DOWNTOWN NEWS 2003

New Contemporary Arts Center
[March 2003 Jake Mecklenborg]

2003 News...

-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 preferred
                        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
                                                                           the developer,
                                                                           Western-Southern
                                                                           Life Insurance Co.
                                                                           subsidiary Eagle
                                                                           Properties, has yet to
                                                                           identify tenants.

                       "There are some people who've expressed interest. We're talking to those people," said
                                                                           Tom Stapleton, Eagle's
                                                                           senior vice president
                                                                           of real estate
                                                                           investment.

                                                                           Eagle unveiled plans
                                                                           last November for its
                                                                           latest Fifth and Race
                                                                           project, a
                                                                           120,000-square-foot,
                                                                           two-story retail
                       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 of Shopping
                       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 Developments
                       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," he said,
                       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 development
                       rights on the northern half of the site.

                       The Cincinnati Development Group, the consortium that built the city's Fountain Place
                       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 replacement
                       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 a Nordstrom
                       store. But for this project, the response is different. Now, it wants "consideration" for the
                       rights.

                       "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
                       Parkade garage.

                       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
                       development.
 
 

                       © 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

Future Projects...

-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
                         other areas.

                         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
                         30 years.

                         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
                         mayor said.

                         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 which
                         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. weekdays, and
                         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
                         remainder.

                         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,
                         Pichler said.

                         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 Fifth Avenue
                         downtown, bringing total subsidies for the department store to about $9 million in the past
                         decade.

                         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 the proposal,
                         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 it's building
                         something that the public can use, instead of just for the company," said Council Member
                         David Pepper.

                         Pepper was disturbed, however, that an Ohio suburb would compete for the project after
                         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
                       Staff Reporters

                       One of Cincinnati's oldest cultural anchors is trying out a new role: development
                       catalyst.

                                                                                The Cincinnati
                                                                                Zoo & Botanical
                                                                                Garden has
                                                                                partnered with
                                                                                the University
                                                                                of Cincinnati,
                                                                                several Pill Hill
                                                                                hospitals, the
                                                                                U.S. EPA and
                                                                                three
                                                                                neighborhood
                                                                                groups to form
                                                                                Uptown
                                                                                Crossings
                                                                                Community
                                                                                Urban
                                                                                Redevelopment
                                                                                Corp.

                                                                                The group's goal
                                                                                is to jump-start
                                                                                development
                                                                                along Avondale's
                                                                                Vine Street
                       corridor. The starting point could be a 14-acre plot the zoo recently purchased to develop
                       off-site parking.

                      "We want a vibrant, healthy area for our front door, rather than the abandoned buildings we
                      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 long-term goal
                      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, which could
                      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 of downtown
                      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 president of
                      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 issues
                      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 wonderful
                      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 land available
                      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 because
                      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 active in
                      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.



Cincinnati Central Riverfront Development
Spring 2003

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.
 
 



2002 Archive
1.  New Reds Stadium / Riverfront Development
2.  Contemporary Arts Center
3.  Krippendorf Building / Power Building / 7th & Broadway Garage
4.  6th & Race Apartments
 
 

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