Hamilton wants East Avenue to thrive once again

Miami University planning class, city staff work on revitalization plan.

The Jefferson neighborhood in Hamilton’s fourth and fifth wards is one of the city’s next areas the administration would like to see improved.

Staff is recommending adding a plan developed by Miami University’s Advanced Urban and Regional Planning class, with the help of Hamilton staff, that could implement a variety of improvements to the street off Maple Avenue, which has been called “the spine of the Jefferson neighborhood,” according to a staff report by Hamilton senior planner Edward Wilson.

“At its peak, the corridor was a strong blue-collar area, full of employment opportunities due to it having a rich legacy of rail and industry, including former freight houses, passenger depots, and industrial manufactures and small businesses in the area,” he said. “However, as freight houses, factories and small businesses closed, the corridor fell into a decline. Nevertheless, the street maintains many community strengths, and the city recognizes its potential for revitalization.”

City Council is considering the plan developed by the Miami planning class to its master plan known as Plan Hamilton. East Avenue, which is in the heart of the Jefferson neighborhood, one of Hamilton’s 17 designated neighborhoods, could prosper with investments and new initiatives, according to Wilson.

“This corridor can return to the thriving place that it used to be,” he said.

The scope of the revitalization plan, which included Miami planning students talking with residents along East Avenue, stretched from Maple to Sipple avenues.

Planning Director Liz Hayden said the plan explores some economic development opportunities. There are some unique small businesses on East Avenue, but there are also several vacant or underutilized properties.

“(The student planners) really targeted how to reactivate some of these spaces that could be great,” she said, emphasizing one idea of a façade program that could reactivate some of the building’s closed or covered windows, which, by opening them up “would make a huge different to the look and feel of the neighborhood.”

Another aspect was neighborhood placemaking, which would benefit neighbors and businesses. One example in the plan, Hayden said, was developing a pocket park across from Garcia’s Supermarket, which offers to-go food items. She said the park could have seating, and patrons could enjoy lunch at the park.

Another possible idea was a mixed-use park on vacant lots, such as across from Edison Avenue.

“The seating was something we discussed in the plan. It wouldn’t be just general seating, but it’s an idea of place,” Hayden said. “Garcia’s, which is this wonderful asset, could benefit from an outdoor patio which would bring some positive vibrancy associated with the business.”

Lastly, she said the streetscape improvements in the proposed plan would not only include intersection safety improvements, but beautification elements, additional lighting to encourage walkability, and parklets, which are open greenspace that could include seating for residents.

City Council was presented with the plan on Aug. 9 and held a public hearing on the addition to the plan on Wednesday. The council will consider voting to approve the addition to Plan Hamilton on Sept. 13.

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