Although it hasn’t yet broken ground, Kansas City plans to revive a long-dormant streetcar network. Voters approved a ballot measure in 2012 to fund a 2-mile starter route from Union Station to the River Market, nearly 55 years after the city halted its original streetcar service in 1957. Now Kansas City residents are likely to vote again to help pay for streetcar construction, this time to approve taxes that would help fund a new streetcar taxing district. The measure goes to City Council on Jan. 23. The district goes far beyond the terminals of the streetcar’s starter line. As the Kansas City Star reported, it would run from State Line to I-435 and from the Missouri River to 85th Street. In a November election, voters need to approve the district and a one-cent sales tax increase there, as well as special property taxes for properties generally within about a half-mile along the actual streetcar lines. To avoid double-taxing some residents, the taxing district would replace an existing downtown transportation district currently funding some of the starter line’s construction. Streetcar expenses could reach $400 million. Some of that could be scrounged from federal dollars and other sources, but supporters say local funding is the critical first step. In Cincinnati, too, boosters of a similar streetcar plan in that city celebrated news last month that work would resume on the project after City Council members narrowly voted to halt construction. Though the governor and members of city council had previously attempted to strip the partially completed project's funding, construction has since resumed. The project is on track to finish in 2016.
Posts tagged with "Cincinnati":
Aaron Betsky, director of the Cincinnati Art Museum for seven years, announced Thursday he’ll step down. Cincinnati’s WVXU reported that the museum's board will set up a search committee, and that Betsky will help pick his successor. Betsky, an architect, oversaw the first phase of a renovation for which he helped raise more $13 million, and increased the art museum’s endowment by 18 percent. His leadership was at times controversial, as when he oversaw an exhibit by artist Todd Pavlisko that included firing a .30-caliber rifle in the 132-year-old museum’s Schmidlapp Gallery. Before moving to Cincinnati he was the Director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam, and previously designed for Frank Gehry. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Board chair Dave Dougherty said Betsky’s successor will need a variery of skills:
* "Someone great at exhibitions, first and foremost." * "Someone who continues to have financial discipline." * "People skills." Dougherty said the art museum is a large organization, with many tentacles, and a chance to influence the broader community. And, of course, there’s a director’s all-important fund-raising role.Betsky was a finalist for dean of the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts at the University of Illinois, Chicago last year. That position ultimately went to Steve Everett, an Emory University professor of music. “The museum now has the programming and staff in place, and the financial stability that will allow me to openly pursue my next position,” Betsky said in a press release. “I feel that I have accomplished the goals that I and the Board had envisioned when I first arrived and would like to explore opportunities that may include or combine my academic interests and institutional experiences.”
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.
For the first time in half a century, residents of Cincinnati and Covington, Ky. can traverse the Ohio River on foot via Roebling Bridge, thanks to a pedestrian connector reopened June 4. The Roebling Bridge Pedestrian Connector ties Cincinnati’s central riverfront, the site of some major mixed-use development of late, to the city of Covington. The $430,000 project is part of The Banks’ public infrastructure improvement program. Lane closures will accompany renovations on the north end of the bridge, where a new roundabout and traffic signal will take a few months to complete. Pedestrians, however, can walk on through. Let's just hope a certain New York City mayoral candidate doesn't confuse the Roebling Bridge with its big brother in Brooklyn and snap a photo for his website!
As one of a slew of successful placemaking initiatives of late, along with the recently reopened Washington Park, Cincinnati’s Phyllis W. Smale Riverfront Park is a key component of the city's resurgent urban identity. It’s a multi-faceted design, aspiring to filter water for flood control, provide green space and connect two downtown stadiums with a multimodal trail along the Ohio River. Smale, designed by Sasaki Associates, is also the site of a bike hub that ties two-wheel infrastructure into the city and two regional trail systems: the Ohio River Trail and the Ohio to Erie Trail. Along the edge of the park’s grand stair and within sight of both bike trails and the parking garage, the facility is intended to encourage travel by bicycle, Quadcycle and Segway. The hub celebrates its first birthday this May. This Friday April 19, Cincinnati will convene a panel to discuss multimodal connectivity throughout the city, including bikeways and bus rapid transit, co-sponsored by the Urban Cincy blog and the University of Cincinnati's Niehoff Studio. According to Urban Cincy, the event will "include discussion about how multi-modal transportation concepts can be applied throughout Cincinnati."
Cincinnati's 1938 Frederick and Harriet Rauh House by architect John Becker is a success story of preserving modern architecture. The house was nearly demolished for a McMansion several years ago, but the Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA) initiated a restoration project in September 2011 and the revolutionary International Style abode is now complete after just over a year of renovation. The CPA will celebrate the renewal of the Rauh House by hosting a two-day symposium, “Preserving Modern Architecture,” taking place on April 24 and 25. The first day of the symposium will focus on classifying the Modernist legacy and the forces that shape it while the second day will address conservation efforts by reviewing current preservation undertakings. The symposium examines case studies in Ohio and the Midwest, including discussions like, "What’s Worth Preserving? Identifying the Best of Midwestern Modern Architecture." Architecture critic Paul Goldberger will deliver a keynote lecture on "Public Awareness of the Early Modern Architecture and Preservation Implications." In the wake of the demise of Chicago's Prentice Women's Hospital, Preserving modern architecture has become everyday dialogue in the architecture world, and other structures such as the Edward Durell Stone-designed Upper West Side school making way for a luxury tower and the Edo Belli-designed Cuneo Memorial Hospital in Chicago may not survive the threat of demolition.
Casinos have landed in Ohio’s three largest cities, now that Cincinnati’s $400 million Horseshoe casino is open for business. Eric Douglas, a member of the Congress for New Urbanism, has an interesting post as a guest blogger for UrbanCincy on the casino’s supposedly urban character. While Horseshoe casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati have been billed as “truly urban” establishments, he writes, “casinos are not known to be particularly friendly urban creatures.” A large lawn at the building’s main entrance is the extent of the building’s civic engagement, by Douglas’ account, while the slab-like frontage on the building’s other end provides no urban connectivity whatsoever. Located downtown and not far from the booming Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, Horseshoe is a worthy target for design criticism. Even if its selling point at the ballot box—where Ohio voters approved four new casinos in recent years—was revenue and not urbanism, the facility’s contribution to a city on the rebound could be more than tax dollars. The casino owners said they expect 6 million visitors a year to the 24-7 facility.
As part of an ongoing relationship with the North College Hill school district in Cincinnati, fellow Cincinnatians SFA Architects helped the district consolidate its many facilities into the space of one city block. The combined Middle-High School building, completed in 2010, last week received LEED Platinum certification, making it the third public education facility in Ohio to earn the green building ranking system’s top honor. Completed within budget, the 198,000-square foot project achieved much of its energy savings by employing efficient HVAC equipment and extensive daylighting. Solar panels on the property will produce about five percent of the facility’s energy, with real-time solar power generation data available online. Ohio’s first LEED Platinum school, the London Middle School, designed by SHP Leading Design, was certified in April. That project reduced energy use 42 percent and water usage 40 percent. It also added a 71.2-kilowatt solar array that generates about 15 percent of the school’s yearly needs. Taft Information Technology High School in Cincinnati is also LEED Platinum.
Dear readers, Eavesdrop had the opportunity to explore Louisville, KY—our hometown—and Cincinnati, OH (a.k.a. Porkopolis) over the weekend. It’s been six or seven years since our last trip to Cincy and we have a couple things to say about it. It’s kind of a real city, like dense and old, with just enough corporate headquarters looming over the skyline. We finally got to see the HOK designed Great American Tower in real life and it’s just as bad in person as its renderings. You may remember that we thoroughly made fun of its fugly, Princess Di inspired, steel tiara—something about lipstick on a pig. Let’s update that to a more current comparison. That tiara is more Honey Boo Boo than Princess Di. Eavesdrop is not a fan of hats or tiaras on buildings—i.e. the Pappageorge Haymes-designed One Museum Park in Chicago with its sailor cap. The American Institute of Steel Construction disagrees, recently giving said tiara a design award. Cincy’s little sibling across the river, Covington, KY, has its own shiny shocker: Daniel Libeskind’s Ascent at Roebling Bridge, which is essentially a nautilus that mated with a Vegas hotel that was birthed onto the banks of the Ohio. And–just announced!–Covington is so hip that they’re turning their 102-year old City Hall into a boutique hotel. Despite a few eyesores, things in downtown Cincy are definitely looking up. The Over-the-Rhine neighborhood was shockingly vibrant in a way that should make Louisville’s NULU district extremely jealous. Louisville could use its own version of 3CDC, Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation, whose name adorned many banners and reconstruction projects. In Louisville there was nary a person walking the streets of East Market, NULU’s main drag. Cincy, please send some of that development juice downstream!
If you read this column, you know Eaves loves a party. You also know we self-deprecatingly speak of mediocre Midwestern cities (we’re from Louisville). Even with summer winding down, there’s no need to stick out that lower lip. A slew of—well, ok, three–high profile openings will tickle even the slightest art and architecture enthusiast as Cleveland, East Lansing, and Cincinnati compete for the title of Bilbao of the Midwest. First up, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, designed by Farshid Moussavi Architecture, opens on October 6. Will the Mistake-on-the-Lake become the Rust Belt Riviera? On MOCA’s heels comes the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum on November 9. OK, we don’t know anything about East Lansing other than a school’s there, but—hey!—now they have a Zaha Hadid. And finally, Cincinnati, home to America’s first Hadid, will welcome 21c Museum Hotel by Deborah Berke & Partners. Their website says it will open late 2012. Which project will be an urban game-changer? We could be swayed by opening night invites, but right now my money’s on Cincy.
Cincinnati, a city on the move, released a draft of its first master plan since 1980 in anticipation of approval by the planning commission August 30. The 222-page draft identifies five “initiative areas,” dubbed Compete, Connect, Live, Sustain, and Collaborate. Each contain tasks for growth over approximately ten years, according to the plan, although the document will receive annual budget reviews and will be officially updated every five years. Those five initiative areas encompass virtually everything that forms the fabric of urban life, from economic development to sustainable transportation. Recent efforts to expand the city’s support for arts and culture in marginal neighborhoods have been lauded by community groups. But the master planners in the Queen City have their work cut out for them. Urban voters have lost significant sway in Ohio’s 1st Congressional District over the past two decades as political gerrymandering, population loss, and the state's loss of two Dongressional districts has taken its toll. An interesting graphic from MapGrapher above shows how new district boundaries helped dilute the stock of voters living within city limits by nearly 40 percent since the 1990s. Despite progress in strengthening its urban core, a fraught suburban-urban relationship still threatens the city’s long-term prospects for growth. The master plan captures some of the city's optimism, however, which luckily is in no short supply. More information about the plan will be presented at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 801 Plum Street on August 30.
In its ongoing march to reclaim downtown neighborhoods marred by blight and suburban exodus, Cincinnati this week added Pendleton to the Neighborhood Enhancement Program. The district is known for its art center, and was a natural choice for the program now in 14 areas of the city. Like its neighbor to the west, Over-the-Rhine, Pendleton has struggled with crime. The “90-day blitz of city services” offered by NEP is designed to begin the process of long-term revitalization for the neighborhood by addressing that issue. Kennedy Heights saw a 16 percent drop in crime after it embarked on NEP earlier this year. The program will be reevaluated every 90 days, and again six months after completion. Cincinnati hopes the neighborhood’s defining characteristics will be its long-term salvation: its art and its artists. The city will add historic arts district signage along a new “boulevard of art,” drawing at first on $10,000 in seed money from a bevy of corporate and community sponsors. If the atmosphere at Wednesday’s announcement was a prologue for what’s to come, the future looks bright—Pendleton Neighborhood Council President David White’s speech was delayed slightly for a dance party to Martha and the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Streets."