By Mark Menkhaus
The Mt Airy Water Tanks were originally constructed in 1926-27. The “Towers” have been the quintessential symbol of our neighborhood for nearly 100 years and a great source of community pride. The iconic structure, reminiscent of a medieval castle, contains 8.5 million gallons of water In six large brick clad steel tanks and smaller tanks located in seven turrets. In recent years, the exterior deterioration of the tanks has been a major topic of concern to Mt Airy residents. City of Cincinnati and Great Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) engineers studied the structural problems and proposed several remedies include possible partial or total demolition. The mere thought of such a drastic approach of course created a large public outcry. Civic groups lead by the Civic Club, Town Council and CURE spearheaded an organized community effort to preserve and restore the water tanks. These efforts first led to a historic designation in 2019 that effectively protect the tanks from demolition. It also led to a commitment from both the City and GCWW to proceed with planning for the long-needed renovations to the exterior of the structures. A special thanks goes to all of the community activists led by former City Council member Kevin Flynn for this achievement!
The City and GCWW are still working on the renovation plans and have recently announced a major update and have a goal of celebrating completion in time for the centennial of the tanks. In a recent communication from GCWW, the Mt Airy Civic Club has been advised that a “Design-Build” approach will be used for this major project. This approach involves one firm providing both the design and all construction for the project from start to finish. In November 2022 a request was made for interested firms to submit a statement of qualifications. While only one firm responded, a satisfactory review of their submission by both the City and GCWW resulted in the next step of seeking a formal project proposal. The firm responded with a plan that was positively reviewed and scored by an evaluation committee in July. GCWW is currently in contract negotiations with the expectations of starting design in 2023, beginning construction in the second quarter of 2025, and completing the project in early 2027.
Our neighborhood organizations will be following this developing project closely and will continue to provide updates through the CUREator.