CINCINNATI — With live, on-track testing well underway on Cincinnati’s new streetcar, supporters are doing what people do when there’s something to celebrate: They’re throwing a party.
The Cincy Streetcar Celebration comes not long after the city’s first light rail passenger vehicle arrived in Over-the-Rhine and crews completed the installation of the trains’ future route, a 3.6-mile loop connecting OTR, Downtown and The Banks — both last month.
The party starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday, at the Transept at 1205 Elm Street.
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Derek Bauman, southwest Ohio regional director for AAO, said the party is meant to commemorate a turning point for the city and its urban core.
“First and foremost, this is a celebration of an achievement that was a very long time in the making,” Bauman said. “When you think back to all the various road blocks, it really is an amazing turning point.”
As WCPO has previously reported, Bauman and supporters look at the loop’s recent completion as just a starting point, and believe now the city should expect the streetcar conversation to shift from “Can we do it?” to “What’s next?”
“Now that they’ve seen what it really is, what the cars look like, I think there is a recognition that this isn’t the end — this is the beginning,” Bauman said, echoing a widely-held aspiration among supporters’ that the loop will grow into a robust passenger light rail network throughout southwest Ohio, connecting Cincinnati's neighborhoods as well as other nearby cities.
“This is a long-term project that will be expanded,” Bauman said.
And the venue being the Transept, the formerly abandoned St. John’s Evangelical Protestant Church turned event space sitting on the streetcar loop near Washington Park, is icing on the cake.
“As we’ve said from the beginning, transit-oriented development is a huge piece of (the streetcar) puzzle,” Bauman added. “Here we have this building that was empty for a couple decades and now, with the streetcar moving forward, it’s been rehabbed, now a gorgeous facility.”
Ron Novak and Josh Heuser rehabilitated the church, which sat empty for nearly 20 years and celebrated its grand opening early last month.
Free to the public, guests who offer a $20 donation upon arrival will be entered to win a Cincinnati Streetcar Founder’s Club 15-day pass and a 1-year Red Bike membership, among other prizes.
Proceeds will benefit the non-profit rail transit advocacy group All Aboard Ohio.
Cincy Streetcar Celebration At a Glance
What:Cincy Streetcar Celebration Where: The Transept, 1205 Elm St. When: Wednesday, November 18, 6 p.m. Cost: $20 donation enters into raffle (suggested)
Follow Pat LaFleur on Twitter (@pat_laFleur) for all things Cincinnati Streetcar and living car-free in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.