Two members of Cincinnati City Council would like to spend $9 million to revamp a 20-acre park in Mount Auburn while also improving the surrounding area, especially along nearby Auburn Avenue.
Inwood Park sits along Vine Street on the western edge of the neighborhood between uptown and Over-the-Rhine. Councilmen Charlie Winburn and Chris Seelbach would like the city to invest $5 million in the park over the next two budgets in a plan they unveiled before council’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting March 16.
The hope is that investment would help increase new development in the neighborhood, which has just begun to pick up. Developers Uptown Rentals and North American Properties plan to invest nearly $100 million in Mount Auburn in the near future, including the construction of 400 units of market-rate housing and tens of thousands of square feet of office space.
Mount Auburn, the city’s first hilltop suburb when it was founded in the 1820s, was once the home of many wealthy Cincinnatians looking to leave the noise and pollution of the city’s downtown basin. Today, the grand homes that line main thoroughfares like Auburn Avenue are mostly multi-family units or neglected.
Like many inner-city neighborhoods, Mount Auburn’s fortunes have declined over time, and the neighborhood has seen significant blight and problems with poverty. In May 2013, a whole subsection of the neighborhood made up of a number of 130-year-old row houses at Glencoe Place was leveled after more than a decade of attempts to renovate them failed. At least some of the new development in the works in Mount Auburn will fill the space occupied by those row houses.
Seelbach and Winburn say the revamped park could add more momentum to new developments in the neighborhood.
“As we’ve seen with Washington Park, these dollars do more than beautify our neighborhoods,” Seelbach said in a news release. “Inwood Park will become a destination in Uptown, drawing families, students and neighbors to spend time together, enjoying our city.”
The motion met with mixed reactions from the rest of the budget and finance committee members, who are hesitant about spending the $9 million without reviewing the plan with the Parks Department and considering other uses for the money.
Vice Mayor David Mann called for more information from Cincinnati Parks about whether the plan represented a priority for the parks department.
The department had drawn up a renovation proposal in 2007, including plans to build a dog park there, refresh the park’s pavilion, add a water attraction and other details but the plan was not funded and was never carried out.