Greenspace, trails, and public art will connect the Uptown Innovation District with the community

The 65-acre innovation and technology district now under development in the Uptown neighborhood is expected to attract thousands of jobs, but it won’t be all business.

The plans also include designs for the Innovation Greenway, an open space that will include trails for walking and biking, pocket parks, seating decks, public art, and other greenspace meant to be accessible to the community.

“We're trying to create a sense of community by having people who work here, visit here, and live here come together in these open spaces,” says Alan Ward, a principal at planning and design firm Sasaki.

For more than a year, Uptown Consortium, Inc., the not-for-profit developer of the District, has been working with Boston-based Sasaki to create plans for the greenspace within the Innovation District development, which is centered around the Interstate 71 interchange at Martin Luther King Drive and Reading Road.

The Innovation Greenway is designed to increase connectivity between developments and the surrounding neighborhoods and provide recreation and gathering space for community members and tenants. Plans have been presented to residents and stakeholders in the surrounding Avondale neighborhood, UCI says.

“We’re working to create an ecosystem that is regionally connected, innovative and rooted in the assets of local residents and businesses,” says Beth Robinson, president and CEO of UCI.

The area will be open to anyone in the community for recreation, and it’s expected that the finished space will eventually include programming, such as exercise classes, concerts, and other events.

The Greenway is also being designed to improve sustainability in the development through integration into the site’s stormwater management plan. Surface runoff will be collected from roads and the surrounding developments and directed it to a greenway stream.

The Uptown Consortium recently received grants from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the Duke Energy Foundation to continue the greenway planning and development.

University of Cincinnati and Children's Hospital Medical Center are considered anchors of the district, along with the 1819 Innovation Hub, a UC-sponsored space for startups and established businesses to collaborate and grow.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health is planning to consolidate three facilities into the Uptown district in a $110-million campus expected to bring in 550 employees.

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David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading, or watching classic movies.