Pendleton Offers Support For $24M Alumni Lofts, Pending Green Space Protection

On Monday evening, the Pendleton Neighborhood Council voted unanimously to support Core Redevelopment’s $24 million Alumni Lofts project, provided the green space north of the former Woodward School/School for Creative and Performing Arts building remain undeveloped and available for public use.

The council’s letter of support asks that any development agreement between the City and the Indianapolis-based developer, or any future owners or assigns, include provisions that the Cutter Playground property be donated to a nonprofit or governmental entity and that development restrictions, such as a conservation easement, be included in the contract.

The developer’s current plans call for a two-level parking structure on part of the nearly three-acre site, leaving between 80-85% of the original green space intact.

Developer Michael Cox with Core said that he’s unsure whether the green space will be managed by his company or donated, but said that his company is committed to the community’s goals.

“We don’t know which one yet, simply because we haven’t worked through all of the deal structure and the timing of all of that,” he said. “It’s a pretty complicated project that we’re doing, but we are committing to the City in our project agreement with the City that we will do one of those things with the green space and it will be a green space in perpetuity.”

Alumni Lofts will consist of 142 market-rate apartments, ranging from 480 to 2,000 square feet and leasing for between $699 and $1,400 a month.

Still undergoing demolition and prep work, construction on the new units has been bid and is ready for permitting pending Council approval. A leasing office is planned to open in January or February, and Core expects to welcome its first tenants by July 1, 2016, Cox said.

The development agreement will be presented to City Council’s Budget & Finance Committee on June 8.

Under terms of the agreement, the project would receive indirect City assistance through a 30-year tax increment financing (TIF) rebate program, which Senior Community Development Analyst Adam Sickmiller said is “completely unique” for the region.

“From the developer’s perspective, it’s effectively a net 67.5% tax rebate,” he said.  “So the developer will pay their taxes. Twenty-five percent will go to the schools, and 7.5% will go to the streetcar operating fund.”

The remainder would be returned to the developer, which will allow Core to receive a bigger bank loan to construct the parking structure, Sickmiller said.

“If the project performs better than expected, there will be a sharing of that revenue between the developer and the City,” he said. “Where specifically this money is going – and one of the reasons that we’re pretty excited about this – is that it’s going into an account that will specifically be used for public improvements, urban redevelopment, and public infrastructure, parks and the like.”

Opened in 1910 as the second Woodward High School, the 225,000-square-foot building has been vacant since 2010, when SCPA moved to its new $72 million building on Central Parkway.

Core bought the school for $1.3 million in late 2012 at an auction of vacant Cincinnati Public Schools properties.

  • Charlie Hinkley

    I really like that this building is being repurposed, but in terms of the green space, I would make a change: add a row of three-story apartment buildings and/or townhomes along the entire southern side of 14th. In my mind, that would better frame both 14th and the green space, and add even more housing into a great neighborhood.

    • Interesting idea. Doing something like that would certainly change the nature of Cutter Playground. At that point it may just make sense to completely reimagine the space and turn it more into a sort of piazza.

    • EDG

      Approaching St. Paul’s from E 12th reminds me of Europe more than any other spot here

    • Absolutely. It is really fabulous.

    • EDG

      Blocking the park view of people on the north side of 14th?

    • Charlie Hinkley

      Potentially, but they are on higher land

  • EDG

    It will fill up quickly. High visibility and accessibility to downtown and otr, affordable rent, great architecture and huge open space. It’ll be an apt building unlike any other in the entire city.

    • Absolutely. This will fill up in a matter of no time. I still kind of wish this would have become a hotel and that the Bartlett Building would have become residential. The CBD sorely needs an injection of a lot of residential units, while OTR could really use some commercial and daytime foot traffic.

    • Neil Clingerman

      It seems with this and a few other recent projects (Urban Artifact, Tafts Ale house, the American Can Lofts) that Cincinnati is FINALLY starting to get adaptive reuse. I’m looking forward to seeing more especially the old Crosley factory 🙂

    • EDG

      Easier to rehab than rebuild

    • If you go over to the West End, you can find a large number of big historic structures that are begging to be redeveloped. In particular, look to the area bounded by Poplar, Baymiller, Bank and I-75.

  • chrislamping

    2000 sq/ft apartment for $1400? Someone will snatch that up real quick.

  • Matt Jacob

    I’m not completely following what’s going on here…

    So normally the developer would get a 75% abatement of the increase in taxable value after their project is completed, and now they’re only getting 67.5% in OTR/CBD because of the streetcar (the other 7.5%, that is now being collected by the city again instead of going to the developer, is put into a streetcar operating fund). This 75%/67.5% abatement is usually put back into the project costs to justify a larger loan for the project, thus being a way for the city to help fund larger developments by using future tax revenues.

    “Where specifically this money is going – and one of the reasons that we’re pretty excited about this – is that it’s going into an account that will specifically be used for public improvements, urban redevelopment, and public infrastructure, parks and the like.”

    So is that the developer only taking say 50% and then paying the additional 17.5% in increased taxes and putting it into an urban infrastructure fund similar to the streetcar fund? Or are they taking the full 67.5% and then sharing a portion of their profits from the project into an urban infrastructure fund?

    And then what is the goal of this fund? I’d assume a redo of both Cutter Playground and Ziegler Park are on the list

  • George Underwood

    I would hasten to add there are many, many people still around that attended that school when its name was Abigail Cutter Junior High School, but for some reason that fact is seldom included when articles about its history are written.