Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Corryville homeowner says Kroger development would hinder streetcar

A Corryville homeowner thinks that a recent development in his neighborhood would seriously hinder the benefit of an Uptown streetcar.

Peter Dryer, a 29-year-old medical resident at the University of Cincinnati, says in a communication to Councilmember Roxanne Qualls that, on July 22, the Corryville Community Council essentially approved of a plan by Kroger for a 60,000-square-foot suburban-style grocery store on the block bounded by Wm H Taft Road and Jefferson, Corry, and Euclid avenues - a plan that could shut off the Short Vine business district from a streetcar connector route.

"City representatives had warned the counsel [sic] prior that this would reroute the future streetcar to Jefferson since it would not be able to make the sharp turns around the development to enter the business district," he says. "The city mentioned that this was not a recommended change but that it did not have the stomach to fight the counsel's [sic] potential approval."

Dryer attibutes the approval of the store, with its isolation from the street and vast surface parking lots, to the makeup of the community council itself - middle-aged landlords who don't see the benefit of a streetcar and want to "jump for the short term gain of a new Kroger".

"The vast majority of the counsel [sic] are middle aged landlords who stated that they can't depend on the streetcar, and that we need to act now," he says. "The young optimists were outvoted by the older business owners."

He says that they're missing the bigger picture.

"My wife worked in Portland for 5 years at Nike's world headquarters and lived by the famed '23rd Street'," Dryer says. "She knows first hand that business districts like the Short Vine area, near such a large concentration of young people at UC, would likely undergo the quintessential streetcar transformation and that there is a large difference between running the car up Jefferson vs. the business district in terms of the benefit to the business district."

While he understands that everyone is for strong redevelopment of the area, Dryer is asking City Council to provide community stakeholders with better public information, assurances that the streetcar line will be built, and creative thinking on how to bring the streetcar onto Short Vine.

He also worries that Kroger is using its muscle to push the community council to approve the plan, or lose out on the development altogether.

"I'm in the growing minority of young professionals who is trying to move back into the city," Dryer says. "While we all understand that Kroger and others need to mind their bottom line, I'm afraid that bigger opportunities and benefits - even to Kroger - are being missed because people don't believe in the streetcar here!"

A report on the communication from City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr is expected by early September.

Photo credit: Flickr user adonis hunter's 'stuff'

Previous reading on BC:
Uptown Consortium moves on Short Vine purchases (7/23/08)
Action taken on University Plaza (1/2/08)