.

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And it will link Washington Park and Music Hall to the rest of downtown.  Before it was a surface lot with a wall of rundown buildings filled with beeper stores and dive bars. The streetcar line down 12th/up Elm will help too.

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^ Thank you for posting this.  I didn't realize that the SCPA would face central parkway.  I always assumed that it would face Washington Park, creating a truly dynamic effect for residents.

 

I am frankly disappointed that the players did not cover their bases here.  As your article points out, there are many loose ends that have not been addressed.  The move of the SCPA should should help revitalize OTR; not create boundaries, surface lots, and vacancy.  The obstacles will likely be easy to overcome if the OTR momentum keeps swinging.  Step 1, streetcars.....

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I like Mike Morgan, but look closer at who pulls the strings at the Foundation and why these specific questions are brought up

 

This action takes place at a time when there is a lot of mistrust between the neighborhood and CPS. Morgan points to the following questionable CPS actions:

* The demolition of four transitional housing structures on the north side of Washington Park that were bought from the Drop Inn Center

* An unadorned, blank wall on the back of the new SCPA which will face Washington Park, which Morgan equates with CPS "literally turning its back on Over-the-Rhine"

* No plan for the vacated SCPA building and its surrounding greenspace

* An announcement that they may raze Rothenburg school, despite prior recognition of its role as a neighborhood anchor (no one believes this will happen, not Mike Morgan, not Liz Blume, and certainly not me but it is a great diversionary scare tactic)

 

Would the Foundation be ok with an announcement not to tear down Rothenburg and sell it, and to build a new school in the greenspace of SCPA allowing the existing school to converted?  If Rothenburg is sold for the right use, ie American Red Cross this benefits the entire OTR area, not just pendleton keeping their park.  If a "neighborhood school" is so important to the Foundation, put it in Pendleton, they have the space in Marge's and Ty's back yard.  Do what is right for all of OTR, not just Pendleton.

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In defense of the Foundation and the residents of Broadway and Spring Streets:  Many many years ago, Pendelton residents organized and converted abandonned lots into the current park adjacent to SCPA.  The property was then City owned.  Later it was transferred to the schools without any knowledge of residents.  Having a park across the street from your house increases your value much, much more than having a neighborhood school. 

 

I'm not saying their concerns should trump all others. But the school board is probably looking forward to the proceeds from selling both SCPA and the lot.  The SCPA building would be worth less without the adjacent lot.  However if given the choice between their beloved park becoming parking lot for condos, or becoming a school, maybe they would change their minds.

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look closer at who pulls the strings at the Foundation and why these specific questions are brought up

And here is your answer.

Having a park across the street from your house increases your value much, much more than having a neighborhood school.

 

No doubt whatsoever!  But this is my point, do what is right for all of OTR (if that is indeed having a neighborhood school) and not what is right for only Broadway.  If we can put a major business into Rothenberg, where will they eat, where will they live, what impact will that have on the neighborhood as a whole, not just a part.  And remember who is fighting the hardest for the neighborhood school, it is Pendleton, so long as it is not in their back yard.

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SCPA photo update, 11/10/07

Building Cincinnati, 11/12/07

 

Earth is being moved and some rather deep holes are being excavated for the new School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) in Over-the-Rhine.

 

The $72 million, five-floor building will occupy the block bounded by Race, Elm and Twelfth streets and Central Parkway.

 

The new school will combine Cincinnati Public Schools' SCPA program for grades 4 through 12 with Schiel Primary's K-3 program. It will serve 1,350 students and be the first public K-12 arts school in the United States.

 

071110056otrsdu4.jpg

 

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071110059otrsgu0.jpg

 

071110060otrsvy9.jpg

 

071110061otrsmm2.jpg

 

071110063otrsdi4.jpg

 

071110064otrseg2.jpg

 

http://www.building-cincinnati.com/2007/11/scpa-photo-update-111007.html

 

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Here is a site plan for the school (Central Parkway is on the bottom in this plan view)...you can also find more images and information about the school on the website:  www.thenewscpa.org.  The school will have a nice looking frontage on Central Parkway that should dramatically change that portion of the street.

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>It seems deeper than it needs to be.

 

The floor plans call for basement classrooms, it's hard to tell from these renderings if they will at least have some windows for those basement rooms.  There is also a rendering for the rear of the building (the side facing the park), and while not all bad, it's overall a total mess of a design.  If I were designing this thing, a face in both directions would be priority, probably with a north/south atrium right through the middle that would give the building a central hallway and focus.

 

There are plenty of examples buildings which successfully front multiple directions like the U.S. Capitol, or closer to home the Hamilton County Courthouse or, you know, the existing SCPA.

 

 

 

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There are plenty of examples buildings which successfully front multiple directions like the U.S. Capitol, or closer to home the Hamilton County Courthouse or, you know, the existing SCPA.

 

I don't think we got that here.  We get a surface parking lot and a loading dock facing the park. Way to go CPS.

 

perspective.northeast.jpg

 

Oh, and they gave the Drop-Inn Center a half a million dollars and tore down more historic buildings for an "outdoor theater".  That's a productive use of funds, especially when they are claiming it costs too much to rehab Rothenberg and want to tear it down as well.

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The school facing the park would create a dynamic impact... It is a shame that the view from Washington Park (and Music Hall) will be a solid brick wall.  Sometimes, I just don't get it.

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And just this week I parked on Court St. in one of those diagonal spaces where they now have the needlessly complicated parking meter things with the tickets.  As soon as I pulled in I spotted a homeless man and thought to myself "here we go again".  And sure enough, he took me step-by-step through the process of getting a ticket out of those things even though I knew what I was doing and got the eye from him when I didn't give him any money.  The cherry on top was him trying to get me to buy some paper with a lead story about how "they're trying to move the Drop-In shelter".  If I hadn't been in a hurry I'd have told him I and a whole lot of people *WANT* them to move it!  His ilk and their wealthy sympathizers have destroyed Washington Park and probably were a factor in this design. 

 

Also as someone who has been involved in the arts my entire life, I'll repeat what I've mentioned on this forum before, that I am opposed to the very existence of arts magnet schools.  These people go to college and think they're the next whoever and they just plain aren't.  I had this exact conversation with a fairly prominent local arts person who will remain nameless and we were in total agreement about what a sham these magnet schools are.  Walking past SCPA as-is on a school day is always pretty distressing...so these blue-haired text-messaging 14 year-olds are the next big thing?  Give me a break.   

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Well school doesn't really exist to always produce the "next big thing". Walnut Hills doesnt try to produce the next Bill Gates with every student.  The art schools just give people who have an interest in the arts a place where their interests can be broadened and fostered.

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Well i'm sure if this side of the building was exposed to Central Parkway people would be complaining about that too. Is it ideal? No. Is it a definite improvement than what was there and will it bring more people into the park and area? Yes.

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Well i'm sure if this side of the building was exposed to Central Parkway people would be complaining about that too. Is it ideal? No. Is it a definite improvement than what was there and will it bring more people into the park and area? Yes.

Absolutely!  At some point we have to get beyond this sentiment that everything not just has to be the right way, but it has to be our way.  Thank God they are building a great school in an area that has had nothing for years.  Is it facing the way we want, who cares.  I think it is funny (and by funny I mean sad) that we can not get anything here and not complain about it in some way.  OTR is booming right now and yet all we do is bitch. 

 

We should all try something different this time, and that is be proud of what is happening in our community because it is so much better than the alternative. 

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I would also contend that this will look much better than what people think from Washington Park...the way things will be set up, there will be a natural element of activity that will gravitate to that side of the building -- and that is FANTASTIC news for that area of OTR.  Everyone must keep in mind that this is more than just a project for OTR, but also NW Downtown and Central Parkway.

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Why are you you so negative about any new developments in OTR?

 

^I don't know if that was directed to me, but I'll give you my thinking.

 

OTR is an incredible place.  I moved here 8 years ago and fell in love with the neighborhood.  I've chosen to live here, invest here, open my business here, and actively work for the neighborhood's betterment.  When I talk to people, I am constantly promoting the neighborhood.  When I look around, I see so much potential. I see so much potential it pains me.  But it's such a fragile potential. The scale, density, detail, massing, and placement of buildings is such a critical component in the character of the neighborhood (That's not to discount businesses, institutions, and people aren't as important). 

 

When someone or some project comes along like CPS comes along with a plan that ignores that historic urban character, it ticks me off.  Washington Park is one of the greatest urban parks in the country.  The density of the buildings on the east and south sides, combined with the iconic buildings on the west side create a space that complements the park.  The demolition of the remaining historic wall of buildings (that ranged from typical to gorgeous detailing) for an asphalt parking lot, blank walls with punched openings, and an open amphitheater trying to hold an urban corner is an affront to the neighborhood.  This could have been solved architecturally without much effort, but CPS took the easy road and ignored every good planning principle for no good reason.  What ticks me off is the lost potential.  I'm happy a new school is being built there.  I'm happy that a giant parking lot is being turned into a good use.  But if we settle for half assed solutions, we will slowly bleed the historic urban character out of the neighborhood.

 

This neighborhood has been s*%t on so much over the years.  A lot of my frustration is watching people and institutions continuing to abuse OTR for their own purposes and ignore what what makes it great.  If CPS only made this mistake, I would be not nearly as pissed, but they have a pattern of screwing over the neighborhood.

 

Again, I'm pissed at the lost potential.  It doesn't always come across this way, but I'd like to that it is actually a positive attitude.  Wanting to make something the best it can be is a good thing.

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bravo mcmicken.  you've covered nearly every aspect of it that bothers me, but with a more personal perspective.  i'll admit, i've been following from the outside (living in oakley or other parts of the country) but are we beyond the point of influencing the design?  This horrorshow will be a detriment to the neighborhood for decades and I can't believe no one with influence has stepped in to prevent it.

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Thanks for the post McMicken.  You nailed it.

 

I have fallen in love with the neighborhood and I have fallen in love with a vision of the neighborhood.  As a potential investor, it is frustrating when the story changes like this.  The city has a long history of disinvestment/underinvestment in the neighborhood and to sell one thing and build another is the wrong thing to do at this point in history!  I have talked up the SCPA in the past and now I feel like an idiot because the plan changed.  It makes me wonder if Washington Park is going to get re-developed, or if the streetcars are going to run!

If we accept these half-ass solutions and bait and switch tactics, they are never going to change.  Construction is not progress if it undermines what the neighborhood is trying to accomplish.

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If we accept these half-ass solutions and bait and switch tactics, they are never going to change.  Construction is not progress if it undermines what the neighborhood is trying to accomplish.

 

And this is for McMicken as well. 

 

I to want to see what is best for OTR and work hard every day to see it progress a little further.  But here is the rub.  I have been down here for years, in the trenches just like you, I have seen the demonization of any group who tries to do anything down here, and not just CPS, but 3CDC, the "greedy landlords on Main" and even the OTR Chamber.  Why? because it is some group or organization who feels that someone else is about to come in and all the sudden change things and the people who were here for years are not going to get an ounce of credit for it.  Yet this "infighting" is one thing that has helped stop any real change from occurring here.

 

You know this is true, "we can't do this because it is not....", "we can't do that because..... is doing it and we can't trust them" and McMicken, you heard it yourself (actually I think you may have been dismissed by one of these people before you could have heard it) "Unless we get input in design, we will hold up their liquor liscence"  This all has to stop or nothing will get done and we will sit and watch this "incredible place" continue to get torn down because of neglect.

 

So far OTR has sued CPS, has accused Western Southern of impropriety, fought development by 3CDC (and we even have a daily picketer in front of the sales office), we complain about new venues opening on Main, we complain about our police dept, we complain about any new const, we complain that this group is siding with that group, we complain about development even outside OTR taking away from us, we complain about everything....and people listen.

 

I to want what is best, but your best and my best and someone else's best may differ.  I think it is best we face the school's best visable side to the side with the most visability.  I think it is best to sell Rothenburg and build a new school next to the old SCPA.  I think what 3CDC has done is nothing short of remarkable.  I think that Western Southern has invested more money in OTR than just about anyone.  I think that Main Street is going in the right direction.  I think dist. 1 has done a tremendous job of turning around crime.  I KNOW WE ARE DOING BETTER TODAY THAN ANYTIME IN THE PAST 50 YEARS!  Yet we complain, loudly, publicly, and viciously...and people listen. 

 

So it is not always a question of getting what is "best" it sometimes is a matter of getting it done.  If indeed all of the groups in OTR are currently looking to find common ground via the alliance, then lets start by everyone agreeing that we are all proud of the accomplishments we are seeing here in our neighborhood and support something for once, rather than demonize it.

 

 

 

 

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Forgot to comment on this one point.

 

When someone or some project comes along like CPS comes along with a plan that ignores that historic urban character, it ticks me off.  Washington Park is one of the greatest urban parks in the country.

 

OK?  How has Washington Park been for the past 10, 20, or even 30 years?  If it wasn't for CPS, would we even be talking about Wash Park today?  Would we be talking about possibly moving the drop inn center?  Would we be able to sell condos on Centenial row without CPS's efforts?  So it is facing a different direction than you want, it is still there and that fact alone will help bring back "one of the greatest urban parks in the country".

 

 

When did OTR re-development turn into a 'with us' or 'against us' proposition?

My sentiments exactly!  Some can not see the forest for all of the trees.  A neighborhood is being reborn right before your eyes, but some are too busy throwing stones to see it.

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My skepticism of the need for a new SCPA or an arts magnet school aside, the issue we are all having could have been avoided by orienting the building in a U-shape so that whatever visitor and staff parking that is required on-site (all of 38 spaces according to their published plans, posted below) could have allowed for a continuous facade facing both Central Parkway and 12th St.  A break in the facade facing Elm or Race wouldn't be raising near the ire.   

 

site_plan_aerial_edited.jpg

 

Again, I suspect there was a mandate from CPS that this building explicitly turn it's back on the park and the nonsense that it plays host to 24 hours a day.  I'm sure the north entrance will be exit-only which raises the question as to how the kids are going to walk the guantlet back and forth to Music Hall on all those trips that are supposedly going to make them such better musicians than before.   

 

Perhaps the 38-space parking lot will be the site of a future expansion, but again, it seems to me that the building could have simply been designed one floor shorter and filled the entire block, these precious 38 parking spaces could have been built underground, the proposed Music Hall garage could have been built beneath the new SCPA, etc. 

 

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Again, I suspect there was a mandate from CPS that this building explicitly turn it's back on the park

and you do not think that turning the school's best visable side to the side with the most visability had anything to do with it?  Drive by on 12th vs Central Parkway?  Do not all buildings on Central, face Central...the American building, the Emry etc.? 

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It's fine if the Central Parkway facade is the main facade and the street adress of the building, but I share the sentiment with a lot of people that the building needed to face 12th as well.  Nearby Music Hall faces Elm St., not Central Parkway, but the back of it is not particularly bad. 

 

The other work going on in the neighborhood is fantastic, I and others aren't disuputing that.  But between this and the Gateway condos & garage, there was potential to fill holes in the neighborhood with solid pieces but each is baffling.  Each look like they were drawn by the summer interns at their respective design firms. 

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The density of the buildings on the east and south sides, combined with the iconic buildings on the west side create a space that complements the park.  The demolition of the remaining historic wall of buildings (that ranged from typical to gorgeous detailing) for an asphalt parking lot, blank walls with punched openings, and an open amphitheater trying to hold an urban corner is an affront to the neighborhood.

 

...hits the nail on the head and drives that sucker home.

 

I can understand Central Parkway as the priveledged facade and creating a street wall on the north side of Central, but the real of the site is not generic urban poche'  but one of the better urban parks in Ohio, with a local monument (music hall) holding down one side.

 

Oh well, whats done is done.  But I wonder if there is any design review going on in Cincy for this to happen, esp considering OTR is on the National Register.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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