Deadline Given for Community, Developer to Work Out Compromise on $25M Madisonville Project

Developers of The Red, a 246-unit apartment and restaurant development in Madisonville, will have to wait another two weeks to find out if they’ll get the city’s approval.

Cincinnati City Council’s Neighborhoods Committee on Monday tabled a proposal by Hyde Park Circle, LLC developer Ray Schneider to eliminate a planned 120,000 square feet of office space in favor of the residential development on 10 acres just south of its Madison Circle at Babson Place development, which is located on the southwest corner of Madison Road and Red Bank Expressway.

The project, estimated to cost more than $25 million, would include three residential buildings four to five stories in height – including 12 townhomes along Babson Place – and three restaurants of between 2,500 and 6,900 square feet. Garage parking would be spread between all three residential buildings and would provide 427 sheltered spaces, with an additional 51 surface parking spaces.

The City Planning Commission approved the change on March 6, although the commission did not examine how the change meshed with neighborhood plans such as the Red Bank corridor industrial plan and GO Cincinnati, which considered office and industrial uses as the “highest and best uses” of those properties.

That left some on the Neighborhoods Committee wondering what compelled the developer to make the change.

“I’m just curious about creating another residential corridor in an area where I believe, because of the traffic that comes there, because of Medpace, because of some of the other additional retail that’s going down Red Bank Expressway, the highest and best use of that site would be actually supporting office and and/or commercial,” said Councilmember Yvette Simpson.

John Bishop, construction manager for development team, said that recent proposals by Medpace to add additional office, retail, and hotel development in the area caused Schneider to reevaluate the original plans, which were approved by City Council in December 2006.

“We feel like this is the best proposed use of the property that we have currently because of the changes that have taken place in Madisonville and surrounding the property in the nine years from the time we initially submitted the plan,” he said. “That, in conjunction with the success that the [Madison Circle] development has had with the senior housing, has helped guide us in this to be wanting to go down the multi-family path as opposed to competing with the commercial aspect of business development with what Medpace is proposing across the road.”

For several months, the development team has been unable to secure the endorsement of either the Madisonville Community Council or Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (MCURC).

“In my opinion, it’s a shame to utilize 10 developable acres for residential development,” said MCURC Executive Director Sara Sheets. “We would prefer that employees live in the neighborhood – in the heart of the neighborhood – and become involved in the fabric of the neighborhood.”

She added that Madisonville also needs jobs, and that neighborhood plans are right in calling for office and industrial uses.

“At MCURC we consistently receive calls from brokers looking for 15,000 to 30,000 square feet of office space,” Sheets said. “We’ll most likely never have that anywhere else than Red Bank.” Simpson agreed.

“One of the major challenges if you develop residential at this site and then you want to attract jobs, there is no other – you can’t go into the neighborhood and then make that commercial,” she said. “Once we develop this as a residential site, there’s nowhere else to go commercial, industrial, or office within the community of Madisonville.”

The next two weeks will give the development team additional time to work with the neighborhood on a possible compromise. City Council’s Neighborhoods Committee meets next on May 4 at 2pm at City Hall.

  • Mark Christol

    that was an interesting meeting – the plans for that area to be commercial go back a ways

  • Ben Davis

    I don’t really see the problem with this. I understand they want the residential in madisonville to expand and for more people to live in the neighborhood proper, but this is a different segment of the market. Clearly the people living here will be people who want to live in an apartment, not a house, which madisonville is predominantly single family houses and small apartment buildings. This will create more residents that could walk/bike up the hill to the new neighborhood district after its developed next year. I also think with gorilla glue moving to sharonville, thats an opportunity to redevelop for more commercial there. Or if the rallys and car shop could be moved/gotten rid of that could be a prominent corner for an office building too.

    • I also don’t see the problem with this. There is an assisted living facility right across the street, so it’s not like this would be unprecedented.

      Furthermore, I think injecting multi-family housing into this location is good for the district. Since when did it become good practice to segregate all of our uses? I thought we all learned from the planning mistakes of the 1960s by now.

    • BillCollins45227

      Randy: Do you live here in Madisonville? No you don’t. I do.

      Were you part of the community effort 7-8 years ago to negotiate the agreement with Ray Schneider for commercial development that fit in with the neighborhood, and which there is no good reason to change? You weren’t. I was.

      Do you live just two blocks away from this site? No, you don’t. I do.
      – – – –

      Do I come into your neighborhood and try to tell you what’s best for it? No, I don’t.

      I think this is one of those times when you need to listen to us, the people who live here, and have worked around this issue for *years.* What is it about respecting the hard work of Cincinnati communities that you don’t understand?

  • Thanks for the good coverage of this meeting. I wanted to make a few points of clarification. First, the developer has not finished phase 1 of the project. The Community Council has been patiently working with the developer, the City, and neighbors on some remaining issues at the site and until those are resolved, I’m not sure the Community Council will support a second phase. Second, MCURC is not opposed to the project, but we need some rationale as to why office won’t work and why Planning is supporting the change when it is inconsistent with our neighborhood plans. Third, the Dept. of Trade & Development is opposed to the project and the Dept. of Transportation & Engineering has serious concerns about the project. I believe there are opportunities for compromise and I am optimistic that we will eventually have a robust development at the site.
    On an unrelated note, Gorilla Glue is only moving its manufacturing and production operations to Sharonville (in 18-24 months). Its headquarters will remain on Red Bank in Madisonville.

    • Mark Christol

      Is Gorilla Glue still going to use the entire facility?

    • I’m not sure, but the description I posted above came directly from Nick Ragland at GG.

    • Ben Davis

      Thanks for the clarification on those points.

    • Kevin LeMaster

      Thank you, Sara.

    • charles ross

      Note: seems to have been hijacked by url squatters.

    • Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Charles. We’re working on it now.

    • Charles, it was not hacked. It crashed while our web developer was working on some updates. Whew!

  • Randy Miller

    I think that the idea of bringing high end luxury apartments to the Red Bank corridor will only enhance the need for office and retail. This area of town is in need and the right location for this type of apartments. There are very few places in the immediate area for people to live in. With the new Oakley Station just up the road, easy access to interstate 71 and downtown and walkable neighborhoods the apartments will be a great addition to the area.

    • Randy, We believe a compromise in which the developer commits to a minimum of 45,000 sf of office while still having a residential component is a good solution.

    • How much space/units do you estimate that would leave behind for a residential component?

    • The proposal calls for 344,000 sf of residential, and 0 sf of office. We think 45,000 sf of office facing Red Bank would be a good buffer for the residential, would be desirable office space, and is consistent with neighborhood plans. The curious thing is why the Planning report does not provide any justification for their support of the major amendment and in the hearing the only rationale was, “because the developer asked.” That is bizarre.