2013 National Planning Excellence Awards: Implementation

Central Riverfront Re-Birth Through Planning

Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio

The Cincinnati Riverfront Plan converted 195 acres of a vast wasteland, between the Ohio River and Cincinnati's Central Business District, into an economically successful and vital, mixed-use development. The plan is a result of a public participation planning process that started in October 1996 with the collaboration of the city and Hamilton County together with Urban Design Associates, Parsons Brinckerhoff, and the OKI Regional Council of Governments to give direction in two public policy areas — two new sports stadiums and an overall urban design framework for the development of the central riverfront.

Reconstruction of a freeway that separated the project from the central business district recaptured land enabling two stadiums to be built and construction of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Developing an innovative design enabled lifting the street grid and buildings out of the 100-year floodplain to above the 500-year flood level and tying it to transportation facilities and fronting it with an inviting riverfront park. The first phase is projected to return more than $276 million in annual economic impact once completed. The first six acres of a planned 45-acre public park, apartments for 300 residents (100 percent leased), and entertainment venues (retail space 89 percent leased), and creation of 900 jobs from both ongoing business operations and construction, now actively contribute to the liveliness of the neighborhood.

Close-up of the Main Street Fountain with the Moerlein Lager House in the middle-ground framed by the Central Business District in the background.