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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Streetcar Forum June 10th at UC

Are you in search for more information about streetcars and more specifics about the Cincinnati streetcar proposal? If so then this June 10th is for you.

The City of Cincinnati will be hosting a Streetcar Forum at the University of Cincinnati from 8am - 1:30pm. There is a $35 registration fee for the event (includes continental breakfast, box lunch, parking, and forum materials).

The forum will be taking place on UC's Main Campus at the Tangeman University Center (TUC-Great Hall - GoogleMap), 4th floor.

REGISTER ONLINE HERE

Cincinnati Streetcar Forum: Promoting Growth & Mobility - Itinerary

8:00 - 8:30 Registration/Continental Breakfast
8:30 - 8:35 Welcome and Introductions by Moderator
8:35 - 9:00 Introduction of Cities
9:00 - 10:00 Session One: Streetcars 101
  • What is a Streetcar System?
  • Why have they been successful?
  • What was the community reaction?

10:00 - 10:15 Break
10:15 - 11:15 Session Two: Impact of Streetcars on Economic Development

  • How has the Streetcar System stimulated growth and mobility?

11:15 - 12:00 Lunch: The Cincinnati Proposal
12:00 - 1:00 Session Three: Implementing a Streetcar System

  • What funding sources are available?
  • How much does it cost to maintain a Streetcar System?
  • What are the lessons learned implementing a streetcar system?

1:00 - 1:30 Final Comments: Questions & Answers

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cincy Fringe Festival

The 2008 Cincinnati Fringe Festival marks the 5th year of its existence. The festival started tonight at the Art Academy in Over-the-Rhine. Over the next 12 days, Downtown and Over-the-Rhine will support 20 different venues which will play host to a variety of art including visual, performance, and film. There will also be an ongoing mural installation on the south side of the Know Theatre over the 12 day festival.

The Cincy Fringe Festival is one of 20 active Fringe festivals in North America including New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Minneapolis...with the original stemming from Edinburgh, Scotland which began 51 years ago.

Organizers are still looking for volunteers to assist in various ways throughout the festival. You can get involved by signing up online (it's very easy). Volunteers get a Fringe Festival t-shirt for signing up for one shift and get two free tickets (to any Fringe show) for every shift you sign up for after that.

There is a lot more I could ramble on about, but you can get most of the information from the website. You can order tickets, get reviews, preview shows, and much more.

Ohio Transportation Survey

If you are as passionate about transportation options as I am, and want your voice to be heard, go check out this survey being conducted by Ohio's 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force.

I was first tipped off, to the survey, by an informative post over at Building-Cincinnati.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I'm confused...someone please clarify

Here is an email I received from Millvalley...

No surprise: we're driving less -- about 4.3% fewer miles than last year, the first annual decline since 1979and the largest yearly decline on record.

On the other hand, public transportation use is now at its highest level in fifty years, with rail systems showing 6% year-over-year gains.

Our region is not reacting to these trends aggressively enough.

Let me explain. The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments is now updating its 2030 Plan, a document that guides investment in transportation projects here. Ohio and Kentucky will be spending about $4.4 billion over the next couple decades on new and improved roadways, transit, bike and pedestrian programs, freight and information technology systems. Another $2.5 billion will be spent on the operations and maintenance of our mobility systems.

Kentucky expects to invest $1.4 billion on roadway projects compared to only $22 million on transit -- fully 63 as much on a mode of travel that is declining nationwide compared to one that is growing. Ohio's progam is a little more balanced. Projected spending for roadways is $2.3 billion. While transit is nominally slated to receive $509 million, about $410 million of this sum is for the Eastern Corridor rail project which, in my view, has little chance of ever getting built. If it does get built, the numbers show that it will be a very poor performer. So that leaves about $99 million for all other transit projects for the next couple of decades. It's still heavily lopsided in favor of roads -- in Ohio, we'll $23 for highways for every $1 spent on transit.
I'm just wondering if this would fly in the private sector? I tend to say no, but I am confused as to why this is accepted from our government?

If you would like to hear more and subscribe to the Millvalley listserve you can do so by emailing Millvalley@aol.com.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Let's talk tax structure and streetcars

There is no doubt that residents and businesses, in Downtown/OTR/Uptown, see the value in the proposed streetcar system. It is also quite understandable that community leaders in neighborhoods like Westwood, Price Hill, and Mt. Washington may not exactly see the benefits to their respective communities.

Every community would like to have more amenities and improved services. These are the things that help make neighborhoods successful and great places to live. At the same time they understandably don't want to see their taxes rise. So lets break down the tax structure and how the streetcar will play into this whole situation...

Residential properties are accepted losers when it comes to taxes. They simply demand far more services than they pay for in taxes. Those services (i.e. trash, police, fire, schools, etc) are made possible by those that pay exceedingly more than they demand (i.e. office, industrial).

Therefore the commercial and industrial bases are the most important tax bases to preserve and grow in order to maintain service levels for your residential base. Of the Top Ten taxpayers, in 2006, 9 were based out of Downtown* (for what I could find).

With that said, residential properties can get close to offsetting their service demands. The best opportunity for this to occur is in the most densely populated (or built) areas where economies of scale factor in big time. In Cincinnati's case there is no other residential neighborhood that has a potentially better return on taxes than Over-the-Rhine.
Chart illustrating the functionality of Economies of Scale

These most densely built areas need to be focused on first and foremost, and need to be populated with as many people as possible. This allows you to grow your residential base without significantly growing the demand for services (in OTR's case you may actually decrease demand for services like police and fire by repopulating the neighborhood).

So while a streetcar line only serving Downtown, OTR, and Uptown seems to only benefit those 3 neighborhoods...it is really affecting the financial stability of the entire city, and allows for a growth in tax base without a significantly higher demand for services. This means extra tax revenues can then be used for increased services and funding for the other 49 great Cincinnati neighborhoods.


*Tax data from City of Cincinnati's 2006 Annual Financial Report (pdf 5mb)

Related reading on UrbanCincy:
Keep the heart strong

GOOD FOOD - GOOD BEER - GOOD TIMES

Taste of Cincinnati USA is held every Memorial Day weekend in Downtown Cincinnati by the Downtown Council and the Greater Cincinnati Restaurant Association. Started in 1979, it is now the nation's longest running culinary arts festival.

Taste of Cincinnati USA started as a one-day fest in Piatt Park, then known as Garfield Park, with approximately 5,000 attending the first event. The event expanded to two days in 1981, and in 1988 expanded to three days and moved to Central Parkway.

In 2007, th event was moved to Fifth Street to spotlight the $42-million renovation of Fountain Square and its underground parking garage, and to bring the event closer to Downtown's cluster of hotels, such as The Cincinnatian, Garfield Suites, Hilton Netherland Cincinnati, Hyatt Regency, Millenium Hotel, Terrace Hotel, and the Westin.

Approximately 500,000 now attend the annual food extravaganza, making Taste one of the nation's largest street festivals. Taste of Cincinnati was named Food Event of the Year for 1997 by Events Business News, the recognized authority of the special events business in the United States, selecting it out of 40,000 special events across the nation.

Taste of Cincinnati USA features more than 40 fine restaurants serving up delicious and delectable menu items. In the weeks leading up to Taste each year, menu items are previewed and judged for the prestigious Best of Taste Awards.

The Taste is also a music festival, with continuous live entertainment featuring local and national recording stars performing on multiple stages throughout the event.

WHEN:
Saturday: Noon-11:00pm
Sunday: Noon-11:00pm
Monday: Noon-9:00pm

WHERE:
On six blocks of Fifth Street, from Race Street to Broadway in Downtown Cincinnati.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

GoOTR 5k Run/Walk

The second GoOTR 5k Run/Walk is coming up next Saturday, May 31st. This is a great way to see the new stuff going on in OTR, get some exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and raise some money for the Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce.

This year's 5k will start at 10am at 12th & Vine (GoogleMap). There will be food, beer and plenty of fun. This year's race and events will pay tribute to the 1-year anniversary of the Gateway Quarter. Registration is a mere $10, with the money going to the OTR Chamber (this gets you into the race and a t-shirt).

I am signed up and ready to go...and I'll surely be sporting my new Over-the-Rhine Volunteer Ambassador t-shirt (orange with OTR Ambassador across the back).

You can register online without any processing fees (select OTR 5k run/walk for the payment reason). You can also get more information from the OTR Chamber of Commerce at 513.241.2690 or by email at otrchamber@zoomtown.com.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The retail over-saturation problem

When can you tell enough is enough? Is there any hope for our nation if there isn't constant growth? These are the questions I find myself asking when I read stories like this.

Cincinnati Mills, one of the largest retail centers in the region, has seen store after store shutter. This comes after millions of dollars of reinvestment into a massive mall sandwiched in between two others along a mall interstate of sorts.

It really makes you wonder (at least me), do we really need all of this retail space. The same can even be said for urban environments where seemingly every new renovation project, in a mixed-use built area, seems to call for street-level retail with residential or office space above. I suggest that we return the area, where Cincinnati Mills sits, to a natural state. That is obviously an extreme proposal, but at the very least tear down that mall (said in my best Ronald Reagan voice) for some other/better use.

This region is growing much slower than our retail space is expanding...and it seems obvious that the retail locally (and nationally) can not sustain itself by the free market alone. It seems to me that the best alternative would be to let struggling retail space ride off into the sunset. This would allow for values to rise at other retail locations, and we could begin the process of ridding ourselves of our excessive retail space...and who knows, maybe even our over-consumerism.

Ann Driscoll at Southgate House

From Citybeat.com:


Singer/songwriter Ann Driscoll is a Cincinnati native who's currently studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. But, at age 20, her songwriting already possesses the kind of wisdom, originality and maturity that can't be learned in college.

She began her musical career in earnest just three years ago and her direct Indie Pop sound helped put her on bills with local favorites like Peter Adams and Katie Redier, as well as nationally acclaimed Rock bands like The High Strung. Driscoll's self-released, self-titled EP is an engaging exhibition of blunt, catchy (but not predictable) Pop, with vocals that recall pre-blatant-sex-kitten Liz Phair and a writing style that is obviously informed by prime influences like The Beatles and Nirvana.

Berklee must be on summer break, because Driscoll is returning to the local stage this week, performing at the Southgate House's parlour room Friday with local singer/songwriter Molly Sullivan. 8:30 p.m. $5-$8. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) -- Mike Breen

Check out Bob Moses at the Wisp tonight

The Blue Wisp plays host to internationally acclaimed drummer Bob Moses with his Chicago Quartet tonight (5/15). The music begins at 7:30pm with a $20 cover charge for this premium act. This is however, an UrbanCincy Night and mentioning the site (at the door) will get you $3 off your cover.

If you haven't yet heard of Bob Moses, go check out some of his stuff (YouTube video)...you'll be in the groove before you know it. You can make reservations at fasteddief@aol.com or by calling 513.241.WISP (9477).

Blue Wisp (GoogleMap)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Find UrbanCincy in more places

You can now find UrbanCincy in more places and stay connected in more ways. In addition to the Technorati and Facebook pages for UrbanCincy...you can now find us on Twitter and VerveEarth. And as always you can subscribe to UrbanCincy's RSS feeds by clicking the link in the left-hand column or by simply clicking HERE.

The Twitter page is pretty basic right now, but will grow in the future. The Facebook page is probably the most developed and offers the best outlet to follow the various events, news, and images created by UrbanCincy.

As always, you can find links to these pages and much more over in the left column on the site. If you have accounts become followers of UrbanCincy and show your support for your Cincinnati blogspot.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Reds Hot Weekends

This weekend marks the first of 8 Reds Hot Weekends this Summer. The festivities will be taking place on Fountain Square and will start Friday and last through Sunday...covering the entire weekend series against the Cleveland Indians.

Friday's activities will include live music by Lo-fi, a local cover band playing funk and rock classics, at 5pm. Following Lo-fi, at 8pm, The Harlequins will take the stage. It will make for a great time to just hang out with friends, and there will be beer available on the Square. What makes it even better is that from roughly 4pm-7pm I'll be serving the delicious adult beverages.
OK Go performing on Fountain Square
Image from myfountainsquare.com


On Saturday the fun continues with DJ Iceburg from 2pm-4pm followed by the first "Movie Night" (featuring Sandlot and The Natural) of the Summer starting at 7:30pm. Beer, soft drinks, and snacks will all be sold on the Square...and people are encouraged to bring chairs, blankets, pillows, etc for "Movie Nights."

Finally Sunday will wrap up the weekend with free UDF ice cream, on the Square, from about 4:30pm-5:30pm...along with some other neat festivities. Be sure to come out even if you're not going to any of the games and just have a great time Downtown on Fountain Square.

Acoustic Lunch Series at Piatt Park

Today marks the first Acoustic Lunch at Piatt Park (GoogleMap) of the 2008 year. The series will run through September 30th and is every Tuesday from 11:45am-1:45pm. As always the concert series is free and will feature live music from a variety of local artists.

It makes for a great lunch hour in one of my favorite hang out places Downtown - Piatt Park (view photos here). There are lots of benches, some tables, and plenty of planter ledges to sit on while you enjoy the music. This week will feature music from Malkum Gibson & The Mighty Juke.


Listen to various music by Malkum Gibson & The Mighty Juke HERE.

View the full concert schedule HERE.

Monday, May 12, 2008

New Uptown signage on the way

The Uptown Consortium has been developing a wayfinding system for the Uptown area. This will be a significant improvement upon the current dated signage that you see scattered haphazardly throughout the area now.

The signage also seems to blend design concepts from other streetscaping elements seen throughout the City (primarily Downtown). The consortium describes the project as, "an implementation of a bold and unified Uptown wayfinding and streetscape design for pedestrians and motorists." They go on to say that this includes the development of a, "comprehensive, user-friendly Uptown map to locate key Uptown businesses, neighborhoods and institutions."

Hopefully this signage will be customizable and/or complimentary to signage that will need to be developed, for the Cincinnati Streetcar, when it comes to the Uptown area in the near future. I love wayfinding systems, but the last thing we need is redundant systems cluttering the sidewalks.

Photobucket

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Happy Hour Cincinnati: The Stand

The Stand is located in the always great Mt. Lookout Square. Their happy hour specials are on their drinks. The Stand offers $2 domestics, $3 imports and well drinks, and $3.50 call drinks. The happy hour is from 6pm-8pm daily and is combined with a variety of other specials offered throughout the week (which can be found on their website).

The Stand has got a trendy vibe to it and offers live music most nights, pool, and flat-screen TVs. They also advertise free wi-fi all night long if that's what tickles your fancy.

The Stand
3195 Linwood Avenue (GoogleMap)
Cincinnati, OH 45208
513.871.5006

Image from www.thestandcincy.com

Previous happy hour readings on UrbanCincy:
Buddakhan --- Via Vite --- McCormick & Schmick's

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Happy Birthday UrbanCincy!

Today (5/8) is UrbanCincy's birthday...and the site is officially 1 year old. Thanks everyone who makes this site what it is by commenting and discussing the things going on in Cincinnati.

The site was started to be a positive alternative to the often negative stories heard from the mainstream media...and fortunately enough there seems to be that same desire for an alternative to the same old pessimism and negativity. Thanks again for reading, and hopefully UrbanCincy can make it around for a second year and continue its maturation process.

Thanks

Steve Turre comes to the Blue Wisp - 2 nights only

Acclaimed jazz trombonist and 20-year veteran of the Saturday Night Live Band, Steve Turre, will perform tonight (5/7/08) with the Blue Wisp Big Band. Steve Turre is described as a passionate, dynamic and creative artist. The fact that he'll be teaming with the legendary Blue Wisp Big Band makes the prospect even more exciting.

He will also be performing on Thursday, May 8th with his quartet. Like always, Thursdays are UrbanCincy Nights at the Blue Wisp where you get $3 off your cover charge. For both nights the cover charge will be $15 with the shows starting at 8:30pm.

You are not required to make reservations, but are encouraged to. You can do so by calling 513.241.WISP (9477) or by email at fasteddief@aol.com.

Steve Turre is also available on YouTube...be sure to check out some of his stuff.

Image from www.allaboutjazz.com

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

CPS enrollment better than expected

As much bad news as inner-city school districts typically get, Cincinnati Public Schools keeps the positive news coming. In January CPS was profiled on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight show for their improved graduation rates and by eliminating the achievement gap between white and black students.

At the same time construction chugs along on what will become the first and only K-12 public arts school in America. Even better news is that CPS is within reach of attaining an 'Effective' rating by the State of Ohio...a rating comparable to most suburban school districts and the highest rating of any urban school district in Ohio.

Photo by Randy Simes - Withrow High School

The news out today is that enrollment numbers are higher than original projections by State demographers. Maybe this is another indicator supporting Cincinnati's claim that population projections, for Cincinnati, are actually higher than projected. It might also be a sign of CPS' improvement and the move back towards public schools by younger families. In either scenario the news is good news.

Bottom line, the excuses for not living in the City continue to go away in Cincinnati.

Related readings on UrbanCincy:
Cincinnati Public Schools making the grade
Get off the juice

Monday, May 5, 2008

Around the Cincy Blogosphere

Aren't quite sold on streetcars yet? Well if that's the case then check out some pretty convincing reasons as to why not to hate the proposed Cincinnati Streetcar.

You can also check out some MuralWorks action happening along Race Street Downtown. Maybe after that you should start planning on where you're going to spend your tax rebate. It might also be time to stop in and say goodbye to a friend.

And since we're in Cincinnati and all, be sure to check out the flying pigs as well.

*You can find links to these great blogs and much more over in UrbanCincy's blogroll in the left column on the site.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Christian Moerlein favorite local beer

Well the results of April's poll aren't even close. UrbanCincy readers clearly favor Christian Moerlein which claimed 62% (146 total) of the votes. Mt. Carmel took second place with 17% (41 total) with Sam Adams, Hudy Delight, and 'Nati Light rounding out the list.

I voted for Christian Moerlein but this certainly pained me because I absolutely love Mt. Carmel. The connections with Over-the-Rhine are what eventually put Christian Moerlein over the top for me.

Of the locals I rank my top three beers as:
1. Mt. Carmel Copper
2. Christian Moerlein OTR Ale
3. Christian Moerlein Barbarossa
4. Mt. Carmel Stout (honorable mention)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy Hour Cincinnati: McCormick & Schmick's

This week's highlighted happy hour is McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant. Doesn't sound like a good happy hour place right...WRONG. Happy hour at McCormick & Schmick's is M-F from 4:00pm - 6:30pm. They also have an evening happy hour from 9:30pm - 11:00pm M-Th. Plus the location is just about as central as you can get - directly across the street from Fountain Square.


Their happy hour menu (PDF, 77kb) consists of a variety of food. It includes the fish as you would expect, as well as, a number of other items for those not into the whole seafood thing. The main item they're known for is their 1/2 lb Cheeseburger with fries for only $1.95.


McCormick & Schmick's generally doesn't do specials on their drinks. With that said, the bar has a good selection of drinks and the typical cost for a beer is $3.75. There is also a two drink minimum during happy hour times, but they do not necessarily have to be alcoholic as soft drinks count towards your two drink minimum.



McCormick & Schmick's
21 E. Fifth Street (GoogleMap)
Cincinnati, OH 45202
513.721.9339

Previous happy hour coverage on UrbanCincy:
Buddakhan --- Via Vite

McCormick & Schmick's Fresh Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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