Friday, January 9, 2009

Cincinnati's failed urban planning model: The bulldoze mentality and Bank St

The city of Cincinnati has essentially adopted a failed Urban planning model that most other cities have abandoned and in retrospect wish they had never adopted.

I am speaking about the "bulldoze mentality" that has gripped city building maintenance. The idea that it 'makes sense' to bulldoze 120 year old homes in the 'hope' that someone, someday, will rebuild on the site. This Urban planning model has failed in every city that adopted it and slowed the city's rebirth by decades.

Take Indianapolis a city that most now regard as a success story in the area of downtown redevelopment. In the 1960's the city bulldozed much of its downtown Urban neighborhoods for surface parking. Th city sat for decades with undeveloped , underutilized properly that generated little, if any, taxable revenue. It took 40 years for the starts and moons to align so it was right and profitable to build downtown. The remaining downtown neighborhoods of Lockerbie, Chatham Arch and Old Northside are some of the most expensive residential property in town with small 2 bedroom cottages selling for 250K and more substantial homes
over a million dollars. The owners of these homes pay major property taxes to live in a vibrant downtown and those revenues help make the downtown possible.

If Cincinnati takes the approach Indy used in the 1960's , and they are it will be 2050 before we see a real 'rebirth' of the downtown and that is 'IF' we are lucky, if not we may look more like Detroit!

The impending potential loss of the Bank street homes illustrates the danger. DEmolishing 4 historic homes will destroy the last vestiges of that once vibrant block. Builders will have no 'anchor" no neighborhood base to attract future development, that is the danger!

I received over 250 emails yesterday from people upset with the idea of tearing down these homes. In fact several expressed interest in buying one, if they could be sold. It is not too late to save these historic homes. I urge everyone to email their councilperson, call city planning to complain, call the mayors office to express your outrage. Once these homes are gone , they are gone forever.

Don't get me wrong Indianapolis is a great city, but it lacked its historic character. Its not New Orleans, or a Charleston or a Savannah and never will be. No one ever says "lets go visit "historic"Indianapolis.

Cincinnati is blessed to still have its history. It would be a shame to destroy it.

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