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Monday, March 16, 2009

Does casino fit for prominent Broadway Commons site?

It was announced last week that there is yet another movement to legalize casino gaming in Ohio. The difference with this proposal is its scope. Instead of a single casino for the entire state, casinos would instead be placed in each of the state’s largest cities (Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo).

The intent is to reach a larger market and have broader voter appeal come November. In Cincinnati the proposal has already picked up some high-profile support in Mayor Mark Mallory, City Councilman Jeff Berding and former Mayor Charlie Luken.

The site for the proposed casino is the pipe-dream location that is Broadway Commons (GoogleMap). The site is located in the Pendleton sub-neighborhood of historic Over-the-Rhine. Its close proximity to Downtown, the convention center, several museums, gobs of hotel rooms and major tourism draws like the Reds and Bengals have long made the site a prime spot for redevelopment speculation (streetcar connectivity).

The question is what is right for such a prime location? Seems like a pretty subjective question, and it is. In the 90’s many people (including myself) thought the site would have been a perfect location for the new Reds ballpark. Other ideas have ranged from urban big-box stores, a mega park, rail transit hub and of course the mixed use urban infill that we would all love to see.

Plans for the once proposed ballpark at Broadway Commons

The problem of course has been market reality. With a slew of new condos and apartments constantly coming on the market in Downtown, Over-the-Rhine, Newport, Covington and the Westend – can we really absorb more residential units, hotels, office and retail space, if so at what cost? Does it jeopardize the future success in OTR, Downtown and The Banks? Will Cincinnati ever push the rail transit agenda and make light rail, streetcars and high-speed rail reality here, if so can we afford to wait that long to redevelop this major site sitting unproductive?

The owners (Chavez Properties), of Broadway Commons, seem to be ready and willing to sell and they are on board with this casino plan. A casino would turn the giant surface lot into a tax productive use, create hundreds of permanent jobs, significantly boost tax revenues for Cincinnati and Hamilton County and potentially create some spinoff investment in the surrounding community.

At the same time the casino would seemingly prey on those with less, create a handful of social problems for a city that already has its fair share, possibly create an island development that encourages its patrons not to leave the confines and potentially insert an out-of-place building and design into one of the nation’s largest and most important historical districts.

Mixed Use redevelopment plan for Broadway Commons that competed with the ballpark proposal - Source

My preference would be for a rail transit hub with mixed use development. Another ideal scenario would be to develop the site as a high-tech business hub that would capitalize off of the proximity to both Downtown and Uptown with its hospitals and universities. At the same time I do realize the need to develop this site into something productive. So I’m decidedly undecided on the issue. Can anyone sway me one way or another?

If you’re in favor of this proposal feel free to sign the online petition.


Travis Estell said...

I like the roundabout concept from that rail transit proposal. That would be a cool inclusion in whatever ends up getting built there.

Randy Simes said...

I too like the roundabout feature at that location. It helps to clean up the mess of intersections there and improve traffic flow/safety, while also creating a dynamic element for the site that is truly unique. I'm sure any developer of a project here would love to take advantage of something like that.

Urban Studio said...

Here's a thought. Go back to making Eggleston Ave. into the Rhine River and dredge the middle of Broadway Commons (an already sunken site) for a boat marina. Line the perimeter with boardwalk retail and restaurants that are two sided and hold the Reading road street front that doesnt look like back of house. Provide connective pedestrain (and maybe vehicle)throughways back to Pendelton, Spring St., Broadway, and Reedy. Insert at the top of the site (north east corner) a larger building of which the interstate fronting sides can be used as for advertising purposes to create draw off of I-71's high speed traffic. A movie theater typology would suit this program, its tall, would create a draw and offer supporting businesses lingering people, and has no windows on the theater side, perfect for a highway billboard. WELCOME TO BROADWAY COMMONS WHARF.

Randy Simes said...

^That is a really neat idea. Would the Rhine River canal you're proposing have to then cut through Sawyer Point to reach the Ohio River?

I have always said, the best cities in the world boast canals or channelized rivers of some sort. You just can't beat the romanticism of a riverwalk through the heart of an urban area.

Urban Studio said... the way, We've always thought Coney Island would be a perfect place for a casino in Cincinnati.

- great easy access off of major highway
- music venue (the new covered - and older lawn facilities)
- coney island (family friendly)
- gambling already - horse track
- on river…potential for riverboat casino
- not near low income urban transitional neighborhoods
- close enought to Downtown that tourist travelers to the casino would probably stop to visit our urban core.

Radarman said...

You can pretty much count on the casion being a fortress island in a sea of parking. There will be many idling charter buses. Absolutely lovely. Visionary.

CityKin said...

Between a inward-facing casino and an existing jail, this could be the nail in the coffin for Pendelton. A casino theoretically could be done to compliment the urban fabric, but this is extremely unlikely.

Broadway Commons is low, but still would require several locks along a canal to get to that elevation from the river, plus there is a huge, huge water line under Eggleston that cannot be touched. I saw this water line a few years ago when they were doing work on the road, and it must be one of the main sources of water for the city.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see a baseball stadium there

Anonymous said...

Put a new jail in.

5chw4r7z said...

I think about the Casinos in New Jersey surrounded by slums and burned out buildings, and I wonder if this is why they want them at Broadway Commons, it guarantees the area will stay undeveloped. Why doesn't Cincinnati let Kentucky have the casinos so all their development money gets siphoned off and not ours.

Anonymous said...

Broadway commons needs to stay clear so I can build my retractable roof MLS soccer stadium there when I'm a billionaire :)

Seriously though I'd rather see a new arena or rail transit center there.

Randy Simes said...

^Haha, I'll put $20 down right now to help make an MLS team in Cincinnati possible - LOVE soccer. Since that probably won't happen I'll just keep hoping that the 3-C Corridor is built so that I could potentially take high-speed rail from Cincinnati to Columbus and watch the Columbus Crew from time to time.

Anonymous said...

Close, but not quite Ran--- Pendletown is no sub-neighborhood. It's defined as one of the 52, per the City of Cincinnati! Take it from a resident-- we're our own neighborhood

Anonymous said...

and yes, I misspelled Pendleton!! oops!

Randy Simes said...

^My reference of Pendleton as a sub-neighborhood is not meant as a slight in any way. There seems to be some confusion over whether or not Pendleton is indeed its own neighborhood as it crosses back and forth between when it claims to be a part of Over-the-Rhine and when it doesn't.

The same thing has happened with several neighborhoods in the Uptown area and also with Covedale and Price Hill. Maybe I should just refer to it as the "downtown area" to avoid any confusion in the future.

DulcetDesign said...

I really like the idea of the lake/mariana. And then put the casino on the outskirts of the city limit (so the city still gets the taxes generated and not some suburb) or a transit center. There is also no reason it cant be both. For such a large urban site, do we really need a place that has no clocks, no windows and more busses and brick walls? Yes to casino, but no to broadway commons.

Anonymous said...

I normally don't comment here - but this concept complets me to leave a comment. Pawn shops, bullet-proof glass liquor stores and prostitution are a terrible idea for Pendleton and Over-The-Rhine. It would clearly only reinforce the harmful images the people of Cincinnati have of these unique 19th Century neighborhoods.

A giant commuter parking lot with fume spewing shuttle buses, although less than ideal, must be much less harmful for the neighborhood than a casino.

If the proposal would locate a casino in Broadway Commons, that would be reason enough to vote against it. It would clearly be better to wait until there is sufficient demand for a mixed used development or a different project that requires the sizable acreage of the site. The tax revenues and jobs a casino would provide would be more than offset by the tax revenues and jobs that would not locate in OTR and Pendleton due to the crime den created by the casino.

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