Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Inclined to Disagree

In early February, various local news outlets told of an interesting new development in East Price Hill [read here & watch video here] - one that will inject much needed capital into the West Side. This project will bring restaurants, condos, a banquet facility, nightclub, an upgraded park and unparalleled view of the city, but most interestingly, will include unearthed Price Hill Incline supports, which will be lit up and used as a focal point for the complex.

"Incline Square" by City Lights Development II. 
Early + revised renderings of the $50m+ development in East Price Hill.
Image Source: Dev.Mgt.Assoc.LLC

This kind of respect for the city's unique historical infrastructure is refreshing, yet not a perspective shared by all developers. Soon after Price Hill story came out, I ran across an interesting article (via Building Cincinnati) on the future development of the Mount Adams Incline - the longest running of the city's five funiculars [pics here]. Looks like the developers of this project place a different value on history:

Mount Adams Incline supports, Baum Street. 
In the process of destroying the supports and retaining wall.

It's not new to see construction on the Mt. Adams hillside, and as a result, the land surrounding the old Incline has reduced considerably over the years. Still, until recently, the city held onto the Incline land for a reason - most likely because of it's historical significance, and possibly plans for some kind of future reawakening.

It's interesting that now - maybe because they would rather have the money (from the land sale and future home taxes) or because they're obsessed with trying increase the city population - they are taking a different stance. And who can blame the developers, the JFP Group, for wanting to profit on their $1m land acquisition? They did a fine job restoring the original facade of the Fourth Street National Bank building downtown when turning it into condos , but building more 'up-scale' housing on Mt. Adams at the expense of our unique history is comparable to desecrating an Indian Burial Ground (in my opinion).

Upon hearing of the upcoming demolition, Elizabeth and I decided to drive around and take a few photos of the remaining structure (shot March 3, 2008):

Mount Adams Incline foundations [direct center], Celestial Street.
Looking down the hill to Oregon St., Baum St., and Monastery Ave. (at the base of the structure). The old Rookwood Pottery building is on the far right, and the Highland Towers on the left (which houses the upscale Celestial Restaurant, Steakhouse & Incline Lounge). Also, from up here, you can really see what highways have done to the city's core.

Mount Adams Incline supports [right side of the hill], Oregon Street.
Highland Towers high-rise is on the right, and the Rookwood Pottery building is peeking up over the top of the hill.

Mount Adams Incline supports, Baum Street.
Don't know where that doorway led to...

Mount Adams Incline supports, Baum Street.
 Looking up to Oregon St. and Celestial St., from the left side.

Mount Adams Incline supports, Baum Street.
Looking up to
Oregon St. and Celestial St., from the right side.

Mount Adams Incline supports, Monastery Street.
At the base of the Incline and hill.


CityKin said...

Somehow I missed this. I assumed the right-of-way was still controlled by the city. Seems like the city should at least keep an easement on the property so that the developers could park there but not build structures on it.

BTW, nice blog, I just found it.

Kevin LeMaster said...

Cool post, Matt. It will be interesting to see if they take it all down, or just the part by the shaky retaining wall.

Matt said...

Thanks very much to you both. I enjoy both of your blogs everyday.

I admittedly don't do a lot of research on the current holdings of properties, or try to get an early foothold on the inner workings of politicians and developers minds - I leave that to those of you who are better-connected and more thorough technically (which I enjoy immensely). I really just like how the history of the city occasionally collides with the present, and comment on that (using your knowledge as a reference).

Maintaining a solid blogsite is really like keeping a second job (especially when trying to be as thorough as possible), but I'll try to post more often.

Cincinnati is a great city - keep up the good work!

Jason said...

Thank you for this very interesting post and all the links to other cool sites. I'm excited that someone is going to take the time to showcase such an important part of our city's history. I think its especially important for its educational value. There are a lot more people, especially younger people, that really don't even know that our city used to have these inclines.

Dave said...

Wow, these pictures are amazing. I live right down the street from here and I have tried to take pictures but haven't been able to capture the scene like this.

Do you know if the pillars are definitely going to be demolished?

I know that that front one has been partially demolished, but other than that, there hasn't been much destruction for a few months.

I agree that they should be preserved. It would be neat if they incorporated them into the design of the landscaping somehow.