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Pleasant Ridge / Kennedy Heights : Development News

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Cincinnati Parks working to green city's unique neighborhood business districts

Following the renovation of Fountain Square, the City of Cincinnati needed someone to manage the plantings on the public plaza.  After a competitive bidding process the Cincinnati Park Board's Greenspace Program emerged as the best organization to handle such a project.  Since that time, the program has expanded considerably throughout Downtown and Over-the-Rhine, and more recently into eight of Cincinnati's neighborhood business districts.

"The Park Board competed for the landscaping contract against private companies and eventually won," described City Council member Laure Quinlivan, Chair of the Livable Communities Committee.  "The City was excited to hand this platform off to a group able to do this, and we are really fortunate to have one of the best park departments in the country that was able to step up to the challenge."

The initial contract at Fountain Square has led to other opportunities for the Park Board's Greenspace Program.  At the end of 2007, City Council looked at eight business districts that recently had streetscaping projects completed, or had existing landscaping in their business districts. The goal was to find out what it would take to design, install and maintain three seasonal displays annually.  The Greenspace Program fit the bill and also maintains the sidewalk cutouts that include tree plantings in those business districts.

"We really enjoy the opportunity to do this work in neighborhoods throughout the city," said Dave Boutelle, Service Area Coordinator for the Greenspace Program.  "It has added a new dimension to our program and we are encouraged by all the positive feedback we have been receiving from the neighborhoods where we have been working."

Neighborhoods where Greenspace has been working include Westwood, Bond Hill, Roselawn, Evanston, Northside, O'Bryonville, Mt. Washington and Pleasant Ridge.  The work has been ongoing since 2008 with a two person crew maintaining the landscaping in these areas to keep them looking beautiful.

"Our Greenspace Program concentrates on public areas that are not parks, but do have landscaping like highway ramps, parkways, neighborhood gateways and other park-like settings," Boutelle explained.  "And we are fortunate to have talented people that do tremendous design work that has been able to keep the areas colorful year-round."

The program costs the City no additional money and expands the work of the Cincinnati Park Board; which in the end is something Quinlivan is very proud about.

"My goal is to create a cleaner, greener and smarter city, and what better way to do that than through a partnership like this," she said.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Tiffani Fisher
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy

Pleasant Ridge Montessori School achieves LEED Silver Certification

Pleasant Ridge Montessori has become the first public K-12 school in Ohio to achieve Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Certification thanks to the efforts of Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), the Pleasant Ridge community, and the design work of SHP Leading Design.

The announcement of the LEED Silver Certification came from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) after a review of the school's application.

"This announcement is a monumental achievement for SHP, Cincinnati Public Schools and the community of Pleasant Ridge," said vice president of SHP, Charlie Jahnigen.  "The school was the first LEED registered K-12 building in the state of Ohio and the first to receive its LEED certification."

The 75,000 square-foot educational facility was constructed on the school's existing seven-acre site and opened in 2008 to house 317 students, but enrollment this past year has grown to 572 students.

Some of the school's sustainable features include solar panels, specially designed utility and mechanical systems, north and south facing windows to prevent sun glare and provide optimal sunlight, a white roof to reduce heat absorption, and the use of recycled and locally produced materials in the construction process.

While Pleasant Ridge Montessori is the first of its kind, it will certainly not be the last as Cincinnati Public Schools has adopted the sustainable design standards used on this project and applying them to all of its future projects.  Likewise, the state of Ohio has also mandated that any new public school in the state receiving state funds must meet LEED Silver certification or better.

Jahnigen said that everyone invovled in the process of creating this new school should be very proud.  "Pleasant Ridge provided an incredible opportunity to realize the benefits of sustainable design, and CPS has proven to be an invaluable partner in the process."

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @SoapboxRandy

May means it's bike month in Cincinnati

As Cincinnati strives to become a more bike friendly city, the local bike community continues to grow and become more active.  Recent victories include the announcement of dedicated bike lanes on Spring Grove Avenue when it is repaved in the near future, the start of a new “sharrow” pilot program that will study a variety of bike corridors throughout the city to determine which ones are best suited for “sharrows” and an update to the City’s Bike Plan is currently underway.

The dedicated bike lane along Spring Grove Avenue will further connect the neighborhoods of Downtown and Northside, and will allow bicyclists to safely and quickly travel through the Mill Creek Valley on their way to or from the center city.

“Sharrows” are marked lanes that are used to indicate to motorists that bicyclists do indeed share the road and help provide a safer environment for bicyclists to navigate congested city streets.  These sharrows are used throughout much of the United States, but have yet to be embraced in Ohio, which has recently been ranked as the 32nd best state for bicyclists.

The hopes are that these new initiatives will illustrate support for bicyclists and encourage higher rates of bicycling in the Cincinnati region. But even with these new initiatives, many hurdles still exist for Cincinnati bicyclists.  Support facilities like lockers and showers are virtually non-existent, many bicyclists still do not ride on the streets with vehicular traffic and ample riding and parking space continue to be issues faced by bicyclists.

Sherman Cahal is the owner of the local bicycling forum known as Cincy Rides and regularly participates in the grass-roots rides known as Critical Mass – both of which are meant to engage the local bicycling community and keep communication open for their efforts.  Cahal has attempted to further network the local bicycling community in a way that will hopefully create new and innovative solutions to many of the problems still faced in Cincinnati with regards to bicycling.

May is also National Bike Month, making it the perfect time to celebrate bicycling and bring awareness to its causes in the Cincinnati-area. This year’s Bike Month includes a variety of events and activities geared towards getting Cincinnati-area bicyclists out on the streets and being visible.  One such activity is Deals on Wheels where dozens of local businesses are offering discounts and special deals for those who bicycle to their businesses.

This coming Thursday marks the Cincinnati Bike to Work Day where cyclists are strongly encouraged to get out and bicycle to work.  The efforts of getting people to bicycle to work are largely centered on support facilities like lockers and showers that are currently not found in Cincinnati.

To get involved with Bike Month activities in Cincinnati, you can visit Queen City Bike for regular updates on events, activities and specials.  This involvement is important as the local bicycling community moves forward and spreads the word about their beloved means of transportation.

“The bicycle is perhaps the cleanest mode of transport for any measurable distance, and nothing remains as pure or as spirited as the natural elegance of a bike ride,” says Cahal.

Writer: Randy Simes
Source: Sherman Cahal, owner, Cincy Rides

ALLY green schools event shows link between schools, health, and jobs

The Alliance for Leadership and Interconnection (ALLY) last week hosted "Green Schools as Learning Tools", a celebration of Cincinnati Public Schools' (CPS) Green and Healthy Schools initiative at Pleasant Ridge Montessori School.

The location is symbolic because it's the project for which ALLY began advocating for green schools, a process that led to CPS requiring all new builds to be built to LEED standards.

Thanks to the work of ALLY, Pleasant Ridge became home to the first LEED-certified PK-8 public school in the state of Ohio and a model for the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

"Cincinnati and the State of Ohio are leading the nation in sustainable design, and national organizations are looking to the Cincinnati model for green and healthy schools," says ALLY executive director Ginny Frazier, whose organization is putting together a how-to manual to share their campaign story and an online clearinghouse for information on the green schools movement.

The featured speaker was Robert Kobet, chair of LEED for Schools and president of Sustainaissance International.

"What LEED means to me is some indication of the extent to which the school board, and the district, advocates for the relationship between price, cost, and value on behalf of the children and long-term fiscal responsibility," Kobet says.  "I would hope that this model will serve other schools in Ohio and Kentucky, and everywhere else."

Kobet says that by cleaning up schools, many problems with student behavior go away.

"The good news is if you clean up your school, you have less disruption from the kids," he says.  "What good is the curriculum if the kid is sick, they can't hear – why are you teaching to a disaffected population?"

But green schools aren't just about student health, Kobet says.

He points out that for every job that exists now for a child entering kindergarten, half will be gone by the time the child graduates; One-third of the new jobs created during that time will be in green industries.

"If the school doesn't exhibit that, if the school doesn't teach about that, if the kids don't understand as much about the built environment as they do about the natural world... I say we did not meet our obligation," Kobet says.  "We blew it."

CPS board member Melanie Bates says that the district remains committed to green and healthy schools.

"For us, as a school board, going green is just good business," she says.  "And teaching green principles is something we should be doing."

Writer: Kevin LeMaster

Qualls travels to D.C. to advise on new LEED neighborhood standards

Cincinnati City Councilmember Roxanne Qualls traveled to Washington, D.C. last week to assist in the development of a new worldwide system for rating and certifying green neighborhoods.

Qualls and a group of national experts met with the U.S. Green Building CouncilCongress for the New Urbanism, and the National Resources Defense Council to advise them on how to educate elected officials, construction managers, city administrators, developers, architects, and urban designers about the new LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) pilot program rating standards.

LEED, a third-party verification system for energy efficiency and sustainability, has been applied to buildings since 1998.  LEED-ND would broaden its scope to include entire neighborhoods and communities.

Qualls says that, while energy efficiency in buildings is important, one-third of our greenhouse gases come from transportation.

"This new standard will help promote the kind of transit- and bicycle-friendly, walkable neighborhoods that will help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions and give our urban neighborhoods a competitive advantage," she says.  "The idea is to look beyond individual buildings, and incorporate land use and neighborhood design into a broader standard for sustainable neighborhoods."

LEED-ND would rate neighborhoods according to the categories of smart location and linkage, neighborhood pattern and design, green infrastructure and buildings, and innovation and design.

Criteria for the ratings include density, conservation of wetlands and agricultural lands, reducing automobile dependence, proximity to housing and jobs, walkability, and energy efficiency.

More than 200 projects have sought certification in the LEED-ND pilot, including The Arbors in Pleasant Ridge and the Greenhills residential redevelopment.

A post-pilot version of LEED-ND will be launched this summer.

"This initiative will encourage development teams, planners, and local governments to construct sustainable, compact neighborhoods," Qualls says.  "It is an innovative approach that will give us one more tool to improve our quality of life and help build a globally-competitive economy here in Cincinnati."

Qualls is council's representative on the City Planning Commission and the Hamilton County Planning Commission, as served on the Congress for the New Urbanism board from 2000 to 2008.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Roxanne Qualls, Cincinnati City Council; Jennifer O'Donnell, office of Councilmember Qualls

ALLY event to showcase CPS leadership in green and healthy schools

The Alliance for Leadership and Interconnection (ALLY), a citizens' group formed to advocate for Cincinnati Public Schools' (CPS) Green and Healthy Schools Program, will host a reception, program, and tour at the Pleasant Ridge Montessori School and Community Learning Center, Ohio's first LEED certified public school.

"Green & Healthy Schools as Learning Tools", to be held April 23 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., will introduce the concept of how a school's physical environment can be integrated into its curriculum and will highlight the ways in which CPS is leading the country in sustainable design.
LEED for Schools national chair and Sustainaissance International president Robert Kobet will be the featured speaker.

"Robert Kobet identifies three systems of ecology:  natural, human, and builecologies," says Tevis Foreman, a consultant for ALLY.  "In order to offer the best outcomes for using the schools as learning tools, Kobet suggests that we explore the relationship between these systems of ecology.  The necessity of integrating environmental education empowers learners to think about ecological patterns, systems of causation, and to ultimately recognize and make informed decisions about their relationship with the natural world."

Ohio Lt. Governor Lee Fisher and Robert Knight, project manager at GBBN Architects and sustainable design coordinator for CPS, are expected to attend.

"ALLY led introductions to partners throughout the community with shared missions to provide critical momentum for CPS going green," Knight says.  "Ultimately, this saved CPS significant time and effort."

Students of the school will lead visitors on a tour of the building, following their participation in a Leaders-in-Training program in which ALLY volunteer educators and architects from SHP Leading Design and GBBN Architects will instruct them on the building's sustainable features.

All proceeds from the event will go toward the development of educational resources that further ALLY's mission.

Admission is $20 for non-ALLY members and $15 for ALLY and PTO members.  A $5 discount is available to those who register by April 21.  Children and CPS faculty can attend for free.

Registration is available by calling (513) 541-4607 or by e-mailing info@allyohio.org.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Sources: Ginny Frazier, executive director, ALLY; Tevis Foreman, consultant, ALLY

Issue 9 debate engages local businesses one month before the November vote

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful's biggest event of the year takes place on April 25 with a kickoff in College Hill, and the organization could use your help.

Great American Cleanup, the nation's largest community improvement project with an estimated 2.8 million volunteers, is aimed at boosting the quality of life in neighborhoods by planting flowers and trees, picking up litter, collecting discarded tires, painting façades, landscaping, and recycling

Because of the massive amount of work to be done, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful program manager Josman Rodriguez says that volunteers are very much needed.

Just last year, 8,352 volunteers collected 406,460 pounds of litter and debris; planted 13,500 flowers and bulbs; cleaned 578 miles or roads, streets and highways; and recycled more than 40,000 plastic bottles and more than 2,500 scrap tires.

"We're expecting 10,000 volunteers beautifying 90 communities, 25 parks, and 30 schools," Rodriguez says.

He also says that Give Back Cincinnati, community leaders, and Cincinnati council members plan to participate, and that United Dairy Farmers is serving as a co-sponsor.

To volunteer, contact Liz Bowater at (513) 352-4380 or at liz.bowater@cincinnati-oh.gov.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Josman Rodriguez, project manager/public awareness, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful

Qualls pushes council to make streets 'for people, not just cars'

Cincinnati City Councilmember and chair of the Vibrant Neighborhoods Committee, Roxanne Qualls introduced a resolution supporting the federal Complete Streets Act of 2009, a piece of legislation meant to encourage streets that are safe for all forms of human transportation.

Sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and introduced earlier this month, the legislation promotes the design of streets that are safe for motorists, bus and transit riders, pedestrians, bicyclists, and people with disabilities by directing state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations to adopt and implement complete streets policies for federally-funded transportation projects.

It would also update the current federal code on pedestrian and bicycle accommodation and authorize research, data collection, technical assistance and dissemination of best practices.

Qualls' resolution is currently in council's Economic Development Committee, which next meets on April 7.

"We actually put funds in the biennial budget to develop a complete streets program," Qualls says.  "So the city has already recognized the need to design streets for people, not just cars.  Ultimately, the goal is to make our streets multi-modal."

According to the National Complete Streets Coalition, more than 5,000 annual fatalities and 70,000 injuries occur to pedestrians and bicyclists because of inadequate sidewalks and crosswalks, space for bicyclists, and room for transit riders.

Locally, the city's Department of Transportation and Engineering has been working with the Mount Washington Community Council to retrofit a portion of Beechmont Avenue that has seen an increase in speeding and accidents since a road widening project in 2004.

Residents of Westwood have also requested traffic calming measures for a mostly residential – but busy – section of Montana Avenue.

"Our competitive advantage is in our neighborhoods, and our quality of life is dependent on our streets," Qualls says.  "If we look at our streets as our largest public spaces, then the quality of those spaces is critical to economic development."

Qualls says that complete streets is one of many strategies that cities are using to become more walkable and mixed-use, pointing out that more than 80 state and local governments already have passed complete streets policies.

"It's a matter of changing how we think about streets," Qualls says.  "What we recognize is that if you design streets for cars, you get cars.  If you design streets for people and alternative modes of transportation, that's what you'll get."

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Sources: Roxanne Qualls, Cincinnati City Council; Jennifer O'Donnell, assistant to Councilmember Qualls

Focus on environment garners planning award for Green Cincinnati plan

The City of Cincinnati, Mayor Mark Mallory, and the visionaries behind the Green Cincinnati Action Plan have been awarded the Frank F. Ferris II Award for Planning Excellence from the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.

The award is presented annually to a planning commission or committee for projects demonstrating planning excellence and civic, economic, aesthetic or environmental significance.

Vice Mayor David Crowley and climate protection coordinator Ginnell Schiller accepted the award on behalf of the city.

"It's great for the City of Cincinnati to be recognized for planning achievement," Crowley says.  "I think that it's the combination of planning around environmental issues that makes this very exciting to us."

Crowley says that the plan ultimately resulted from his meetings with Mallory about restoring the environmental focal point that was lost when the Office of Environmental Management was disbanded in 2003 due to budget cuts.

Mallory appointed Crowley as chair of the plan's steering committee, with much of the staff work being done by Larry Falkin, the current director of the Office of Environmental Quality.

"At that point it was constituted of about 20 organizations and people," Crowley says.  "Not just environmentalists…there were business people, there were government, citizens, institutions, labor.  We had some really key players involved in this overall effort."

The steering committee assembled more than 150 experts and concerned citizens into five task teams – energy, transportation, land use, waste management, and advocacy – to compile a list of ways by which the city could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2 percent annually.

In April 2008, the 212-page plan was finalized with 82 specific recommendations, and, in July 2008, it was approved by city council.

To Crowley, the value of all of that hard work lies in the "action".

"This plan says that we don’t just want this to sit on the shelf," he says.  "We want to make this thing work.  So we started with some of the activities that the city itself can do, and of the 82 recommendations there's work being done by somebody, somewhere, on 60 of them."

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Photography by Scott Beseler
Mayor Mark Mallory

Big plans presented for Pleasant Ridge and Kennedy Heights

Yesterday evening, several important projects envisioned by the communities of Pleasant Ridge and Kennedy Heights were presented to the public at A Salon Named Desire.

Through Community Conversations created and implemented by District A, the two neighborhoods have been working together to promote development along Montgomery Road, their mutual economic spine.

Clete Benken, vice president of the Kennedy Heights Community Council (KHCC), says that the idea behind the open house was to get people talking about the plans and to let them know that they're still attainable.

"The idea behind an event like this is to get people behind the ideas, gain a consensus, and end up with something you wanted at the end of the day," he says.

Projects on display included:

  • A proposal for a mixed-use development at Kennedy and Montgomery
  • Plans for the "triangle" at Ridge and Montgomery
  • Plans for the new Woodford School at Woodford and Red Bank
  • A renovation of the Pleasant Ridge branch of the public library
  • Redevelopment of the Green Corner Studios & Marketplace and the Giving Gardens in Kennedy Heights
  • A new amphiteatre at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center
  • A new façade for ballettech Cincinnati
  • Gardens at the community center
  • Landscaping for the renovation at Nativity of Our Lord Parish

Funding remains an issue for the projects, but it's something that former KHCC president Ernie Barbeau says can be worked out.


"We've had fruitful discussions with the city," he says.  "And also with foundations and other funders.  But there's a difference between ideas and writing the check."

Writer: Kevin LeMaster

Mallory highlights economic growth in State of the City address

In his fourth State of the City address, delivered last Wednesday at the Duke Energy Center, Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory said that the city is weathering the poor economy much better than most.

"At a time when other cities are seeing businesses move out, we are seeing businesses expand and new businesses move in," he said.

He credited the "aggressive and strategic" approach of City Manager Milton Dohoney and Economic Development Director Holly Childs for bringing 2,500 new jobs to Cincinnati last year, including commitments from such major players as Medpace, Humana, dunnhumbyUSA, and US Bank.

Mallory also spoke of the need to empower small and minority-owned businesses, saying that four more Shop52 seminars will be held this year to link entrepreneurs with business experts, non-profit service providers, and lending professionals.

"We must also ensure that individuals have the opportunity to realize their dreams," he said.  "Shop52 is all about small business growth and strengthening our neighborhoods."

In addition to job creation, Mallory noted that construction is underway on two major building projects – Great American Tower at Queen City Square, a 41-story, $340 million office tower and The Banks, a 2.8-million-square-foot mixed-use development on the city's riverfront.

But Mallory said that the most crucial component of Cincinnati's development plans is the streetcar system that would connect Downtown, Over-the-Rhine, and the Uptown neighborhoods.

"Now, we have done our homework and the benefits of a streetcar system are clear," Mallory said.  "When a city puts rails in the ground, economic growth follows."

Mallory said that $1.4 billion in economic impact would result from the project's first phase, giving the city additional resources that it can use in neighborhoods throughout the city.

"The benefits of the streetcar system are too significant to allow the naysayers to derail our efforts," he said.  "Streetcars must be a part of Cincinnati's future and we will fight to make it happen."

According to Mallory, the key to Cincinnati's future success is strong local, national, and global partnerships.

To achieve these partnerships, the city and its residents must be their own advocates.

"We have a great city and we must make it our priority to promote it here at home, across the nation and around the world," Mallory said.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: 2009 Cincinnati State of the City address
Photography by Scott Beseler

Spaces remain for 10-week government academy

Several spaces remain for the spring session of the Cincinnati Citizens Government Academy, a 10-week course designed to give an in-depth look at how city government is organized and how services are funded and delivered.

Beginning March 2nd and held Mondays between 6 PM and 9 PM, the Academy features field trips to numerous city departments to learn about their services and programs.

The goal of the program is to not only improve citizen understanding of how local government works, but also to encourage citizen involvement in strengthening and improving the quality of life throughout the city's neighborhoods.

"As City government continues to engage citizens, it's important that citizens have a broad understanding of how their government works," says Cincinnati city manager Milton Dohoney.  "We believe that informed citizens are involved citizens and that makes for better government.  The Academy may also bring forth some new ideas from the public that we may need to consider."

Since 2007, the Academy has graduated 45 participants from its two sessions.

Participation is free, and citizens can enroll by calling Trina Porter at (513) 352-5335 or by e-mailing citizensgovernmentacademy@cincinnati-oh.gov.

Applications are also available online at or by visiting Suite 104 at Cincinnati City Hall.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Tiffaney Hardy, senior communications specialist, City of Cincinnati
Photography by Scott Beseler
Milton Dohoney

Cincinnati approves $50,000 to advance form-based codes

Cincinnati City Council has approved $50,000 in funding for the development of neighborhood-based form-based codes.

The funding will allow the city to hire a consultant team to review city regulations, study best practices, and develop options for implementation that can be condensed into a strategic guidebook that can be used as a blueprint for planning efforts in several Cincinnati neighborhoods.

The city will issue a request for proposals for consultants on February 17, with a preferred candidate selected on April 6.

Form-based codes are different from conventional zoning methods because they emphasize a building's form, massing, and relationship to the street and other buildings, instead of focusing on land uses.

They also offer certainty to developers through a set of clear visual standards that streamline the approval process, decreasing development time and increasing the developer's design flexibility.

The result is smart, compact development that creates a unique sense of place.

"These standards give neighborhoods a way to ensure that new development has a look and feel that's consistent with traditional neighborhood patterns – instead of the sprawl that conventional zoning has produced," says Councilmember Roxanne Qualls, recently appointed chair of council's Vibrant Neighborhoods Committee.  "This approach promotes walkable communities that support a range of transportation options."

Since the 2008 Cincinnati Neighborhood Summit, Qualls has led a working group of neighborhood leaders, city staff, developers, and other stakeholders that led to a two-day conference at the Duke Energy Center last October.

They also saw the successful implementation of form-based codes in Nashville, where taxable value in those districts grew 75 percent from 2003-2008, compared to overall growth of 28 percent throughout Davidson County, according to Nashville Metro Planning Department executive director Rick Bernhardt.

College Hill, Madisonville, Pleasant Ridge and Westwood have been working closely with the monthly working group, and expect to begin holding intensive, community-wide charrettes this summer.

Representatives of Avondale, Clifton, East Price Hill, Kennedy Heights, Mount Adams, Northside, and Walnut Hills have also participated in the working group, and are exploring the idea for their neighborhoods.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Jennifer O'Donnell, aide to Councilmember Roxanne Qualls
Photography by Scott Beseler

New and improved CincySites makes site selection easy

The new and improved Cincinnati Commercial Site Portfolio, joint effort of the Economic Development Office of the Hamilton County Development Co. (HCDC) and the City of Cincinnati, has moved to cincysites.com.

The online database is a comprehensive inventory of Hamilton County sites available for redevelopment, including industrial, retail, office, warehouse, and vacant land.

The database also serves as a central source of information for those who might want to invest in the community, with layers of detailing population and workforce demographics, spending data, and information on nearby businesses.

CincySites is a cut above the average economic development website because it utilizes geographic information system (GIS) technology, allowing users to create maps and reports that would normally take weeks –and dollars – to collect.

Because more than 90 percent of initial site selection screening is now done using the Internet, it is hoped that the depth and ease of use of CincySites will help attract new business and promote economic development in Hamilton County.

"This tool is primarily used to make sure that we get looked at in the first place," says Harry Blanton, vice president and manager of the Economic Development Office.  "If we do not provide this tool, we may not get many looks, since many consultants will cut you out of the search if you don't provide this type of information online."

But CincySites is only one of the strategies employed by his office, Blanton says.

"We also make visits to site location consultants to sell the region, send e-messages to them with development items of interest, participate in the state's referral process, and market the region in foreign publications," he says.

Partners in CincySites also include Hamilton County, the Cincinnati USA Partnership, and the Cincinnati Area Geographic Information System (CAGIS).

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Harry Blanton, vice president and manager, HCDC Economic Development Office

Cincinnati 'doing good, and getting better'

"Doing good, and getting better."

With those words, Cincinnati city councilmember and chair of the Vibrant Neighborhoods Committee Laketa Cole opened the seventh annual Cincinnati Neighborhood Summit at Xavier University's Schiff Conference and Banquet Center.

"That's going to be my motto for this year," Cole said.  "And that's what we're doing here in the City of Cincinnati."

Hundreds of residents, community leaders, and local officials spent the day attending breakout sessions on such topics as housing, economic development, crime prevention, and community building.

"It really does speak to the passion that you have for this city, and the effort that you want to put into transforming this city," said Cincinnati Mayor, Mark Mallory.

The biggest news of the day may have been the official launch of the city's new comprehensive master plan, the first for the city since 1980.

"We are working on a plan for the plan," said Charles C. Graves III, director of the Department of City Planning.  "We'll be holding an in-house retreat with city staff over the next couple of weeks."

At this year's summit, Hamilton County leaders were on hand to share their programs and services with community stakeholders.

Hamilton County Commission president David Pepper took the opportunity to remind Cincinnatians that they are part of the county, too.

"You guys don't call the county enough," he said.  "Sometimes we don't see nearly as many of you [at commission meetings] as I know show up at council meetings.  You're welcome to come!"

Planning for next year's summit has already begun.

"This job does not end today," Cole said.  "It actually begins.  Because once this summit is over, they take all of the survey results, they compile them, and they start talking about them and planning for the next year."

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Photography by Kevin LeMaster
51 Pleasant Ridge / Kennedy Heights Articles | Page: | Show All
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