Saturday, July 08, 2006

Enquirer Editorial Page is Clueless

This editorial from the Enquirer:"Levee's appeal offers clues for Banks" demonstrates with little doubt that they are not qualified to have any say in the development of the Banks. If their answer is to look to Newport on the Levee, then they must be lazy, ignorant, and foolish.
The Levee's broad-based appeal with its mix of aquarium, cinema, restaurants and retail says a lot for the entertainment formula of trying to offer something for everyone and packaging multiple attractions in a relatively compact space. The planned Banks on Cincinnati's riverfront already equipped with the Freedom Center, Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium could assemble a similar winning combination.

Firstly: Newport on the Levee is not exactly a success. Last time I was there it had lots of empty space. So looking to it as a model for anything is suspect. I like the levee, so I don't mean to disparage it, but it is no way a panacea.

Secondly: Survey's like the one they are referring to and the bulk of attractions at the Levee are volatile and can change like the wind, not something one would normally use as the basis for a marquee project.

Finally: Why would you want to copy something that exists right across the river that would then compete with the thing it is copying? Why not be unique? Why isn't the Banks something that would bring people to the river because you can't get it anywhere else? Yes, the idea of having a mix of attractions is a very good idea, but the Levee doesn't really have that.

Philosophically speaking, the Banks needs to be its own community that is parlty based on bringing people together. It should have wide appeal to all demographics. That means, painful as it may be, that it really targets the suburbanites with kids, but doesn't make it a Mickey Mouse Land. It needs residents open to suburbanite tourists visiting a few times a year. It needs linked major attractions (Freedom Center, Reds, Bengals, US Bank Area, City Parks). It needs some retail, office space, restaurants. It needs to be a 7 day a week spot for people to live, work, play, and visit. The Levee model doesn't do that.

What must happen to really complement this type of mass market attraction is to then target Fountain Square to be an entertainment district 7 days of the week. That means targeting it to adults. Fun/unique retail, office space, restaurants and bars are what will make the Fountain Square area work. Busy during the day with downtown workers, busy at night with downtown residents and adults from all around the area wanting a place to go out on the town. The Square needs to feed off the banks as the place to go after the game for the adults, keeping the bars off the river.

What loses out with this approach is Main Street. We can't sustain entertainment districts every five feet in the city, unless again the targets are narrow, and then how long can they really be sustained? I don't know if any this does anything to attract new young people to the city, which is what should be a primary goal of new development. That may be where Main Street, Uptown (UC), Covington's art district and Northside fill in the gaps, but not by being the entertainment zone for the masses, and instead retain a character they can create on their own. That unique character is what would attract the creative class, while Fountain Square would attract you more buttoned-down YPs.

Now, I'm sure that no one is going to want me to be planning the Banks or anything at all, but Enquirer seems to be using blinders when thinking about the future of the various areas in the city, without considering what happens there when your put money/resources here.

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