IMAGE: Cincinnati To Grow Taller in the Coming Years

In just a few years time the Cincinnati’s center city could reach new heights with thousands of new residential units, several new hotel and office towers.

Last year, UrbanCincy analyzed the rate of tower construction in Cincinnati by decade and found that the 1960s through the 1980s saw the most tower construction of any decades in the history of the city. At that time, UrbanCincy counted six proposed towers into the tally for this decade, but our new list includes six more that we had not considered at that time.

Center City Cincinnati in 2015

In an effort to track the visual transformation of downtown Cincinnati,  we at UrbanCincy have used GoogleEarth to help track the dramatic new additions to the city’s downtown. Below is a compiled listing and description of these redevelopment projects:

  • dunnhumby Centre: A nine story office building located at Fifth Street and Race Street that will serve as the North American headquarters for dunnhumbyUSA.
  • Fountain Place Apartments: Late last year the Business Courier reported that Towne Properties was looking to construct an apartment tower over the building currently housing Macy’s department store. The tower could contain up to 225 apartment units.
  • Fourth and Race: Indianapolis developer Flaherty & Collins recently won approval from the city to move forward in constructing a 30-story residential tower with a grocery retailer on the first floor. The existing garage and attached skywalks will be demolished.
  • The Banks Phases 1B and 1C: Developers of The Banks are actively looking for an anchor office tenant to begin construction of a 13-story office tower at the corner of Second Street and Walnut Street. They are also looking for a hotel chain to construct a mid-rise along Joe Nuxhall Way and Freedom Way.
  • The Banks Phase 2: Development should begin by the end of the year on a 10-story apartment building housing 300 apartment units. This development will also include a future office building on the Vine Street side. The Carter-Dawson development team revealed their phase two designs to UrbanCincy last October.
  • Apartments at Seventh Street and Broadway Street: Announced in March, this apartment development will be constructed above an existing parking garage that was recently expanded by the city a couple of years ago. The development will have 110 apartment units.
  • Holiday Inn and Sycamore Street Garage: Part of the city’s Parking Modernization & Lease agreement includes the demolition of an aging city parking deck that will clear part of the site for construction of a 11-story Holiday Inn hotel. A 7-story garage with street-level retail will replace part of the old garage and the former American Red Cross building.
  • One River Place: The former condo project at the foot of the Purple People Bridge has extended its development approval with the city late last year and expressed an interest in developing as an apartment project. No number of units has been identified at this time.
  • Western & Southern Tower: With the resolution of litigation regarding the Ann Louise Inn, Western & Southern Financial Group will be able to move forward with plans to build a long planned tower at the site of the parking garage with the spinning clock. There are no renderings available as of this date so the model in the picture is a placeholder designed by the UrbanCincy team.

Of the nine towers on this list, six are recent additions to the tower listing compiled last year. Cincinnati is now poised to add 15 towers to its collection this decade, putting it dead even with how many the city added in the 1970s. Since many of these will be completed within the first half of this decade, it may be safe to assume that the city will add even more by decade’s end and approach the 1980s rate of tower construction.

While these new buildings may soon be added to downtown Cincinnati’s cityscape, other buildings are undergoing transformations including these following projects:

  • AT580: The renovation of an existing office building on Sixth Street, between Walnut and Main Street, into 176 apartment units, office and ground level retail. A steakhouse has already committed to the crucial corner spot of Sixth Street and Walnut Street.
  • Bartlett Building: This historic building, constructed and designed by Daniel Burnham has sat vacant as the bank foreclosed on the property owner during the recent financial crisis. The building’s new owners have recently received historic tax credits and city assistance in converting the building into a Renaissance Hotel.
  • Old Enquirer Building: Once slated to become condo’s prior to the recession, developers have recently begun construction of a dual brand hotel concept.
  • Terrace Plaza Hotel: The historic modernist building, which closed its doors in 2010, was recently sold. No word yet on whether their are plans for redevelopment of the building.

Half of the projects listed here are slated to start construction this year, adding an infusion of new residents and visitors to the Central Business District. The addition of these towers will not only accelerate the projected rate of tower construction in Cincinnati this decade, but it will also add fuel to the fire of the city’s ongoing renaissance.

And of course, none of this includes any of the any of the investment that is adding thousands of more residences, office and retail space, and hotel rooms throughout the city’s other neighborhoods. They just happen to not be taller than 100 feet in height.

  • Are Fountain Place Apartments, Apartments at Seventh Street and Broadway Street and One River Place viable projects? They’ve talked about them for years but nothing has ever come of it.

    • I think that the Fountain Place project is a definite reality. It has been on the drawing boards for some time, but it was as an office tower. The demand for downtown residential right now is ridiculous, and 5/3, who was thought to be the one to build an office tower there, is okay with it being residential now.

      I’m not sure what to think about One River Place, but John has more confidence in that project than I, and I guess the same can be said about the apartment tower at 7th/Broadway. It seems more real now than ever, but with those developers of the project I won’t believe it until I see it.

    • John Yung

      Last December the developers for One River Place came before the city’s Planning Commission to renew their development plan approval. At the time they indicated they were going to shift the project to apartments. I think the whole effort was just a way to win another year long extension on the project so nothing may come of it. However if residential apartments were to happen there, now would be the time to build.

    • I actually think the developers in the Cincinnati region are already behind the curve. They should have been building all these apartments over the past several years, and should now be shifting back toward building some condos and owner-occupied units.

      Yes, apartments are at 96-98% occupancy, but condos are also hard to come by in the center city. I suspect developers could build hundreds, potentially thousands, of condos in the $200,000 to $315,000 range and they would sell like crazy.

      Outside of 3CDC, however, no developer seems willing to take the chance.

    • It would certainly be nice if there was already a lot more residential currently under construction, but at least there’s some progress and projects moving in the right direction. Hopefully local developers will soon take notice of the continued successes of 3CDC and other out-of-state developers working in the city and jump on the wagon.

    • My direct neighbor just sold his condo in three days. He took the first offer he said instead of dragging it out. But three days? Also, he got more than he paid for it, not much more, because he took the first offer, but still. Wow.

    • I, too, am big on the condo market coming back in the next 2-3 years. The falling home ownership rate is starting to stabilize, and anecdotally I’ve heard more and more first-time home buyers entering the market. Once sale prices outpace construction costs, downtown condos could really take off.

  • SCADgrad.

    The western southern project originally proposed in the 90’s was a 25 story building around 350′ tall building, this interest me most because it be nice if it was a bit taller. Hopefully they can find a better architect then HOK for the design. Still not a fan of Great American tower, it already looks old and tired compared to other building built at the same time in other cities. The fountain square project could also be a nice addition as well, hoping it isn’t another version of u-square or banks phase one in vertical form… Agree with you all especially in the past pod cast about local developers and lack of development within the city. everyone seems to be afraid to build in this city…

    • I also am not a big fan of Great American Tower. It was an old design that hadn’t gotten off the ground for a couple of decades, and was simply recycled.

      With that said, I am glad the tower didn’t try to be something obscene and over-the-top the way Louisville’s proposed 62-story Museum Plaza tower did.

    • SCADgrad.

      What don’t like joshua remus prince of rex, tower lol? It was awful looked like they took existing buildings in louisville and stacked them on top of an elevated box in the sky.
      Now RTKL design where the existing pogue garage sits could be promising.
      Have friends work at gensler and the exterior has yet to be decided for dunnhumby, kinda worried about that project.
      The terrace plaza project could be amazing just need the right ownership and deep pockets. That building is just too nice architecturally to be sitting vacant and boarded up

  • Thad Miller

    There is still WAY too many surface parking lots right smack dab in the city. We are getting rid of one with the new Dunnhumby Center, but north of seventh street has surface lots as far as the eye can see. These need to be developed if the city is going to continue to grow.