Sunday, February 29, 2004

Private effort gathers steam

By Ken Alltucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Huge task awaits development expert
Similar cities share drain of young people

What advice do you have for Stephen Leeper? What would you do if charged with riverfront development? Post your thoughts:
The Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. is a private, nonprofit development group charged with revitalizing the riverfront, the downtown business district and the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

Known as 3CDC, the group has been busy since forming in July 2003. Organizers have hired key staff members and engaged a nationally respected retail developer for the Fountain Square area. 3CDC also has applied for federal tax breaks for $90 million in proposed developments.

Board members have pledged to raise $50 million for operating costs and another $100 million from public sources. 3CDC declined to say how much has been raised. No public money has been obtained.

And last week the region's port authority gave the group the job of development manager for the Banks project on the riverfront.

3CDC officials are expected to unveil initial details of the proposed Fountain Square overhaul shortly.

The group's retail strategy is being crafted by Lehr Jackson of the Baltimore retail development firm Williams Jackson Ewing. The plan, set to be completed in June, is expected to include shops, restaurants and entertainment uses.

Jackson said Fountain Square's current layout is "too institutional" with a skywalk system that contributes to a "negative feel."

He said the former McAlpin's store and Tower Place's "dysfunctional" Fourth Street garage need reworking. Other targets may include Government Square and the Crowne Plaza Hotel facade.

"All these pieces we want to get fixed as soon as possible," Jackson told the Enquirer's editorial board recently. "We looked at this without skywalks and without the barricades and pits. It's a clean space with cafes spilling out on all the edges, and everybody loves it."

3CDC's other goals include revitalizing Over-the-Rhine and aiding the riverfront Banks project of housing, shops and offices planned between Paul Brown Stadium and the Great American Ball Park.

In January, the group hired Des Bracey as its Over-the-Rhine project manager. Bracey is a former Washington, D.C., deputy mayor.

The 3CDC board, chaired by Procter & Gamble chief executive officer A.G. Lafley, includes high-profile executives and civic leaders such as Fifth Third Bank CEO George Schaefer Jr., Madison Marquette chairman John Boorn and University of Cincinnati President Nancy Zimpher. Enquirer publisher Margaret Buchanan chairs 3CDC's Strategic Planning/Marketing Committee.


Private effort gathers steam
Huge task awaits development expert
Similar cities share drain of young people

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