Cincinnati Form Based Code
glaserworks acquired first-hand knowledge of the inadequacies of conventional zoning codes, and street & subdivision regulations, during our master planning and urban design work on Cincinnati’s City West project.
Even though this urban infill project was adjacent to downtown Cincinnati, the regulations which governed the development of the land required any new development to be suburban in scale and character. Our desire – and the desire of the property owners, our developer client and the residents and businesses of the neighborhood – was to create a traditional, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. Unfortunately the city’s codes, which were written in the 1970’s and 1980’s, did not permit such development.
The city’s regulations required wide streets, overly abundant room for utility easements, inappropriately large zoning setbacks and little accommodation for pedestrians and bicyclists. Most city staffers realized these conventional development regulations were inhibiting the creation of the types of urbanity that residents and business seek. Nevertheless, Cincinnati’s regulations forced a burdensome approval process for that which should have been readily permitted.
For several years glaserworks staff had given many lectures throughout the city on fundamental urban design and form-based codes. When the City of Cincinnati decided to assemble a team to create a form based code, glaserworks was tapped to help coordinate the effort. glaserworks coordinated a team of seven national and local firms, including the nationally recognized firm Opticos Design, to create the code. We managed two 5-day charrettes that were attended by over 700 people. We led multiple stakeholder input sessions, staffed a standing committee, and provided urban design services before, during and after each charrette.
The consultant team created a custom form-based code which was adopted in 2013 and employed in four neighborhoods. Cincinnati became one of the largest U.S. cities to adopt a form-based code. Cincinnati’s form-based code won the 2014 Grand Prize – Professional; Best Planning Tool or Process from the Congress for a New Urbanism – the highest award given nationally for such service.
All 4 neighborhoods have catalytic development projects on the horizon, including College Hill Station (which is being developed by Saint Francis Group and designed by glaserworks).