Cincinnati’s business community supports idea of putting Liberty Street on ‘road diet’

So far, neighborhood residents have been quite consistent in their support for reducing Liberty Street’s width. As of now, residents appear to be supportive of a plan to reduce it by 20 feet, while other neighborhood groups want it to be reduced by even more to allow for dedicated bike facilities and more developable land along the street’s southern side.

In an informal poll, the Business Courier recently asked their readers if they supported the idea of reducing the width of Liberty Street. The response from the city’s business community was overwhelming, with 78% of respondents saying that they support the idea.

More from the Business CourierDo you the support plan to shrink OTR’s Liberty Street?

Cincinnati’s booming center city should be obvious choice for CDK Global’s new operations center

It was announced earlier today that CDK Global, an integrated information technology and digital marketing provider for the retail and automotive retail industries, is looking at Southwest Ohio for a new facility that would house around 1,000 employees.

CDK Global LLC expects to create $45,000,000 in new annual payroll as the result of a 75 percent, 15-year job creation tax credit estimated to be worth $15,652,715 that was approved by the Ohio Tax Credit Authority on Monday. The tax credit will require CDK to maintain operations at its new site for the next 18 years and would retain $3,421,465 in existing payroll along with 80 jobs. CDK is expected to make $9,750,000 in capital investment as a result of the tax credit.

The move makes sense given the region’s strong marketing and retail presence, and its rapidly growing tech scene. According to the report from our content partners at the Business Courier, a specific site has not yet been selected. We would like to take this opportunity to point CDK Global to the center city where many of the region’s fastest-growing, most innovative and successful companies are locating. Plus, there are several great sites located directly on the first phase of the Cincinnati Streetcar that would only add to the experience and quality of life for CDK’s employees.

Garfield Suites Hotel To Be Converted Into 153-Unit Apartment Tower

Garfield Suites HotelLate on Friday afternoon the owner of Garfield Suites Hotel announced that the 34-year-old building would be converted back into apartments over the next year.

The news is tremendously positive for the center city’s residential and hospitality markets, both of which are experiencing their own transformations.

The 153-room hotel is one of the more dated in the marketplace, and it is facing increasing competition from new hotel operators at all price points. Such movements are forcing the hands of existing hotel owners to either make big investments to upgrade their facilities, close down or change uses. Removing these rooms from the inventory will make the market stronger for those other operators.

At the same time, there is virtually no apartment availability in the 45202 zip code, which covers Downtown, Over-the-Rhine and Pendleton. The location of this 16-floor tower is ideally situated for new residents looking to be in the heart of both thriving districts, and will almost certainly lease up in a matter of months.

Aside from the purely business aspects, this is also good for the vibrancy of the central business district. While there have been many new residential developments in Over-the-Rhine and at The Banks, it has been more difficult to inject large numbers of new apartments or condos into areas like this due to its existing buildout.

This particular location is one that is rich with jobs, but still struggling to reach a critical mass of residents that will support full-time service retail functions. Adding a couple hundred residents to the mix will go a long way to supporting that goal.

The interesting item about this project is that it is the building’s location that motivated its owners to convert it from apartments into a hotel 25 years ago.

At that time, the proximity to Over-the-Rhine was seen as a detriment and Downtown was not the place we know today. Those dramatic changes that have taken place in both neighborhoods over the past decade are now what is motivating the current owner to switch operations again.

This is a great example of urban resiliency.

The total cost of the renovation has not yet been determined, but owners intend to begin work in early 2016. They say that the plan will be to gradually make renovations so that the hotel can continue to operate as the units are gradually converted.

The owners also told Tom Demeropolis, who broke the story for the Business Courier, that they are also hoping to lease the 10,000 square feet of existing street-level retail space that sit vacant along Vine Street.

What should take the place of the former Queensgate Correctional Facility?

Hamilton County’s former Queensgate Correctional Facility is currently on the market. The historic warehouse building has sat vacant since the jail operation was shut down six years ago. The site sits close to the Central Business District and the building evidently has tremendous views of the downtown skyline and Ohio River. A buyer has not yet been identified, so it is unclear as to what the future holds for the 152,000-square-foot complex…so what would you like to see in its place? More from the Business Courier:

The Queensgate Correctional Facility closed in 2008 due to budget cuts. It housed low- and medium-security prisoners. It sits directly west of the former Hudepohl brewery property, which the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority purchased for $650,000 in May. The Port Authority is still working on a plan for repositioning that property. The former jail property includes five buildings. The largest is an eight-story, more than 128,000-square-foot building that served as the jail. The smaller buildings served as staff services space, administration space and a recreation building.

…the property has only been on the market a few weeks and he’s already had interest from a couple developers. The building could be redeveloped as residential space, used as warehouse space, or it could potentially be used as a jail again if the county is interested in reopening it.

Is an apartment development at Eighth and Sycamore worthy of public financing?

As was previously teased by Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley (D), there is the possibility of building a residential mid-rise atop the planned parking garage at Eighth and Sycamore Streets. The developer initially engaged, however, is saying that they will need some gap financing from the City to make it happen. Do you think it’s worth the public investment? More from the Business Courier:

Rick Kimbler, a partner at NorthPointe Group, which is developing the project along with North American Properties and Al Neyer, said the group is trying to assemble financing for the project.

“We don’t have the financing put together, so it’s not really a project yet,” Kimbler said. “We will definitely need some gap filler from the city. There’s no question about that because mid-rise construction downtown is expensive, and the city is straining, trying to be helpful, but their funds are limited.”