$7.8M Renovation of Historic Pabst Bedding Warehouse to Start This March

The Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) plans to begin a $7.8 million renovation project at the northwest corner of Twelfth and Walnut Streets this March.

The project received a critical boost in late December when the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) awarded a $778,000 Historic Preservation Tax Credit to 3CDC.

Officials with ODSA say that the project received the tax credits because it was financed, showed a good return on investment, represents a building of significance to the neighborhood, and is ready to move forward immediately.

“The project was funded because it scored well within our criteria,” explained Stephanie Gostomski, Public Information Officer with ODSA. “Also, this is one of the newer structures that contributes to the significance of the Over-the-Rhine Historic District and will retain its warehouse and industrial character upon conclusion of the project.”

Due to the building’s relatively good condition, 3CDC officials say that they expect construction work to take several months and hope to move into what will become the development corporation’s new headquarters this summer. Once complete, 3CDC will occupy 12,000 square feet of the building’s office space, while another tenant will use the remaining 6,000 square feet of office space.

As 3CDC’s success in Over-the-Rhine has mounted, its staff has grown along with it – now with 50 full-time employees and 43 seasonal workers. But 3CDC officials say they are not the only ones placing a premium on office space in the city’s largest historic district.

“There is a lot of demand for larger floor plates with more square footage, and there are plenty of smaller office users,” explained Anastasia Mileham, Vice President of Communications at 3CDC. To that end, Mileham says that the final product will include open floor plans and will reopen the large windows on the building’s north façade.

As part of the move 3CDC will be vacating their existing office space on Race Street near Washington Park. Due to the strong demand for office space, Mileham did not express concern over filling that space and informed UrbanCincy that they are currently finalizing a lease for a new tenant.

In addition to the 18,000 square feet of office space, the prominent warehouse building will also include 9,000 square feet of street-level retail space

The building is one of the largest single structures in Over-the-Rhine south of Liberty Street and was originally a warehouse for Pabst Bedding. The structure then had been used by Society National Bank and later Fifth Third Bank before it was abandoned in the early 2000s.

According to Hamilton County property records, the Art Academy of Cincinnati then purchased the building in 2007 for $450,000 when it relocated its school to Over-the-Rhine, but never utilized the space. The 84-year-old structure was finally sold to 3CDC in September 2013 for $550,000.

The renovation of the Pabst Bedding Warehouse building joins an increasing amount of historic building renovation work along Walnut Street including a frenzy of work for Mercer Commons just to the north, and the renovation of a storefront diagonally across the street to make way for a new beer café called HalfCut.

“The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit strengthens local communities by restoring a piece of its history,” David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency, stated in a prepared release. “These projects help enrich cities across Ohio, preserving the character and charm of buildings that may have otherwise been demolished.”

Photographs by Randy Simes for UrbanCincy.

  • Eric Douglas

    Good to see something other than low income housing going in on Walnut.

  • Matt Jacob

    Glad they’re spreading the office uses out and adding a bigger for plate size to OTR. Wonder when the lot North of it will be built on. Art Academy dorms perhaps?

    • I doubt that the Art Academy needs any dorms. They already utilize some spaces in the neighborhood, but who knows.

      It’s a really good question you pose and I feel bad that I didn’t think to ask about it. That small lot was actually included as part of the sale from the Art Academy to 3CDC. Since nothing was said about it, I suspect it will remain as a surface parking lot that will serve the office tenants.

  • Here’s how well OTR is doing: you can’t throw a rock without hitting empty office space in the region (22+% vacancy)… and 3CDC is building new offices to meet demand in OTR.

    • Joshua Osborn Michaels

      Empty office space is actually a good opportunity in this region. The demand for living is incredible and is very pent up at the moment and as such Class C and Class B office space, unlikely to be rented out since companies are generally only looking for Class A these days, can be converted into residential. With that is the benefit of a stronger core, a higher demand for more life in the city, and in time a higher demand for more offices to be located in the core as the population increases.

      Office space in OTR doesn’t last when it comes online. 3CDC has already stated they are in talks with someone to rent out their old space. There is new office space in phase 2 of Mercer Commons, office space will be at 15th and Vine, and office space in their new large-scale development which will be at 15th and Race.

      Just throwing out the 22% number really doesn’t say much of anything. You have to break it down by location, by Class A, B, or C, etc. A high vacancy rate (which actually mostly comes from a few major buildings which are currently empty yet are having their use changed from office to something else) doesn’t equal a failing city. It represents a transitioning of uses within the core. Anyone who spends time in OTR and Downtown knows they’re significantly better now than they were a decade ago, or even just five years ago. THIS is what’s important to look at. Not a number that by itself holds very little meaning or value.

    • I largely agree with your post and wasn’t implying a “failing city.” My point was more how well the urban core is doing compared to the region as a whole, in the beat-up office sector. I agree you have to look at sub-markets and generally do when representing office clients. But there are few bright spots in the regional office market right now… and OTR is certainly one of them.

    • Joshua Osborn Michaels

      Ah, I see I see. Your post can easily be misinterpreted so that’s my bad. But yeah, the core is definitely doing quite well and I expect that vacancy rate to continue falling as underperforming office space continues to find better use.