Form-Based Codes News

Westwood Set to Become Fourth Cincinnati Neighborhood to Adopt FBC

The Westwood Coalition hopes that Cincinnati’s Form-Based Code will help to revitalize the neighborhood’s historic business district. On Dec. 13, the Cincinnati Planning Commission unanimously approved a recommendation to adopt the city’s FBC in a portion of the neighborhood. The city council will consider the matter in a public hearing set for Feb. 10. If approved Westwood will join Madisonville, College Hill, and Walnut Hills as the fourth Cincinnati focus neighborhood to adopt the new FBC.

Opticos Design worked with the City of Cincinnati to develop the new Form-Based Code. In May 2012, Opticos led a citywide charrette to include the public and all of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods in the process. Later in the year, a neighborhood charrette was held for the four neighborhoods that had signed on early to participate, and help finance, the process. In May 2013, the Cincinnati City Council voted to adopt the new Form-Based Code, which puts physical form ahead of land use. It is designed to promote pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use development while preserving the city’s historic charm.

A view of the neighborhood business district in Walnut Hills.
A view of the neighborhood business district in Walnut Hills.

In a unanimous vote last week, the city council approved the FBC for Walnut Hills. The Form-Based Code was adopted for College Hill in November, while Madisonville was the first neighborhood to implement the code in October. “I am thrilled to see all four of Cincinnati’s Form-Based Code focus neighborhoods adopting the FBC so quickly. This is a testament to the quality of the process directed by former Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and the city,” said Opticos Principal Dan Parolek.

Qualls championed the FBC effort as part of the city’s Plan Cincinnati initiative (recently awarded the 2014 Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan by the American Planning Association). “The FBC is a primary tool for implementing Plan Cincinnati’s objective of thriving re-urbanization,” said Parolek. “I cannot wait to see it spread to the other 40-plus neighborhoods designated as good candidates in Plan Cincinnati.”

Cincinnati’s Form-Based Code is one of several Cincinnati planning projects funded through a $2.4 million Community Challenge Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Opticos worked closely with Hall Planning and Engineering, Glaserworks, and Cincinnati city staff to complete the FBC, and collaborated with UDA on the design charrettes.

Photo caption: Historic homes in Cincinnati, OH’s, Westwood neighborhood.