Thursday, June 02, 2005


More on Fountain Square and Urbanists Meeting with 3CDC

This post will likely be rather long. Two topics actually that end up being about the same thing. First is a response to some of the comments on the blog yesterday regarding my Fountain Square Rant, and second is some additional information from the 3CDC forum that was held for a group of about 400 Young Leaders in our city last night at McFadden's.

Couple common themes in most of the comments on the Enquirer and in a few blog posts:

First, the money issue. It doesn't work like that and folks are either in two camps, one they haven't read the plan to try to understand it, or they have read it and understand it but are being disingenuous. First of all, $5 million is from 5th/3rd. They are not going to spend that money on schools, or broadway commons, or anywhere else. It's real world and 5/3 has a vested interest in a beautiful public space in front of their corporate office. Another $15 million is made possible via a low-interest loan (again from 5/3). This is repaid by managing and generating revenue from the fountain square garage. Again, not something that works in other areas. Come on people, this is a real estate deal with mortgage involved. It has very little to do with public tax dollars. So don't pretend that if we decide not to do Fountain Square we suddenly have $40 million to spend elsewhere, we don't!

Issue #2 - OTR or the Banks need to be done instead. Am I frustrated by the desert on the riverfront? Hell yes, and anyone who ever walks with me to a Reds game can attest to that. However this is not a this or that type issue. There have been stumbling blocks in the banks, but this doesn't replace that. There is still work being done on the banks, and I'm a firm 'I'll believe it when I see cranes' type of guy, I am hoping that things start moving. OTR, just like it always has been there's ups and downs. Nick Spencer is living those ups and downs in person. I have a lot of respect for the fact that he opened a business (alchemize) in OTR, in what is now a struggling area. But again, Fountain Square is not INSTEAD of OTR developments. To really make things happen all 3 (banks, Fountain Square, OTR) need attention. It just so happens that the low-hanging fruit is Fountain Square and it is alligned to go first.

Another important note that came out of last nights meeting. Fountain Square garage would require nearly $4 million in repairs to keep it operable. This band-aid would not generate the additonal private investment on the square. So when push comes to shove, in the next 12-18 months the city can spend $4 million on duck tape for the garage, or they can spend $4 million and get a brand new square with new tenants, an operable and clean garage, and a more accessible public space. That is the real choice.

End of Fountain Square Rant #2

I agree with both of your posts. Some folks never seem to understand that to really be successful, you have to learn to juggle more than one ball at a time or place all your eggs in one basket. Because of 5/3rd, this is a deal that is possible. To be fully honest, 5/3rd is a major client of mine and I have a great deal of respect for them and their committment over the years to Cincinnati.
I too am frustrated by the banks and have high hopes for it moving forward. However, getting this deal in place can only help.
As to OTR, that is one that will take time because there are displacement issues involved and a lot of politics to overcome. It is a shame because it has some very beautiful buildings.
Hold positive in your outlook. My mom and dad are old Cincinnati folks who are as negative as it gets about Cincinnati downtown and they were impressed with this move because no matter what anyone says, the fountain is the heart of the city for many folks.
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