Ambitious Plan Would Remake Riverfront

Greater Cincinnati is on the verge of moving forward with a plan to dramatically remake the riverfront, creating a spectacular new picture postcard to world. The plan, known as "The Banks" would combine a mix of uses to create a diverse 24-hour, 7 days a week, pedestrian-friendly urban neighborhood.

Major attractions would serve as anchors to the Banks development. The soon-to-be-completed Paul Brown Stadium would be the western riverfront anchor. The future National Underground Freedom Center will serve as an anchor on the central riverfront, while the future new Reds ballpark and Firstar Center arena would be eastern riverfront anchors.

New developments added to these existing-planned anchors could include riverfront parks, pedestrian plazas and transportation linkages, condominiums and rental properties, office space, hotels, restaurants and retail.

Jack Rouse, chairman of the Riverfront Advisors, a group of volunteers appointed by city and Hamilton County officials, reports this plan is a once in a lifetime chance to turn Cincinnati into a world-class community and spur massive economic impact. The plan, as presented to the public, has a reported potential to stimulate $600 million in private investment. The cost of going forward with the plan is an estimated $177 million. While expensive, it takes advantage of the $1.9 billion already budgeted for spending on the two stadiums, the Fort Washington Way downtown highway project, the Freedom Center Museum, new streets and parking.

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To move the plan from the drawing board to reality, the Riverfront Advisors have lobbied city and county officials to give an existing agency -- the Port Authority for Brownfields Development -- the authority to supervise the entire development. Hamilton County Commissioners have stated their support for this idea, while the response from Cincinnati Hall has also been positive.

Mike Brown, Bengals president, said he is excited by the plan. "We have been to other cities across the country that have passed us by in terms of growth and economic development. We have the chance to create a spectacular riverfront that will draw people from all over the world, people who will here to work and settle or just to visit. But it puts us on the map, and makes Cincinnati a more attractive destination, including for our players."

Noting the key role of the new stadiums, Brown said, "I am proud that we pushed for the stadium sales tax project. As a result of a very small half-cent tax, leaders are making this a vibrant new community that will be the envy of cities nationwide. I always had hope that the stadiums would be just the start, and it looks like that vision will become a reality."

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