On Monday, April 2, city and county officials celebrate a decade of development at The Banks, honoring the anniversary of its groundbreaking outside the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame with a ceremony that begins at 2:30 p.m.
The celebration is open to the public. Cincinnati Bengals Hall of Fame inductee Anthony Muñoz will serve as master of ceremonies, with state and city legislators, as well as Reds CEO Bob Castellini, in attendance. The event will feature school children born in April 2008 who will share cake-cutting honors. A small fireworks display also is planned.
The Banks Before
Public investment of $1.7 billion since 1997 has helped the roughly 18.5-mile expanse become one of the city's main economic drivers. "It's made a tremendous difference to our city and our county, and our region for that matter," says Phil Beck, the Banks project executive. "It's the gateway to Ohio."
Twenty years ago, that gateway looked a lot different. "We were building Fort Washington Way, reconstructing the interstate—that was really the first step in the riverfront renaissance process," Beck says. "Once the highway width was reduced and then the elevation dropped so it was below grade, that paved the way for Paul Brown Stadium (2000), Great American Ball Park (2003) and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (2004), and then in turn, The Banks project."
Beck is aware of the area's other events happening that day—namely, the Findlay Market Opening Day parade—but says the event's timing should dovetail nicely with the end of the parade. "We just wanted to celebrate with a quick pause—as soon as the ceremony's over, we get back to work. We have lots to do in 2018."
The Banks Of The Future
That work includes implementing a "Variable Message Signage" parking program and a potential music venue. The city, county and Joint Banks Steering Committee currently are reviewing three bids for the venue. "One would like to build on top of the existing two-story parking garage that is south of GE," Beck explains. "The other two proposals are a little bit further to the west up against Elm Street, which is currently a surface parking lot."
The Banks also will welcome new retailers in the coming months, including Condado Tacos in the AC Hotel by Marriott and Joella's Hot Chicken next door to the Holy Grail and Tin Roof restaurants.