Friday, April 03, 2009

OTR's Delima/Blessing

In this morning’s Cincinnati Enquirer, there was a great article about how suburban parents are toting the Q’s recent developments. The article went on to boast that it is mostly young, first time home buyers who are making the big purchase.

I can’t say enough about how much I love to see this once dilapidated part of Vine Street thriving with excited young property owners and vibrant business. There are a few things that worry me about the quick development of the area:

1. How does this urban revitalization affect the lower income residents?

Some of the reasons that OTR has been looked down upon by suburbanites is because of the over abundance of low income housing which populate this area. Historically, a low income environment fosters an environment of crime, but in my experience, criminals who reside in low income areas tend to be in the minority, with the majority of inhabitants being law abiding citizens. Will the Q’s gentrification efforts be detrimental to the low income non-homers who already reside there?

2. What are business / organizations doing capitalize on this influx of new home owners?

As stated before, a majority of the people gobbling up new condos in The Q are young, professionals (sans children) who are rebelling from their suburban up-bringing. But what will we do when they decide to raise a family? Though there is a plethora of charter schools in the area, there are few Cincinnati Public schools (one being a magnet school) and only one choice for a grocery store. You would think that one of the largest grocers in the world would have a higher expectation for their first location than predicting that it will lose money (yeah, I am calling you out Korger's).

3. Where is everyone going to park?

With this influx of residents, along come their vehicles. This coupled with the nontraditional opposition to the streetcar initiative from the NAACP, and the in ability to get bike lanes or scooter parking spaces on the street will cause a cluster when all of the condos are fully occupied. I guess the alternative would be to develop OTR into a series of high rises and parking garages.

Maybe Cincinnati is working under the old adage that “If you build it, they will come”. It may have worked in the movie “Field of Dreams”, but honey, this is no silver screen.


Jason said...

Good post, I'll try to give you my thoughts on your questions briefly...
1. I think the lower income residents will ultimately benefit from the gentrification of the neighborhood. Remember, there's not only new residents moving in, but also new businesses. New businesses mean new jobs. These jobs are desperately needed in that neighborhood and without all the new development there wouldn't be these new opportunities.
Also, the new development and residents moving in to the neighborhood will help reduce crime and help police catch criminals. This benefits everyone's safety and is certainly a plus for the lower income residents as well as the newer ones. Additionally, more residents and businesses mean more tax revenue for the city which means more money to go to community organizations, public projects, etc, etc. The influx of money will benefit everyone.
2. This one is difficult to predict. Its kind of like which comes first, the chicken or the egg...New businesses won't come until they see lots of new, permanent residents. New residents won't come until they see the new businesses. Its just going to take time in my opinion. And, if the streetcar goes in you'll see a huge influx of new businesses immediately and even more new residents.
3. There's PLENTY of parking already in the neighborhood, especially when compared to neighborhoods like this in places like New York City's West Village, SoHo or Greenich Village. We need to concentrate our efforts on making the neighborhood livable and walkable. We want to encourage people to live downtown, not just visit it occasionally which is what more parking will encourage. For instance, my wife and I generally get by with just one car, where as in the suburbs we would definitely need two. If the streetcar goes in, neither of us will need a car as we can both take the streetcar to work. The streetcar will do wonders for alleviating our need for cars and parking spots.

Cincinnati NAMjA said...

Great responce! I just hope city leaders take a good look at this and use it as a plan.

Paul Wilham said...

One of the things the city can do is be proactive. There are vacant lots in OTR that could be converted into parking lots with card key entries for area residents. Some cities have taken thsi one step further and created "parking condos' where residents own their parking spot and paya nominal fee for maintence and security.

As fo getrification I dont see the restoration of vacant empty dwellings as gentrification. At the point where people are "forced out" thats gentrification and so far I am not seeing that.