In the early 2000s, downtown Cincinnati hit a low point. The city was in danger of becoming a ghost town as retailers left and businesses headed for the suburbs. Aside from the sports stadiums and some theaters, there wasn’t much to do downtown after 5 p.m. And then, through a great deal of planning, city and corporate involvement, financial investments and grass roots efforts, things started to change. Downtown Cincinnati, a once-stale market, is now unbelievably hot. Here are the three biggest reasons why:
1. Massive Investment at the Riverfront
Cincinnati’s riverfront always had the potential to be something special. For decades, the banks of the river languished. But once the momentum started, the revitalization snowballed. The real key has been The Banks development. Spurred by $157 million in public infrastructure improvements, the private joint venture team has invested more than $231 million into the project. They’ve added nearly 300 luxury apartments, and opened a dozen new restaurants and bars, making the area attractive to homebuyers.
2. Urban Renewal in Over-the-Rhine
In 2003, there were 500 vacant buildings, 700 vacant lots and 1,667 vacant housing units in the Cincinnati neighborhood known as Over-the-Rhine. City and corporate leaders formed Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) to focus on revitalizing the historic area. Since then, they’ve invested $363 million in Over-the-Rhine.
The turnaround, now nearly complete, still took several years. In fact, when residents Brad and Karen Hughes moved to On-the-Rhine in 2011, their friends thought they were crazy, but they had a feeling the neighborhood would become a Cincinnati hot spot. They bought a single-family unit that wasn’t quite a steal, but cost far less than the property is worth now. “The value has almost doubled in five years,” Brad said.
The couple is now so committed to urban renewal that they’ve opened a specialty cookware store called Artichoke. It’s a boutique cookware store for people who love to eat, and love quality and good design. The neighborhood, once a depressed ghost town, now fully supports such independent retailers.
3. Unique Urban Amenities
Downtown Cincinnati is home to two of the most vibrant parks in the city: Smale Park (at the riverfront) and Washington Park (in On-the-Rhine). While the suburbs of Cincinnati have long had a terrific park system, urban green space was lacking in the city. Now, when the weather is good, both of these parks are full of life.
Smale Park at The Banks features a water park, a carousel, gardens, an event lawn, a bike path and walkways that connect to other areas along the river. The park is surrounded by restaurants and night life, and there are plenty of great views of the river.
Washington Park’s roots date back to the 19th century, but 3CDC recently spent $48 million to renovate and expand the park, which includes a stage and ample green space for events, a playground, a water park and a dog park. It’s anchored by Music Hall on one side, and plentiful restaurants and shops on the other three sides.
Finally, Findlay Market in On-the-Rhine is also thriving again, thanks to $18 million in city investments. An open-air market that dates to the 19th century, Findlay Market is the main source of fresh food for the city, featuring 39 year-round merchants and 40 local farmers.
For years, it seemed like there was no reason to head to downtown Cincinnati. However, in the past decade, the city has taken a turn for the better with many Fortune 1000 companies in residence, making it a desirable place to work and buy a home. If you’re convinced, and ready to start searching for a home in Cincinnati, head to Owners.com.