“The Streetcar Will be a Force Multiplier”

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Cincystreetcar.com recently asked the Brandt Retail Group, a locally based commercial real estate brokerage firm, about the potential they saw in Cincinnati’s urban core.  Here is their response:

For the last 40 years our industry has lived by a simple principle:  retail follows rooftops.  Build houses and shops will follow.  This accepted wisdom has driven the burgeoning of suburban and big box developments throughout this and other regions.  As the local commercial real estate firm representing such great retailers and restaurateurs as Target, Home Depot, IKEA, Red Lobster and some 50 others, this suburbanization has been very good for Brandt Retail Group.

But recently we also formed an Urban Focus division, led by Kathleen Norris with Doug Brandt, because now we see a strong move toward re-urbanization as our Midwestern central cities, our downtowns and our densest first ring suburbs gain new appeal.

Cincinnati is in many ways at the forefront of this movement. Downtown, Uptown and Over the Rhine are not only our most important workforce centers; they are also increasingly important neighborhoods with growing residential density as well as unique dining and shopping.

And as that density increases retail will follow those rooftops as well.

We believe, based on data from other markets, that the streetcar will be a force multiplier in creating that density. It will provide a convenient 21st century means for people to move from a ballgame at the Banks to dinner in the Gateway Quarter, from home to work. It will also decrease parking demand without decreasing mobility or access.

A fixed streetcar route will create development opportunity as sites proximate to the line are revitalized, increasing residential density and creating both new retail and new retail customers.  That’s just the kind of opportunity Brandt Retail Group’s Urban Focus team can successfully offer to those  retailers and restaurateurs excited to be where the future is  in this great city.


2 thoughts on ““The Streetcar Will be a Force Multiplier”

    John Schneider said:
    March 31, 2010 at 8:51 am

    One thing the modern streetcar will do — I’ve seen this develop in all the cities that have them — is make non-viable commercial spaces useful again. This will happen in several ways.

    First, many small storefronts in older buildings aren’t viable because they don’t have parking nearby. In parts of Over-the-Rhine, they will never have adjacent parking. Such spaces present inexpensive alternatives to high mall rents with CAM charges and where you have to pay a percentage of sales. It’s a great format for getting started in business.

    Second, the passengers on the streetcar will see these new ventures and hopefully check them out. The streetcar will bring 6,000 new pairs of eyes to parts of Cincinnati that are woefully under-invested.

    Streetcar users will often find themselves walking more — both to the streetcar and just for pleasure. Opportunistic purchases will follow.

    And finally, the streetcar will repopulate Over-the-Rhine and the upper floors of some mostly vacant downtown buildings thereby bringing a whole new set of customers who want to purchase goods and services locally.

    A photographer, Jake Mecklenborg, went on one of the Alliance’s many Portland trips a few years ago. Over several days, he walked every inch of the 7.9 miles of track there. He told me that he counted only five — five! — vacant storefronts along the entire route. I’ve never counted them, but you do see a pretty vibrant retail scene there.

    Kathleen Norris said:
    March 31, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Thanks for the shout out Streetcar blog and John. We’ve built that first phase of the Gateway Quarter on the vision of 3CDC and the belief of the participating merchants and a group of talented developers(my heroes each and every one of them). And I think we’ve done something unique and wonderful there. Happily customers have agreed. Business is good and getting better every day.

    But I think without question once the streetcar line is running it will bring even more shoppers and diners to the area, while also making it possible for many of the hardworking residents to get to jobs both downtown and uptown.

    There is so much great space down there still to reclaim and redevelop, but it is going to be a treasure for Cincinnati and the whole region. I think our future is the same 0% vacancy rate as Portland’s.

    Can’t wait to ride the first part of the line!



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