The long-range future of Playhouse in the Park appears to be driving a wedge between the Downtown business community and the residents and business owners of Mount Adams, an urban neighborhood that’s managed to remain trendy and desirable in a city that’s lost 30 percent of its population — some 150,000 people — in the nearly 50-year existence of the Playhouse.

A move also could alienate a sizeable percentage of some 18,000 people who are annual Playhouse subscribers.

Concerns and questions abound among patrons and Mount Adams supporters — including those attending recent town meetings at the theater.

Pat Sheppard, member of the Mount Adams Business Guild, owner of Mt. Adams Bar & Grill, co-owner (with her husband, Eddie) of The Blind Lemon, the area’s iconic cafe and music venue: “I was talking to people after the meeting and they said they have been in enough business meetings to know that this was just to let everyone spout off.”

The Sheppards opened The Blind Lemon 40 years ago. She estimates that about 25 percent of her business at the Mt. Adams Bar & Grill is linked directly to the Playhouse. The business guild and the Mount Adams Civic Association are opposed to the move, she notes, but the Playhouse leadership seems unswayed. “They want to go where the big money wants them.”

Jerry Tokarsky, president of the Mount Adams Civic Association: “It would be an absolute loss to the community.” Tokarsky says he sees Mount Adams as part of Downtown. “Mount Adams has been seen as a theater district. Certainly as an entertainment district,” he comments. Some people dine Downtown before going to a Playhouse performance, or dine in Mount Adams before going to a Downtown event. He’s bewildered about the Macy’s proposal. “I don’t understand a performing arts center on top of a department store.”

Seth Hall, Walnut Hills: A Playhouse regular since he started buying student discount tickets in 1994, Hall loves the romance of the location. “There’s more of a love for the theater and more intimacy up here ... Downtown is more Times Square. My fear is that in order to make Downtown successful, you kill a great neighborhood.”

Martha Selzer, Sharonville, who’s been attending Playhouse performances since it opened: “I like the charm up here.I like the fact that we have some tradition and that we’re staying at a place that’s unique.”

Wendy Stober, an off-and-on Playhouse subscriber for nearly 30 years, has little faith that developers of a Downtown location will get it right. “Look at our history in Cincinnati. We have systematically dismantled our own heritage.”

She recalls the evening she and two friends left the Playhouse after one of the town hall meetings. “It was a gorgeous night. We were looking at the moon through the treetops. I looked at a friend of mine and said, ‘You can do this. Or you can step out of the theater into a lobby and on to an elevator, and be on a street in Downtown Cincinnati facing a parking lot.’ There’s no comparison.”