Re: Banks project to be open by end of 2009
I was at the unveiling today (though bear in mind I'm hardly a reporter so what I'm saying is just my memory and probably some interpretation). The plans look good and the questions people asked were generally answered pretty thoroughly.
I don't expect them to deviate too far from this plan. The first phase will be the one built up by GABP -- residences and shopping (maybe some office space, I can't remember) in buildings 5-20 stories. The buildings progress in height as they get further from the river. Ultimately the buildings will then be built over to Paul Brown. Both Freedom Way and Theodore Berry Drive will be extended and will serve as the main thoroughfares through the project and those will be largely shopping and restaurants (there will be two large nice restaurants in their own buildings, but they hope to add many smaller ones as time goes on). The buildings will be on platforms to allow for flooding, graduated as they get closer to the river, and much of the area parking will be below and just above these platforms (the platforms are not visible from the outside).
It's amazing to see the drawings, to see how much they can squeeze into that little space without the buildings being hideously tall. I'm impressed with that, and with their commitment to reserve 7.5% of the space for minorities and small businesses. The general style of the area and the buildings is still unclear. They showed some photographs and drawings of a development they did in Atlanta that they're using as a model "flagship" and I wasn't really impressed with the design. They mentioned some concepts such as buildings closer to the river being of a steel structure to imitate the bridges and buildings closer to the streets being echoing Cincinnati's masonry-based history, but between the renderings and the pictures of the Atlanta development, I couldn't really identify too much of that. To me it looked more like just your standard generic modern pretty shopping thing, very similar to Newport on the Levee. Nothing too interesting architecturally. But I gather they don't have all those details figured out yet anyway.
There's also quite a bit of park space, and the knoll that currently stands south of the Freedom Center stands a good chance of ending up as a veterans memorial park.
So my verdict is good. Not fantastic, but good. I'm not so far impressed with the finer details of the design and I think they could stand some more thought. But the basic shell of the area -- the distribution of park space, the height of the buildings -- looks good to me. And there are still a lot of questions to be answered but I think the laughter regarding the project is going to die down soon. They are on it more than people realize and I very much get the impression that it's very close to happening.
There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.