Standing outside of Westwood Town Hall Monday, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley emphasized the importance of investing in the city's neighborhoods. He announced the first of several changes to the city manager's proposed budget. Each is expected to focus on neighborhood economic development projects.
"Cincinnati is a city of neighborhoods," said Cranley. "I will be... making historic investments in our neighborhoods for projects that have been on the shelf, and the wishes of the neighborhoods, for many, many years."
The first three projects total $10 million and include:
- Westwood Square ($4,000,000) - "Co-development of the Town Hall property as a flexible, attractive space for community gatherings and events; corollary streetscaping, traffic calming, and pedestrian accessibility, the attraction of new businesses; and key nodes of development as catalytic change agents." If funding is approved, work could begin in July 2016.
- College Hill Station ($4,000,000) - Development of two adjacent sites. "The final site plan calls for a $31 million development... with two four-story buildings, 162 apartment units, and 8,200 square feet of commercial space." A final concept plan for the adjacent site is still in the works. If funding is approved, work could begin in September 2016.
- West Price Hill Mixed-Use Development ($2,000,000) - "In order to help stabilize and ultimately revitalize the West Price Hill business district, the City will work with Price Hill Will to develop a mixed-use project at to-be-determined site."
More similar announcements are expected over the next three days in Avondale, Madisonville and Over-the-Rhine.
All told, our partners at WCPO report, the projects will total about $35 million. WCPO reports the money will come from funds related to the sale of the Blue Ash Airport ($25 million) and tax credits ($10 million) awarded to Norfolk Southern for railway maintenance, which the railroad company is giving to the city.
"It's positive economic development that will lead to the kind of renaissance that we've seen in Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. So yes, we'll continue to do those basics. We'll continue to add cops and firefighters and those basic services, but now we really want to put the meat on the bone for economic development to spark the kind of renaissance that we know these neighborhoods can do."
The City Manager's Budget Proposal
As WVXU reported, last week Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black laid out a $1.2 billion all-funds operating budget for fiscal year 2017. It includes a general fund operating budget of about $388 million.
Included in Black's budget proposal are:
- $4 million in funding for park maintenance and construction of a marina at Smale Riverfront Park.
- One new recruit class that will train 40 new firefighters and one police recruit class that will graduate 30 police officers in June 2017 – although the fire and police unions had said they need two classes. A recruit class of 51 new police officers is set to graduate in July.
- Full funding for a body-cam program for police officers.
A $97.5 million Capital Acceleration Program, Black said, will allow the city to repave an additional 40 lane miles of city streets by the end of the year and do preventative maintenance on another 150 lane miles. The money, he said, will also be used to replace an additional 130 city vehicles by the end of fiscal year 2017.
Some permit fees issued by the city would increase under his budget, Black said – mostly involving building permit fees.
Council must approve a new city budget by June 30.