Project Officials Ready to Move Forward With Next Phase of The Banks

Officials overseeing the development of The Banks have announced that they will soon proceed with the design and construction of the infrastructure needed for the next phase of the massive riverfront project.

Yesterday, at a special meeting of The Banks Steering Committee, the eight-member group unanimously voted in favor of moving forward with what they expect to be $29.3 million worth of work, which would then provide the platform for millions more in private investment in the form of offices, residences and retail on what is referred to as Lot 24.

As has been the case with all prior phases of the mixed-use development, the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County will build out the utilities and roadway network, and construct a 690-space, two-level parking garage that will lift the site out of the Ohio River floodplain. Carter and The Dawson Company – the private development team selected for the project – would consider what elements should be included and then proceed with building and leasing out whatever is built on top of the parking decks.

A guiding principle that has not changed since the beginning of the development process is that the underground parking garage will be reserved for public parking, leaving Carter-Dawson to develop additional above-ground parking to satisfy the City’s mandatory parking requirements.

The Steering Committee said that the public work will be funded through the issuance of $22 million in tax increment finance bonds, and $7 million from the State of Ohio. Project officials say issuance of the bonds is expected to come within the coming months.

While the Carter-Dawson team has not yet decided the exact mix for this third phase of work, it is widely expected to be primarily residential. In total, the zoning and infrastructure for the site will allow for around 320,000 to 400,000 square feet of developable space.

The timing of the announcement could not be better, with work rapidly progressing on General Electric’s 338,000-square-foot Global Operations Center, 19,000 square feet of retail space, and the 291 apartments at the phase two site to the immediate north; and with the announcement that AC Hotels will develop the long-sought hotel along Main Street in front of Great American Ball Park.

Phase two work is expected to be completed in phases throughout 2016, while AC Hotel by Marriott is expected to open in spring 2017.

While management with the Cincinnati Bengals expressed some concern over the loss of one of the team’s few remaining tailgating lots, The Banks itself is evolving into more of an entertainment district than many had thought.

In April, state officials approved a new open-container district law that will soon be in place at The Banks; and yesterday, in a separate move, the Cincinnati Reds applied for a zoning variance to allow for the installation of a video board that will overlook Freedom Way – providing live video programming when the surrounding streets are shut down to cars for special events. Such moves could render tailgating lots obsolete as fans move to the streets on game days.

Project officials say the phasing of construction at the 18-acre site has been carefully coordinated between the district’s various stakeholders, along with the construction schedule of Smale Riverfront Park. As park work has moved west so has work at The Banks, and with the latest work on the park taking place just south of phase three of The Banks, the timing makes perfect sense.

If all goes according to plan, this next phase of infrastructure work could begin as soon as January or February – just after the conclusion of the Bengals football season.

  • Jenny Kessler

    This is where the high end flagship retail stores need to locate and open. Much like Baltimore’s Harbor East neighborhood, the Banks is already an incredible destination, and deserves to have the Lululemon, freepeople, arhaus, Whole Foods, etc etc, etc.

    • A flagship Apple store and a UNIQLO.

    • Neil Clingerman

      At the very least there needs to be some flagship local brand store – I’m shocked no one has proposed like a flagship skyline chili down there.

    • JacobEPeters

      I will always dream of Dixie Chili opening a location north of the Ohio river & call it “Yankee” Chili.

    • CollegeHill_45224

      Well there’s already 4 Skyline Chili Restaurants in the Cincinnati Business District, and they serve it in the ballpark so that’s probably why. They could use a LaRosas down there.. and a McDonalds would be cool (Anywhere Downtown).

    • Neil Clingerman

      One of which closest to OTR only caters to the lunch crowd. Maybe swap that one for something better at the banks (or at the very least that one should be open later).

    • Yeah most of the Downtown Skyline Chili restaurants are set up with hours that cater only to a lunch crowd. It’s weird, sometimes it seems like it’s the locals who have the most difficult time embracing the fact that our city has changed for the better in recent years.

    • EDG

      Same with CVS and Walgreens

    • It is a bit shocking that LaRosa’s does not have any presence in Downtown/OTR. Is their store on Short Vine still open?

    • CollegeHill_45224

      Good question. I’m not sure, I haven’t been over that way in maybe a year or so.. I need to get over there though so I can see the progress on the other side of Short Vine.

    • matimal

      Yes. With all the new residents coming, I’m sure they’ll hang around.

    • Rob T

      Randy, the LaRosa’s on Short Vine is still open. There is no LaRosa’s in Downtown/OTR, but there is a carryout/delivery only Larosa’s on West 8th in Queensgate. They do have a large delivery range though, which is nice.

      Besides, If people want to eat pizza, they’d be better off eating at one of the restaurants in OTR. They all have better pizza than LaRosa’s.

    • Right. I know about that delivery/carry-out center in Queensgate. For a while I thought they didn’t deliver to OTR. This was many years ago, so I wonder if it’s changed.

      And you’re right on about the pizza quality. I very rarely (once every couple of years) go to LaRosa’s, but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t/shouldn’t have a Downtown/OTR location. People often make this same argument about the lack of a McDonald’s, or other national fast food chains. I get that their not high quality or local, but at the same time I think it shows that there is either a market problem or a perceived market problem that these places aren’t opening up.

    • LaRosa’s basically said they’re not interested in opening a downtown store.

    • This is exactly the mindset of local companies that I was talking about. It’s absolutely incredible that this comment was made in March 2014. Perhaps Mike LaRosa hasn’t been downtown in a while. There are so many people from the outlying suburbs who are still holding on to this dated mentality that downtown is a 9-5 place. This hasn’t been true for a decade now.

      “LaRosa’s highest volume days are Friday, Saturday and Sunday. CEO Mike LaRosa said he doesn’t think a downtown location would do enough business during the week to offset a slower weekend downtown.”

    • EDG

      They have a flagship delivery store out of Madison in downtown Covington walking distance from the banks

    • Rob T

      I remember that article being published it was pretty sad to hear that. I wish local companies would take more pride and open flagship stores downtown like Tom + Chee. Until then the only chain restaurants that will support a dinner crowd are some national pizza places and Chipotle/Panera.

    • Kevin LeMaster

      LaRosa’s is the official pizza of the Cincinnati Reds and I’m sure they do a crap-ton of business at GABP during the season.

    • EDG

      There’s a LaRosas on Madison in Covington that I believe serves this area

    • With The Banks being developed by Carter-Dawson, I really thought we were going to see a similar mix of tenants as what they attracted to Atlantic Station in Atlanta, which includes the types of retailers you’re discussing.

  • Albert Pyle

    I had forgotten that the city still has minimum parking requirements. How retro.

    • Indeed it is. I underatand the desire for the underground garages to provide special event parking, but it seems overboard having two levels of underground parking and numerous levels of above-ground garages all throughout this development. It is even more obscene when you conisder the central location, walkability and access to transit of this site.

    • matimal

      Yes, how ‘big government’

    • EDG

      There is so much B.S. going on at the zoning administrative level at city hall that people never hear about. Community Councils using parking requirements as a use regulation to keep a minority-owned restaurant from opening in Hyde Park, to pushing the entire city into suburban regulations because someone that lives a block behind Sleepy Bee in Oakley doesn’t like the look of cars parked on their street.

  • With The Banks being developed by Carter-Dawson, I really thought we were going to see a similar mix of tenants as what they attracted to Atlantic Station in Atlanta, which includes the types of retailers you’re discussing.

  • EDG

    The parking requirements “matter” as much as each restaurant building their projecting sign to the maximum allowed area approved for the banks matters.