Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why Downtown & OTR Needs Streetcars

Over the Rhine was developed before we had cars. People weren't as spread out in their lifestyles back then. Christian Moerlein had a house with an office next door and a plant across the street. No 2 hour commutes for that boy. The guys who worked in his brewery & bottling plants all lived nearby and walked or took streetcars to and from work. The area was a mix of residential, retail, services, manufacturing & whatnot. Residents were a mix of workers & merchants, owners and renters.
Over time, for one reason or another, people left the area. As people began to buy cars and use them as a primary form of transportation, areas like OTR became lees and less attractive.
Today, people are getting into the idea of the old walkable neighborhoods. Well, without the stinky factories and with air conditioning, private bathrooms and laundry facilities. Younger people are not as interested in cars as my generation was.
To make the area viable again, we need to make it work the way it was designed to. A downtown Cincinnati without a streetcar is like a three legged race horse.
To make the OTR area work in a car-centric way would ruin it's appeal since you would need to tear down about half the buildings to build parking lots and parking garages. It would no longer be a walking neighborhood. The people who would revitalize the area would lose interest.
Will people still be interested in an area like OTR in the future ? In 50 - 100 years ? Dunno. Ray Bradbury wrote a story where everybody teleported everywhere. But people are interested now & we should ride the wave.


Mark Miller said...

OTR is within four demolitions of missing half its buildings today. Sounds like the problem has already solved itself and there's plenty of parking in OTR right now. It's strangely ironic how the group seeking to turn back the clock 100 years, is marketing itself under the guise of "progress."

We keep hearing how the streetcar will magically produce 2.7 times more income than it costs. Nobody buys it 'cause we've heard the same BS about every other boondoggle. If that claim is truth, and not just hype, then capture that revenue and use it to pay for the streetcar. Tax increment financing is the perfect structure to do this, and the entire basin is already covered by a district TIF. If the main beneficiaries of the streetcar won't invest in it, why should the rest of us?

Maybe we will, maybe we won't. But before a bunch of 2 and 4 year bureaucrats put us 40 years into debt for something most of us have no use for, WeDemandAVote.

CityKin said...

You're right, there is mostly enough parking now... if we keep over half of the remaining buildings vacant, and also most of the storefronts vacant. Not the best solution and not the kind of city I want to live in.

Its strangely ironic that the group that constantly uses the word boondoggle, itself wants multipel direct votes for every issue, when we already elect representatives every second year.

I've read the study and 2.7x return is the middle of the road estimate, and reasonable. What is the return to Cincy on adding a lane of freeway?

Property taxes will increase, that is part of the 2.7 number.

Repair this city, fix the missing teeth, support the streetcar.

Quimbob said...

Well, we are not allowed to have experienced politicians in Cincinnati because of term limits.
How much parking does a vacant neighborhood need ?
The 4 demolitions has to do with historic buildings not all buildings.
Are you saying we should use a time machine to get money from the future to pay for development today ?
You are coming up with some really weird shit.

Mark Miller said...

^That's exactly what I'm saying. Read about it here.

Like the libertarians say, "term limits are a bad idea whose time has come."

Quimbob said...

Well, I know what TIF is but that's not how I would describe it. AFAIK, TIF is in the funding mix but 3CDC is using some & I think the TIF area around the Banks is untouchable by the streetcar project.