Posts tagged with "Downtown":

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Work to begin on Cincinnati's Central Parkway bike path

Cyclists in Cincinnati will soon have a separated bike lane along Central Parkway—a major connector between neighborhoods including Downtown, the West End, and Over-the-Rhine—following a narrow City Council vote last week. On April 30th, City Council members voted 5-4 to approve the city plan with a modification, adding $110,000 to the $625,000 project. Chris Wetterich of the Cincinnati Business Courier reported the city now will pave a tree-lined right-of-way near a building in the 2100 block of Central Parkway, responding to concerns from building owner Tim Haines and his tenants. As Wetterich reported, the bike path will still be built, but it’s unclear what implications the move could have for the project’s future:
Councilwoman Yvette Simpson reluctantly supported the measure but said she fears that council set a precedent by which other businesses will expect the city to provide free on-street parking in front of their buildings.
Portions of the pathway—which will run through Downtown, the West End, Over-the-Rhine, University Heights, Clifton, and Northside—have been fine-tuned before. Community feedback led to some tweaks in the design between Elm Street and Ludlow Avenue, scaling back plans to widen the street in favor of a re-striped bikeway. Construction on the protected bike lane is supposed to begin soon. The city's website says, "Spring of 2014."
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Cincinnati City Council Puts Brakes on Streetcar Construction

cincy_streetcar_01 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.
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Developer Eyes Chicago Post Office for Casino, Retail Center

Could that hulking behemoth, Chicago’s Main Post Office, see new life at last? According to the Sun-Times’ David Roeder, developer Bill Davies is betting on it, and he has brought Antunovich Associates to the table. If talk of a downtown casino has any merit, the Post Office could be the right place for it. The massive 1921 building (expanded in 1932) comprises 2.5 million square feet downtown, looming over Congress Parkway. Davies’ fanciful plans for the facility have grabbed headlines since 2009, when the US Postal Service first put it on the auction block. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is still pushing the state legislature for a casino license, touting the potential revenue as a much-needed influx for school construction and repairs.
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Cleaning up an Arts District in Cincinnati

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."
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Cleveland Scrubs Clean a Long-Blighted Park

After nine years of fundraising, a transformed park in downtown Cleveland seems to personify the spirit of reinvention that has recently overtaken the city. Perk Park, originally built in 1972, was first conceived by I.M. Pei as a small piece of the 200-acre Urban Renewal District. It was once called Chester Commons (for its location at East 12th Street and Chester Avenue), but was renamed in 1996 for 1970s Mayor Ralph Perk. A gunman shot two young men in the park in February 2009, killing one and wounding the other. That incident spurred action from Mayor Frank Jackson and the City Council, who delivered the remaining $1.6 million for the renovation. New York’s Thomas Balsley and the Cleveland firm of McKnight & Associates are the landscape architects behind the redesign. Their plan opens up an enclosed area at the park’s center by removing interlocking walls of concrete, where the 2009 murder took place. They added trees and rows of light wands along the park’s edges. The design smartly borrows from the modernist principles that spawned the surrounding skyscrapers, cultivating a hospitable vibe that has so far received high marks from Clevelanders. The trees provide shade and a slight respite from the urban heat island effect. And, it seems, from increasingly outdated perceptions of blight and dullness in downtown Cleveland.  
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Historic Tower in Downtown Cincinnati Gets New Life as Hotel

Seven years after the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation embarked on its resuscitation of downtown’s signature Fountain Square, a vacant 86-year-old tower one block away is getting a $27.3 million makeover. The former home of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the 14-story building will now house 12,000 square feet of street-level retail and a 238-room hotel. Once slated for condos, the limestone tower will instead be downtown’s fifth largest hotel, bringing the total number of rooms downtown to more than 3,000. Cincinnati’s finance committee approved $7 million in tax abatements over 12 years for the project. SREE Hotels will invest in the construction—its first in the Midwest—but may find another hotel chain to operate the business. The investment is part of a growing wave of renewal throughout Cincinnati’s urban core, driven by private interests, municipal support, and a resurgent interest in downtowns throughout the Midwest.
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P!LA: By Car

What better way to see LA than the way she was intended, by car. My colleague Sam Lubell was kind enough to chauffeur me around the city from time to time--when he wasn't, the buses were surprisingly nice, far more so than in New York, I must admit. While Sam drove, I did my best to take a few pictures. UPDATE: Here are some more pictures from the bus ride to Union Station, where I caught another bus to the airport. Also, I was wrong about the above building. That's a parking garage. See the comment section below for more.
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LA Park Re-Revamped

Curbed LA reports that designs for the 12-acre, Rios Clementi Hale-designed downtown Civic Park, connecting City Hall with the LA Music Center, have been updated (drawing above). The new designs, they find, will overhaul and lengthen the park's fountain, remove a series of trellises, enlarge the park's community terrace, and remove the "viewing bridge" at the foot of City Hall. The park (whose first phase will cost $56 million) also replaces curving geometries with longer, straighter thoroughfares. The plan is still set to go ahead despite the fact that the adjacent Grand Avenue Project is on hold. Despite liking certain elements, like a clearer set of "grand stairs," the LA Times' Christopher Hawthorne said the plan was too "conceptually weak to stand on its own." He added, "there is nothing evident in the latest version -- no urban gesture, no aesthetic spark -- that holds the proposal together as a compelling whole, or that might inspire the public or potential funders to embrace it with genuine enthusiasm." We're just happy to have another park downtown. After all, what major city doesn't have a great downtown green space?