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Monday, June 30, 2008

An Interesting Article out of Lexington

For those of you familiar with Lexington's Chevy Chase neighborhood you will appreciate this article from the Lexington Herald Leader. This is a great example of the creativity of the neighborhood association in Lexington and the willingness on the part of the city government to grant this unique community some additional zoning regulations to help slow the onslaught of tear downs and the affects it has on the look and feel of the neighborhood.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Smart Development

The Northern Kentucky Health Department recently held a symposium on "smart development" or as they titled it "livable communities". They have posted the presentations on their website (link above) and there is some good stuff on there. Feel free to look at the presentations yourself but I am providing a summary below:

1. Slide 21 of Economic Benefits Part A:
Smart Growth Principles (my short commentary on how Fort Thomas ranks with each of these)
• Provide a variety of transportation choices. (Does TANK service around town count?)
• Make development decisions predictable, fair, and costeffective. (While I do not have a lot of first-hand experience with the city I have heard this is not always predictable and fair)
• Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions. (While I have only lived in the city 3.5 years I have not seen the city actively solicit input from the various stakeholders)
• Mix land uses. (I would have to give Fort Thomas a good grade here. Although Fort Thomas is not exactly the most planned community it has evolved with a good mix - schools, parks, and dining choices mixed with housing)
• Take advantage of compact building design. (Older housing stock employed this technique - a high population density)
• Create a range of housing opportunities and choices. (A good mix of price points, sizes, and type)
• Create walkable neighborhoods. (See my past post on the walkability score)
• Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place. ( A solid A+ in this category)
• Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas. (Mixed grades on this one. Pocket parks on one hand but on the other hand development in areas that should be preserved - a la Memorial Pkwy)
• Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities.

2. Part B - Examples of Urban design. Not a lot of applicability to Fort Thomas but nevertheless some unique examples

3. I would skip the entire slide series under "Who Buys Traditional Neighborhood Design?", the graphics and slides were tired and there was not a lot of good information provided.

4. By far the best grouping of slides comes from "Design, Finance, Marketing, & Construction" presentation:
  • Slide 5 - staggering statistics on land use
  • Slide 21 - sites surveys indicating 1/3 of buyers are looking for smart growth options
  • Slides 86 - 95 - compare smart design houses to conventional. Which looks more like a Fort Thomas home?
  • Slide 100 offers this quote "The place is the product but knowing how to market and brand
  • the project as a place means doing it differently."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Update on Newport Pavilion

This week's edition of the Cincinnati Business Courier gives an update on the Newport Pavilion shopping center off 471 and Memorial Pkwy. Despite the progress that has been made this spring the time line continues to slip for openings and Bear Creek Capital continues to be tight lipped regarding final tenants.

I placed multiple calls to Bear Creek and my calls were not returned but they have indicated for months now that interest has been high and an announcement on the final tenant mix is forthcoming.

Despite earlier predictions that the anchor tenants would be open by the holiday shopping season the new time line has the Kroger opening in late spring 2009 and Target after that. The spokesperson quoted in the Courier indicates that they lost 40 days in the spring due to rain and that is the culprit for the delayed time lines. They are continuing to talk with retailers about the final spots and clothing stores, electronics, and pets were all mentioned.

I just hope the softening economy doesn't get this project off to a slow start and vacant store fronts. Home Depot backed out of the project in the fall and that has probably left Bear Creek a little hesitant to announce any other tenants until things are a little more firm.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Get Fit with the Fort

The Northern Kentucky Health Department posted this blurb on their Current Events page:

This program brings together several organizations, including the Fort Thomas Recreation Department, Fort Thomas Business Association, Fort Thomas Fire Fighters Local 1928 and the Health Department, to recognize the importance of physical activity. The groups have joined efforts to reduce rates of obesity, overweight and inactivity in Fort Thomas by giving citizens tools to start or maintain a physically active lifestyle. The group has created a guide to walking, running and biking routes in Fort Thomas. These routes will take participants throughout the city and parks.

The pdf file provides great routes around the city and through Tower Park to help those interested in charting their mileage whether they are running, biking, or walking. It is a great resource that I will be linking to on the Blog roll to the right.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Feel Good Story

While I do not normally report on these types of stories, there was an article in this week's Recorder about the Fort Thomas Junior Football League that I had to mention.

Some of the highlights of this article include:
  • the league's rule that every child play at least 1.5 quarters per game
  • the coaching help of NFL greats Merril Hoge and Chris Collinsworth
  • the selflessness of past players who come back to help coach and teach lessons
  • the focus not only on building a rich football tradition but also on becoming good students and better people
I think the article really shows what our community is capable of when we focus on the important things such as passing on lessons and giving everyone a chance to grow and build character and skill.

Kudos to all mentioned in the article.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Fort Thomas Participating in South Bank City Living

There is an upcoming event in Northern Kentucky with goal of promoting city living in the river cities. Here is a description from their website:

On Sunday, June 22 from 2 to 6 p.m. as an initiative of the Kentucky Heritage Council; Southbank Partners and Northern Kentucky Main Street will be sponsoring the Southbank Downtown Tour of Urban Living. The tour will showcase distinctive living opportunities and the many great amenities and walkable convenience of downtown living in eight great Northern Kentucky cities. On this self-guided tour attendees will be able to visit more than 20 downtown living options in Bellevue, Covington, Dayton, Ft. Thomas, Ludlow, and Newport. There will be a diverse mix of property at multiple phases in development; from owner success stories to finished, for-sale and lease properties as well as properties available for renovation. Various price points will be offered within the exclusive downtown districts, which showcase unique floor plans and impressive interior design.

This doesn't appear to be a showcase event, rather an opportunity to match those interested in city living with available properties. The opportunities presented in Bellevue and Covington are probably the best looking properties. I applaud the decision to showcase the available properties in the Midway in an attempt to find good retail investors and those interested in rehabbing housing stock for owner occupied rather than rental units.