How Downtown Cincinnati compares to Downtown Jacksonville

I recently returned from this year’s Chamber’s leadership trip to Cincinnati and thought I’d share some of my observations and comparisons of their Downtown.

I grew up in Pittsburgh and lived there on and off until I moved to Jacksonville in 2001. My initial observation is that Downtown Cincinnati looks and feels exactly like Downtown Pittsburgh. As you enter Downtown, you’re treated to a dramatic skyline view with surrounding hills and vistas. A flood plain and flood walls line the highway that runs along the riverfront. PNC, a major bank that has helped lead their Downtown revitalization efforts has a large Downtown presence. The streets are all well lit – many Chamber members commented specifically on this. A new stadium and entertainment complex overlook the Ohio River; there is also a large stock of historic Class B and C office buildings, many of which remain vacant; a struggling retail environment; and crumbling infrastructure. Both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh share the goal of bringing more people into downtowns that have experienced significant population losses since the 1950s. One other similarity that Pittsburgh shares with Cincinnati is that Steve Leeper, one of the individuals directly responsible for Pittsburgh’s revitalization, has been working as president and CEO of the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation since he moved to Cincinnati in 2004.

When comparing our Downtown (top) to Cincinnati (below), Cincinnati Downtown (in red) fits within ours (green). Our Downtown Improvement District (in yellow) takes up nearly as much land area as all of Downtown Cincinnati. (Graphic courtesy of Ennis Davis)

Here are some comparisons and contrasts between Downtown Cincinnati and Downtown Jacksonville:

•    Downtown Cincinnati is about a third the size of our Downtown, as depicted in the overlay courtesy of Ennis Davis. Downtown Cincinnati consists of about 100 blocks, with about 60 blocks comprising the core. The whole of Cincinnati’s Downtown is more comparable in size to our 90-block core, the Downtown Improvement District [Link to post with map of our boundaries]. Jacksonville has one of the largest Downtowns in the country at two-and-a-half square miles in size.
•    Downtown Cincinnati is home to about 8,000 residents, with an additional 14,000 in the adjacent Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, which is similar to Jacksonville’s Springfield. Our Downtown houses less than half the amount of Cincinnati’s, with approximately 3,200 residents.
•    Downtown Cincinnati has 55,000 office workers in the entire Downtown area, compared with approximately 30,000 workers in Downtown Jacksonville’s core, roughly the same land area.
•    Downtown Cincinnati has more than two and a half times the office space as Jacksonville, with a Class A office vacancy rate of 18.9% in the Central Business District. Downtown Jacksonville’s Class A office vacancy rate for the Northbank is currently 23.5%.

Here is a selection of photos from Downtown Cincinnati: