HAMILTON, Ohio -- To those paying attention, the future looks bright for Hamilton's downtown and riverfront. As The Marcum apartments near completion, they will bring upscale restaurants and shops.
But then what? The city asked residents what they want for the area along the river. Their opinions differ.
Liz Hayden, Hamilton's planning director, said there were calls for restaurants which bring people into town and "brings some vibrancy to Hamilton after 5 p.m. and on the weekends."
One of the few places downtown filling that void has been the High Street Cafe. Owner Phil Wong agrees that more restaurants will fit nicely.
"There were few choices to choose from before we got here," he said. "We're actually starting a nice trend now. Other restaurants are moving in, people are scouting out locations for restaurants."
But some residents and planners diverge on the need for multi-family housing. Residents didn't think so, but the city believes that's what will continue to drive the renaissance. Without more places like the Marcum for young professionals to live, they won't be able to support the restaurants and shops everyone wants, according to officials.
"That's something we will take into consideration and evaluate," Hayden said. "Why did they say that? Can we learn a little bit more about their concerns? If we have a gut feeling that housing is a good thing for the community, maybe we have more focus groups to unpack that a little bit more and wee if we can get to the bottom of that and we may find some support for it."
The next step for planners like Hayden and developers will be to make sure, where possible, there is alignment with residents so that the vision for Hamilton is a shared one. They hope to have a plan in place by the end of January, and officials said they will have a public input session before then.