Thursday, June 02, 2005
More Here.... (http://thenati.blogspot.com/2005/03/alejandro-escovedo-back-in-nky-june-2.html)
More on Fountain Square and Urbanists Meeting with 3CDC
Couple common themes in most of the comments on the Enquirer and in a few blog posts:
- I would rather spend $72 Million on XYZ than on Fountain Square
- OTR is Key to Change and Needs to be fixed more than Fountain Square
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
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Fountain Square is Not Yours - So Don't Try to Own It!
And you read the 'Reader Responses', and they are almost all negative... If there is anything that is Sooo Cincinnati, it's this beat ourselves up attitude.
Here's some Samples:
"No one goes downtown now. So rehabbing The Fountain will have a great
impact on the people that are not there. Use the 42 million to put life into a
dead city. Fountain Square is there, it is nice, it is NOT an attraction. NO ONE
GOES Downtown to see the FOUNTAIN." - Anderson
"We go to the Montgomery Inn and then head back north for more reasonably
priced entertainment. $42 to redo fountain square, I hope not, these are the
type of political decisions that are driving everyone out of the city. Come on
council you can do better!" - Mason -
Did this guy even read the proposal? Council do better, it's 4 Million in City money and $38 in private investment.
Will $42 million dollars to renivate fountain square make me feel wow I
can't wait to go down town? NOOOOOOO what are we thinking here do you think any body cares about what down town looks like. They care about feeling safe. What does our city think about using $1 million of that money on programs to get rid of gangs drugs and viloence. Once they make us feel safe then they might get my attention of rehabing fountain square. Until I feel safe downtown they better keep teir money in the bank - Covedale
Make us feel safe? That's the whole idea... the only way to make things safe is to have people out. Does anyone feel unsafe walking from Great American to Fountain Square directly after a reds game, or walking to lunch during business hours? Of course not, and why? It isn't because there is a cop for every person, it's because there area HUNDREDS of people around.
I could go on and on... but it would just make me mad. Here is the reality. When the banks don't get done, people in Cincinnati bitch. When Stadiums for sports stadiums are built (after a referundum on the damn issue) people bitch they cost too much. When Fountain Square has a redevelopment plan with only 10% of city money being layed out... people bitch.
Is it a perfect plan? I don't know, I'm pretty sure there is no such thing as a perfect plan. Is it progress, yes.... Will more people stick around to go to outdoor cafes after work... definitely...
So here is my request... quit being a typical Cincinnatian. Don't bitch... be supportive of a plan to help change the city.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Hallelujah - We Have a Plan - Now Start Digging
I am sure everyone has likely seen the new renderings of Fountain square. The skywalk is still gone over the square, the fountain is still moving toward the center, and the stage is still a thing of the past. However, I hope and pray that these things are not argument points, because the new information is what is important. $40 million in re-investment in the city of which only 10% is city money! As a matter of fact, $15 million is via loan to 3CDC (to be paid using parking revenue... hey, can anyone see a new idea for getting those garages on the riverfront underneath the banks built???), $10 million is in federal tax credits, and $4 million comes from the Cincinnati Equity Fund. But in addtion to this and here is the kicker.... $30 million in addition would be spent by private property owners for improvements to businesses! Wow, something totally new and exciting for the city, private development for public space and retail!
Equally exciting, is discussions with local bookseller Joseph Beth, local restauranters Jeff Ruby and Jean Robert. Discussions with Cincinnati businesses like Simone's (for a blues club) and Dewey's pizza... The recruitment of local business instead of ESPNZone, Hard Rock, and House of Blues is VERY exciting to me. Almost unbelieveable that it's happening in the city!
I couldn't be more excited about the plan, and from quotes by council members it looks like the approval should be relatively easy, another piece of unbelievable news. I am going to the presentation by Stephen Leeper at McFadden's tomorrow night to see the renderings, models and presentation in person, but what I've seen today already is very exciting!
Sunday, May 29, 2005
A Taste of Beauty
There was one 'black spot' on the event. It appears that someone in the street department thought it would be a good idea to tar central parkway sometime in the last couple weeks. This of course resulted in wet gooey tar all over central parkway resulting in some sticky feet. Now, this didn't seem to bother me too much personally, there were lots of people playing the 'typical Cincinnati' card. This is of course unfair, and the type of low self esteem that Cincinnati struggles with all the time. Taking the one bad thing in an otherwise great event and taking that as the take-away. I guess some may say that's exactly what I am doing in this blog entry. However, I am just trying to highlight what I observed. I wouldn't be surprised to see an article about this in the paper.
However, until Cincinnati gets over the inferiority complex that it has, these are the types of things that officials in Cincinnati need to be very aware of, and avoid making decisions like the one to tar a street just prior to a street festival.
But it was a great event, and I feel like the booths were spaced out better this year avoiding large areas where it was difficult to move. And the new Kroger Garage and Condos looks great. I hope a lot of people were able to see that progress, as well as the banner for the new Art Academy moving into the old Barrelhouse Brewery. Two great new projects for the South part of OTR!