Project Year in Review: 2023

The Banks Public Partnership

PHOTOS—Main: The Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame opened to the public at no charge to experience an interactive celebration of Black music with ties to the tristate region. Upper right: Cincinnati Bengals “striped the jungle” for Monday Night Football. Fans turned out in the black or orange home team colors, assigned by seat section. (Photo courtesy of the Cincinnati Bengals.) Lower right: Cincinnati Parks Foundation’s Hats Off Luncheon welcomed donors to Smale Riverfront Park.

PHOTOS—Left: Variable Message Signage Phase III team members completed planning for technology installation, designed to provide real-time information on available spaces in the Central Riverfront Garage. Center: Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame 2023 Honorees were announced in May. Right: Establishments opening on Freedom Way included Killer Queen (Freedom Way East), Red Leprechaun Irish Pub (Freedom Way West), and BetMGM SportsBook and Nation Kitchen & Bar at the corner of Joe Nuxhall Way and Second Street.

The Banks Project:
2023 in Review

Public Parties Construction

July 22, 2023, marked the grand opening celebration for The Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame. The honorees inducted this year included Phillippe’ Wynne, Louise Shropshire, James Brown, and The Deele.

Variable Message Signage (VMS) Phase III advanced through planning stages. When completed, the technology will provide real-time information on available parking spaces throughout the Central Riverfront Garage.

Killer Queen Restaurant and Bar, and Red Leprechaun Irish Pub opened along Freedom Way.

BetMGM Sportsbook opened at the corner of Joe Nuxhall Way and East Second Street in September. Co-located Nation Kitchen & Bar opened there in December.

The Brady Music Center hosted a lineup of indoor and outdoor concerts throughout the year.

DORA events included free showing of the “Sandlot,” viewing of Cincinnati Reds games, and Bengals tailgating events for both home and away games.

“Rockin’ The Roebling” summer concerts
on Schmidlapp Lawn were sponsored by
Moerlein Lager House, as was ChristkindlMarkt during the holidays.

Hyde at The Banks opened New Year’s Eve at 36 West Freedom Way.

Cincinnati Parks sponsored Smale Riverfront Park Family Fun Days, Smale Mind & Body events, and the iconic “Hats Off Luncheon” to benefit the Cincinnati Parks Foundation.

Cincinnati Bengals won the AFC North championship in January; in September, fans transformed Paycor Stadium as they “striped the jungle” for Monday Night Football.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center hosted its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration.

The Findlay Market Opening Day Parade ushered in the baseball season for the Cincinnati Reds.

The Flying Pig Marathon events culminated at “The Finish Swine” along Mehring Way at Smale Riverfront Park.

Juneteenth Block Party was held along Freedom Way.

Paycor Stadium hosted two performances
of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour.

Great American Ball Park hosted the international pop-icon P!NK Summer Festival.

The Cincinnati Music Festival continued to draw crowds to the riverfront. The Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame opened the same weekend, adding to the entertainment appeal of the riverfront, Cincinnati, Hamilton County, and the region.

The Celtic Festival, Kroger Wellness Festival, Redsfest, and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) 5K event provided education and entertainment to audiences along the banks of the Ohio River at Cincinnati.

The Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame reported 22,000 visitors at year-end, just five months since opening.

Public Parties published five episodes of the “Before The Banks” video tour, exploring the fascinating history of the riverfront. Each video story documented points of historical interest to reveal the built environment nearly two centuries “before The Banks was developed.” Episodes include 1—The Black Brigade; 2—The Archaeological Dig; 3—The Reds & The River; 4—The Foundation Walls, and 5—The Suspension Bridge. Watch here:

Highlights of 2023

Public Partnership

Highlights of 2023


Project Pillars

Economic Inclusion

Phase I, II, IIIA, IIIB and IIIC Small Business Enterprise (SBE) participation 1/1/08 through 12/31/23.

Phase I, II, IIIA and IIIB Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)

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

Money paid to SBE and DBE contractors 1/1/08 through 12/31/23.

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


* Phase I, II, IIIA, IIIB, and VMS Phase II from 1/1/08 through 12/31/23. There are no local residency participation goals for the project.

Combined Minority and Women Workforce Participation 1/1/22 through 12/31/23 for Phase IIIC

Female: 3.6%
Minority: 20.32%


Public Parties construction safety hours for all phases from 1/1/08 through 12/31/23.


The Public Parties project work remained within budget.


All Public Parties work remained on schedule.


Additional Information

Public Parties

Variable Message Signage Phase III information technology planning team reviews proposed placement of sensors in the Central Riverfront Garage.
Bootsy Collins released a new tribute song to The Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame.


Moerlein Lager House and Servatii Pastries sponsored ChristkindlMarkt on Schmidlapp Lawn, complete with a 20-foot ice slide!

Hyde at The Banks opened December 31, offering an upscale experience with specialty cocktails at 36 West Freedom Way.


Bicyclist and baby pause for a break in Smale Riverfront Park.
The Schmidlapp Lawn provided a perfect location for a family photo.





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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.

What’s Next

  1. Variable Message Signage Phase III (parking guidance within the Intermodal Transit Facility/Central Riverfront Garage) will move from planning to implementation.
  2. Paycor Stadium infrastructure upgrades will enter the bidding stage.
For more information: Phil Beck, AIA, LEED AP Project Executive The Banks Project (513) 946-4434
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