GoCincinnati now

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I missed Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory‘s first press briefing of the year Tuesday, but heard a story on WVXU-FM and then read on the Enquirer’s political blog that the mayor “expects recommendations from the GoCincinnati study.”

Well, that reminded me that, uh, yeah, I wrote about that already. In The Post. But it appeared in the paper on Dec. 31, 2007 – the last day – and the Enquirer pulled the plug on The Post’s archives at or about midnight on Jan. 1, 2008. That means the story appeared online for all of about 12 hours and was over shadowed by all the coverage about, well, The Post’s final edition.

A little background: I received a copy of the preliminary Go Cincinnati report (i.e. not the final draft, but close) in early December after several city employees told me it was done and I filed a public records request. And though I didn’t spend much time talking about it in the article, streetcars are being recommended. What I thought was more interesting was the idea of place-based economic development. Streetcars already seem to have lots of support, place-based economic development just seems like it will have a bigger impact on more neighborhoods, thus more people – good and bad.
Read on…

By Joe Wessels
Post contributor

Cincinnati officials are studying whether a “place-based” approach would be best for the city’s future economic development.

In an unfinished report that is part of the “Go Cincinnati” economic development initiative, experts in several urban development and real estate research firms suggest the city should spend money building up specific areas of the city and that would, in turn, spur further development in other areas.

The report — conducted by Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution and Social Compact, Cincinnati-based KMK consulting and Bethesda, Md.-based Robert Charles Lesser Co. — cites “existing growth opportunity districts” as downtown, Over-the-Rhine and Uptown, an area around the University of Cincinnati campus in Clifton, Corryville and Clifton Heights.

“New growth opportunity districts” include three areas:

* Seymour Avenue and Reading Road corridor, an area covering parts of Bond Hill and Roselawn, including the TechSolve industrial park near the Seymour Avenue and Interstate 75 interchange and Cincinnati-Hamilton Community Action Agency on the former site of the Swifton Commons Shopping Center.

* Queensgate and the south Mill Creek corridor, an area south of the I-75 and I-74 interchange south to the Ohio River. This area has become a “generally obsolete industrial corridor” that could be redeveloped into “green industrial parks,” according to the report.

* Madison Road corridor, which begins at the Center of Cincinnati shopping center in Oakley and stretches east to Madisonville, which could become a “complex employment, retail and high-density housing concentration” that would allow for “drivable sub-urban” office buildings, akin to similar developments in places like Blue Ash, West Chester and Mason.

City Councilman Chris Bortz, chairman of Council’s economic development committee and who helped spearhead Go Cincinnati with Mayor Mark Mallory, said the initiative, which has not been finalized, would allow the city to concentrate funds on particular areas that would help drive up the city’s dwindling tax base.

“The lifeblood of a city is its income tax,” he said. “You need to have more jobs.”

How to do that includes a strategy focusing on “public and private investment in specific geographic areas that can serve as economic drivers of the entire city and region,” according to the report.

“If we are going to continue to be competitive as a city, we have to attract business and residents,” Bortz said. “You need to find sites, find land where businesses can locate.”

The last time the city did this type of analysis the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation, or 3CDC, was formed.

That group has been primarily responsible for the redevelopment of Fountain Square and Over-the-Rhine, and was originally charged with getting the long-delayed Banks riverfront project launched.

It also precipitated much of the development around University Hospital and the University of Cincinnati, Bortz said.

Bortz said it was time to do another report to see where the city should go next now that most of the other projects are under way.

“That data led us to the areas that are under review and are serious recommendations that can lead us to the next level,” he said, emphasizing that the report is not finished.

Mallory said he would not comment on the report’s findings until it was completed.

Bortz said focusing on smaller geographical areas allows for deeper concentration and, hopefully, bigger results that can spur other development.

“You do that by concentrating on certain areas or there is no impact,” he said.

Author: Joe Wessels

Joe Wessels is a freelance journalist and photographer. Wessels covers local news events for Thomson Reuters news service and features for About.com's Cincinnati Guide site, plus is the executive director of hyperlocal news site, iRhine.com. He wrote for The Cincinnati Post, covering Cincinnati City Hall and Hamilton County government and wrote a weekly political column, which continued weekly at Cincinnati CityBeat. Previously, he was a reporter for the Cincinnati Business Courier and writes or has written for several publications in Cincinnati and around the country including The Cincinnati Enquirer, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine and the Sacramento News & Review. He is a native of Colerain Township, one of Cincinnati's western suburbs, and now lives in Over-the-Rhine near downtown Cincinnati. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a journalism writing certificate from the University of Cincinnati. He also graduated from Colerain High School, is an avid photographer, news junkie and was once a roller rink disc jockey, and sometimes rides a scooter around town.

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