Thursday, February 23, 2006


Rumors 'Round the 'Nati

Just a few things I've 'heard' lately. Some are more for sure than others, but thought I'd pass them along.

Calhoun St/UC - The new development (where Potbelly's is) continues at a snails pace. However, the Panera Bread and Ben and Jerry's should both open in the Spring. And brand new info, a new Burrito place is entering the Cincy market. BoLoCo. Stands for Boston Local Company and the burrito joint in Cincinnati will be one of about 10 nationwide.

Fountain Square - This one is much less 'for sure', but I've heard that Mytho's (Greek Gyro place in downtown and Newport) is opening up a restaurant on the square. Not sure if it will be a smaller 'stand' type location or a full blown restaurant.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Banks Debacle - But a Thanks to Bortz

When you have a name like 'Bortz', you should know a thing or two about development. A member of the Towne Properties family, development has been in his blood for a long time.

For about the last 4 years the question I have never understood the answer to was, why can't Hamilton County build the garages and use parking revenue to pay for them. Newport on the Levee sits on top of government owned garages, and Newport is getting ready to build a new development on the riverfront sitting on top of garages. So the question for me has always been, what's different.

Well only in the last few days has that answer been made public. It's simple, the County wants a developer to pay for both the underground AND above ground garages, making the development economically impossible. There is no way you can build that much parking and still make a profit. Why? because the County wants to use the revenue from the garages to pay off their debt for an underperforming sales tax. Which is a complete bullshit. If the problem is sales tax revenue, the answer is to re-finance the debt, raise taxes, or extend the sales tax for an additional 5 years. (all of which are political suicide for DeWine and Heimlich who both have upcoming elections or future political ambition). I can understand their problem. However, the answer is easy, accept the city proposal to provide 20 million for the garages, and a joint task force to complete the project. Then the issue of the sales tax increase can be delayed until after the commissioners have moved on to higher political ambitions.

Bortz is right. The sales tax issue is the county's problem and seperate from the banks development. TIF money should be used to enable the development, not to pay down debt the county has. So know the answer is public, we need presure to make sure it happens. It looks as though Dewine is making the right decision and supporting cooperation with the city, so we might actual see some shovels in the ground this year after all!

Monday, February 20, 2006


Desdemona Independent Arts Festival

Two-Time City Council Candidate, Alchemize part-owner, and general 'urbanist' Nick Spencer has announced a new initiative. I've been hearing talk of it for a few weeks now, but wanted to chat about it quickly here on this blog.

The details are somewhat thin so far (other than dates (June 23-25 - recently expanded to include a third day), and the announcment that national indie music mag Filter as an official sponsor). The Desdemona Independent Arts Festival which will focus on National acts of the 'indie' variety (though their not REALLY indie, since most of the acts be tossed around as possible are at least signed to small labels). Just to toss out a couple names of bands that have been mentioned to give you an idea: New Pornographers, Old 97s, Sleater-Kinney, Heartless Bastards, the Constantines, etc... for probably 90% of the reader of this blog, those names mean nothing. But these are some pretty big names on the indie level. The point being that, I think for a good number of Cincinnatians when the list of bands is released, I wouldn't expect people to know a lot of the bands. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't go to the show. In fact, it's probably THE reason you should. There is a lot of great music out there, and the show will be outdoor at Sawyer point. It should be a great time, you'll get introduced to bands you've never seen/heard. But more importantly it will continue Cincinnati on the path towards 'cool'. If this event can grow and be as successful as MPMF, it will be a great bookend to MPMF.

It would create a national buzz about Cincinnati as a 'progressive' city. A city that supports not only our wonderful 'established' arts venues (Art Museum, Playhouse, Symphony, etc), but also the up and coming. Desdemona focused on national/regional touring indie bands. MPMF focused on purely 'unsigned' bands, and Cincy Fringe Festival promoting visual and performing arts that are new and interesting. If all of these events can grow, and succeed, that's a pretty impressive combination of interesting arts festivals for our 'sleepy little midwestern' town!


Newport Urban Village

Hey... hope you all didn't miss me too much. Combine lots of new clients at work with a trip to Las Vegas for 5 days, and that equals not a lot of blogging. I'm guessing most of you blog readers were able to survive just fine without me though :)

Newport has been in progress of preparing to re-develop the are just West of the Levee for about the past two years. Part of a Hope VI grant that allows them to disperse low-income housing throughout the community instead of concentrated in project housing. They have now moved most of the families (I think about 40 remain) from the complex, and began demolotion on Friday. This process will continue throughout the summer and finish in July.

They have an RFQ (Request for Qualification) out to local and national developers (sound familiar?). Already Towne Properties and Corporex have expressed interest (sound familiar?). The project has to be built atop parking garages so that it is at the top of the Levee and provides views of downtown (sound familiar?). The project will be on 13+ acres of prime downtown Newport real estate on the Ohio River (sound familiar?). In total the project will exceed the cost of Newport on the Levee and the Aquarium, and be a mix of condos, hotels, office and entertainment (sound familiar?). Newport is looking for the developer to cover costs of the land ($10-15 million), and demolotion another few million. (sound familiar?).

So... basically Newport is proceeding with plans to redevelop their riverfront into a mixed used neighborhood to be built from scratch. I am never one to play the Oh vs. KY, Newport vs. Cincinnati card. But let me say if they succeed in finding a developer to put up front cash to pay for garages and land and develop this site it will make Cincinnati/Hamilton County look like a bunch of fools. Here's a vote for Cincinnati cleaning up their house and getting a developer on board before Newport, and watching bothing of these urban development projects on BOTH sides of the river come out of the dirt at the same time!

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