Thursday, October 25, 2007

Banks competing against downtown?

The Banks Working group has finished it's assigned task and approved a "development agreement" this week. The next step is to have this document approved by city and county officials, which should happen very quickly.
On particular quote jumped out at me when I read the Business Courier's article on the completion of the deal (emphasis mine):

"The 24-story maximum building height is a compromise by developers, who previously sought approval for buildings of up to 30 stories. The latest agreement shrinks the height of the Banks, but not the density. Developers still want to build up to 2.8 million square feet of real estate on the 18-acre site.

Downtown property owners have criticized the higher-density version of the Banks project, saying it would directly compete against downtown."

I have two issues with this:

1) How exactly is the Banks not a part of downtown? I mean, this makes it sound like they're going to build a new city somewhere else. The Banks is downtown. What is good for the Banks is good for downtown. Which leads me to #2:

2) What basis do these businesses have for complaining about competition? How is this any different from a Wendy's trying to prevent a McDonald's from being built across the street? I don't know why we should prevent competition between office space on opposite sides of Fort Washington Way. It comes across as big business interests having undue influence over the planning. What if it turns out to be a really good idea to have a 25 story building? Do we have to ask permission from all the businesses in the neighborhood?

I guess my complaining is too late now. I'm happy that this step is finished. I can't wait to see some shovels hitting the dirt down there.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


This is pretty close to my view on the streetcar proposal:

The streetcar system that has been proposed for Cincinnati is a good way to connect the city. The current proposal connects Fountain Square with Findlay Market, two hubs of activity in our city. Connecting these areas is a first start at bringing people in these areas together. However, although I like the streetcar plan, we must not implement it blindly. Building this system with the mentality “build it, and they will come” is not what this city needs. A full plan should be in place to make the streetcar line a WALKING line, too. Businesses and restaurants should be encouraged to locate along the line, and they should be committed to locating here before ground is broken on the streetcar system. Only if there are stops along the line that are appealing, will the streetcar truly serve its purpose of revitalizing the city and encouraging people to move back into the city. Only then, will it be a true success.-- George Zamary Response - Streetcar System (Today at the Forum)

I think "build it and they will come" mentality is the wrong way to think about it. I think some people are getting a little bit ahead of themselves in thinking it will be some kind of cure all. Check out this quote from Mitch Painter:

We must bring the streetcars here immediately in a surge to make Cincinnati the next young, hip, urban, green city that is user-friendly. We must also bring them to decrease our reliance on the automobile, thus lessening our impact on the environment. Furthermore, we must bring them to retain our young professionals and attract new businesses and home buyers.

The streetcars will be an investment that will pay great dividends through new development and new jobs. We must elect leaders that have the ability to generate this forethought if we expect to evolve as a city from conservative to growth-oriented. We must also elect leaders that will fight tooth and nail to obtain state and federal and private money to fund these essential projects. -- Painter on Streetcars (Today at the Forum)

I just hope we're really sure that it will be a net benefit before we start dumping money into it. I still want it to be pursued, believe me. I think more transit options is a Good Thing. I'd definitely ride a streetcar if it went from downtown to Newport (or from downtown to The Banks if The Banks ever get built.)