Wednesday, September 26, 2012

'Connect the Blocks' seeks to unite business district, riverfront

A national design competition and public visioning process to better tie the Central Business District with The Banks and Smale Riverfront Park begins tonight at 6 P.M. at the Madisonville Recreation Center, located at 5320 Stewart Road.

"Connect the Blocks" is an initiative to seek ideas for what should be built atop proposed decks that would be built atop Fort Washington Way, between Main and Elm streets.

"The Banks is well underway, downtown is growing, and now we must begin thinking about what we as a community want to see over Fort Washington Way to connect downtown and the riverfront," Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney said in a prepared release. "We must first have a common vision of what we want, then we can establish the roadmap to get there."

In anticipation of future development, the City of Cincinnati, Hamilton County, and private investors spent $10 million to construct pile foundations for the decks during the roadway's reconstruction in 2001.

The public is invited to share ideas and opinions at tonight's meeting, a meeting to be held October 9 at 6 P.M. in the Tower Room of the Main Branch of the Public Library of Greater Cincinnati and Hamilton County, or on the project website.

To put those visions into action, design, architectural, and engineering experts are being sought to provide design concepts and cost estimates for the project.

A design committee will select between three and five finalists to receive a $50,000 stipend – to be raised from private sources – to further refine their designs, which will be made available for public input. A winning design will be selected next summer.

In 2008, the cost of the deck platforms was estimated at $57 million, or approximately $61 million in 2012 dollars. Funding for the platforms has not been identified.