This article was written by Uptown Consortium Chairman and University of Cincinnati President Neville G. Pinto, PhD.
It’s been fourteen years since the leaders of the University of Cincinnati, UC Health, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, TriHealth and the Cincinnati Zoo came together as the Uptown Consortium to collaborate to improve the lives of all of those who live and work in the Uptown neighborhoods. The Uptown Consortium (UCI) continues to achieve that mission by growing our neighborhoods through the power of collaboration and leading the way for economic development and community advancement in the Uptown region.
UCI has accomplished a lot in fourteen years, including developing U Square at the Loop, renovating old St. George Church with Crossroads, and advancing several residential and commercial developments that changed the landscape of our neighborhoods. We accomplished this while prioritizing partnerships with the community and the City of Cincinnati to ensure new developments were in the best interest of the Uptown Community.
While we have reached many milestones in our time, we’re showing no signs of slowing down. We won’t slow down because we believe that we can continue to improve and achieve great things for our region’s 51,000 residents and 43,000 students. The work of the Uptown Consortium continues because we truly believe that our unique mix of established neighborhoods, new construction, anchor institutions and diverse businesses add up to a region with the most dynamic potential in the entire Midwest.
This has been proven over the past year alone. After nearly a decade of advocacy and planning, the I-71 Interchange opened in August, creating a world of possibilities for development, project investments or catalytic development in Uptown. This $80 million infrastructure project dramatically improves connectivity between Uptown Cincinnati and the rest of the Greater Cincinnati area. With the completion of the interchange, Uptown Consortium started executing plans for a world-class Innovation Corridor. To be filled with pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use developments, the Uptown Innovation Corridor will leverage the core strengths of Uptown anchor institutions—medicine, research and innovative advancements—to attract high-growth, tech and creative companies and the people they employ.
We saw this idea come to life in 2017. In January, Terrex Development & Construction and Messer Construction announced their intentions to build a $200 million mixed-use development located at the I-71 Interchange, Uptown Gateway. The University of Cincinnati started construction on two developments in the Innovation Corridor—the 1819 Innovation Hub, a $38 million renovation of the former Sears department store into a research accelerator, and the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, which will be the leading regional treatment center for complex neurological conditions.
In July, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced their intention to consolidate their three Cincinnati facilities into one $110 million facility in the Uptown Innovation Corridor. And in the fall of 2017, MLK Investor I LLC, a partnership between Neyer Properties and Kulkarni Properties, unveiled plans to develop a $250 million mixed-use development in the Corridor.
In the Uptown Innovation Corridor alone, we have the opportunity to create and retain more than 6,000 jobs and more than $600 million in project investment.
While there were plenty of successes around the Uptown Innovation Corridor, the Uptown Consortium also achieved several milestones in other Uptown areas:
- The long-awaited Corryville Kroger opened last spring bringing fresh groceries and a fun urban design to the residents and employees of Uptown.
- We announced our new partnership with MORTAR, an acclaimed urban entrepreneurship program, to bring their business training classes to the Uptown neighborhoods. In August, MORTAR graduated 20 entrepreneurs from their classes in Uptown and in the West End.
- We continued our partnership with WEB Ventures, our diversity and inclusion consultants, to advance our mission to prioritize jobs and economic opportunities for minorities and Uptown residents.
In 2018, we look forward to keeping our momentum. We hope to see new developments and tenants announced around the Uptown Innovation Corridor as well as in other areas of Uptown. The Uptown Consortium and our development partners will continue to prioritize job opportunities for Uptown residents with more training and job placement programs, so that as developments grow, so does the prosperity of our neighbors. We will strengthen our partnerships with the community councils and the City of Cincinnati, so that all stakeholders are included in every step of the planning process. Above all, we will continue to work towards a common goal: developing a healthier, innovative ecosystem in Uptown Cincinnati.