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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
September 29, 2023

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Cincinnati: a city in the remaking

CINCINNATI – A gleaming downtown riverfront neighborhood of green space and high-rises for living, working and entertaining, a destination for visitors and a haven for young professionals and downsizing baby boomers: That’s been the vision for decades in this city on the Ohio River.

But deal after proposed deal was shot down by lack of funding or political infighting. A classic case was the squabble between city and county officials over who owns the air rights over parking garages.

Now, cooperative agreements among the city, Hamilton County and the master developer have put the dream closer to fruition than it’s ever been.

“We are stepping away from 10 years of disagreement and moving into 10 years of development,” said Mayor Mark Mallory.

Developers still have to find about $800 million, and public officials another $200 million for infrastructure, to make it happen.

“The work is not done; it really is only beginning, in many ways,” Councilman David Crowley noted as officials approved the enabling legislation at a recent meeting held at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The center is the only building in a four-by-three-block area between the river and the downtown business district.

“The good news is the city and county appear to be on the same page and seem to be working reasonably well together, which is rare here,” said Arn Bortz, a partner in Towne Properties, which is building other high-end housing nearby.

The area awaiting development covers about 18 acres between Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park, leaving about 40 acres for a riverfront park.

As far back as 1970, urban planners had hoped that construction of the old Riverfront Stadium would spur development in its downtown neighborhood, where there were only a few bars and a produce warehouse. But it remained mostly what it still is, a sea of surface parking lots, even after a proposal for “The Banks,” as the area became known, was unveiled a decade ago.

The city and county finally put together a group headed by Cincinnati Reds owner Bob Castellini in May 2006 to line up a master developer and push the project forward.

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