I would be excited, except there is the same development IN EVERY CITY I go to! Chicago, Indianapolis, Pittsburg, Atlanta, even Detroit. In fact, this architectural style its so overbuilt in those cities to the point that you look at similar projects only to discover that you are in fact looking at "low income" housing projects or student housing for Universities. The fact they are building this stuff in suburbia should be your first clue its 'Late'. I'm trying to be excited, I really am, I know that more housing downtown is good, but I feel like I've landed in a trailer park and the first "double wide" trailer has arrived....I'm just not impressed.
|Dayton Street: Once multi unit apartments, This home is being converted back to a single family mansion. A rapidly increasing trend in West End at the same time the same time CMHD is proposing to build more low income housing in the West End|
Maybe its because I'm an outsider that I'm not impressed. I've seen city rebirth 10-15 years ago in other places. What you are excited about , I see as "missed opportunity" .In other cities Casinos are often put in historic buildings, old hotels, and former high end department stores. Most cities realize that a casino is a major money making opportunity for its developer/owner and if they want to build it , then they need to jump through the hoops the city wants. French Lick Indiana did this very effectively resulting in the restoration of two historic hotels and have revitalized their business district. When we have so much square footage empty, why are we building new, and more importantly why are we tearing down buildings for parking and not requiring designs that incorporate under ground parking? We are letting them TEAR DOWN historic buildings to build this crap! Are we that desperate for new development?
Like I say, I travel a lot and I see what other cities are doing and when I am able to pursuade developers, architects , and preservationists to visit Cincinnati what are they excited about? Its not "The Banks". It is Findlay Market, Lower Price Hill, my neighborhood Knox Hill overlooking the city, and Dayton street/West End. They look at Findlay Market, and are totally impressed, and they ask me why the North Lot parking isn't underground and new historically appropriate, mixed use luxury infill isn't sitting where the surface lot is and they are amazed that there is so little development on Elm and Race.
I take them to Lower Price Hill and they say "Architecturally this is is Dupont Circle or Georgetown housing". When I tell them that these Brick row houses typically sell for 5-20 grand, they wonder how long it will be before some East coast or Chicago developer comes in buys the entire neighborhood and its 750K to a Mill for 10 foot wide row houses and is . a gated community.
I take them to Dayton Street and the first impression is that this must be Cincinnati's "Lincoln Park /Bruling Street (Chicago) home to ultra rich. When I explain to them that no, these houses sell for next to nothing... they are shocked and the inevitable response it "Do these people not know what they have"? I explain that some do and the area is starting to see many of the once grand homes converted back to single family and that there are some 1/2 mil restorations going on but the owners know they will be upside down for years and they do it out of love of architecture and are in a constant battle with the city. I explain about "City Link" and the city wanting to build more low income over there and they just shake their heads. They are amazed that a city, with this architecture, could be so short sighted.
What doesn't impress these people I show Cincinnati to? Well, gateway quarter and the other "Hot/Cool/Trendy" loft conversions. They do marvel at the exterior restoration of existing historic buildings, but wonder how the "spaceship architecture' (newer 3CDC infill projects) were allowed to be built and I am always asked where the Historic Commission is and why don't they have any veto power. Note to 3CDC: the jury is in, no more "Spaceship" architecture in a historic district...its LAME and really embarrassing when outsiders come to town. You can do better....just try!
So what do I see that you don't see? Well I'm plugged in to the "Preservation Underground" in Cincinnati. the people who love historic architecture and see the potential in OTR, Lower Price Hill and other areas you wrote off. I see the former seven unit mansion being converted back to a single family on Dayton street. I know people coming here from out of state and buying around Findlay and instead of rehabbing a bunch of apartments over a storefront into 2 or 3 100K condos are instead building a 3500-4000 square foot historic luxury home in a former tenement apartment building. I watch as people I know come from Indy and Chicago, St Louis and other places and are quietly buying up houses in my neighborhood and parts of Fairmount and Price Hill because they see what those city views are worth in a few years. These people are not "stupid", they have seen what has happened in other cities and they KNOW what will happen in Cincinnati, they are just amazed you do not see it. You are gong to see things happen in the next 3-5 years that you will shake your head at and say "these people are crazy", yet in 10 years you will be saying I wish I had been that smart!.
I wish you saw it, I wish 3CDC saw what is quietly going on. Maybe we would "raise our architectural expectations". Maybe some local developer would be looking at West End as "where the rich will be" in a few years. I guarantee the first million dollar new luxury infill Townhouse in West End/Dayton Street will be built by an out of town developer. The first Million Dollar Luxury single family townhouse will spring up around Findlay Market some day and it will be some "out of stater" who was the potential. When people start combining condo units on Vine and Mains streets because they are "too small" and don't have proper amenities. 'maybe' you will have a clue.
We need to stop 'settling' and expect more. We need serious architectural review , not just "Oh thank you for investing in our city and building crap here, please have some tax credits". We need to ask ourselves will a project look "cheap" in a few years. We need stricter architectural review, less density (enough with the tacky 1 bedroom HGTV lofts) and we need more upscale single family and we need to incentivise that kind of development by increasing the tax abatement limit to 500K. We need to perhaps look at phased tax increases or a 5 year extension of the current 10 year abatements to 15 to avoid a foreclosure crisis in Mt Adams as many find they cant afford the dramatic tax hike as those tax abatements suddenly run out and start walking away from them. We need to reduce/streamline our permit process as well and a very ANTI tear down policy that will insure we preserve our historic architecture while architecturally compatible property is built on our multitude of vacant lots due to our city's misguided "blight=bulldozer" policies.
If would be nice if, Cincinnati did this on their own, AND we can. Otherwise, you will see outsiders coming in to do it for you. Don't blame me when you wake up and see all those outside developers signs everywhere and you are priced out of your own city. I've seen it happen over and over again in other cities. We need to lead or be will be on the sidelines. Set your sights HIGHER people!