There has been much written of late about how Central Business Districts (CBDs) are the key to regional economic health, growth and sustainability. We have written in the past about new urbanism concepts and concerns such as walkability and density. We have also written about the benefits of practical public transportation. As I walk through the Cincinnati CBD I cannot help but notice that there is a gap in the use/tenant mix: the areas’ most high profile universities do not have a presence in the CBD.
Let’s examine the example Chicago presents. In the Chicago CBD there is Northwestern University School of Law, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, DePaul University, DePaul University School of Law, Loyola University School of Law, John Marshall School of Law, Roosevelt University, Columbia College, School of the Art Institute, Harold Washington College, Spertus Institute for Jewish Studies and Rush Medical College. I am sure that I have missed a few, but the list is impressive regardless.
What is the benefit of having institutions of higher learning located in the CBD ? An influx of students, professors, administrators and all of the commercial activity they bring each day all year long. They create a need for housing, food and dining services and transportation services.
Institutions of higher learning and their students and staff being located in the CBD are within easy access of the businesses and professional service firms which draw upon their talent pool.
So, Cincinnati, why not here ???
Why not relocate the University of Cincinnati School of Law and Graduate School of Business in the Cincinnati CBD ? Why not relocate the Xavier University School of Business in the CBD ? Why not relocate The Chase School of Law in the CBD ?
The major regional corporations are in the CBD; the majority of the regions law firms are in the CBD. Having easy access to students eager and willing to work full and part time, intern and perform case studies could only create more collaboration for both the respective universities and the region’s businesses; while at the same time opening up valuable space in land locked campuses for other uses.
Holes in the CBD would quickly fill up with the needed office buildings and housing projects; not to mention the food and dining needs. One project will create the need for another and create a 24/7 community which is vibrant and complimentary to the successful effort which is transforming Over the Rhine, the Banks, Pendleton and other near in neighborhoods.
With the coming of a street car system the ease of moving about the CBD, and eventually connecting to the Clifton area, can only help the CBD become an ideal location for universities.
Cincinnati, think outside your own borders; come together as an integrated community where the institutions of higher learning affect more areas than their traditional campuses and put their talent pool in front of the businesses which are the likely employers for many of the students enrolled in your programs.