Streetcar supporters still have high hopes for plan

CINCINNATI - Cincinnati's streetcar project has faced hurdles in the past.

However, after the news Wednesday that the city needs more than $17 million to get the project off the ground, some people are wondering if construction will ever get started.

The planned streetcar track would cover a 3.6-mile loop from the Riverfront to Findlay Market. The lack of progress on the project has some supporters worried.

Chris Weideman is one of the people in support of the project. He's also literally invested in the outcome of the project.

Weideman is the co-owner of a six-unit building in the 200 block of Findlay Street. He purchased the building for $16,000 in December 2011, just a month after voters approved the streetcar project for a second time.

"We figured, well that's it, it's a done deal, the streetcar is definitely going to go in and time to start construction so that we're ready … concurrent with the streetcar going in," Weidenman said.

Weideman said he hopes that having the streetcar just two blocks from the building will increase the value of his property and the neighborhood.

He and his partner have invested months of work and $130,000 to get the building ready for tenants.

Despite the setback to the plan, Weideman still expects streetcars to run through Over-the-Rhine. He says he's not alone, either. He says the owners of other buildings in the area see their properties as still being lucrative investments.

"The area is still increasing in value," he said. "It's hard to find a structure around here that's for sale at a decent price anymore."

Part of those expectations could be a byproduct of the lasting support of the Mayor Mark Mallory, who said Wednesday he's still "very committed" to the project, even as critics continue to voice their disapproval of the streetcar idea and its growing cost.

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who also supports the project, has called for a public hearing on the issue. It's scheduled for April 29 at City Hall.

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