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The city owns 74 acres of land along transit routes. Could some become housing?

Becca Costello

A lot of people are trying to figure out a basic puzzle: How can they be less reliant on cars, afford rising housing costs, and get where they need to go?

Cincinnati is thinking through one piece of that puzzle. A recent report by the city's Department of Community and Economic Development found the city owns about 74 acres of developable land within a block of major existing bus routes and coming bus rapid transit corridors.

The report breaks those plots down into tiers according to just how easy it would be to develop them. About 22 of the 48 total sites have high development potential, the report found. The sites were a bit over an acre each on average. Most are vacant or contain surface parking lots.

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Could the city entice developers to build housing there? Some council members hope so.

Last year, Councilmember Mark Jeffreys drafted a motion asking the city to draw up the report. Councilmembers Reggie Harris and Meeka Owens co-sponsored that effort.

Jeffreys worked with the city's Department of Community and Economic Development to produce the report.

Owens says it's a great way to move the city forward on several priorities at once.

"There is excitement around transit-oriented development; there's excitement around achieving the goals of our Green Cincinnati Plan," Owens says. "Certainly as we think about opportunities to make our city denser, if we can align where people live with mass transit, that is moving toward the future."

Owens says there are some transit-related funding mechanisms the city can leverage to encourage that development. Those include funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing and Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act programs.

"There are federal resources we know we can pursue to make these projects attractive and viable," Owens says.

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The city would issue requests for proposals for each individual property. The report recommends four sites for the first round of requests:

  • Hughes Street and Schiller Street, a two-acre plot in Over-the-Rhine and Mount Auburn
  • 5103 Kenwood Road, a 0.2-acre plot in Madisonville
  • 3362 Reading Road, a 1.5-acre plot in Avondale
  • 3916 Reading Road, a 1.8-acre plot in North Avondale.

The report is just the beginning of potentially redeveloping the land. The city next plans to do community engagement work in some of the 20 neighborhoods where the land is located.

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