There is an interesting article today in the Enquirer about new home construction in OTR on Pleasant Street just North of Washington Park: http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090428/BIZ01/904290310&s=d&page=1#pluckcomments
That is all well and good, But yet another "new Urbanist" development with with HGTV style interiors that will be "passe" in 5 yrs . The "model" here seems to be condo, condo, condo and that "model" poses certain problems and shows a 'shortsightedness" on the part of the neighborhood "movers and shakers' and the city about the future of OTR.
It ignores certain facts, not EVERYONE who would like to live in OTR is 20 something. What happens in 5 yrs or so when all those 20 somethings marry and have kids. Where will they go, and what are their options? Condos are great when you are just starting out but sooner or later you 'grow up' and you needs change.
OTR planners and the city are missing the boat in my opinion. The city holds a l;arge number of medium to large brownstones and rowhouse buildings in OTR, once single family homes coverted to apartments in the 60's and 70's. The city needs to "test the waters' and see if anyone out there is willing to come in and restore, not condo, not apartment, but restore and live in OTR.
I would be in OTR now if I could have found a place to buy and restore and I know alot of people like me who would be perfectly content on Elm or Race street in a nice 2-3 level Rowhouse or Brownstone with a nice rear courtyard and new carriage house out back.
I've done this before, I restored downtown homes in downtown Indianapolis, I did the same thing in New Orleans after Hugo where I bought a 'shell" of a house a few blocks north of the old "slave market' commercial district ( think Findlay Market but with people all the time and restaurants, and nightclubs too) The area I bought in was 'rough' by comparison OTR is like the burbs. Just a few of us "Urban Pioneers" living in an area no one else wanted to live in and many thought should be bulldozed. As we restored our house, others moved in and before long it was a neighborhood again. Today that area, once the worst of slums, is home to a great neighborhood of 500K to million dollar homes. Those once worthless homes are now highly cherished.
That's my point, we have to start thinking out of the box. Condos area start but not a solution to OTR. You need more than 20 somethings living in 1100 square foot "apartments/condos" you need houses. There are plenty in OTR but the city wont let them go. You cant build a neighborhood with preferred developers with only one vision. Not everyone wants to live in a condo, people want a small yard, they want their own garage.
OTR's biggest asset is its architecture. I look at OTR and I see Charleston, or Savannah or New Orleans. I see a neighborhood that people come to visit, to see the architecture, to eat in fine restaurants and walk around at night. I see horse drawn carriages conducting historic tours of OTR. I see B&B's and Boutique hotels. I see restored homes open as 'museum houses'. I see a place where downtown executives, not just people 'starting out' want to live who maybe hop the streetcar home from a long day at the office and are home in a few minutes rather than driving and hour each way to work.
I see a neighborhood, a community and that's something, for all their good intentions I don't think the city or the 'key players' in OTR can see. Its going to take some "vision" not 'tunnel vision"!