Public input wanted on Fort Washington Way decks

Public input wanted on Fort Washington Way decks

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Connecting the downtown business district with The Banks could be a reality sooner than later.

The City of Cincinnati is hoping to install decks over Fort Washington Way between Elm Street and Main Street for the development. The city, along with non-profit and corporate support is announcing a national design competition, "Connect the Blocks," to establish a vision for the decks over Fort Washington Way.

A grocery store, skate board park and music amphitheatre are just some of the ideas generated by the public to transform Ft. Washington Way between the downtown business district and the Banks.

Elizabeth Wetzel is a project coordinator for the city manager's office, her job is to find the vision for the project and get the public's feedback.

"People had some really constructive and creative ideas, there was definitely some things to consider," said Wetzel. "All kinds of things that would draw younger people, kind of the 14-22 demographic, like a skate park, soccer field other recreational activities."

The pile foundations for the decks were originally constructed during the improvements made to Fort Washington Way in the early 2000s, through a $10 million investment from the City of Cincinnati, Hamilton County, and private investors. Now, the City seeks to develop on those foundations.

In a press release, City Manager Milton Dohoney says a vision must first been created, then the city can move forward.

"The Banks is well underway, downtown is growing, and now we must begin thinking about what we as a community want to see over Fort Washington Way to connect downtown and the riverfront," said Dohoney.

The City will conduct a Call for Entries in a national design competition for design, architectural, and engineering experts to create design concepts and cost estimates for the decks over Fort Washington Way between Elm Street and Main Street. Local professionals will act as judges in the competition. Monetary stipends will be awarded to between three and five finalists to further refine their designs.

The project could cost anywhere from $65 to $100 million, based on similar designs in other cities.

"It's not really something that we're looking to fund now while we have lots of other things going on," said Wetzel.

The city first wants a design plan in place before determining a cost. Projects like the Banks took more than 20 years from start to finish and Wetzel says she just runs the visionary stage of the project.

The meeting drew about a dozen people like Walter Cash Jr. who strongly believes in putting a grocery store in the space.

"Right in the middle, 5,000 to 10,000 square foot is the best thing they could put there first," said Cash Jr.

The next public hearing is Oct. 9 at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Main Branch in the Tower Room at 800 Vine St.

In order to inform the designs, the public is invited to share ideas and opinions through an online survey.

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