$27.3M investment to transform historic Enquirer Building into 238-room hotel

The historic Enquirer Building in downtown Cincinnati is finally set to get its long anticipated makeover. However, this time it will be as a hotel instead of the residences originally envisioned for the 86-year-old tower.

Plans call for a 238-room hotel with 12,000 square feet of street-level retail space. The renovation work would be completed over the next two years, with the first guests arriving at the end of 2014.

SREE Hotels, which typically operates Marriott hotel brands, will be the eventual operator of the new hotel one block from Fountain Square. This will also be SREE Hotels first project in the Midwest.

The planned hotel would become downtown’s fifth largest and would bring its total to more than 3,000 rooms.

“It is always great when we can preserve and restore one of our historic buildings,” Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory stated in a prepared release. “The deal also illustrates the increasing demand for more hotel rooms in Cincinnati. We have been focused on creating providing a great visitor experience for all of our guests, and that is paying off with increased tourism and convention business.”

The $27.3 million hotel project follows a failed effort by Middle Earth Developers to renovate the historic building into 152 apartments, 53,400 square feet of office space, and 170 parking spaces.

The new hotel would be the third recent hotel to join the greater downtown area over the past three years. According to the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau, downtown hotels had a 63 percent occupancy rate in 2011, and are experiencing record numbers thus far in 2012.

Developers of The Banks have also been in negotiations with hotel operators for a planned hotel at Freedom Way at Main Street directly across the street from Great American Ball Park.

“This deal, coupled with the renovations at the Hyatt, help to build our capacity for bigger and bigger convention and meeting business that in turn help our economy,” Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney noted.

According to City officials, the project is contingent upon a 75 percent exemption on the increased tax value of the $27.3 million investment, which would equate to approximately $7.3 million over the course of 12 years. The deal was passed out of Cincinnati’s Budget & Finance Committee yesterday in their first day back from summer recess, and will go before the full City Council on Wednesday, August 1 at 2pm.

Enquirer Building exterior photograph by Thadd Fiala for UrbanCincy.

  • CincyCapell

    I am very happy to see the beautiful Enquirer Building being renovated, though I can’t help but think that transforming it into rental or condo housing would be a better long term use for that building. Even with the casino coming, I have to question whether Downtown can support yet another hotel. Last I heard Downtown hotels had occupancy rates in the area of 60%, and we have the new 21stC hotel yet to open yet.

    • More people would stay in the hotels if they were better. This will help that process.

  • Great building!! Wish it would be apartments or condos but this is great too! This building is beautiful.

  • zschmiez

    Any word on what level of quality/price-point they are shooting for? Being its a restored building, are they competing with Cincinnatian/21-c, or more Hyatt/Westin?

    Another hotel is a good thing, using that building is a good thing, and a more prominent business on Vine between 6th and 7th is a good thing.

    One other note: whats the occupancy rate of the northern KY hotels? Don’t like trading business, but they had a good run the last 10 years.