Music Hall Garage -- a sticking point?
A standing-room-only crowd was on hand Thursday night to view the "conceptual design" of a new, $20 million garage that is proposed to be built between Music Hall and Memorial Hall, in a public meeting called by 3CDC.
After architects from Glaserworks (hired by 3CDC) delivered their PowerPoint, during a Q&A, a hand went up and an audience member asked how these plans could be made -- when the property had not been purchased. The Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 392, which owns the historic building on Central Parkway behind Memorial Hall, also owns the property under discussion, they said. According to their lawyers in an e-mail sent to me today, 3CDC has not approached the union, and they have no plans to sell the property.
I sure hope the parties work out this issue, which is hardly a minor detail!
3CDC's Darrick Dansby said that groundbreaking for the new garage would be in the first quarter of 2007, with completion in 9 to 12 months. He said 3CDC would hope to coordinate construction with renovation planned (but not yet announced) at Music Hall.
Audience members applauded when the presenters said patrons would never have to step outside, as they zoomed into the garage from either Central Parkway or Grant St., and took a passageway straight into Music Hall's foyer. But OTR Foundation's Marge Hammelrath was not thrilled with that, because people would just drive in and drive back to their suburbs, just as they now do for ball games downtown, she noted.
Other points about the design: It has a tall glass elevator, not only so people would feel safe getting on, said the architects, but so you can see the downtown skyline.
A glass foyer on the Elm St. side would have a giant screen that could project events, such as symphony concerts, that were happening inside. The screen would be similar to one at UC's Athletic Center, that is five floors high by 20 feet. At night, "the whole place would light up," said architect Michael Moose. This would face a public plaza.
Materials include a brick base to match Music Hall's brick, woven stainless steel for the higher portion of the garage, glass and granite.
The eight-level, 632-space garage will empty in 20 minutes.
There is room for a restaurant but the architects said they are "not sure that a restaurant would survive." Another option, posed by the symphony, they said, would be to put a restaurant in Memorial Hall.
The symphony is also discussing new offices, and the architects stated that Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra offices could go ON TOP of the garage, and showed a sketch of an addition looming on top.
Several attendees, including CSO violinist Stacey Woolley, were concerned that the modern design of the garage is not harmonious with the historic architecture of Music Hall and Memorial Hall. "I don't like it," says Woolley. "If the city's memory is in the structures the German immigrants erected, that's what has to be celebrated."
CSO violist Bob Howes, who is also Music Hall historian, agreed.
"The big screen will make it look like Times Square, and the plaza is a bad version of Lincoln Center. They need to rethink the Elm St. facade," he says.
Dansby explained that the garage would be financed by a combination of new market tax credits, tax incremental financing and private donations.
Incidentally, Gloria Keith reminded me at a music club meeting yesterday that this is the site of the old College of Music (1870-1960), now razed, which merged in 1962 with the Conservatory to make CCM.
By the way, the Ladies of the Club applauded enthusiastically when I told them about the garage.
View the sketches at: www.3cdc.org/otr/musichallsquare