Washington Park construction underway

By Mark Shuller - Email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) – After years of discussion, community input, planning and design work, construction began Tuesday on the $47.3 million renovation and expansion of Washington Park,  a premier, historic, urban green space in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine (OTR) neighborhood.

Located between 12th and 14th & Race and Elm streets, across the street from Music Hall, Washington Park is Cincinnati's second oldest public park.  It is being renovated and expanded from six to eight acres through a private-public partnership between the Cincinnati Park Board and the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC).

3CDC and the Park Board selected an association between Turner Construction Company and Megen Construction Company as general contractor for the project.

The team for Turner/Megen will begin mobilizing on the north end of the site to prepare for the two-level, 450-space underground parking garage.

This garage replaces an environmentally challenged surface lot and will have a green roof, increasing the green space in the park.

Work on the underground garage will require a construction fence that extends from 14th Street to just south of the restroom building in the park and from Elm Street to Race Street.  The rest of the Park, from just beyond the restroom building to 12th Street, will remain open during this initial phase of construction.

Once the garage site is excavated and the garage structure is in progress, additional Park renovations will begin.  The entire project is expected to be complete by late spring 2012.

During construction, alternate parking may be found in the CET Garage on Central Parkway, surface lot and Gateway Garage at 12th and Vine streets and the lot at Elm Street and Central Parkway.

The redesign of Washington Park will include about an acre of land dedicated to a state-of-the-art, interactive water feature and children's play area.  The redesign also includes retaining historic features, such as the bandstand, while adding performance stages and additional green space including a 37,000 square foot civic lawn about size of a football field.

"This project would not be happening without the tremendous support of all of our private and public funders who believe this renovation and expansion has the power to transform this neighborhood," said Willie Carden, Cincinnati Park Board Director.   "We thank them all."

In addition to funders it is important to thank community members and City leaders who have provided their input on the renovation of Washington Park dating back to the 2002 Over-the-Rhine comprehensive plan, which calls for redevelopment of the park and the addition of a parking structure to serve Music Hall.

"We're dedicated to returning the Park to its original stature as a beautiful, public, green space with a variety of features for all neighborhood residents as well as visitors to enjoy," said 3CDC President & CEO Stephen Leeper.  "Creating great civic spaces like Washington Park and Fountain Square is one of 3CDC's most important goals.  They attract residents, businesses and visitors and truly define the character of a neighborhood."

The Washington Park project is an important and critical next step in the overall, on-going renaissance of Over-the-Rhine.

The proximity of the Park to Music Hall, the new public School for Creative and Performing Arts, the Art Academy of Cincinnati, the Ensemble Theatre and other arts venues, combined with the historical significance and Italianate architecture of OTR, will make the Park an entertainment and arts destination locally, regionally and nationally.

It will stimulate additional private economic development, which will further improve the quality of life for the neighborhood and its residents.

Since 2005, 3CDC-led developments in OTR including Washington Park have resulted in investments totaling $162 million in total development costs.

This investment has come in four phases in a section of OTR called the Gateway Quarter.  Phase IV is underway.  Phase's I-IV includes 246 residential units (202 condos and 44 rental units) and just over 91,000 square feet of commercial space.  In addition, reported crime in 3CDC's focus area has dropped 50% since 2004.