Business Development News

$27.3M investment to transform historic Enquirer Building into 238-room hotel

The 86-year-old Enquirer Building in downtown Cincinnati may finally see new life after a previously failed redevelopment effort in 2007. Plans now call for a $27.3 million investment that would transform the tower into a 238-room hotel with 12,000 square feet of street-level retail.

The historic Enquirer Building in downtown Cincinnati is finally set to get its long anticipated makeover. However, this time it will be as a hotel instead of the residences originally envisioned for the 86-year-old tower.

Plans call for a 238-room hotel with 12,000 square feet of street-level retail space. The renovation work would be completed over the next two years, with the first guests arriving at the end of 2014.

SREE Hotels, which typically operates Marriott hotel brands, will be the eventual operator of the new hotel one block from Fountain Square. This will also be SREE Hotels first project in the Midwest.

The planned hotel would become downtown’s fifth largest and would bring its total to more than 3,000 rooms.

“It is always great when we can preserve and restore one of our historic buildings,” Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory stated in a prepared release. “The deal also illustrates the increasing demand for more hotel rooms in Cincinnati. We have been focused on creating providing a great visitor experience for all of our guests, and that is paying off with increased tourism and convention business.”

The $27.3 million hotel project follows a failed effort by Middle Earth Developers to renovate the historic building into 152 apartments, 53,400 square feet of office space, and 170 parking spaces.

The new hotel would be the third recent hotel to join the greater downtown area over the past three years. According to the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau, downtown hotels had a 63 percent occupancy rate in 2011, and are experiencing record numbers thus far in 2012.

Developers of The Banks have also been in negotiations with hotel operators for a planned hotel at Freedom Way at Main Street directly across the street from Great American Ball Park.

“This deal, coupled with the renovations at the Hyatt, help to build our capacity for bigger and bigger convention and meeting business that in turn help our economy,” Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney noted.

According to City officials, the project is contingent upon a 75 percent exemption on the increased tax value of the $27.3 million investment, which would equate to approximately $7.3 million over the course of 12 years. The deal was passed out of Cincinnati’s Budget & Finance Committee yesterday in their first day back from summer recess, and will go before the full City Council on Wednesday, August 1 at 2pm.

Enquirer Building exterior photograph by Thadd Fiala for UrbanCincy.

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.