There’s too much to say about the West End.
Heck, there’s more to say about the West End than there is about Over-the-Rhine. After all, Over-the-Rhine survived the last century intact. But beneath Liberty Street, the West End—formerly Kenyon Barr—wasn’t so lucky. It was razed and paved over, all for the sake of… well, let’s not get into that.
Fast forward several decades to 1999. At that time, the West End was home to two of the largest public housing projects in the nation, Lincoln Court and Laurel Homes. Then came $60 million in federal grants intended to transform the neighborhood into a mixed-income enclave, and both Lincoln Court and Laurel Homes went the way of Kenyon Barr.
The Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority leveraged those grants to initiate a $200 million project called City West. It was designed by Glaserworks and built by Drees Homes on 48 acres straddling Ezzard Charles. In all 1,022 townhomes were planned—250 owner-occupied, 338 market-rate apartments, 434 subsidized apartments. Also contemplated were a banking center, grocery store, new retail space, childcare facilities, improved school facilities, and redesigned streetscapes and open spaces.
A lot of that actually happened. A lot of it did not. Nevertheless, City West stands today as a telling example of New Urbanism. That is, it’s walkable, transit-accessible, and (somewhat) dense. It also fits into the local milieu, with homages to Over-the-Rhine's Italianate style and enough variety to create a sense of architectural rhythm.
Are the setbacks a bit awkward? Sure. Are the rear alleys a bit wide? Perhaps. Does it sometimes feel like you're walking down Privet Drive? ... Still, in person, the whole thing is actually very impressive, and I can’t wait to see it when it’s finally finished.
And that, dear friends, is how we arrive at FC Cincinnati.
Maybe you’ve heard, the fußball club is building a soccer stadium in the West End. As part of that, they’ve promised to donate land in the neighborhood—the unfinished portion of City West—to a private developer via the city, thus to finish the 18-year-old project with another batch of subsidized housing. There’s also been talk of courting state incentives for City West’s Linn Street retail district, which never really got off the ground. Indeed, it's likely that down the road City West becomes one of the most desirable parts of the city.
Even now, the sprawling mixed-income project exists as somewhat of a triumph. It's diverse, it's attractive, and it's undoubtedly a step in the right direction for this place that was once every bit as gorgeous as its neighbor across Central Parkway.
- - -
To get a sense of the City West that exists today, scroll back to the top and visit the photo gallery.