The renaissance of OTR has been impressive. Cincinnati’s urban core has added all the amenities one could dream of over the past five years. Our population has stabilized and we are slowly growing for the first time since the 1950’s. However, our peer and competitor cities are experiencing much larger population booms in the thousands. How can we keep up?
I suggest one way is to build new, large residential buildings with ground floor commercial space along Central Parkway. These buildings would take place of some of the parking lots and the underutilized shorter, non-historically-contributing buildings that line the Parkway. Mostly located just over the Parkway from OTR in the West End, this would allow hundreds of new residents to take advantage of all the amenities of OTR and all investment our city has made in the neighborhood in the last decade. These new residential buildings would have access to the Central Parkway bike lanes and the Cincinnati Streetcar as well.
Historical renovation in OTR is absolutely necessary but it is also slow and expensive. I would view adding large chunks of new housing as I described as adding “bonus residents” that can sustain businesses and add to the vibrancy of the neighborhood. I am also picturing something that would be more affordable, and add some diversity to the housing stock.
Ballet parking lot
A good place to start here would be the parking lot of the Cincinnati Ballet headquarters. It’s a large lot, somewhat elevated from street level, across Wade St. from the ballet. Additionally a large parcel of open land exists directly behind the lot between it and the Taft High football stadium. This site could support multiple buildings, and maintain parking for the ballet in a new garage structure. Perhaps the development could be known as “Ballet Flats” and the ground floor businesses could even be dance-related.
An alternate version of this idea would be to construct a new headquarters for the ballet in the surface parking lot south of Music Hall, so it can be directly included in the “Washington Park arts corridor” (Music and Memorial Hall, and the new Shakespeare Theater.) Then the current ballet site could be redeveloped as well. A word of caution is necessary though, as the ballet at its current location adds to the diversity of land uses in its area, which is an essential factor for active streets.
The large open field