In the course of the last decade, American river cities have sustained continued interest from policy makers and urban planners who have worked to create targeted opportunities for significant long-term investment and economic development. In Cincinnati, this reinvestment has received national attention in terms of how the city has been able to connect environmental design and urban planning to create exciting and dynamic public spaces from previously underutilized property located along the banks of the Ohio River.
The Banks – a $127.7 million development rising along Cincinnati’s waterfront – is continuing to expand the original project vision proposed twenty years ago from the Central Riverfront Urban Design Master Plan. The project has been so successful that it has earned Cincinnati a National Planning Excellence Award from the American Planning Association, which will be presented at the 2013 National Planning Conference in Chicago. In addition to landscape architecture improvements, The Banks will create multiple phases of new office, commercial, and residential spaces. The project is also equally balanced from the continuing construction of Smale Riverfront Park. The park, which opened on May 18th, 2012, is set to effectively double in size this coming spring according to a March Construction Update.
Smale Park, made possible in part thanks to Sasaki Associates, already features attractions such as a labyrinth, a dedication to the African Americans serving in the Civil War, and an interactive water feature. Future additions will also include a new multi-use pedestrian and bicycle walkway along the Ohio River, a garden sponsored by Duke Energy (complete with 120 trees) and many other improvements, which have been accomplished through successful planning and visioning between stakeholders.
On June 5th 2012, The New York Times released an article entitled “An Ohio River City Comes Back to its Shoreline.” Cincinnati has undeniably returned to its shoreline. It has reached and surpassed original project visions and positioned the Queen City to become one of the preeminent river cities in the United States.
What makes Cincinnati unique in its approach to waterfront redevelopment and how does this relate to best practice approaches being done in similar cities? Please share your thoughts.
Credits: Photographs by Geoff Bliss. Data linked to sources.