When I grew-up in Cincinnati, Over-the-Rhine had become the epitome of inner city decay and disinvestment. Michael Douglas's movie, "Traffic," captured its reputation as a horrid inner city neighborhood, where his teenage daughter becomes a prostitute to pay for her drug addiction. John Norquist, past president of the Congress for the New Urbanism, once noted to me that Over-the-Rhine's troubles began in the 1950's, when Cincinnati began ripping out its streetcar lines.
The City has reinstalled modern streetcar lines, with service expected to begin in a year. A non-profit development company, 3CDC, strategically invests in buying and revitalizing old buildings, now the sites of thriving businesses, apartments, and condominiums. Washington Park, once a home to the homeless, now attracts families with children from throughout the region.
My Dad took me on a tour of Over-the-Rhine over the Labor Day weekend. The transformation from conditions that existed during my childhood is amazing. When Graeter's Ice Cream, a Cincinnati institution, opens a location in Over-the-Rhine, something profound has occurred.
If Over-the-Rhine can revitalize, so, too, can Paramore in Orlando or any other inner city neighborhood stricken with disinvesent. Seeing is believing. Cincinnati's strategy warrants copying.