National Planning Conference Recap: Transformation of Cincinnati’s Uptown Innovation Corridor

As the Uptown Innovation Corridor development progresses, the innovation district is attracting attention across the country. This spring, Beth Robinson, President and CEO of Uptown Consortium, Inc. (UCI), and a team of experts presented at the American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference in San Francisco about the Corridor.

Fred Merrill, FAICP, Principal at Sasaki, and Stephen Gray, Assistant Professor of Urban Design at Harvard Graduate School of Design, joined Robinson for the session on the Transformation of Cincinnati’s Uptown Innovation Corridor.” The presentation focused on planning and research initiatives for the Corridor, UCI’s vision and goals for the development, and ongoing community engagement initiatives.  

Uptown Gateway development by Terrex Development & Construction and Messer Construction in the Uptown Innovation Corridor.

UCI worked with Sasaki to develop the Corridor’s master plan around the ideas of Great Streets, Great Spaces and Great Places. All three principles emphasize pedestrian and community-friendly environments, collaborative spaces, and urban design best practices. These principles come to life through ample public green space, below-ground parking, modern, high-quality buildings and more.

The master plan is designed to create an environment where innovation can flourish based on successful innovation districts and research from across the country. This supports UCI’s vision for a district where tenants and surrounding organizations are encouraged to collaborate, community members feel welcome to engage in the space, and amenities are available to attract talent and high-growth industries and provide new services to the community.

Image courtesy of Sasaki

Image courtesy of Sasaki

As development moves forward in the Corridor, UCI continues to focus on the needs of the Uptown neighborhoods, Cincinnati’s innovation ecosystem, and the broader innovation economy. UCI is especially concentrating many efforts around its economic inclusion initiatives to ensure that neighborhood residents benefit from the new development and to expand subcontractor diversity to include minority and women-owned businesses. As a result, UCI’s presentation was peer-reviewed and identified as significantly pertaining to inclusiveness and social justice for attendees interested in inclusion-focused sessions.

The conference provided a larger platform to share what’s happening in the Uptown Innovation Corridor with experts from around the world—the conference boasted more than 6,400 attendees from all 50 states and more than 30 other countries. It gave UCI an opportunity to share best practices for developing an innovation district with other organizations and developers, similar to how UCI traveled around the U.S. to learn from successful innovation districts over the past few years.

Moving forward, UCI will continue engaging in conversations locally, regionally and nationally around the planning and inclusion best practices exemplified in the Corridor and around Cincinnati’s booming innovation economy.