The City of Cincinnati is one step closer to beginning phase one of a streetcar system that will connect the Banks and downtown with Uptown and the University of Cincinnati. Locations of 21 stops along
the 4.9 mile streetcar route
have been determined and include ten stops in downtown, ten in Over-the-Rhine, and one in Uptown.
City engineers and staff as well as representatives from Metro (buses and the streetcar will share several of the stops) and local business owners determined the locations. The first loop of the streetcar is expected to carry 6,000 people per day and stimulate a $3-to$1 return on investment for the local economy. The stops along the route were spaced two-to-three blocks apart for functionality, greater accessibility and to maximize economic development. Studies indicate that streetcars generally promote development 2-3 blocks from the line itself.
According to City spokesperson Meg Olberding, the stops are "strategically placed to connect areas of downtown and Uptown to promote development…as development grows and other stops are needed, they can be added." That development includes rehabilitation of existing structures along the route for residential and commerical opportunities, as well as new construction.
"There are 92 acres of surface parking alone that could be redeveloped for a higher and better use. There are stretches of Vine up near Findlay Market
especially that are also ripe for redevelopment efforts - storefronts, living spaces, and businesses," Olberding said.
Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine stands to benefit from the convenient access downtown workers will have to the Market on a weekly basis, as well as from new residents that the streetcar could bring to the neighborhood. In addition, it could also enhance the Market experience for customers by adding new and unique businesses, according to Corporation for Findlay Market President, Robert Pickford.
"The new and prospective vendors we're dealing with are aware of the streetcar and the positive impact it will have on the Market and there have been a couple of recent real estate transactions that I am certain were influenced by the streetcar. I think this will increase significantly if the remaining uncertainty about the streetcar ameliorates," Pickford said.
In Uptown where the streetcar will reach Clifton Heights and Corryville, Matt Bourgeois, Director of Clifton Heights Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation
, sees the stop at University Plaza as complimentary to the ongoing work CHCURC is undertaking in the neighborhood. The restoration of Old St. George Church and concurrent construction of an adjacent boutique hotel, and a five-story office and parking structure in the stretch of land between Calhoun and McMillan are just some of the planned developments that will benefit.
"It is going to go right by the doorstep of two of our larger projects. How great to come up the hill and see this 130 year old church restored to its former glory? " he said. Bourgeois added that a contemplated future Uptown transit hub would also connect with development occurring further down Calhoun, and help fill available commercial space along the street.
"Once people see track being laid it will pick up steam," he said.
Writer: Sean Rhiney