Broadway Tower at St. Xavier Park reduced to nothing more than parking

In 2003, the City of Cincinnati opened the $9 million, 400-space 7th & Broadway Parking Garage.  The above-ground parking garage was designed to eventually accommodate a 12-story condo tower addition on top that would create approximately 166 condo units.  The condos have yet to materialize, but more parking space has.

Early on the project was once seen as a potential site for a new downtown grocery in an area surging with new residents at the nearby loft conversion projects including Sycamore Place and the Renaissance Apartments.  But while condo projects flooded the downtown Cincinnati market, the developers of the proposed Broadway Tower at St. Xavier Place were unable to get in on the action.

As part of the initial agreement, the City paid $2 million for structural supports that would support the residential tower envisioned atop the parking garage – a figure City officials expected to recover upon completion of the residential tower.  To guarantee such a return officials gave developers, a partnership between Al Neyer Inc. and North American Properties, until June 2010 to apply for a building permit for the residential tower, and while the residential tower is no where in sight, an expanded parking garage is nearing completion.

Procter & Gamble announced last year that it would relocated 650 employees from its Governor’s Hill location to its world headquarters in downtown Cincinnati.  As part of that move P&G needed additional parking for its expanded downtown workforce, and the City was eager to provide that by expanding the 7th & Broadway Parking Garage.  The additional employees will add approximately $630,000 annually in payroll tax revenues, but also seems to be the proverbial nail in the coffin for a bold project that would have put an exclamation point on northeastern downtown’s residential resurgence.

The inability to get the residential project done during relatively good market conditions eventually led developers to the housing crisis of 2008 which has basically paralyzed the housing market ever since.  The net result might be good for city coffers, but for downtown Cincinnati it means 650 more part-time occupants, hundreds of new parking spaces and more than 300 fewer residents.  If people come first, then you would have to view this as a net loss for downtown.

  • Albert Pyle

    This is bad news. There will be an embarrassing surplus of parking when the Banks garages open. P&G could be buying bus passes for employees or providing shuttle service to the riverfront garages. It’s a well-meaning corporation, but it needs to be reminded of things from time to time.

  • Right. I understand the desire for more businesses (more money), but what downtown needs to become truly vibrant is more residents…LOTS of additional residents. This was an opportunity to get some great high density residential in an otherwise fairly built out central business district. I really hope that some high density residential materializes on the two surface lots adjacent to St. Xavier Church along Sycamore Street.

  • This is definitely a missed opportunity. It’s a shame the City is currently in a position where it feels the need to constantly bend over backwards for downtown corporations. Hopefully, in time, they will start doing the same for downtown residents and future residents.

  • There is actually another problem here. When they built this garage originally the idea was that the City would help construct more parking downtown in the form of garages in order to attract additional development.

    It appears as though the order of things got mixed up. Instead of the additional parking attracting more development, more development has demanded additional parking. Cincinnati must right the ship and figure out how to simultaneously attract more development while not also needing more parking. This will keep things more affordable for end users while also creating a more livable and vibrant downtown.

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    This was always going to be a bigger garage — I don’t think the residential plan was ever the plan. With the initial garage in place they had a one-year time advantage over any similar residential project in the downtown area. Upwards of a dozen sprung from thin air and beat this thing, telling me they intentionally weren’t in the game.

    There will not be an extraordinary surplus of parking when the Banks garages are open. To a large extend the garages are simply compacting into two garage levels surface parking that once extended all the way to the river. Moreover much of it will be permanently claimed by apartment residents.

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    Also, there was a bit of a controversy when this thing went up immediately, where they were unable to get the property on the interior of the block, which was occupied by Taco Casa: Home of the original Taco Salad. Then around 2008 Taco Casa was bulldozed, but it was too late for the garage which lost several spots per floor because of it.

  • Nathan Strieter

    ^ Jake I must disagree with you. At a recent meeting of the AIA Urban Development Council, questions arose about parking numbers with respect to The Banks, the forthcoming Casino project, and Washington Park.
    Cincinnati already operates at a considerable excess of parking (with respect to open spots), it must be noted that this is generally due to parking lots being “not in the right places” as one member mentioned. The problem seems to be Cincinnatians’ attitude towards parking.
    -With particular respect to the Broadway Commons lots, they are generally only 40-60% full. That lot is 1500 spaces, the casino is planning on almost trippling that number in the garages that will take over that site.
    -With respect to The Banks, the garage runs the entire 8 city blocks, on two levels. That is comparable, if not exceeds the previous surface parking that existed on the site. That parking was a huge detriment to the area and was itself completely underutilized.

    In short there seems to a weird relationship to parking here in Cincinnati. Everyone I ask seems to have trouble parking downtown, yet for the past 6 years I have been able to find a spot within 3 blocks of where I want to be, within 10 minutes of arriving downtown. (This comes with one exception-2008 Opening Day) In short successful urban areas generally have less parking. Surface lots, and garages provide little to their neighborhoods. A successful city fosters neighborhoods not entertainment districts, in that way they are able to receive more tax revenue, have greater populations, and generate awareness which deters crime.
    -I suggest a skimming of a recent article by Aaron Renn (found at : to everyone in Cincinnati.

  • I agree that there seems to be a somewhat antiquated view of parking supply in Cincinnati. Economic development officials still seem to tout the need for cheap, readily available parking in the urban core in order for it to be successful. This, however, is a lesson most urban centers learned years ago as they tried unsuccessfully to compete with the cheap, readily available parking found in suburban locales.

    Instead of trying to compete with suburban locales, which coincidentally are trying to create faux urban environments which are becoming more desirable, city officials should work on create a vibrant city center. More than likely this will mean that parking supply will not maintain its current ratios, and might even mean that parking rates will increase. I contend that higher parking rates, and limited parking availability is evidence of a successful urban area rather than an indication of it being a failure.

    The parking situation surrounding Broadway Commons and the new casino is absolutely ridiculous. Thousands upon thousands of parking spaces are going to be created for this singular development. The Broadway Commons parking lot as it is today doesn’t actually fill that great of a parking demand, as Nathan pointed out, but rather keeps parking rates low for downtown workers. We need to quit worrying about keeping the cost of parking low, and focus on creating a great city center.

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    A lot of the problem with cities is that a huge chunk of the population is embarrassed to ask questions or be seen taking a wrong turn, so they just avoid the whole thing and justify it all with ridiculous exhortations. The “parking problem” is all in the minds of people who simply are not familiar with the city. They don’t know the street names and don’t know where the parking is even though it’s all around them. They won’t park at unattended lots and many of them can’t parallel park, eliminating that option.

  • A key point that no one has mentioned is that even with the added parking the structure is still overbuilt and will one day house an additional 8 stories of either commercial or residential use. That is an important piece to recognize before labeling the project a failure or “net loss for downtown”.

  • After a decade into this project I do not feel comfortable giving that benefit of the doubt to the parties involved on this project.

    But if residential or commercial were to be built atop this parking garage at this point it would seem reasonable to assume that MORE parking will need to be supplied in order to serve those units.

    At this point parking is being substituted for residents, and that is a “net loss” in my book.

  • Aaron

    Doesn’t downtown have about 40acres of surface parking already? If this city is trying to revive itself, then building more parking garages is not the way to go, it just invites people to drive from the suburbs instead of actually living in the city center. In my opinion the city needs to start finding ways to reduce the amount of parking downtown and increase the number of people living and working there, and utilizing pubic transit rather than crowding streets with cars that pollute the air with chemicals, light, and noise.

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