Hamilton council looks to adopt Maple Avenue redevelopment plan

A Miami University student planning team has a few ideas the city of Hamilton likes, so they’re asking City Council to make them part of Plan Hamilton, the city’s comprehensive plan.

The annual partnership with Miami led to the creation of the Maple Avenue Corridor Redevelopment Plan, which highlights potential future developments on the road from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Ohio 4.

“The students had a lot of great ideas this year,” said Liz Hayden, Hamilton’s director of planning.

The plan was developed by Miami University students and city staff with input from residents over a school semester.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The Maple Avenue Corridor Redevelopment Plan has neighborhood-specific initiatives that align with both Plan Hamilton and community desired goals.

“With the strategies presented in this plan, the Maple Avenue corridor and Jefferson Neighborhood can once again become a thriving and energetic place,” Hayden said.

Maple Avenue runs parallel to the southern side of High Street. The antiquated area lacks greenery and public spaces, is lined with older buildings in need of restoration or repairs and has road and sidewalk surfaces in poor condition.

One idea in the redevelopment plan is to convert the historic railway freight house into an indoor/outdoor space for various events, not unlike the Garage at Bottleworks in Indianapolis, Van Aken Market Hall in Shaker Heights or the Eastern Market in Detroit. The former freight house was built in the 1870s and was last used for passenger trains in the 1970s. Only the exterior is used for a scrap yard.

According to the plan, the vision for the freight house is a market that “will serve as the district’s anchor where the community can gather for various activities.” This includes, among other options, short-term leases for local vendors, an event space, and entertainment.

Hayden also said the students suggested a park at the end of Maple Avenue near Ohio 4. The lot at 220 S. 13th St. is currently vacant, and when engaging the citizens through the development of the plan, “some of the neighborhood residents involved really liked that idea.”

They also had plans for the soon-to-be-relocated former CSX train depot to the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Maple Avenue, including a history museum, a brunch spot or a pedestrian-friendly transit plaza.

Other ideas for the corridor include redevelopment of vacant parcels ― like market-rate housing and mixed-use residential and retail spaces ― streetscape improvements, improving crosswalks, adding street trees, constructing a multi-use path, and incorporating public art.

Hayden said a lot of the suggestions are “the things that really make areas beautiful, the tools that we’ve been using everywhere, making Maple Avenue great as we see new investment in this area.”

The Maple Avenue Corridor Redevelopment Plan, which was recommended by the city’s planning commission in July, had a City Council public hearing on Aug. 24. The council will consider adopting the plan into Hamilton’s comprehensive plan at Wednesday’s meeting.

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