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Old October 8th, 2007, 05:15 AM   #1
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Cincinnati Development News

Rolling on the riverfront
Development dollars? Think billions
October 6, 2007

Over the past five years, developments in excess of $1.2 billion are either in place or under way along and overlooking the Ohio River in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Another $1.8 billion is on the drawing board.

The $3 billion in development totals nearly four times what it cost to build Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park, the two stadiums that anchor the Cincinnati riverfront. Development has spread well beyond the central riverfront and now ranges from condos and townhouses at the foot of Mount Adams to high-rises and planned communities in the old Northern Kentucky river cities of Bellevue and Dayton.

Although some office and commercial development is involved, much of it is residential, as the river has become a destination address. High-end condominiums, such as The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge in Covington, SouthShore in Newport and One River Plaza in Cincinnati, are selling at prices that make the riverfront a new millionaire's row.

The same riverbanks on which the early settlers built are being reborn as a hot new address. The appeal of urban living, the ease of condo life, skylines out every window and the river itself are drawing empty nesters and young professionals.

"The riverfront will be its own neighborhood," said Wally Pagan, president of Southbank Partners, a nonprofit group that promotes development in Northern Kentucky's river cities. "It's all about views and water.

"Cincinnati offers a great skyline. We have a great skyline ourselves now.And then there is a natural romance with water. It might be the muddy Ohio River, but there's still a romance with water. It really draws people. It's a magnet."

And a powerful magnet at that. The riverfront won the tug of war over where nearly $800 million would be spent to build two new stadiums in Cincinnati. It landed the Newport Aquarium, followed by Newport on the Levee. It's what The Banks, the $400 million Cincinnati redevelopment plan, seeks to capitalize on. It's where nearly two decades ago Covington's RiverCenter towers were built by Bill Butler, who proved to be a visionary.

Increasingly, it's where more and more people want to live.

"People have come to see the river and the view as a great investment," said Holly Childs, the director of economic development for the city of Cincinnati. "Some of the projects that have really fueled that are, of course, the Ascent on the Kentucky side and One River Plaza, which we've been working on here.''

There's also a trend at work that's drawing residents to the riverfront cities.

"People are getting more urban," Childs said. "People are wanting to live with a view. They're willing to live in condos. They like that low-maintenance lifestyle. Empty nesters are coming back to downtown living.''

Phil Montanus, a principal partner in Towne Properties LLC in Mount Adams, said the urban living trend can be seen in major cities across the country.

"In Chicago, for example, there's been a huge boom that's been going on for four or five years. Well, now it's Cincinnati's turn," said Montanus. His company has developed $42 million worth of condos overlooking the river just east of downtown Cincinnati.

Montanus said the condominium market is hot in the suburbs as well but probably not as noticeable or as striking as the luxury condos rising up along the river. He said the common denominator in the formula driving the condominium boom is the baby boomer generation. As boomers age and the kids leave home, the easy condominium lifestyle holds more appeal. In fact, Montanus said many developers call condos "empty-nester products."

"We're all going after that empty-nester. All the builders are going after the empty nester. It's a huge market. And they have money," Montanus said.

Huge, but not impervious to the downturn in the national housing market, which slowed even before the recent crisis in the mortgage industry shook it up.

As a result, some development plans may stay on the drawing board longer than initially thought; some projects could be scaled back and prices may come down.

For example, SouthShore's developer recently decided to rethink the initial plan to build a 250,000-square-foot office tower and instead go with an 80,000- to 100,000-square-foot one and perhaps a second, similar-sized building in the future as the market dictates.

Montanus said the problem began in 2004 and 2005 when developers here and elsewhere overbuilt, creating too much housing inventory on the market and prices got wildly out of hand.

The result was a glut of overpriced housing.

Montanus figures it will take about a year for the housing inventory to adjust and the market to rebound.

Even it's slowed somewhat, the development along the river is having a ripple effect.

Former Bellevue City Administrator Tom Eigel said the riverfront developments taking place in his city have helped spur redevelopment of that city's downtown business district. The new residents of the riverfront condos like Bellevue's small town atmosphere with its mom-and-pop storefronts and boutique shops.

"One of the reasons they are coming to Bellevue is because of that downtown business district. They like that feel. They like being able ... to walk down through that main business district," said Eigel, who recently resigned from his job with the city.

The riverfront development also is attracting new business. Pagan called Bellevue's Harbor Greene a good example of a catalyst for new services and retailing, noting that already planned are a Panera Bread restaurant and Trader Joe's trendy grocery store.

The improvements on Newport's riverfront is helping draw development south down Monmouth Street as more and more businesses open and loft condominiums come on the market, Newport City Manager Tom Fromme said .

Fromme said a chief attraction is a sense of neighborhood not found in the suburbs, a "feeling of coming back home."

For the cities along the river here and elsewhere, that homecoming is a great thing, said Tom Banta, president and chief operating officer of Corporex Cos.

"People are being attracted back into the city. The urban sprawl is certainly not stopped but it has slowed and people are returning. And that's a great thing for communities. It's going to save communities like Newport and Covington," Banta said.

He said the development along the river has not been without its obstacles. The floodwall and flood control measures taken after the devastating floods in the 1930s cut the river off from Northern Kentucky's river cities while the highways cut Cincinnati's riverfront off, he said.

Earlier projects like the RiverCenter towers in Covington, which raised development above the floodwall, cut openings in the floodwall and built walkways over it, helping to open up the riverfront. In Cincinnati, the long-awaited Banks development, currently under negotiation, will result in the development of 18 acres overlooking the river.

"Cincinnati does have a beautiful river ... a big river that runs right through the middle of it. It's just an asset for the community," said Banta. He predicts the development taking place will shift the heart of the urban area closer to the river over the next decade.

Gail Melvin, the director of economic development and community relations for the city of Covington said that wouldn't surprise her because of all that the river cities have to offer.

"They are connected to downtown, where in just a few steps you can be in the heart of activity but yet you can escape to the tranquility of the waterfront," she said. "It's all about the views. It's all about the water. It's all about being close to activity."
The following riverfront developments are completed, under way or proposed.

Cincinnati Post Graphic
Here is the the key to the map on this Web site:

1, 2 & 3: Riverfront West, Center and East - Three phases of redevelopment are envisioned, with an emphasis on connecting with adjacent communities and improved access to city neighborhoods, developing retailing and restaurants, erosion control and parks and recreation. With funds in hand for design and engineering services for Riverfronts East and Center, the city recently asked developers to submit qualifications.

4: Convention center expansion - The Northern Kentucky Convention Center, which opened in 1999, is beginning to make expansion plans and soliciting funding for a project with a projected completion date of 2011.

5: Illuminations - Corporex plans a mixed-used development along River Center Boulevard that will include dining and other retail accented by an outdoor plaza. The development, initially estimated at $50 million, is to be built adjacent to the Ascent at Roebling's Bridge and scheduled to begin once 90 percent of the Ascent's luxury condos have been sold.

6: The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge - The $60 million, 21-story, 72-unit luxury condominium is nearing completion. Designed by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. More than three-fourths of the condominiums, which range in price from $395,000 to $5 million, have been sold.

1: One River Plaza
- The $140 million development by RiverCrossing LLC calls for 150 new condominiums, priced starting at $400,000, to be built in two mid-rise towers on the city's central riverfront as well as some office and retail space. Construction on the site of the former Montgomery Inn Banquet Center is scheduled to be completed in 2009.

2: The Edge - A $35 million renovation of a six-story industrial building will result in 77 condominiums priced from $165,000 to more than $1 million in a 12-story building that is scheduled to open in 2008. The developers are Andy Radin and Denis Back.

3: Park Place at Lytle - The $43 million conversion of the old R.L. Polk Building on Pike Street downtown by the Miller-Valentine Group resulted in 114 condominiums with river views that opened last year.

4: Twain's Point at Adam's Landing - The 26 townhomes or landominiums have been sold. This Towne Properties development totaled $12 million.

5: Captain's Watch at Adam's Landing - Completed last year by Towne Properties, this $15 million development contains 18 condominiums, ranging in price from $200,000 to $550,000.

6: Foster's Point at Adam's Landing - Towne Properties developed this $15 million project that contains 18 landominiums that start at $800,000.

7: RiverWalk - Urban Equity Partners completed this 28-unit, $9.5 million condominium development in 2004.

8: Waterfront East and West
- Developer DCI Properties completed the 19-unit Waterfront East condominiums in 2002 and the 11-unit Waterfront West development in 2004. Total cost for both: $12.4 million.

9: The Banks - Key to Cincinnati's riverfront redevelopment, the proposed 18-acre mixed use project could include as many as 1 million square feet of office, 400,000 square feet of retail space, 400,000 square feet of hotel space and 1.8 million square feet of residential space. The total cost of the development is estimated at $400 million. Complementing the development, the proposed $80 million, 40-acre Cincinnati Riverfront Park, located between Mehring Way and The Banks, will include a wharf, promenade, bike trail, event lawns, fountains, tree groves, and adventure play areas.

1: Ovation
- The proposed residential, commercial and retail development that could cost as much as $900 million overlooks the confluence of the Ohio and Licking rivers. Corporex estimates the project would generate $44 billion in economic activity and create more than 6,700 jobs for Northern Kentucky over the next 30 years. The Newport City Commission recently signed off on a tax increment financing district for the area that if approved by the state, would allow Corporex to recoup property, payroll and business licensing fees to pay for infrastructure improvements on the site.

2: Riverchase - Ray Brown, owner of the Riverchase Apartments, hopes to redevelop his property as a mixed-use residential and commercial development that could mean an investment of as much as $300 million. Envisioned are two high-rise condominiums, an office tower and garage that city officials say should complement the nearby Ovation development. Brown's 300-unit apartment complex that currently occupies that site would be razed.

3: Newport on the Levee hotel - Cincinnati-based Ackermann Group proposes to build a 10-story, 200-to 300-room hotel on what is currently the site of the closed Imax theater. In July, the Newport City Commission took steps to help secure $43 million in industrial revenue bonds for the project.

4: Newport on the Levee expansion - Envisioned is a development costing $80 million to $100 million that could include retail space, condominiums, office space or a hotel. The site is just east of Newport on the Levee across from the Hofbrau Haus.

5: Riverfront Place - Developer Dwight Broerman envisions a new office building just east of Dave Cowens Drive that might also contain a hotel, retail or condominiums and would be connected to Riverfront Place via a parking garage.

6: SouthShore - Rising just east of the Daniel Carter Beard Bridge is the first stage of the planned $165 million SouthShore luxury condominium and office development that will include a marina. A four-story parking garage will serve as the base for 17 stories of condominiums, priced from the mid-$300,000 to more than $2 million. Construction is expected to be completed next year. Recently the developer, Capital Investment Group Inc. of Chevy Chase, Md., altered its initial plan to build a 250,000-square-foot office tower. Instead an 80,000- to 100,000-square-foot building is envisioned with perhaps a second, similar-sized building in the future as the market dictates.

1: Harbor Greene
- The $65 million development along Bellevue's riverfront includes 110 condominiums, office space, retail and a Gold's Gym. The completed first phase of the development by the Cincinnati-based Ackermann Group, included 38 upscale condo priced from $400,000 to $1.6 million.

2: Water's Edge - The $40 million residential development by Joshua One near the intersection of Eden and Taylor on the riverfront will include three condominium buildings, each with 12 units and seven townhomes. Two of the condominium buildings, where prices start in the mid-$800,000, are up and five of the townhomes have been constructed.

1: Manhattan Harbour
- The $600 million redevelopment plan encompasses about 117 acres and extends along more than a mile-and-a-half of riverfront in Dayton. Developer DCI Properties' plans call for as many as 875 residential units that include townhomes, mid-rise condominiums, estate homes and retirement village homes. Also included in the plans are 175,000 square feet of retail and office space as well as parks and green space.
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Old October 8th, 2007, 09:04 AM   #2
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I'm envious. Cincinnati has quietly (and sometimes slowly) been having what looks like the most drastic center-city turn around in the Midwest. Especially in the residential aspect. High-rise and mid-rise living are much more popular in Cincinnati than your average Midwestern city (excluding Chicago). It's great too that Downtown Cincy and Newport/Covington are beginning to understand their symbiotic relationship and accepting what one side of the river can provide for the other (i.e. NKY provides the views and a "downtown" movie theatre at Newport on the Levee while Downtown Cincy provides arts, shopping and restaurants.)

P.S. When I opened this thread I thought it was going to be about Walnut Hills for some reason.
Insecurity and the Midwest, what would they do without each other?

Indianapolis: Fastest growing metro (over 1,000,000) in the Midwest. Growth rate of 7.04% between 2000 and 2005.

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Old October 9th, 2007, 05:05 AM   #3
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Thats great for Cincinnati, I hope more projects in OTR occure, that place is orgasmic!
Any pics of this development?
Peter- "Geesh, Meg is in there taking a nap under water!".
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