On Monday 120 pages of printed signatures were delivered to Vice Mayor Mann and the Neighborhood Council, over 1,300 names in all. Today City Council unanimously approved the designation of a new, permanent district to protect the historical buildings that directly surround Lytle Park. Most of us who signed were from the Tri-State area, but people from all over the country, 20 states in all, folks who had grown-up here and moved away, tourists and visitors, felt strongly enough to want to add their support to our cause. That mattered and Cincinnati thanks you for caring.
Now the real work begins. The District that City Council approved was a compromise that resulted in many buildings being removed from Historic District protection. It was clear from the comments on the petition that there’s a lot of confusion about the future of this area.
Based on the testimony during the public hearings (which are legal proceedings with a court reporter present) and conversations with Western & Southern executives, this is what we know right now:
1. Western & Southern intends to tear down the 5 buildings currently known as the Woodford building on 4th St in order to construct a new headquarters building that will be approximately the size of the Procter & Gamble headquarters across the street on 5th., 12-14 stories.
2. Western & Southern does not plan to demolish the Anna Louise Inn. It will be turned into a luxury, boutique hotel run by Marriott.
3. The Earl’s Building (the small Tudor next to the Anna Louise Inn) will become a restaurant that will open out onto the park with outdoor seating.
4. In 2015 Lytle Park will be closed for 2 years for the replacement of ventilation fans for the i-71 tunnel. All trees will have to be removed and replaced. Western & Southern has been involved with the future design for the new park and our Park Department is hoping that they will pay for the bulk of the 4-5 million dollar renovation. (Otherwise the city doesn’t have the money and it stays a mud pit.) Revenue from a specially created taxing district of property owners on the park will finance ongoing maintenance if all goes as planned.
5. Western & Southern intends to tear down their garage on 3rd St., as well as the houses on Arch Street, in order to build a residential/garage/office tower.
6. Western & Southern does not intend to make any major changes to the exteriors of the Police Building on Broadway or the building they own next to it. They have talked about an Italian restaurant in the police station. The University Club and the Academy of Medicine buildings, though they requested removal from the District, plan to maintain their buildings as they always have, to the highest of standards.
As you can see, there are lots of changes going on in our little neighborhood and that’s great. It’s time to fill those empty buildings with great restaurants, services, more people living in this beautiful area. But the words “corporate campus” have been used a lot lately. Lytle Park is not and never can be anything but public land for the common good. The best way we can help to make make sure it stays that way, that this is a place where everyone is welcome and wants to come, is for citizens to inform themselves about the development process. Knowledge is power. And there will be lots of opportunities for us to positively influence the buildings that go up in the neighborhood that is our Lytle Park.