Cincinnati’s The Banks will convert 85 acres to an outdoor open-container district later this month

ajc.com

CINCINNATI — Most of The Banks will convert to an open-container district next week.

Late last year, Mayor John Cranley stood outside Great American Ball Park to announce his plan to turn an 85-acre area between the nearby Heritage Bank Center and Paul Brown Stadium into a designated outdoor refreshment area (DORA). The plan also includes making the stretch of Freedom Way between Marian Spencer and Joe Nuxhall ways a pedestrian-only zone.

A spokesperson for Cranley’s office said Tuesday afternoon that, while the DORA’s boundaries go into effect March 25, the streetscape changes to Freedom Way will take a bit longer.

The DORA will stretch between the arena and the Bengals’ stadium and between Second Street and Mehring Way.

The 85 acres highlighted on the map will become a designated outdoor refreshment area on March 25, 2021.
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The 85 acres highlighted on the map will become a designated outdoor refreshment area on March 25, 2021.

According to documents filed with the ordinance approving the DORA, passed by City Council last month, signage posted in the vicinity will mark its boundaries.

“Right now I can pretty much speak for every business down here: We’re just going into debt. This is the bright spot coming out of the dark,” said Jim Moehring, owner of the Holy Grail Tavern and Grille and one of the plan’s chief supporters, on the day of Cranley’s announcement.

The coronavirus pandemic has spelled hardship for entertainment districts like The Banks, dealing with stricter health codes and capacity restrictions.

Moehring said the benefits of the change would outlast the coronavirus pandemic.

The transformation of Freedom Way was part of a larger plan to make pandemic-related expansions of outdoor dining, drinking and entertainment space permanent. Cranley also proposed in December expanding restaurant patios, sidewalks and even closing down some streets to vehicles altogether to cultivate “streeteries” throughout Downtown and Over-the-Rhine.