Monday, March 7, 2011

City Planning Commission approves 'Revive Cincinnati' Mill Creek plan

At Friday's meeting, the Cincinnati City Planning Commission approved the Revive Cincinnati plan, a document that will help remake the neighborhoods of the Lower Mill Creek Valley.

Completed by Urban Design Associates last month, the plan provides recommendations for future economic development, neighborhood investment, environmental improvements, and transportation infrastructure in the four focus areas of Mitchell Avenue, South Cumminsville/Northside, the Hopple Street Interchange, and Queensgate/West End.

Planning began more than seven years ago with the North-South Transportation Initiative, a comprehensive study of a nearly 100-mile corridor between Northern Kentucky and Ohio's Miami County line.

Now, with multi-billion planning for the Brent Spence Bridge and the I-75 Mill Creek Expressway project and a Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati consent decree required by the federal Clean Water Act, the opportunity for residents and stakeholders to guide the future of areas adjacent to the corridor has presented itself.

"This is an opportunity to use the investment as a catalyst to rethink, revitalize, and improve communities and business areas along the corridor," said a staff report recommending City Planning Commission approval.

Each focus area faces its own unique challenges.

Interstate construction led to the creation of multiple "stubbed" streets in South Cumminsville, requiring the use of interstates for local trips. Interstates also led to the decline of the Colerain Avenue business district in Camp Washington, and to the near decimation of the entire West End neighborhood.

Revive Cincinnati recommends such improvements as new above- and below-grade interstate crossings to reconnect to local road network; improvements to arterial roads and intersections using a complete streets strategy; planning for future transit options; and creating trails, green space and recreation areas in areas along the Mill Creek and its tributaries.

The plan also highlights the corridor's biggest assets, namely its close proximity to the City's two largest employment centers and its great interstate and rail access.

"The Lower Mill Creek Valley is dealing with the same challenges of environmental contamination and outdated business facilities that are faced by older industrial areas of Cincinnati and throughout the nation," the staff report said. "However, the corridor has many assets that can be used to fuel redevelopment."

Cincinnati City Council still must approve the plan, which is expected to become part of the City's new comprehensive master plan.

"I think we were all impressed by the quality of work that went into it," said Caleb Faux, member of the City Planning Commission. "We all agreed that it should incorporated into the comprehensive plan now under way."

Previous reading on BC:
Revive I-75 seeks to improve adjacent neighborhoods (11/17/09)