Please take the 2010 UrbanCincy Survey to weigh in on some big changes coming soon!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

In the moment at the CAC

The Contemporary Arts Center is one of those special gems in Cincinnati. It showcases brilliant works of art, and is in what is considered, "...the most important American building to be built since the end of the Cold War." In addition to the museum's already great exhibits that include Julian Stanczak, Graphic Content, and Odili Donald Odita: FLOW there are some new ones that are opening soon that should be a real treat.

Piece from Daniel Libeskind: Blurring Lines exhibit

Space is the Place (2/2 - 4/13) features an international selection of recent works on the theme of space exploration-its history, limitations, and potential. LeWitt x 2 (2/23 - 5/4) will exhibit Sol LeWitt: Structure and Line, featuring the work of this esteemed American artist over the course of his long and prolific career. And finally is the one that I most look forward to - Daniel Libeskind: Blurring Lines (2/23 - 5/11) will display models, drawings and multimedia displays that will break down the key themes that Libeskind uses in his architecture.

Something to note is that members, of the CAC, get free admission and sneak previews of the exhibits. These previews often times include the primary artist along with the customary sampling of wine and other assortments.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Model for Regional Cooperation: The Library

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County should serve as a great reminder of what this region can accomplish if it works together. They have everything you want--Books, CDs, DVDs, Children's Programming, et.al. Some people might complain there is no Blockbuster Downtown, but if there were it would be outgunned by a free public service.


The Library ranked as the 8th best system in the United States in 2006. It is also the ninth largest, in the country, in terms of total volumes.


Without a regional library, the citizens of Cincinnati would have a library with perhaps half the volumes, and the citizens of smaller outlying communities, like Addyston, might not even have a library at all. But through regional cooperation we have one of the best library systems in the country. Everyone benefits from the better services and lower operating costs of having a single library system for the county rather than 49 separate smaller libraries. The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.


Imagine how we could improve services and lower taxes, throughout the county, with greater consolidation. Instead of having the 56th largest city surrounded by minor municipalities, we would be the 13th largest city in the United States and the largest in Ohio; improving our national clout and the quality of life for all of Cincinnati-Hamilton County's residents.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Reducing Cincinnati's greenhouse gases

The City of Cincinnati has established a Climate Protection Steering Committee (PDF 48kb) to help the City figure out how it can be more environmentally responsible and to examine the City's Climate Action Plan.

Study results have shown that Cincinnati has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions since 2000, and is 6% more carbon efficient than the national average. That's great, but more can be done...MUCH more.

The newly established Committee has recommended that Cincinnati:

"...reduce its GHG emissions by 10% by 2012 (short term goal); 40% by 2027 (mid term goal); and 86% by 2050 (long term goal)."
This long-term goal also falls in line with what most scientists consider the necessary reduction (80% by 2050) in order to stabilize the planet's climate at a "tolerable level." So how do we accomplish this...well the second highest source of GHG emissions, in Cincinnati, is transportation. At the same time Cincinnati has no rail transit alternative for local/regional commuting patterns. It seems that it might be about time to start looking into such alternatives.

External Links:
Ohio Hub Plan (regional rail)
Cincinnati Lightrail
Cincinnati Streetcar

Graph Credit:
United States Environmental Protection Agency

Cincinnati and Missing Cows

Cincinnati has lot going for it, affordable housing, great restaurants, a vibrant arts scene, and a wonderful park system. Despite this, we seem to be unable to keep track of our livestock. Yet another cow is missing.

I suppose a positive spin on this would be that we have so much green space in the city, cows can evade capture for some time. A negative spin on this would be that we are essentially Mayberry with 2.1 million people.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The New Urban Century

From the beginnings of civilization around 4000 B.C., man has lived a predominately rural life. Cities were the wellsprings of arts, culture, science, et. al., but the majority of people still lived in rural areas. Recently, or in the very near future, more people will live in urban areas that rural areas Although some demographers predicted that this event happened in 1994, the 21st century will be mankind's first urban century.


The mega cities of the 21st century in the developing world must seem as frightening and chaotic to the casual American observer as the burgeoning American cities of the 19th and early 20th centuries did to the European observer.


Regardless, the next century will be one unlike any others we have seen. There will be new challenges around the world, new issues, and new developments.


Too often Americans take a Amero-centric or Euro-centric view on urbanism. This overlooks some of the world's largest and all of the world's fastest growing megalopoli. The City Mayor's website takes a global perspective on running the world's cities and provides a wealth of information on best practices throughout the world. The future will be very different, hopefully information like this will make us better prepared.

Ohio Hub Plan Advocacy


Like the idea of regional rail transportation in Ohio? Well there are a few things you could do to be more impactful when it comes to making this goal a reality.

All Aboard Ohio is the statewide advocacy group for regional high-speed rail, and they have now introduced a new online petition. Their goal with this is to, “forward the link to this online petition to every email address in Ohio leading up to our LegislativeSummit on April 30th.” Primarily what they're advocating for is the development of the Ohio Hub Plan.

Another thing you could do is write letters to your congressional representative and/or your related member in Senate. We need to bind together and work towards accomplishing this goal. Sign the petition, it literally takes about 30 seconds.
Image Credit:
Ohio Department of Transportation

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Great Local Music in Cincy Right Now

Right now the Cincinnati music scene is producing some great bands. I thought I would share a few of my favorites


-probably our number one musical export right now (maybe Over the Rhine); played Lollapalooza

-the Mates of State only happier

-Melodic Phrasing, major key tonality and vocal duets


and a random person I discovered today

-she has a campy Vic Wulsin publicity stunt song, but the rest of her stuff is pretty good.

Cincinnati is ready to GO

The Growth & Opportunities Survey for the City of Cincinnati (aka GoCincinnati) has finally been released - all 98 pages of it. I will venture to say that the majority of people will not read the report, and if you do, it will probably consist of skimming...so I have taken the liberty of reading it for you, and here is my report on GoCincinnati.

The report seems to offer a two-fold solution. First, the City should focus on its strengths (i.e. walkable communities, urban areas, culture, etc) for mid/long-term growth strategies. Secondly, the City needs to eliminate the edge that currently exists for suburban communities over the city in attracting office/retail/residential growth.

The analysis is overall not flattering, but does report a stable industrial market that is holding strong against regional competition...and that with a little more attention could easily establish itself as the premier industrial market for a couple of categories (i.e. Flex/R&D space and Green Industrial Parks). There are currently only 18 green industrial parks in the nation, and the potential of turning Queensgate into one poses possibly the greatest opportunity, and the ability to position Cincinnati as, "a global leader in 'green development' via the rehabilitation of these spaces." (pg. 34)

The report also places a large emphasis on creating a multi-modal transportation system...which can be started with the streetcar proposal. The report states, "It is strongly recommended that the streetcar line be completed between Downtown, Uptown, and OTR in the 1st phase of its construction. There is probably no infrastructure investment that will have more long-term tax generation and economic development benefit to the city than this streetcar line." (pg. 40)
Another key area of emphasis is on converting obsolete office space, in the CBD, into non-office uses...primarily in the form of residential spaces. This would allow for rates to creep up and possibly create demand for new speculative office construction, additionally it would inject even more people into the center city.

One final key note of mine was the recommendation of a joint Cincinnati and Hamilton County development authority. The report proposes that it be called the Cincinnati USA Development Authority (CUDA). It is recommended that the operations of the Port Authority be expanded to include all of the city/county. It also noted that this expansion, of the Port Authority, has already begun during this report process.

For any more information you'll just have to read the report yourself...it's good for you. All in all, I find this to be fantastically informative and well done. This is something that Cincinnati should really embrace and attempt to position itself strategically for economic and population growth.

Full Report (PDF 4.97mb)

Image Credit:
www.cincystreetcar.com

Introduction

I thought I would start out my first post on this blog with a mission statement, here goes:


Cincinnati is a city that too often defines itself by its failures, rather than its successes. By its missteps, rather than its accomplishments; by its delays rather than its progress. We are a city that subscribes wholeheartedly to the famous Mark Twain quotation, regardless of its veracity. A city that looks to the unfinished development at the river rather than applaud the hundreds of new residences downtown. A city that bemoans the loss of department stores to the suburbs rather than celebrate the new retailers that have sprung up in Over the Rhine. A city that laments its unfinished subway rather than one that advocates for its proposed streetcar. A city with a remarkable past, but with citizens that doubts its future. We need to change this mindset and these expectations.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Who's cutting these deals?!?


There have been a couple of troubling reports lately that have left me dumbfounded. The first was the report about the land on The Banks site controlled by the Freedom Center. I'll break it down for you real quick in case you missed it...Essentially the Freedom Center comes to town and Hamilton County officials just up and give them a patch of prime real estate directly in front of the museum. Furthermore, The Banks Working Group then promised the Freedom Center $1M for the property should the developers want it (and why wouldn't they).

Well what do you know...the developers wanted to use the prime real estate. So then Freedom Center officials say great, we'll take our $1M now. What I don't get is who in the heck ever wrote this deal...and why?!?! There were no contingencies, nothing. Luckily the Freedom Center decided to give it back out of good will.

The second is this news about the deal Hamilton County signed with Butler County for housing overflow inmates at the Butler County Jail. Essentially that deal forced Hamilton County to pay for 300 beds/night whether we used them or not. This bothers me doubly because Hamilton County leaders screwed the pooch on yet another deal, and Butler County officials knew they had Hamilton County at their mercy so they went for the throat. Shame on both parties for such poor and irresponsible leadership...whatever happened to the interests of the taxpayers...and what ever happened to regional cooperation?

BTW, I wonder if Hamilton County will give me some land that I've been eying out.

Image Credit:
CityBeat.com

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Valentine's Day UrbanCincy style


Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and it's probably best that you are prepared for the "big day." You're in luck, because UrbanCincy has the perfect evening for you. May we recommend a trip to the Ensemble Theatre...it is a very intimate theatre that hosts great productions and will be something unique and fun to do with your significant other. Mary's Wedding by Stephan Massicotte (Feb 6-24) will be going on during the Valentine's time-frame and should definitely make for a romantic evening.

You could make a night of it by grabbing some of the city's best Italian at Nicola's just a few blocks away. Take a lovely stroll from dinner to the show...If dinner gets out a little early you could always do some browsing through the many great businesses in the Gateway Quarter.

After the show, take a stroll down to Lytle Park and take in the night with that special person.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New and hopefully improved

This work in progress called UrbanCincy has evolved some more...and I thought I should keep everyone apprised as to what has happened.

First off, I've changed the header graphic around slightly to something I think is a little more visually pleasing. Secondly, I have removed the Downtown Cincinnati News Bits section (on the left), and replaced it with a news feed from Cinplify.com. The other change is the big one (at least to me...maybe not you). No longer is it http://urbancincy.blogspot.com...oh no, now it is simply www.urbancincy.com.

Tell your friends, coworkers, family, and loved ones. UrbanCincy continues to get better for all of you. Be on the lookout for more improvements down the road as UrbanCincy will continue its maturation into your Cincinnati blogspot.

***EDIT: The proverbial glitch has now been fixed...you can now simply type in "urbancincy.com" and it will direct you to the site. All is well!

Uptown on the move

Quietly, while no one has been paying attention, the movers and shakers in the Uptown area have pieced together some development agreements, bought up land, and kept things moving on a couple of potentially bold changes for the area.

The first of the news came last week when the Clifton Heights Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. announced that they have selected Towne Properties to be the developer for the long-trouble McMillan Park site. You know the one...it sits sandwiched between Calhoun and McMillan streets and boasts a new grassy lawn and two boarded up structures (former Arby's and Hardee's restaurants).

The second piece of news is hot off the presses, and this one presents one of the greatest opportunities to transform Corryville. The University Plaza redevelopment is Uptown Consortium project on Short Vine. Currently the site boasts one of the worst Krogers in the city, and a hideous strip mall of sorts. Likewise with CHCURC, the Uptown Consortium has selected Towne Properties to take on the role of transforming this current mess.

The vision that the Uptown Consortium has for the site is an amazingly different site that includes a reconnection of Short Vine with Vine Street and most importantly the demolition of the Kroger and strip mall...which would be replaced by an urban project that makes you yearn for more.

This is all well and good, but it actually needs to happen. Luckily it seems that Uptown has about as much momentum as ever right now with the successful completions of several large projects like Stratford Heights, University Park Apartments, Stetson Square, and a few major hospital expansions.

***Breaking News: It has been announced that a 138-room Hampton Inn & Suites Hotel, an IHOP restaurant, Starbucks retail location, 115-car parking garage and a yet-to-be-named bank branch will be locating on the MLK/Vine Street site at that end of Short Vine. The site was recently acquired/cleared, and developers hope to break ground this summer.

Image Credits:
*All images are of the proposed University Plaza redevelopment
*All images are also from the Uptown Consortium

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cincinnati Public Schools making the grade

Many cite schools as a reason they don't live within city limits (or within the CPS district). I have said before that it is more of an excuse than an actual reason, but it is what it is. Cincinnati Public Schools have been improving their state rating over the past few years, and recently have been receiving some national praise.

In a recent Education Week article (PDF) they say:

Despite being plagued by the problems that beset most urban school systems, the Cincinnati public schools have managed to increase the four-year high school graduation rate from 51 percent in 2000, to 79 percent in 2007. Perhaps more important, they have, as of 2007, eliminated the gap between African-American and white students in graduation rates. This feat was accomplished, moreover, as the state of Ohio was raising academic standards and requiring students to pass more-challenging assessments to receive their diplomas.

While a 79 percent graduation rate isn't necessarily anything to write home about...it is a strong improvement. This strong improvement has certainly not gone unnoticed, and is going beyond an article in Education Week. CPS Superintendent, Rosa Blackwell, will be on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight show this coming Tuesday night at 8pm. Blackwell will be joined with Withrow University principal Sharon Johnson to talk about the district's improvements.


Furthermore the district has broken ground on what will become the nation's first public K-12 arts school. Just to reiterate...crime is down, schools are improving, and you can get a property tax abatement for moving into the city. So what's holding you back?

Addition to UrbanCincy

In case you haven't noticed yet there has been an addition to the site. The About Me section has changed to About The Authors...yes plural. The powers at be with UrbanCincy (me) thought it would be a good idea to add an additional author to the site.

The goal is to get a more constant stream of content, and keep all of the readers (you) happy. Brad is wonderfully knowledgeable and should be a tremendous addition to the site. Thanks for your readership thus far...things will only continue to get better.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

IKEA Cincinnati!


It's official...IKEA has announced the opening day for their new Cincinnati area store. Clear your calendars for March 12th, and get a good nights sleep...the store opens at 9am.

OHIKEA has been keeping tabs on all things related to the Cincinnati store and has the press release available for viewing. At OHIKEA you can get more information about employment opportunities and everything else juicy that you may or may not want to know.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Cincinnati film festival?

As with many other things in Cincinnati lately...things are starting to heat up for a "major film festival" in Cincinnati. CityBeat had a fantastic article about this very subject last week, and it has since stirred some interest on the topic.

Mayor Mark Mallory has commented on the issue and said, "Let me tell you, I am very interested in that concept. We have a very rich film industry in the city of Cincinnati, considering we are not L.A., Chicago or New York." He goes on to say that CityBeat's reference of it only costing $120,ooo, "doesn't seem like a lot of money to me."

So what do you think...is Cincinnati capable of hosting a major film festival here? CityBeat highlighted the many niche film festivals that are already prevalent in Cincinnati. It seems as though our arts community is capable enough, but do we have that extra umph to make it happen? Furthermore, what could a marque event like this do for Cincinnati's image nationwide? Sure we've got fantastics arts here, and they are supported well...but it doesn't seem like all that many people know it. Could an event like this put Cincy on the radar of young professionals, and thus enlighten them to everything else Cincinnati has to offer?

External Links:
Cincinnati World Cinema
Cincinnati Film Commission

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Kenwood/Other top holiday shopping destinations - Reader's Choice

For some reason when I created this poll I thought that Kenwood would be a runaway winner, and it was kind of. But the 'Other' category actually registered the most votes. So I'm wondering, if you voted 'Other' where is it you did most of your holiday shopping?

Did you go Downtown for most of your needs, random stores here and there, or did you even do most of it online? I guess looking back I could have structured the poll a little better, but by the time complaints started rolling in about not listing Downtown as an option it was too late. I would have lost all of the results that had been recorded up until that time.

So let me have it, and share where you did your holiday shopping...and most importantly why.

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