at St. Francis Court Apartments
Located in Cincinnati’s South Fairmount neighborhood, the St. Francis Court Apartments occupy nearly 11 acres just north of Queen City Avenue. This landmark property was formerly the St. Francis - St. George Hospital. During rainstorms, stormwater used to flow down the steep hillsides south of Harrison Avenue to the St. Francis property. On the property’s eastern vacant concrete parking lots, stormwater had nowhere to go but into the combined sewer system.
Based on a typical year of rainfall, annual stormwater flow from the property is about 417,000 gallons. To help reduce the volume of stormwater runoff from this site, the property owner agreed to partner with MSD on the project to remove two underutilized parking lots and replace them with two large rain gardens, also known as bioinfiltration basins. Although the basins look like regular gardens, they use special soils and native plant species to absorb and clean stormwater runoff. The upper rain garden captures stormwater flowing off the adjacent hillside. The lower rain garden captures excess flow from the upper garden. The site also includes awalking path for maintenance as well as community gardens for residents to grow plants and vegetables. In addition, trees were planted along the eastern half of the property and along the southern edge of the main parking lot to help provide shade and stormwater benefits.
This project provides numerous benefits to both MSD and the South Fairmount community, including:
- The rain gardens will reduce the volume of stormwater entering MSD’s combined sewer system by about 27 percent.
- The garden plants will absorb and cleanse stormwater while simultaneously providing habitat and food sources for insects, birds, and butterflies.
- Trees will help capture rainfall while also providing attractive landscaping for this highly visible site.
- Community gardens will give residents an opportunity to meet each other and grow their own produce.