Camp Washington 'reinventing the neighborhood' by focusing more on pedestrians

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Posted at 7:28 PM, Apr 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-05 18:54:10-04

CINCINNATI — One of Camp Washington's long-sought ideas to grow and rebuild the neighborhood is now a reality. The city of Cincinnati agreed to rezone Colerain Avenue as an urban mix district (one focused on bringing most activities within walking distance for residents) instead of a commercial community — auto-oriented area prioritizing vehicles.

"For years it had been zoned as a very auto-friendly, commercial auto type zoning designation," said James Heller-Jackson, a community organizer with the Camp Washington Community Board. "It's great if you want to build a block full of McDonald's."

The newly zoned area only impacts Colerain Avenue between Hopple and Marshall. Some of the changes include a prohibition of drive-thrus, mandating that buildings be built to the property line, disallowing fuel sales and nixing new buildings taller than 45 feet.

"We are in a situation now where we are reinventing the neighborhood," said Joseph Gorman, president and CEO of the Camp Washington Board.

He and other Camp Washington community leaders say they want to reduce the focus on cars and increase the focus on pedestrians.

"We're looking at more of a localized street level type of living, where people want to get into a neighborhood, know their neighbors, know their businesses," Gorman said.

Neighborhood leaders also believe this new zoning will give them the ability to protect buildings from being purchased and torn down for big box stores.

"It's not meant for building a structure in the middle of a property with a big parking lot around it," Heller-Jackson said.

Camp Washington is about three miles from downtown Cincinnati and close to interstates I-75, I-74, the University of Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati Medical Center and more. Gorman and Heller-Jackson believe it could be a perfect place for people hoping to reduce their commute.

"People are realizing that they like living in urban neighborhoods that are safe, where they can walk, where they can co things without having to get into a car," Heller-Jackson said.

They also want to attract small businesses and start-ups. Gorman said there is a need for properties that are "work-live friendly." He said, "You can have a person who lives and works in the same spot."

Meanwhile, the urban mix zone will not impact industrial businesses along Spring Grove Avenue. It is focused on the southern portion of the business district along Colerain Avenue.

The urban mix designation will be effective in about 30 days. Existing buildings will be grandfathered into the zoning.

Over-the-Rhine and the West End are the only other Cincinnati neighborhoods utilizing urban mix zoning.