After nearly a decade in the works, the renovation of Cincinnati's grand Music Hall has a construction timeline. The $129 million construction project crept along for years, the building languishing while preservationists sought to raise funds for its restoration—even as the fortunes of the surrounding neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine surged. Music Hall landed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of endangered historic places just months prior to receiving a critical $25 million Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit last year. Now, officials say, the 1878 landmark will shut down in June for renovations and reopen to the public in fall 2017. The Music Hall Revitalization Company still needs $6 million by January to close a lingering budget gap for the project, but MHRC board chair Otto M. Budig tells the Cincinnati Enquirer that a new wave of donors has him “confident that we’re not only going to raise that last $6 million, but maybe a few million more for an endowment.” Architects on the project include Washington, D.C.–based Martinez + Johnson Architecture, and Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel of Pittsburgh. Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) is the lead developer.
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In what the Cincinnati Enquirer called “a meeting filled with fire and suspense,” City Council voted 5-4 to halt construction on its $133 million streetcar project. The Enquirer has a breakdown of how and why, in their own words, each council member voted:
“We don’t want to waste money,” said Councilwoman Amy Murray, who voted with the majority. “This is really hard. (But) I don’t feel confident of the numbers I have.”Councilwoman Yvette Simpson nearly salvaged the plan with a proposal to keep going with $35,000 per day of streetcar construction while an independent analysis was done. Vice Mayor David Mann was ultimately unmoved by that bid. The project was a focal point in Mayor Mark Mallory's State of the City address last year, which came shortly after the 18-stop line broke ground. The route was to run from the river front through downtown and past Findley Market in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Before work began, however, Ohio Governor John Kasich moved to strip the project’s funding. Cincinnati voters ultimately voted down a ballot measure that would have banned rail funding in 2011, and the light rail line was back on track. Streetcar supporters will “regroup” on potential legal action to keep the streetcar project alive.