Up To Speed

Cincinnati submits bid to host NCAA men’s tournament

Cincinnati submits bid to host NCAA men’s tournament.

After successfully hosting the biggest event in its history, Cincinnati leaders are eyeing the next big event to keep the tourism boom going. While many were busy lobbying Major League Baseball to bring the 2015 All-Star Game to Cincinnati, other leaders were filing official bids to host preliminary rounds of the 2014 and 2015 NCAA Men’s Division I basketball tournament, and the 2014 NCAA Division I hockey regional. More from the Cincinnati Enquirer:

The Greater Cincinnati Sports Corporation submitted four different bids: one for each of the second-/third-round games in 2014 and 2015, and for the regionals in each of those years. Only one of the four would be awarded. It’s not very often that a city has gotten back-to-back March Madnesses in the same two-year bid cycle, an NCAA official said…Even with having to accommodate a major media contingent, U.S. Bank Arena would have over 16,000 seats. That’s 4,500 seats more than McKale Center in Tucson in each of its five March Madnesses since Cincinnati went dark: 1994, 1997, 2004, 2005 and 2011.

Business Development News

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

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.

Business News Politics

Cincinnati’s hillside overlooks profiled in new brochures

The Queen City has long been defined by the Ohio River and its surrounding hills which reminded early German settlers of the Rhine River Valley, but the hills have also provided natural corridors through the city along with valuable real estate for homes and businesses.

In order to help celebrate and promote this unique natural asset, The Hillside Trust is in the process of distributing 50,000 brochures highlighting Cincinnati’s dynamic views from places like Eden Park, Mt. Echo and Bellevue Park.

“These overlooks represent an iconic part of Cincinnati’s landscape and livability,” exclaimed Eric Russo, Executive Director of The Hillside Trust.

Eastern view from Wilson Commons Overlook in East Price Hill [TOP], and Jackson Hill Park Overlook looking southwest from Mt. Auburn [TOP]. Photographs provided by The Hillside Trust.

Russo went on to say that Cincinnati’s numerous overlooks are an asset that can be used to market and promote the city as a unique place to live and work.

The 18 overlooks profiled in the brochures cover the city’s western, central and eastern hillsides. Each of the overlooks were also identified as “high priority” for protection in the 2007 Cincinnati Scenic View Study produced by The Hillside Trust for the City of Cincinnati.

The brochures were funded through $15,000 provided by two family foundations, and are currently being distributed to regional convention and visitor bureaus, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, and libraries and parks throughout the city for free distribution to the public.

The family foundations wanted to see the brochures used in a way to attract attention and encourage the public to visit the prominent overlooks. In addition to photographs of the views from each location, the brochures also include unique facts, features and history about the sites.

“These overlooks originate from park lands, dead end streets, roadways and public staircases,” explained Russo. “All offer unique and spectacular viewing experiences.”

The brochures were designed by Cincinnati-based Linserpelle Creative, and include locator maps so that they may be used for self-guided tours. The brochures can also be downloaded for free on The Hillside Trust’s website.

News Opinion

Beat the heat by cooling off along the Ohio River

Cincinnati’s string of parks along the Ohio River makes for a pleasant way to cool off during the hot summer weather thanks to the softscapes, water features and cool air off of the river. UrbanCincy contributing photographer Thadd Fiala is well know for his almost daily strolls along the Ohio River. During those walks, he often captures interesting scenes of Cincinnati’s waterfront parks.

If you are looking for some relief from Cincinnati’s 90-plus-degree weather this upcoming week you may want to take a page out of Thadd’s book and head down to the riverfront for a stroll. Be sure to get over to The Banks and check out the progress being made on the Smale Riverfront Park which will become the most recent addition to the miles of parks along the city’s urban waterfront.

Riverboat cruises along the Ohio River [LEFT], and children cool off at the Otto Armleder Fountain at Sawyer Point [RIGHT]. Photographs by Thadd Fiala.

Arts & Entertainment News

Historic Over-the-Rhine brewery tours expand offerings

Five years ago a group of people started to reveal a bit of Cincinnati’s history by offering the very first Prohibition Resistance Tours in the historic Over-the-Rhine Brewery District.

Since those first tours the reaction has been positive and overwhelming as they have continually sold out when offered, first at the annual Bockfest celebration and then starting during Oktoberfest weekend last year.

“When we started the Prohibition Resistance Tours in 2006, we were entering new territory.  We believed that there were a lot of other people out there like us who would be fascinated by Cincinnati’s brewing history and intrigued by our literal brewing underground,” says Michael D. Morgan, Brewery District CURC board member and author of Over-the-Rhine: When Beer was King.

The Prohibition Resistance Tours: The Lager Tour will be offered all summer long and commence at the Findlay Market Biergarten promptly at 1pm each Saturday and Sunday. These walking tours will run about ninety minutes long and include visits into the old Clyffside Brewery as well as a trip into the Clifton hillside lagering cellars at the historic Jackson Brewery building.

With a limit of 50 people per tour, it is highly recommended that reservations be made in advance through their website. A portion of the proceeds from each ticket sold go back to helping preserve the building stock that makes up Cincinnati’s brewing history in Over-the-Rhine.

The Lager Tour will be offered every weekend from now until mid September which leads right into Oktoberfest weekend when The Marzen Tours are scheduled to coincide with both Cincinnati’s famous Oktoberfest as well as the reincarnation of the Hudy 14k run.