Hamilton County Pushes Forward With Latest Phase of The Banks

Hamilton County has awarded the latest bid package for a variety of trade contracts on the infrastructure work for Phase III of The Banks, which includes a 690-space addition to the Central Riverfront Garage and a one-block addition of other infrastructure south of Freedom Way.

All three contacts were valued at a combined $653,228; and all went to area companies. According to Phil Beck, project executive for The Banks development, Universal Contracting Corporation will perform site work, Geograph Industries will handle signage, and ESI will manage security of the site.

While not particularly large or sexy contracts, project officials say they are representative of the continued progress being made at the massive central riverfront mixed-use development.

“Awarding these contracts for work at The Banks signals that another aspect of the riverfront development is nearing completion,” said Chris Monzel (R), president of the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners. “This phase of the project sets the stage for more economic impact.”

The University of Cincinnati Economics Center has estimated that, once fully completed, the first phase of The Banks will positively impacting the local economy by some $276 million per year – a figure they expect to grow substantially once later phases are built out. General Electric’s new 338,000-square-foot Global Operations Center, alone, is projected to boost the region’s economy by roughly $1 billion annually.

While Hamilton County is overseeing the construction of the infrastructure work at Phase III, the City of Cincinnati and the private development team is making progress on the vertical build of GE’s new building, the 165-room AC Hotel, and 291 apartments and 19,000 square feet of retail within the first two phases of the project.

THP Limited and Burgess & Niple are in charge of the design of Phase III work, while Messer is handling the construction.

As of now, all the infrastructure work being managed by Hamilton County and the City of Cincinnati is $29.3 million within budget; and project officials say that they have achieved 30% Small Business Enterprises participation on all work, but just 17.3% on phase three activities thus far. Beck also says that phase three work is on schedule to be complete by September.

  • Charlie Hinkley

    I am really enjoying walking past this site on a weekly basis to check up on the progress. One thing that I’ve noticed which is puzzling / disappointing is that the one-block extension of Race looks to be the same width as the the part north of Freedom Way, i.e. two lanes in either direction. Obviously there could be a lane in each direction for parking, but it still seems like a wide street for a dead-end.

    • The Banks are sitting above the largest parking structure on earth, I don’t understand why they need on street parking.

    • Charlie Hinkley

      I don’t have a problem with on-street parking. I do have a problem with the arbitrary policy that states we have to fund more off-street parking… on top of the existing massive garage. I would love to see the superblocks broken up by alleys that are three times the size of the ones in over-the-rhine. That would be a great pedestrian experience and a unique feature in our region. (can’t claim credit for that idea)

    • Mark Christol

      Rapid City size alleys!

    • On-street parking is actually a nice traffic calming measure that also serves as a buffer for pedestrians. I generally like it. But you are absolutely right on your larger point…there is way too much parking at The Banks.

  • thebillshark

    The placeholder renderings for the Phase 3 block shown in the photo above are for a “Texas doughnut” superblock surrounding an above ground parking garage (this on top of the largest underground parking garage in North America.) I believe the taxpayers can get a higher return on their investment in the Banks by eliminating this parking garage and changing the design to accommodate more residents and businesses:

    https://cincinnatiideas.wordpress.com/the-banks-phase-3/

    Do you know the timetable when the new Phase 3 design will be revealed? Will the public be given a chance to comment?

    • I do not know this timetable, but I would guess it should be within the first half of this year.

  • Brian Valerio

    I read somewhere that all the apartments and offices are required to have their own parking and all parking below the flood deck is public. That is why the residents in the first phase park in their building and not in the public garage. The GE building also has its own parking above ground.

    Poorly planned I will agree, but I suppose it is better than nothing at this point… It’s been 20 years since they started talking about what to build there?

    • thebillshark

      Well then I think we need to re-examine whose requirement it is and what the justification for the requirement is, and then ask ourselves is it really in line with our goals of making a great urban space at the Banks and increasing the population numbers of the city and county?

    • It is an ownership issue. As I mentioned just above in another comment, Hamilton County owns the Central Riverfront Garage and badly wants/needs its revenues, and wants to keep it open for people working downtown, attending Reds/Bengals games and visiting The Banks and Smale Riverfront Park.

      While I feel we have built entirely too much parking along the central riverfront, it is also worth noting that absolutely no parking was built with Smale Riverfront Park, so the Central Riverfront Garage also serves that, in addition to the other large venues down there like Paul Brown Stadium, Great American Ball Park and U.S. Bank Arena.

    • Charlie Hinkley

      Couldn’t the county receive revenue from residents who buy monthly passes in a potential “residents only” portion of the garage? I also struggle with the notion that such a restricted area would really negatively impact the ability of garage to function for the larger community: how many apartments are at the Banks? 500? out of 5000 parking spots? kinda seems like a non-issue.

  • Jonathan Hay

    Yea more parking. It’s so silly that the workers during the day would share parking with residences at night. Why invest in businesses when there is plenty of room to build more parking garages.

    • It is frustrating just how much money is being spent on parking infrastructure at The Banks. While I understand the need for the underground structure to lift it out of the Ohio River flood plain, I do not like that we are building additional above-ground parking decks on top of that.

      Basically, Hamilton County sees the Central Riverfront Garage as a critical revenue stream for them. As of now, Hamilton County has very few revenue streams, so any chance they have to get one they jump at it. And since Hamilton County has taken this mentality, that means the developers of The Banks must develop their own parking structures to meet minimum parking requirements set for the area.

      Hamilton County wants the garages left open for special events, office workers and visitors to The Banks, which Hamilton County seems to view as an entertainment venue, not a neighborhood.

    • Neil Clingerman

      At least some of that money for parking could be spent on improving regional transit…

    • Mark Christol

      I thought Monzel didn’t want the county in the parking business…

  • Bill

    While I agree that below structure parking and above ground parking structures seem to be excessive I think it’s important to remember the amount of people using those garages for large events (Reds, Bengals, concerts, etc). If you are a resident it would be miserable dealing with parking during those events. Given the unique placement of The Banks – between 3 stadiums – I think it’s reasonable to try to assuage the needs of large events while making it as hassle free as possible for residents.

    • You make a good point. I am curious what the usage rate of the Central Riverfront Garage is. Perhaps that’s some research for me to do for a follow-up story.

  • Barry

    Why is it that all people like to do is complain? Stay home then, don’t bother coming downtown!

  • Bill

    With today’s UC board committee approval, it appears likely that the new law school will be built on Lot 24 now under construction. It will be interesting to see how much of the lot will be the law school versus additional apartments, retail, etc. I’ll also be interested to see what the design of the building will be. As has been discussed on here, the architecture on UC’s campus is quite a bit different than what we’ve seen at The Banks (to say the least). Not a lot of daring design at The Banks. Personally, I would like them to carry their architectural philosophy from campus to the building on The Banks.