Project Year in Review: 2020
THE BANKS

The Banks Project
Year in Review

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted life at The Banks in 2020.

  • By mid-March, state and local public health officials mandated safety measures which forced bars, restaurants, and retailers to temporarily close indoor service, move toward carry-out service at curbside or delivery. For bars and restaurants to continue to do business meant deploying enhanced sanitation measures, mandating masks, and limiting numbers of guests indoors—with a six-foot distance between them. A city-wide curfew, intended to limit the spread of the virus, required earlier ‘last calls’. Restaurants at The Banks converted patio and curbside spaces into temporary outdoor dining
  • Workers who could work from home, did; foot traffic downtown all but disappeared, and with it the lunch crowds, after-work crowds, and special event socializing.
  • Smale Riverfront Park became a refuge and cure for ‘cabin fever’ which was not confined to first quarter of the year. Visitors took to the Ohio River Trail to walk, run, and cycle; eventually the Smale Park swings and play areas re-opened for recreation (masks and personal distancing required).
  • Cincinnati Reds Museum responded to state mandates for health, safety, curfew, and closure by offering outdoor-only tours. The Freedom Center offered virtual programming as a resource to members, students, and families prior to a gradual re-opening in the fourth quarter of 2020.
  • The Cincinnati Reds season was cut to 60 games; games played at Great American Ball Park were without fans in the stands.
  • By the time fall came around, the NFL canceled its pre-season, and the Bengals played first to an empty stadium, and then a few thousand fans at Paul Brown Stadium in two December home games.
  • With special promotions, street-side service, virtual access, and heightened customer engagement activities, commercial tenants at The Banks proved their resilience and their dedication to the health and safety of their staff and patrons.
IMG_2448-ICON
The ICON Music Center structure moved closer to completion as another riverfront landmark.

With the construction industry deemed “essential” by the state of Ohio during the pandemic, contractors working on Phase IIIB made steady progress on all fronts.

  • Work on constructing the Race Street turnaround and Central Riverfront Garage infrastructure continued without delay. The Garage expansion will offer 267 parking spaces and two new entrances and exits along Mehring Way when the project is completed.
  • Extension of Smale Riverfront Park proceeded in parallel with Central Riverfront Garage construction, the Race Street extension, and construction of the ICON Music Center.
  • Phase IIIB continued to reach or exceed its goals in safety, economic inclusion, schedule, and budget performance.

Variable Message Signage and Dynamic Message Signs were installed and activated throughout the central riverfront and along main thoroughfares leading to The Banks.

  • A total of four Dynamic Message Signs were installed and activated on US 50 Eastbound, US 50 Westbound, Second Street and Third Street at The Banks.
  • A total of 35 Variable Message Signs were installed and activated at 18 parking locations, including five Cincinnati Riverfront Garage entrances and 11 surface lot locations. The signs show the number of available spaces (in real time) as well as the parking rate.

Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) legislation was introduced for the riverfront area that includes The Banks. In addition, the City proposed legislation would make permanent several interim outdoor dining areas (‘streateries’) created to ease the impact of the pandemic on indoor dining venues.

Fast Facts

Here’s a quick view of Public Parties Phase IIIB ‘fast facts’ with a focus on materials used in construction of Central Riverfront Garage and Race Street extension and Smale Riverfront Park expansion.

Highlights

PUBLIC PARTNERSHIP

JAN/FEB

Ohio River crested at 54 feet, flooding parts of Smale Riverfront Park.
Lot 27 was completed, providing the base for music venue construction.

MAR/APR

Residents choose Smale Riverfront Park and Ohio River Trail for daily outdoor activity during the pandemic.
Construction deemed an essential activity, incorporating enhanced health and safety protocols.

MAY/JUN

Construction teams pour concrete at dawn.
Dynamic Message Signs installed on US 50 E & W, Second, and Third Streets.

JUL/AUG

Interior work on Central Riverfront garage extension continues.
Consumer awareness and attitude study completed.

SEP/OCT

Race Street granite stairs take shape in Phase IIIB.
Smale Park tree wells are constructed.

NOV/DEC

Variable Message Signage is fully operational at CRG and surface lot.
New Mehring Way entrances to Central Riverfront Garage near completion.

Highlights

DEVELOPMENT

JAN/FEB

Shoring and decking was placed for the music venue.
Snow Banks at The Banks created some family fun.

MAR/APR

SkyStar Wheel was dismantled to make way for a new larger installation in the future.
Steel was delivered for ICON music center construction, complying with enhanced health and safety protocols.

MAY/JUN

ICON Music Center construction proceeds on schedule.
Outdoor dining and carry-out encouraged for optimum health and safety.

JUL/AUG

Beginning with Reds Opening Day in July, patrons slowly returned to The Banks venues.
ICON crossbeam set in place to top off music center construction.

SEP/OCT

Retail dining and entertainment expands outdoor seating.
ICON Music Center emerges as a recognizable profile on the riverfront.

NOV/DEC

ICON Music Center worksite remained active throughout the year.
New Mehring Way entrances to Central Riverfront Garage near completion.

Project Pillars

ECONOMIC INCLUSION

Percentage of workforce living within the 26-county Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area*

88.7%
0%

* There are no local residency participation goals for the project.

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)

Goal/participation varied by
project, between 4% and 9%.

Combined Minority and Women Workforce Participation

Female: 0.27%
Minority: 15.88%

SAFETY

Public Parties construction safety hours for all phases.

BUDGET

The Public Parties project work remained within budget.

SCHEDULE

All Public Parties work  remained on schedule.

100%
0%

Communications

32751-(21)-ICON
An aerial view of Phase IIIB, including extension of Smale Riverfront Park (top left), Race Street extension and turnaround (center, left), and the ICON Music Center structure (center, right).

1,344

MEDIA MENTIONS

1,626

FOLLOWERS

213,000

IMPRESSIONS

7,282

ENGAGEMENTS

242

TWEETS @IBackTheBanks

Website

• TOTAL VISITOR SESSIONS: 3,925
• AVERAGE MONTHLY SESSIONS: 327
• TOTAL PAGE VIEWS: 5,876
• MONTHLY PARKING PAGE VIEWS: 145
• AVERAGE DURATION: 1:17 minutes

Additional Media Information

Further details are available here.
* Impressions equals the number of times users saw the tweet on Twitter.
‡ Engagements is the total number of times users have interacted with a tweet, including retweets, replies, follows, and likes.

Public Partnership

Granite steps are part of the Race Street extension between the ICON Music Center and the expanded Smale Park.
Crews clean the expanded Central Riverfront Garage in preparation for striping.
Tree installation begins in the expanded Smale Park.
Headhouse under construction for Central Riverfront Garage exit nearest ICON Music Center.

Developer

Exterior work continues on ICON Music Center.
A December view of progress on the exterior of the ICON.
Portions of Freedom Way transformed into interim outdoor dining space to accommodate patrons.
Decorative pavers form a sidewalk near the ICON Music Center.

Parks

Cincinnati Parks prepares the area for the Marian Spencer statue installation in Smale Park.
Future Smale Park greenspace will serve as the front door to the ICON Music Center.
Smale Park provided a fresh-air break in the stay-at-home, work-from-home, learn-from-home routine.
Ohio River Trail allowed walkers and joggers a way to exercise (in a personally distanced way).

Research   Highlights

A total of 305 Hamilton County residents responded to a brief survey available online June 29–July 3, 2020. Purpose of the study was to measure awareness and perceptions of The Banks infrastructure (parking) and greenspace among Hamilton County residents.

PARKING

Users of the Central Riverfront Garage are satisfied with parking 93% very/somewhat satisfied; 7% not satisfied.

INVESTMENT

A total of 75% of respondents agree that The Banks has been a good investment of public dollars; 22% are unsure, and 2% disagree.

SMALE   PARK

Visitors indicate they are highly satisfied with Smale Park 97% very/somewhat satisfied; 3% not satisfied.

What‘s Next

For more information: Phil Beck, AIA, LEED AP Project Executive The Banks Project (513) 946-4434