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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Coming home

This weekend is bound to be great. Not just for the typical joys of the weekend, but because I'm going to be coming home for the weekend. So much to do, so many people to see, and so much Skyline to eat. Just what am I to do?

Well here's the game plan. First when I get in on Saturday I'm going to try not to faint as I take in the view from the famous cut-in-the-hill spot on I-75. From there I'm going to be getting some lunch (I'm thinking Cilantro right now). After that it's family fun time.

Then Saturday night will be upon us...and it will be time to do some bar/club hopping with friends (as many as possible). After a night full of fun it will be time to retreat to a bed somewhere and crash. Then more family time on Sunday with some friend stuff mixed in.

Oh Cincinnati how I miss you so...but this short trip should allow for some interesting content and what not for readers of UrbanCincy. See you next week, and enjoy Cincinnati this weekend like you're visiting for only a few days. I bet you'll have a blast.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Morning Glory Ride 2008

On Sunday, August 3rd the 27th Morning Glory Ride will take place with starts at 4:30am and 5:30am. This morning bike ride starts at Sawyer Point and is a 25-mile ride if you do the "classic" ride.

At the end of the ride, back at Sawyer Point, there will be a catered Sunrise Breakfast awaiting you (only if you register online by midnight 8/1). You can also register on Saturday from Noon-4pm at Sawyer Point...or if you're a real procrastinator you can register the day of the ride at Sawyer Point between 3am-5am.

There are some registration costs, but it is definitely worth its weight in gold. This year will even have a portion of the ride blocked off to traffic along Columbia Parkway. The ride offers the scenic ride along Columbia Parkway, takes you through Eden Park, through portions of Downtown, across the Ohio River, into Nky, up into Devou Park, and eventually back to Sawyer Point.

The ride is part of a growing trend of these rides across the nation (especially the car-free portion). Dan Korman, owner of Park + Vine (which is also a sponsor of this year's event), suggests that the ride should become a weekly Sunday morning event. He also points to Chicago's ride as something that Cincinnati's ride should/could become.

View a map of the full course (Nky and all) here!!!

View a full listing of the street closures here (156kb PDF)

Image from PhotoDivergence.com

Great urban scene

I thought this was an excellent photograph by 5chw4r7z, and I found it to be a quintessential 'urban' scene. It is a scene from the rooftop terrace on Jean-Robert's Over-the-Rhine restaurant - Lavomatic. Check out some more photos in the same post by 5chw4r7z.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

South Florida wanderings

As some of you might know I haven't been around Cincinnati lately. I've been on the road, on business, for about a month now. My travels took me all across Florida and gave me the opportunity to photograph some new (to me) places. I even got to see a couple alligators (sorry no pictures). So please sit back, relax and enjoy some of my favorite photos from my journeys across South Florida.

If you would like you can browse all of the photos from each one of my Florida stops. Photos are from the following cities: Miami (Downtown, Miami Beach), Naples, Tampa (Downtown, Ybor City), and St. Petersburg.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Be a part of a film shoot on Fountain Square









Still waiting on your 5 minutes of fame? Wait no longer...you've got a great opportunity to be a part of a film shoot Wednesday (7/30) on Fountain Square. Foxalpha Films/J8DED Pictures will be shooting a "very long scene on the Square."

3CDC reports that this is going to be a part of a pilot for a nation-wide television program. The shoot will be taking place from 6pm-11pm* on Fountain Square, but it is encouraged that you get there at 5pm to sign in if you would like to be a part of the filming. 3CDC also reports that the Cincinnati Police, businesses around the Square, and the local media will all be participating.

If you like news like this and would like to receive weekly newsletters about what's happening on Fountain Square simply email Kelly Leon at KLeon@3cdc.org and asked to be placed on their weekly newsletter distribution list.

*Vine Street (between 5th & 6th) will be closed down during this time as a result.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What is a city to you? (part two)

In the first part of What is a city to you? we covered the basics and overall what is thought of when we hear the word city. In that breakdown one of the items I mentioned is that cities are places of diversity. So what exactly does that mean, diversity?

Well for one thing it goes far beyond race. Diversity in cities means diversity of streetscapes, architectural styles, building heights, activities, and most importantly people. The built environment elements are fairly easy to understand and grasp. Different building heights, architectural styles, and streetscapes all help make a place interesting and unique -- exactly what a city should be.

Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine - Photo by Randy Simes

People are the most interesting part of this equation...as their variations are limitless. It is important to have the greatest diversity of people as possible. Diversity of backgrounds, races, creeds, wealth/stature, age, and gender. The greater the variety of types of people creates a greater variety of events and encounters that might occur within a city.

No matter how great the buildings, public spaces, and venues it means nothing without the people. People are what make cities great. They make cities exciting, interesting, unique, enlightening, lively, edgy, thought provoking, and at times places of crime. But whether good or bad, these feelings are caused by the people who created the environment...and it is in cities where you get the most varied and sporadic of these feelings. What could be better than the diversity of feeling and emotion?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Great Good Place: Park + Vine

The Great Good Place is actually a book written by Ray Oldenburg. The book covers the places that are often hangouts and community gathering points. We're not talking about public squares or private halls, but rather, those places that seem to be nodes of activity without meaning to.

These places are described as Third Places since they are nether home (first place) nor work (second place), but are comfortable and help to create a sense of place. Every neighborhood has them, so what and where are they in Cincinnati? Maybe it's the neighborhood bar, bookstore, coffee shop, barber shop, or cafe. Or, if you're live or visit the newly emerging Gateway Quarter, it is more than likely that you have spent some serious time in Park + Vine for more than just shopping for the latest/greatest green merchandise.

I know I have gone to Park + Vine just for the conversation...and on more than one occasion I have walked out of the store after meeting and getting to know someone new. Stephen Carter-Novotni, from CityBeat, described Park + Vine as a, "swank hang out for sustainable living enthusiasts in the area. Stick around for a few minutes and you'll meet local people who are driving biodeisel cars, tending organic gardens or figuring out ways to turn junk into art." So what's your great good place?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Each Note Secure covering Cincy's music scene



There has been a new addition to the greatest, best blogroll God has ever given man on the face of the earth. Each Note Secure is a, "Cincinnati Music Blog" that started almost 4 years ago. Owner, Joe Long, describes the site as being "an outlet for me to talk about my sometimes obsessive music tastes."

The site features observations/reviews on music, the industry, and a lot of information about the Cincinnati music scene. A scene that Joe feels has a lot of great local bands right now. Who would be better to listen to on the topic than someone who is obsessive and passionate about it?

Each Note Secure is pretty comprehensive with its reviews. Each one tends to come standard with audio clips and links to artists/producers. If you're looking for the best music reviews and show information, in the Cincinnati area, then I recommend checking out ENS.

*Site maintenance note: There have been a few small changes to the site recently...some of which will be permanent, others temporary. There will also be another change to come - a newly created logo. Right now I am sending out a request for submissions for an UrbanCincy.com logo design contest. If you are interested please email me to be provided with specifics...or look for the details online HERE.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Looking for some Summer fun?

Two fun/new things to do are coming to Cincinnati soon. Ride the Ducks tour(s) in Cincinnati will mark the companies 8th location nationwide (Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, Baltimore, etc). These tours are a combined land and water tour and are popular among tourists and locals alike. The Cincinnati tour will begin in Newport (near the Newport Aquarium) and will go between both Cincinnati and Nky.


Ride the Ducks tour boat (left) and cable wakeboarding (right)

The other new attraction will be a Wake Nation theme park in the Fairfield area. The company specializes in 'cable wakeboarding' (GoogleVideo) and describes the theme park as a "watersports complex designed for wakeboarding, wakeskating, water skiing and knee boarding." This news, as originally reported by Cincinnati Living Online, states that they plan to break ground in August 2008 (with a planned opening in Spring/Summer '09) and that the park is on an eight acre lake and has a cable system suspended 30 feet above the lake.

Both sound like very fun and very unique/new attractions for the region. I personally can't wait for both as the Duck tours will provide for great photo ops and a chance to get out on the Ohio River...and the Wake Nation complex just sounds awesome in every sense of the word.

Read more about the Ride the Ducks tours in this week's Soapbox Cincinnati issue.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Flagship urban Kroger at The Banks?

Local NBC affiliate, WLWT Channel 5, reported last week that the developers of The Banks are planning to release names of tenants later this year. Three tenants in particular that they did mention that they are in negotiations with are an ESPN Zone, Margaritaville, and Kroger.

ESPN Zone and Margaritaville don't surprise me all that much...Kroger on the other hand is a pleasant surprise and gets my thoughts stirring about what they could do with an urban store in a newly constructed building in the very city they call home.

What I expect is for Kroger to step up and do something truly special. Something that incorporates all of their best store features and incorporates them into an urban model. A store that could become their flagship urban grocery store - an area in which Kroger doesn't seem to venture too often, but one that they might want to start considering (see gas prices).

I'm thinking of a store that has lots of international foods, organic products, and generally fits with an "urban lifestyle" for those who may be buying in smaller quantities but at greater frequencies. Could there be a better location, time, and/or opportunity? I don't think so.


Urban Kroger location (GoogleMap) in Atlanta, GA - Photos by Randy Simes

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Calhoun/McMillan development pushes forward

Over the 4th of July weekend, the last two remaining buildings came down in the long-stalled McMillan Park project. First it was the money, then it was the property holdouts, then the bad economy topped it all off. Throughout this process the project was pretty much scrapped and put on the back burner.

That is until the remaining properties were secured. That has happened...enter Towne Properties, a renewed interest from UC, a growing UC student population, and future connection point between the Uptown and Downtown streetcar lines and you have some serious momentum.

Original rendering for McMillan Park - Source Unknown

Some people have criticized the poor design of University Park (across the street), but I'm not sure anyone can complain about its impact on street activity along Calhoun Street. People can be found all over the place doing homework, eating, relaxing, and socializing. So what can be done across the street to compliment those activities and continue to expand upon them?

I think a pedestrian only Hartshorn Street (GoogleMap) would be great for large outdoor patio spaces (see Cadillac Ranch Downtown) that could also make for neat street vending opportunities for students (i.e. artwork, music, maybe even some performance type stuff).

Along with that, 8-10 story buildings would seem to work well. The first two floors should be built out to the street, and then setback for the remaining 6-8 stories...thus creating the opportunity for an amenity deck above the 2-level retail or town homes below. This would then create a new level of activity that would spill onto the street below, while also remaining semi-private for the residents above. What would you like to see?

Example amenity deck - Source, www.1010midtowncondosupdate.com

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Get involved on Fountain Square

With the regular programming of events, on Fountain Square, there is a need for volunteers to help staff these events. This has been all well and good...and more than likely you've seen these volunteers serving up beer, soda, treats, and ushering people around for various events.

The Square has really been coming into its own and the surrounding area has also been improving with new restaurants, stores, and entertainment. Add in some of the typical big Summer events and you have a slammed Fountain Square almost all the time.

This is creating the need for more volunteers to keep all these events functioning as best they can. This Sunday alone they are expecting around 6,000 people to come out and enjoy the weekly Smooth Sunday concert on the Square. On top of that you know it's going to be packed for Saturday Night at the Movies (this week featuring Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius & Batman Begins).

If you're looking for some service hours at school, a unique social experience, maybe some cash (I made some good tips serving beer before a Reds game in a matter of 2.5 hours), or even the excuse to just hang out on the Square with some great entertainment then this is for you. You can sign up to be a Fountain Square Volunteer, or you can offer your time for immediate needs at events like the Sunday evening concerts.

Genius of Water - Image from MyFountainSquare.com

Monday, July 14, 2008

Barack Obama packs Downtown and delivers historic speech

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee - Barack Obama - addressed the NAACP Convention at 8pm, July 14th, 2008. People started waiting at the Duke Energy Center about 6 hours earlier at 2pm hoping to get into the convention center to be a part of a movement and history in the making. Obama did not disappoint as he dazzled the crowd with a wonderful speech (full text).

Those who weren't lucky enough to get inside, and others looking for different atmosphere, gathered on Fountain Square - packing it to the gills. Local organizations put together some entertainment for the expected crowd that started gathering en mass around 5pm. Others who wanted to stay at home could do so thanks to the live coverage by local NBC affiliate, WLWT-Cincinnati.

The presumptive Republican nominee - John McCain - will speak Wednesday at 11:30am. You will also be able to catch this on WLWT, Fountain Square, or in person at the Conference. It's great to see the level of excitement about politics this year. It's even better to see it first-hand right here in Cincinnati.
Fountain Square Scene - Photo by 5chw4r7z

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Know Theatre - What's the Point?!

What's the Point?! is soon to be at the Know Theatre of Cincinnati. The production originally opened in 2007 in New York City at The Reprise Room and will return there in September. In the mean time, the Know Theatre of Cincinnati will bring the cabaret musical to another city for the first time ever this Summer.

The musical is based on the popular 1950s and 1960s revue styles, which were known for commenting on popular trends and on society in general. Additionally this particular production has been described as "fast-paced" with each member, of the three-person cast, playing a variety of characters.

The Cincinnati premier will take place on Friday, July 18th and will run through Tuesday, August 12th. Shows on Fridays and Saturdays start at 9:30pm, while shows on Mondays and Tuesdays start at 7:30pm. You can get tickets for a mere $15 by calling 513.300.5669 (KNOW) or by stopping by the box office located at 1120 Jackson Street (GoogleMap).

Friday, July 11, 2008

Political spotlight on Cincy next week

Next week will be a big week for Cincinnati as the political spotlight will be shining directly upon our city. It all starts with the 99th annual NAACP convention being held at the Duke Energy Center. The convention is expected to bring an estimated 9,000 delegates and two VERY important special guests.

The two presumptive presidential nominees, Sen. John McCain (R) and Sen. Barack Obama (D), are both scheduled to address the NAACP delegates this coming week. Local NBC affiliate WLWT-TV, Channel 5, has announced that they will cut in to normal programming to broadcast both speeches live. This then allows the speeches to be shown on the giant LED board over Fountain Square - expect big crowds.

McCain and Obama - from http://randallps129.blogspot.com/

The real issue here is not all of the coverage Cincinnati will get, the political attention, or big crowds that will fill hotels and spend big money. The thing that should be most noted is how it all came to be...Mayor Mallory, and other key leaders, worked aggressively to lure the NAACP convention to Cincinnati over the convention heavyweight Las Vegas.

In addition to that the City has worked very hard at giving Downtown a "spit-shine" to ensure a good impression on the 9,000 delegates. This 1-million dollar effort included things like repairing damaged sidewalks, curbs, street corners, painting light poles and other small projects.

Speech Schedule:
Sen. Barack Obama (D) --- Monday, July 14th at 8pm
Sen. John McCain (R) --- Wednesday, July 16th sometime between 9:30am and 12:30pm

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bring VH1's Top 20 Video Countdown to Cincinnati

Some local, regional, and state leaders have worked to extend an invitation to VH1's Top 20 Video Countdown to come to Cincinnati's Fountain Square. This is in light of the very popular new song/video, "It's Not My Time," from 3 Doors Down - which was filmed in Cincinnati. The video is shot entirely in Cincinnati and covers prominent city landmarks in Over-the-Rhine, Downtown, Mt. Auburn and Lower Price Hill.

So how can you help bring the countdown to Cincinnati? The easiest way is to go to VH1's website and vote for the 3 Doors Down video. It is really quick/easy, and we need to get to work as the video is currently at the #14 spot on the countdown. Pass on this information to as many people as you know so that we can bring the countdown to Fountain Square.

This effort would generate six hours of national publicity in roughly 90 million homes. The show is a two-hour program that airs three times during the week - beginning from 9-11am Saturdays - and features a dozen mini-remotes during which host Alison Becker touts the different venues from the assigned location of the week (insert Cincinnati). Alison would be able to tape from Fountain Square, Government Square, the Freedom Center, restaurants and nightclubs in/around Downtown, plus some views overlooking the city.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Zoning Revolution!

Neighborhoods are the heart of what makes Cincinnati an incredible city. Each neighborhood is different, and has developed over time into the vibrant places they are today. Hyde Park, Mt. Adams, Clifton, Over-the-Rhine, are all great neighborhoods. They are also illegal under current laws. So what happened? Why can we not build neighborhoods like this anymore? My theory… Euclidian Zoning.

The conventional city zoning code deals with uses. It tells what you can or cannot have at a certain place (example: commercial separated from residential). This separation of uses effectively prohibits a traditional neighborhood or mixed use development from occurring. What if, instead of thinking of buildings in uses, we thought of buildings in form? If we select certain elements that the form of the building has to have, then we can work towards creating traditional neighborhoods, instead of a series of random buildings surrounded by parking.

Andres Duany has championed this neo-traditional development form. He has asked us to do nothing more than create the places where we all want to live. If we like places like Over-the-Rhine, why not create a zoning code that allows new development to be built like Over-the-Rhine? This isn't about recreating history, or making "fake" cities, it is about creating smart, pedestrian friendly, diverse, and beautiful neighborhoods.

Let's make smart design legal again.

Councilwoman Roxanne Qualls' is pursuing a plan to bring "Smart Codes" to Cincinnati. She believes that "a combination of traditional zoning codes and auto-oriented, suburban street design has threatened the built form and the design quality of our neighborhoods and business districts". I for one, support her in this effort.

Learn More about SMART CODES HERE!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

UrbanCincy readers are excited about streetcars

The June poll results are in...and it was a clear/decisive victory for streetcars (YouTube video about modern streetcars). The question was, "what are you most excited about over the next few years?" And phase 1 of the proposed streetcar system (141 votes) nearly tripled the amount of votes casted for the second place finisher (The Banks phase 1a - 53 votes), and tallied one more vote than the other four options combine.

I voted for the streetcar option for a pretty simple reason. It is something that helps make many of those other options (i.e. The Banks, OTR progress) more feasible and helps to spur more good things to come (i.e. future Queen City Squares). It's like the gift that keeps on giving.

So, why did the other 279 voters vote the way they did, and most importantly, what are you going to do to help make them happen?
Image from Dewi's Trains, Trams & Trolleys

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