By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor
There may still be some time before the Horseshoe Casino opens in Cincinnati, but its simple presence is enough to have a positive influence and help community development. On Sept. 6, during the Budget and Finance Committee meeting, the city of Cincinnati’s budget director, Lea Eriksen, presented plans for infrastructure improvements surrounding the 350,000-square-foot casino complex downtown.
High-priority projects are valued at $15.9 million, with optional improvements coming in at $3.7 million. A total of $7.4 million will be reserved for improvements to the surrounding Pendleton neighborhood.
City plans include street and sidewalk expansions, beautification projects and utility improvements, among them:
- Straightening and widening Reading Road;
- Removing Broadway Street between Central Parkway and Court Street ;
- Shifting the intersection of Eggleston Avenue and Central Parkway eastward;
- Moving overhead utilities underground along Reading Road and Gilbert;
- Upgrades to street lighting, landscaping and sidewalks, as well as nearby parks;
- Converting 12th and 13th streets into two-way streets;
- Creating a plaza between the triangular plot bounded by Eggleston, Central Parkway and the removed Broadway and increasing landscaping to obscure the view of the county jail. The plaza is considered an optional improvement.
The projects will be covered by increasing property taxes paid by the casino. A special tax district was created for the casino site and the properties that lie around it.
While none can deny the importance of the development, some are concerned that it will harm the city’s largest historic district. The Preservation Association hopes that preservation will be used as a development tool rather than letting progress harm the area’s rich history. Confidence is high, as the development project is expected to improve a lot of the old buildings as well as the quality of life in Pendleton.
The goal is making sure that all of the improvements are made alongside casino development so that they are ready in time for Horseshoe Cincinnati’s grand opening in spring 2013. Officials will finalize a list of recommended improvements for the council to vote on in coming weeks.