-Central Riverfront Reconstruction -- scroll down
for eight photos from March 2003.
-Great American Ballpark, the new home for the Cincinnati Reds, opened March 2003
-Theodore Berry Park opened on the eastern riverfront May 2003
-The new Contemporary Arts Center at 6th & Walnut will opened in May (see top photo)
-Groundbreaking at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport for a third north/south runway in June
-A new expansion of the Taft Museum will be completed this summer (see photo below)
-The Krippendorf and Power Buildings have been completely renovated and are currently housing new residents
-Work on the National Underground Freedom Center is well underway
-Work has begun on new apartments at 6th & Race (see photo below)
-Work on the 7th & Broadway garage will open this summer
-Possible June groundbreaking for 5th & Race this summer?
Developer bets on downtown
Eagle moves forward on $55M retail center
Dan Monk and Lucy May
Courier Staff Reporters 5/26/03
In a bold move aimed at injecting new life into downtown retail, the city's
developer at a long-stalled development site plans to break ground in June on a $55
million retail shell at Fifth and Race streets.
What makes the
move so bold is that
Life Insurance Co.
Properties, has yet to
"There are some people who've expressed interest. We're talking to those
Tom Stapleton, Eagle's
senior vice president
of real estate
Eagle unveiled plans
last November for its
latest Fifth and Race
complex with a parking garage that will hold up to 840 cars. This is the fourth attempt to
develop the site since the mid-1990s. For more than five years, Eagle chased three
different department stores for the site, including Nordstrom, which backed out in 2000.
Eagle pitched its project to potential tenants at the International Council
Centers convention in Las Vegas recently, but Stapleton wouldn't say whether any leases
or letters of intent were signed. Leases or not, he said, Eagle will break ground soon.
"We're shooting for this summer," he said, "maybe in June."
But retail expert Stan Eichelbaum, president of Cincinnati-based Marketing
Inc., questioned whether a retail project built on spec is the way to go.
"The retail climate is very rough right now. The retailers want to be proven
the validity of
the market with data specific to their product," he said. "They are looking at projects that
have definition and make sense for their presentation."
Developers must make sure their projects have "definition and drawing power,"
especially when the location is not in the heart of retail traffic.
Eichelbaum characterized the Fifth and Race site as a "fringe" location
now but said it
could be very prominent with the right development.
"I'm sure that Western-Southern realizes that an advantage of a new project
is the ability
to build to suit specific needs, so there will be a need to identify the retailer to really
benefit from a meaningful project," he said. "Especially an anchor or lead tenant to give
the project validity and drawing power."
Leasing issues aside, the project still faces roadblocks.
Mark McKillip, principal architect for the city of Cincinnati, said Eagle
still must submit
construction drawings to the city for a series of permits and approvals, including a review
by the city's Urban Design Review Board.
McKillip, who staffs the review board, said he hasn't yet been contacted
to schedule a
board meeting to study any drawings, and scheduling such a meeting usually takes a
couple of weeks. Getting the board's approval to break ground in June would still be
possible at this point, he said, but the timing would be tight.
And a rival development group might be able to stall the project by invoking
rights on the northern half of the site.
The Cincinnati Development Group, the consortium that built the city's
retail center, claims its contract for that project also gives it development rights for the old
Parkade garage site at Sixth and Race streets. The Parkade was demolished to make way
for Eagle's city block-wide Fifth and Race project.
CDG claims its Fountain Place lease gives it the right to build a Parkade
garage and lease any retail space included in that garage. It also claims to have air rights
for developments above the new garage.
CDG waived its development rights when Eagle appeared close to landing
store. But for this project, the response is different. Now, it wants "consideration" for the
"The consideration would vary depending upon the tenant roster they bring
to the table,"
said Arn Bortz, a principal at Towne Properties LLC, one of four partners in CDG. "No
one benefits more from a quality project than the Cincinnati Development Group and
Fountain Place. But no project would be better than an empty one."
Stapleton offers a different interpretation.
"They have potential rights to build above the garage on the north half
of the site,"
Stapleton said. "We'll honor their rights" by building a structure no taller than the old
Stapleton said financing for the project would follow an agreement Eagle
had with the city
prior to the Nordstrom deal. That agreement called for the city to contribute up to $27
million of what was then a $53 million project. The city has already invested more than
$17 million in the project, acquiring land and demolishing buildings to make way for the
© 2003 American City Business Journals Inc.
Taft Museum renovation and expansion, March 2003
New Apartment Building at 6th & Race, March 2003
In the works for 2004...
-A modest expansion of the Albert B. Sabin convention center will break
ground in 2004. This expansion will push west and take over the site
of WCPO-TV Channel 9. Channel 9 is building a new studio at the site
of the old Natural History Museum on Gilbert Ave.
-The National Underground Freedom Center will open
-New Cincinnati Reds Museum and underground stadium garage will open
-Still no definite plans for the old McAlpin's Department Store
-Still no groundbreaking date for the long-planned Queen City Square tower at 4th & Sycamore
-Still no groundbreaking for new Central Riverfront Park, new riverfront parking garages, or rest of "The Banks" project
-Possible 1,000 car parking garage + 50 condos at Vine & Central Parkway for the Kroger headquarters
City may build a garage for Kroger
By Kevin Osborne
Post staff reporter
The city may spend up to $15 million to build a large parking garage as
part of a deal to
keep the Kroger Co.'s corporate headquarters downtown.
Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken is touting the plan as crucial to preventing
the company --
and the taxes revenue it generates -- from moving to the suburbs.
Facing a parking crunch for its nearly 1,200 downtown
workers, the supermarket giant has been crafting the
plan behind the scenes for several weeks with city
officials while also fielding offers from at least two
Under the city's proposal, Kroger would have
exclusive use of the city-operated garage during
daylight hours, with the structure's ownership shifting
to Kroger after the city pays off construction debt in
To help finance the project, officials likely will raise
rates at all city-owned parking garages downtown.
Luken unveiled the plan Wednesday to City Council,
and asked for the group's approval next week before
it begins a summer break.
"Kroger is a very important corporate citizen
downtown, and we need to keep them there," the
Kroger didn't try to pressure city officials into
approving the deal, said Joseph Pichler, company
chairman and CEO.
But Kroger asked the city to suggest options once it
learned that about 484 of the 1,038 parking spaces it
leases downtown would become unavailable due to
new private development and projects planned by
Cincinnati Public Schools.
The company has been located downtown for 120 years and wanted to remain there.
"It's not a threat or a negotiation, we were trying to solve a problem," Pichler said.
""We began an informal search (for other headquarter sites)," he added.
"What happens is
when you get out there looking, people hear about it and make offers."
Although Pichler said confidentiality agreements prevented him from revealing
communities offered deals, he offered some details of the company's suitors.
"We had a site inside Ohio that would have been more profitable and we
had a site outside
the state," he said. "But our desire was to stay downtown, if possible."
The proposal calls for the city to spend $12.5 million to $15 million to
build the garage at the
northeast corner of Vine Street and Central Parkway, just north of Kroger's headquarters.
Kroger recently bought the 1.3-acre site -- currently used as a surface
parking lot -- for $3
million in anticipation of the deal.
If City Council approves the plan, the city would issue bonds to build
a garage containing
850 to 1,000 parking spaces.
The deal would reserve 850 spaces for Kroger's use from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
During other times, the garage would be open to public parking, from which
the city would
retain the revenue.
Kroger would pay an annual fee of $510,000 to use the garage, which would
take about 14
months to build and be completed between December 2004 and March 2005.
Part of Kroger's annual payment would be paid by the company, with its
workers footing the
And Kroger would pay property taxes on the land, totaling about $50,000 annually.
Some of the cost to build the garage would come from revenues generated
by the new
parking garage, but officials concede it will take another $850,000 to $1.1 million each year
to cover annual debt payments.
As a result, rates at other city garages will rise -- meaning an end to
the $1 all-day parking
fee that's been offered to compete with suburban shopping malls.
Also, some of the cost might be paid by dipping into the city's general
fund, the same fund
used to pay for services like trash hauling and snow removal, and by revenues from the tax
increment financing district in that area.
City officials will try to help revitalize Over-the-Rhine with the garage,
by including up to 50
housing units in the project, likely to be condominiums, which would front on Vine Street.
Luken made revitalizing the crime-ridden corridor a top priority in his
2002 state of the city
address, just months after riots rocked the area.
During recent years, Kroger has spent $15 million to renovate its headquarters
on Vine, and
this spring spent $2.3 million to update its store at Vine and 15th streets. Despite 12 years of
failed efforts, the company still is determined to find a large downtown site to build a grocery,
If city officials approve the garage funding, it will be the latest in
a series of projects to attract
or keep businesses downtown.
In February 2002, City Council approved spending $6.6 million to keep Saks
downtown, bringing total subsidies for the department store to about $9 million in the past
Three years ago, Cincinnati gave Delta Air Lines $3.7 million in city and
state incentives to
keep the carrier's huge reservations center and its 1,000 jobs downtown.
And City Council had approved $36 million in public subsidies in recent
years to lure a
Nordstrom store downtown, before the retailer abruptly cancelled the project.
The city spent about $15 million preparing the site, including $1 million
to fill it in and convert
it to a parking lot after the pullout.
Most City Council members said Wednesday they needed more time to study
but generally were leaning in favor of the deal.
"I'm not high on corporate welfare," said Council Member Chris Monzel.
"I need to review it
further to see if it's corporate welfare or if it's good business development that creates jobs
and keeps companies downtown."
"This is better than some of the other deals that have come before us because
something that the public can use, instead of just for the company," said Council Member
Pepper was disturbed, however, that an Ohio suburb would compete for the
area communities pledged to act regionally on economic development projects.
"To move a company 30 miles away doesn't help anyone," Pepper said.
"In the big picture, each community would have to drop in a lot of money,
either to keep the
company or to offer incentives," he said. "It doesn't make sense to be negotiating against
ourselves that way."
Publication Date: 06-19-2003
-Possible 3,000 car parking garage at Vine & Erkenbrecker for the
Cincinnati Zoo and University/Children's/Veteran's Hospitals.
Zoo seen as Vine St. catalyst
Cincinnati Business Courier
Dan Monk and Lucy May
One of Cincinnati's oldest cultural anchors is trying out a new role: development
Zoo & Botanical
several Pill Hill
U.S. EPA and
groups to form
The group's goal
is to jump-start
corridor. The starting point could be a 14-acre plot the zoo recently purchased to develop
"We want a vibrant, healthy area for our front door, rather than the abandoned
have there now," said zoo Director Greg Hudson. "Hopefully, a nice mixed-use area that
maybe has some parking, housing, retail and greenspace that provides a wonderful gate for the
north end of uptown."
Uptown includes Clifton, Corryville and Avondale and was just a generation
ago one of
the city's premier neighborhoods. While the area remains home to some of the city's
largest employers, recent decades have seen rising poverty and crime rates, and
declining levels of home ownership.
Hudson said the neighborhood redevelopment group meshes with the zoo's
of eliminating surface lots on its 64-acre Avondale campus and expanding its overall
parking supply for peak crowds. He estimated the zoo will need 2,500 off-site parking
spaces to accomplish its goals.
Currently it has about 300 spaces off site and just under 1,000 on its
main property. But
the zoo has acquired dozens of parcels since 1998 in an area roughly bordered by Vine,
Jefferson Avenue, Ruther Avenue and Cloister Drive. Hamilton County property records
indicate the zoo paid $3.75 million for most of the land. Other parcels were donated in
2000 and 2002.
Eliminating lots on the zoo's main campus would free 11 acres for exhibits,
include an expansive African savannah, where species could have room to roam and
animals could be viewed in a more natural setting.
Hudson also hopes planners can find ways to add greenspace to the neighborhood,
perhaps even a hiking/biking trail linking the zoo to Burnet Woods.
"We'd like to go back to that original Vine Street entrance and make it
a gateway, give you
a sense of arrival," said Hudson.
Uptown Crossings is the fifth off-campus development corporation in which
UC is a
founding partner. The school has been trying since the mid-1990s to spark development
of new housing, office and retail attractions around its 137-acre campus.
The group is young but active. It's applying for a brownfields redevelopment
grant of up to
$1 million to fund the demolition and abatement of an empty office building at 3333 Vine St.,
acquired by the zoo in 1998.
It's hired Kathy Laker Schwab, a well-known advocate for the development
housing, to run the fledgling development corporation on a part-time basis. And it's
selected a Boston firm, Goody Clancy and Associates, to develop a new neighborhood
master plan at an expected cost of roughly $100,000, funded by UC and the zoo.
"We hope to achieve a better neighborhood," said Dale McGirr, UC's vice
finance, an Uptown Crossings board member who applauds the zoo's approach of
involving community groups in its growth plans. The zoo sparked controversy in the
1990s when it purchased and demolished several Avondale homes for a 300-car parking
lot on Drury Avenue.
"They're taking fallow, undeveloped land and making it productive," said
McGirr. "That's a
much better approach."
Dan Schimberg also applauded the zoo for its willingness to work on multiple
facing the area. Schimberg is president of the Corryville Community Council and vice
president of Uptown Crossings. He also owns Uptown Rental Properties, which owns
and manages a couple hundred upscale apartment units in the Corryville area.
"We have a major traffic and parking situation," he said. "There are some
compromises that would be a triple win for the institutions and the community."
Schimberg wants to make sure greenspace is preserved and that the limited
in the community is used wisely and efficiently. He noted that the zoo needs parking on
the weekends, while UC and Children's Hospital Medical Center need parking during the
week. Instead of building two, 2,000-space parking garages, he said the community could
build one 3,000-space garage that could meet all the institutions' needs.
The key, he said, will be updating the intersection at Erkenbrecher and
Vine streets where
the zoo owns property so that the intersection can support the traffic a 3,000-car garage
would generate. That kind of garage, he said, could handle parking for UC, Children's
Hospital, the Veterans Administration Center and the zoo with the proper shuttle system.
"Corryville is a very small community that's in the hub of all this activity,
and the last thing
we want is for a new parking garage to swallow up some land when there's another
new garage being built down the street," Schimberg said.
Schimberg said these community redevelopment corporations have the ability
to make an
impact because UC has been willing to put money into them to try to improve the
communities that surround the university.
"UC has the message that the university isn't just the block that it sits
on, but the
community that surrounds it," he said.
The community redevelopment corporations, Schimberg said, "are so powerful
you have got people working together."
"The city is going to have to play a very important role. Government must
come in and
provide transportation connectivity and infrastructure. We are all moving the process
forward very quickly, and the question is, can the city keep up?"
Schimberg said Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley has been especially
trying to help these groups.
But he said the city has a history of moving slowly. For example, an exit
ramp for Martin
Luther King Drive has been discussed for the past 20 years. There is broad community
support in Corryville, Avondale and other communities as well as from surrounding
institutions. But the city has said getting the intersection could take another 10 years.
"It's the city and the state that need to get on the ball," he said. "The
city is beginning to
see the incredible potential. More people go to work in uptown than downtown, and
uptown is the best opportunity to restore the tax base and bring people back into the city."
© 2003 American City Business Journals Inc.
After five years of non-stop construction and well over $1 billion in public funding, Cincinnati's riverfront is still a mess. It appears as though it will be at least three more years before any real semblance of order returns to the area, and possibly a few more years before the dust settles completely. With the completion of Great American Ballpark this past March, the bulk of originally planned public funding will have been expended, and the more unpredictable phase involving private developers looms. Due to low sales tax returns, construction of the remainder of the development's parking garages has been delayed in order to avoid dipping into the county general fund. Any increase in the national economic climate will improve both sales tax receipts and the interest of private developers, and so it is hoped that construction of the next phase of garages and new buildings above can begin in 2004.
March 2003 view of the Riverfront Stadium site from the Suspension Bridge
March 2003 view of the Riverfront Stadium site
March 2003 view of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center,
planned for completion in 2004.
Below the old Riverfront Stadium pedestrian bridge remains the only piece of the original
Ft. Washington Way still to be seen.
The blacktop of the temporary lots between 2nd St. and Theodore M. Berry Way has begun to fade,
reflecting three years of use in anticipation of the multi-level garages that will fill this area.
With Riverfront Stadium gone, this view from the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge gives some hint as
to the future appearance of the central riverfront.
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