Big things are happening on the eastern fringe of downtownCincinnati. Originally an industrial area in the 1800's, many ofthe obsolete factories and warehouses that stood in the area fell victimto I-71 or were replaced by parking lots. A handful carried on as low rentoffice space or simply stood vacant. But since 1998, nearly a dozenold buildings around downtown have been redeveloped into apartments, includingprominent landmarks such as Shillito's Department Store and the AppliedSciences Building.
Two large buildings within sight of each other on downtown'seastern edge, the Power Building and the Krippendorf Building, are currentlybeing redeveloped with each to house about 100 apartment units. Onthe same block as the Krippendorf Building, a new 16 floor apartment buildingand garage is under construction to be known as the Broadway Tower. This represents a dramatic turnaround for the area, which has stagnatedfor decades, and bids well for new construction on various nearby parkinglots.
Looking south at the Krippendorf Building, with Sycamore St. and St.Xavier Church at right. [ClickHere for larger version]
The motley appearance of the Krippendorf Building canbe attributed to the many additions and modifications that have been madeto it in the last 100 years. Prior to the current rehabilitation,there was no obvious front entrance, and the new front plaza was a parkinglot where a smaller building obviously once stood. But what'swith that solo window in the red wall?!
The Power Building
June 2002 view of the Power Building, with Sycamore St. at center andright. [ClickHere for larger photo]
The Power Building has stood vacant since 1996, when planningbegan for its redevelopment. The building's exterior deterioratedduring that period, and courtesy of the view provided by the large parkinglot that it neighbors, it became the most conspicuous vacant building inall of downtown. So it was a great relief after so much talking whenwork actually began in 2001, and hopefully the project will be a success.
View of the Krippendorf Building, Taco Casa, and the site of the newBroadway Tower. [ ClickHere for larger version]
The Broadway Tower is somewhat unexpected, having materializedbefore apartment towers planned for the more desirable 7th & Vine andwest 4th St. addresses. The location is unlikely, as it is on theeastern edge of downtown and in a spot with no established neighborhood. It appears as though the Broadway Tower happened before the more obviouslocations simply because the various parcels were more easily acquiredand at a lower cost.
UPSCALE TOWER PLANNED FOR DOWNTOWN
$20M apartment project slated for St. Xavierarea
Andy Hemmer Cincinnati Business CourierStaff Reporter
The first residential tower to be built downtownin more than 20 years will be a $20 million apartment/parking complex onthe central business district's eastern edge. Broadway Towerat St. Xavier Park is a partnership between Al Neyer Inc. and North AmericanProperties. The firms plan to build a 16-story, 150-unit building featuringupscale apartments marketed to empty-nesters. The apartments will be builton top of a four-story, 400-car garage to be developed by the cityin the spring.
The last residential tower to open downtown wasOne Lytle Place on the city's riverfront in 1979. Broadway Towerwill be owned by the city and managed by North American. The tower willbe built after construction of the garage is completed sometime next year. The facility has been designed to occupy almost the area bounded by Broadway,East Seventh, North and New streets, Marketing near the Procter& Gamble Co. headquarters and just east of the Krippendorf Building,another facility Al Neyer is converting into apartments in a neighborhooddistrict Neyer dubbed St. Xavier Park. Officials from Al Neyer havebeen piecing together the Broadway Tower plan since first unveiling theSt. Xavier Park concept five years ago and setting a goal of 300 new housingunits in the neighborhood.
The plan began gaining steam a few months agowhen Archiable Electric Co. agreed to sell its 12,000-square-foot New Streetbuilding to the city for $850,000, making the 150,000-square-foot BroadwayTower at least one-third bigger than an earlier design. Al Neyer, hiredby the city to design and build both the $8 million garage and the tower,was also tapped to conduct negotiations on behalf of the city for the purchaseof the Archiable facility and a smaller building on the site housing theTaco Casa Restaurant. The deal gave ANI "air rights" to develop BroadwayTower above the garage.
With the Archiable parcel in hand, Al Neyer plansto start construction of the garage this spring, once the Archiable buildingis demolished and environmental studies are completed, said Rick Kimbler,ANI's vice president of multifamily markets and retail.
The garage will require nine to 12 months to complete.A strip of street-level commercial space along Broadway will also be availablethrough Neyer's retail partner, Midland Atlantic Properties of Kenwood,which has been hired as leasing agent.
Archiable Electric is moving to an existing buildingin Fairfax where it will rent 10,000 square feet, said president Jim Schroth."We expect to, because we haven't closed yet," said Schroth, referringto the building sale. Archiable employs 60, has been in business since1919 and at the site since 1938.
Broadway Tower will offer options from studiosto two-bedroom units with a den. Apartments will measure between 650 squarefeet and 1,400 square feet. A rent schedule has not been finalized.
"We've pushed the envelope a little bit with alittle larger units than what we've done at the Krippendorf or at the EastEighth Lofts," said Kimbler, ticking off a few other nearby componentsof Neyer's St. Xavier Park. "The intent is to try to have more of an appealto the empty-nester, the mover of choice, vs. the younger profile. By offeringsome alternative product we can try to appeal to everyone."
Twenty years probably won't lapse between BroadwayTower and the next residential tower plotted downtown. Towne Propertiesplans to build a 16-story apartment/condo hybrid at Seventh and Vine streets. Al Neyer's role at Broadway Tower is builder/developer. Recruitingtenants and signing leases is the responsibility of Tony Hobson, vice presidentof North American Properties. Hobson and officials from Neyer laudedthe decision by the city of Cincinnati to build a parking garage at thesite, owned by the city and holding a surface parking lot managed by CentralParking System. "The city has been an invaluable partner throughoutthe whole process. They've used the garage as a catalyst for economic development,which is a very wise investment of public resources," Hobson said. NorthAmerican Properties manages about 1,000 housing units.
The only piece of the city block earmarked forBroadway Tower that isn't yet included in the plan is a small buildingat North and New streets which is currently housing the Taco Casa Restaurantand a few apartments. The Kennedy family of Cincinnati, owners ofTaco Casa and the building, have not yet agreed to sell, Kimbler said,but the developers haven't given up. Until that happens, ANI architectshave been able to design the project around the Kennedys' slice of the0.75-acre block.
Looking up Sycamore St., with St. Xavier Church at left and the PowerBuilding two blocks north. [ClickHere for larger version]
Assuming that the current projects are successful, thefuture looks good for this area, which is the the site of the largest andmost embarrassing downtown parking lots. The lot closest in the abovephoto was the original site of Xavier University, which moved to a newcampus on Victory Parkway in the early 1920's. The building was thenoccupied by St. Xavier High School, which itself moved to its present Finneytownsite in 1958. The high school still subsidizes its tuition with moneygenerated by this parking lot, and the church still uses it for parking,complicating efforts to develop it. It is situations such as thisthat make projects in old American cities like Cincinnati so difficult.
That said, what would have been incredibly risky projectsduring the strong economy of just five years ago are now safe bets forprivate developers during the current uncertain economic times. Sowhen the economy picks back up, it is reasonable to assume that apartmentconstruction will continue, at the very least, at its current pace. These recent successes should serve as a sharp retort to all those whopredicted a Detroit-like exodus of downtown Cincinnati in the middle 1990'swhen a number of long time retailers closed. Detractors continueto fixate on the high profile redevelopment sagas of Fountain Square West,the McAlpin's site, and more recently the Nordstrom's Department Storesite, while ignoring high profile successes such as the Aronoff Center,Union Terminal redevelopment, and Main St. in Over-The-Rhine.
1. NewReds Stadium / Riverfront Development
2. ContemporaryArts Center
3. PowerBuilding / Krippendorf Building / 7th & Broadway Garage
4. 6th& Race Apartments
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