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Monday, January 4, 2010

3CDC makes transformative impact over last decade

The first decade of the 21st Century has been an interesting one to say the least for Cincinnati. Two new professional sports stadiums rose from the riverfront, mega projects throughout Downtown have transformed the center city, civil unrest shook the city to its core, and a neighborhood on the brink of total failure has seen one of the most dramatic turnarounds in recent time. Billions and billions of dollars have invested into our city's urban core, and our region is better off as a result.


If you had to pick one story line that defined Cincinnati over the past decade it would have to be the story of Over-the-Rhine. The long troubled neighborhood was brought to its knees following the civil unrest in 2001 just as the neighborhood was starting to pick itself back up in the form of a rejuvenated Main Street Entertainment District that included residences, businesses, and lots of nightlife.


Crime rates rose, abandonment became more problematic, and investors became wary. But in 2003 the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) was formed by then mayor Charlie Luken. Made up of some of Cincinnati's most influential power brokers, 3CDC was tasked with turning around Cincinnati's center city by making key investments that would make "tangible" improvements quickly.


A pedestrian walks north along Vine Street in the Gateway Quarter district of Over-the-Rhine [LEFT] as people gather outside the popular Lavomatic Cafe across the street [RIGHT].

Since its inception seven years ago, 3CDC has renovated Fountain Square and turned it into the region's premier gathering spot which has sparked millions of dollars of investment in the surrounding area. Early on, 3CDC helped pushed the agenda on the $1 billion riverfront development known as The Banks until they stepped aside and moved their interests towards the historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood where they have arguably made the most profound impact that any one development corporation could have made anywhere.


It was just earlier in this same decade that Over-the-Rhine was quite possibly hit the lowest of lows, but now, the neighborhood is in the midst of an exciting revival that has grabbed national attention. Millions of dollars have been invests, hundreds of new residents and dozens of new businesses now occupy formerly vacant structures, one of the most dangerous intersections (12th & Vine) has been turned into one of the safest as crime has dropped significantly throughout the neighborhood, and perceptions are changing rapidly about the once downtrodden neighborhood.



Work nears completion on Model Group's Trinity Flats infill and restoration project near 14th & Vine streets [TOP]. Senate, a new gastropub, is scheduled to open soon near 13th & Vine streets [LEFT], while work begins in earnest on the latest phase of the Gateway Quarter which will include new apartments and businesses [RIGHT].

3CDC has had a profound impact on our center city for the good over the past seven years, and they plan an even bigger future over the next decade. In 2010 alone the development corporation plans to expand and renovate Washington Park, continue their renovation work throughout Over-the-Rhine, begin renovation of the Metropole Apartment building on Walnut Street to turn it into a swanky new 21c Museum Hotel, further invest in the burgeoning Backstage Entertainment District with even more restaurants, bars/clubs, and new residences.


It may be easy to point to a singular event or item that has had the greatest impact on Cincinnati over the past decade, but when you look at what has been the most transformative there is no doubt that the arrow points to 3CDC. Cincinnati is a better place because of the work that 3CDC has done, and it will prove to be Charlie Luken's greatest legacy.

13 comments:

Aaron W said...

It's great to see life downtown beyond the weekday 9 to 5. I'm very impressed with 3CDC and their ability to complete so many projects simultaneously and in such a short period of time. Living in Columbus for school the past couple years really makes me appreciate Cincy. With the Banks, Over the Rhine, and the new casino its revitalization across the whole city, not just one area. 2010 should be a good year for Cincy.

Randy Simes said...

What is most impressive is that the majority of this progress has been made during a down economy.

Ian said...

I could not agree with you more Randy. Great post.

Courtney said...

Very cool. So what say you about the resulting gentrification?

Randy Simes said...

Given the limited impact of the restoration efforts so far I would not say that gentrification has occurred yet. Property values have not risen to the point where current residents are being pushed out, and many of the buildings that have been restored were previously vacant. 3CDC has also worked with neighborhood organizations to help provide affordable housing units within some of these projects.

Over the long term though gentrification will probably happen which is in and of itself not necessarily a bad thing since gentrification is after all the rising of property values. If that gentrification leads to displacement though then there will be some issues. If the current developers and policy makers in Cincinnati decide now that it should be a priority to keep OTR affordable to all people, then I think we can avoid most if not all displacement issues that might occur down the road.

urban_drift said...

Randy,
I agree completely.
Gentrification is an ugly word only when it squeezes out the current residents... I think that the conversation should begin now, but that the current development should not be slowed for fear of gentrification 10 years down the road...

Courtney said...

I think everything that 3CDC has done is wonderful but future displacement is something that I worry about. Hopefully policy makers will keep it affordable for current residents and people with very different economic backgrounds will be able to coexist.

Obviously, keeping crime down will be a really important factor in how successfully that will happen.

Randy Simes said...

I think a real opportunity exists in the phase of construction now taking place north of 14th Street along Vine. These buildings will be filled with apartments and not condos like the rest of the developments so far. I am hoping that rents are low enough that a more modest income group is able to afford living in the area without the burden of a mortgage payment.

The Provost of Cincinnati, Editor-at-Large said...

Boondoggle!

The Provost of Cincinnati, Editor-at-Large said...

Boondoggle!

Aaron W said...

Yeah, definetly seems to be a shortage of rentals downtown. I think some people (including myself) may be a little hesitant to buy a condo right away. Instead they could rent for awhile before making a bigger commitment and see how the area continues to develop. This would still get residents downtown which is key for the projects' success. I would assume that studios and one bedrooms would be popular in the area as opposed to larger 2 or 3 bedroom apartments. I was wondering if anyone had opinions about the Pendleton neighborhood? Crime, restaurants, condo prices, positive/negative effects from the casino....

john said...

Although I still have mixed feelings about 3CDC and gentrification in general, I agree that the work they've done for Cincinnati will only benefit us in the end and I'm thankful to have them working in my neighborhood. As one of the renters on Vine, north of 14th, I'll have to wait and see what happens to the rent in my building...

McEwan said...

I accidentally posted as my husband... Oops. (See comment above.)

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