What is Cincinnati grasping about the path to urban revitalization that could inform Cleveland efforts? Similar population loss (40% since 1950) sapped much of the vitality, but not the strong urban character of the Queen City.
Cincy is rolling out a redevelopment strategy that centers on transit and walkable neighborhoods. It introduced a new zoning code that would all but assure transit-oriented development happens along its proposed streetcar line. The city wants to continue the incredible success of repairing legacy neighborhoods like Over-the-Rhine, which the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) led in restoring beautiful, old row houses, and continues with a $63 million live-work development they expect will fill some of the demand from Millennials and Boomers looking for city living.
“The Queen City is positioning itself to capture this demand and to put a strategy in place that makes these neighborhoods complete places with everything urban neighborhoods have to offer,” a report about the city’s new zoning code says.
Cincy vice mayor Roxanne Qualls announced that the city will seek a form-based code that would support pedestrian-friendly development around transit stations. The city piloted this plan in four neighborhoods targeted for redevelopment. It lists four reasons for pursuing new zoning:
- Form-based Code will allow the development of the vacant land at Madison & Whetsel into a mixed-use development, where housing retail, and office space can co-exist in the same development (editor’s note: close proximity of uses makes for a more walkable place)
- Form-based Code primarily focuses on the form of the buildings, and the use of the building is secondary. The code in Madisonville (one of the four neighborhood pilots) shows developers the type of new construction we want to see here. This zoning was initiated and created by Madisonville community members with the assistance of City staff.
- Form-based Code emphasizes people and public spaces. The neighborhood leadership believes that if Madisonville is rebuilt for people, we’ll get more people, as opposed to building for cars and traffic, which results in more cars and more traffic.
- Form-based Code will streamline the development process and provide more predictable results for both the community and developers.
The pilot project has grown into a city-wide form-based code with the help of a $2.4 million grant from HUD, part of which was used to hire consultants, Opticos Design.
Cincy’s well-documented fight over a 3.6-mile streetcar line connecting areas around downtown is mostly over, with the city approving $6.5 million in casino revenues and a $5 million federal TIGER grant as part of a $17.5 million phase one. The streetcar is already catalyzing development interest, and giving a boost to occupancy rates, UrbanCity reports. Plus, the city announced a dozen development projects last week, much of it along the streetcar line.