Sunday, October 03, 1999

E N Q U I R E R   E D I T O R I A L


Riverfront plan is solid investment in Cincinnati's future

        On Thursday, officials of Hamilton County and the City of Cincinnati stood up — together — and gave a standing ovation to a colorful plan for our riverfront, as a squadron of pigs flew over City Hall.

        It's true — except the part about the pigs. And pigs might fly too when they see how acres of asphalt can be turned into an exciting neighborhood of housing, entertainment and parks that gives our city a new front yard.

riverfront plan
ON THE WEB
  The report is at www.riverfrontplanning.org
PUBLIC FORUMS
  The Cincinnati Riverfront Advisory Commission will hold public forums next week on its recommendations for the central riverfront:
  • Monday 7 p.m. at Raymond Walters College, Flory Center, rooms 13, 15 and 17, 9555 Plainfield Road, Blue Ash.
  • Tuesday 5:30 p.m. at Covington City Hall, Council Chambers, 638 Madison Ave., Covington.
  • Wednesday 5:30 p.m. at the Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center, room 260, 252 Elm St., downtown.
  • Thursday 6 p.m. at the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati, 3458 Reading Road in Avondale.
  Executive summaries will be distributed.
        The plan is called The Banks, and it's a solid, blue-chip investment for Cincinnati. Jack Rouse, who led the Riverfront Advisory Commission through months of work, called it “a plan that really makes a significant statement to the rest of the world.”

        That's not an overstatement.

        New parking would make it easier for visitors to get to games and downtown shopping and events. A lid over narrowed Fort Washington Way creates a landscaped pedestrian mall. A wharf extends entertainment over the Ohio River. And picture 1,000 units of housing, “rvr vws.”

        • Cincinnati would be joined again with the riverbank where our city was born, with easy pedestrian access from downtown.

        • Third Street would be revitalized, with new buildings, parking and development.

        • And housing for young professionals and “empty-nesters” would provide the population that draws commercial development and rejuvenates the entire downtown.

        The financing proposal is relatively painless. Most of the $248 million price tag could be raised with bonds that can be retired using annual growth in sales tax revenues. The projected return in economic growth is about $600 million.

        This isn't just about dollars and cents, though. It's about creating a place where regional residents and visitors want to be - the kind of “must see” city experience found in Denver's Lodo, Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Chicago's Navy Pier and Cleveland's Flats.

        The design paints the riverfront with generous green spaces, showcasing our beautiful Roebling Suspension Bridge and the coming Underground Railroad Freedom Center Museum. It would be anchored at each end by new stadiums for the Reds and Bengals. With the city's new public transit hub planted in the middle, it will be a natural gathering place, increasing circulation throughout the downtown.

        There's no other city in America putting such a huge investment into its downtown, and this piece of the jigsaw puzzle is the one that pays back taxpayers with healthy dividends: jobs, housing, places to go, economic growth, nightlife, increased tax revenues and tourism.

        Best of all, the Riverfront Advisory Commission set as its mandate a simple goal from one of its public meetings: “Whatever you do, make it fun.”

        And they did.

        Now quick action is needed by city and county leaders to seize the moment of cooperation. Local leaders are on the spot to make good on their rhetoric about regional cooperation.

        It won't be easy getting from here to a final-phase goal of 2006.

        But this is just the project to unite our community and shake Cincinnati out of its lethargy and stagnation.

        Thomas Humes, another passionate volunteer chosen by city and county leaders for the Riverfront Commission, put it this way:

        “This is a once-in-many-generations opportunity to start with a clean canvas and totally revitalize our city and create a new front door.”

        Riverfront Commission member Charlotte Otto said, “The vision thing seems to be winning here.”

        The city of flying pigs can make it come true.

Will riverfront be kid-free zone? Laura Pulfer column



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