Cincy Breaks Ground on $600M Riverfront Mixed-Use

Ground has been broken on The Banks, an 18-acre, $600 million mixed-use development on the Ohio River in Downtown Cincinnati.  The initial part of the project’s first phase consists of about 300 apartments and 70,000 square feet of retail and restaurants; construction is scheduled for completion in 2010. A spokesperson for the project told CPN that there is no retail preleasing yet, and that the retail will focus on “eatertainment” and on support retail for the residents.  The Banks’ master developer is Riverbanks Renaissance L.L.C., a joint venture of Carter & Associates Commercial Services L.L.C. and The Dawson Co., both of which are headquartered in Atlanta. The two companies will also handle project management for the construction of additional public infrastructure.  The $74 million needed to finance Phase 1A will be provided by a $40 million senior debt financing commitment from National City Bank, a  $10 million debt financing commitment from the Cincinnati Equity Fund, $12 million in equity funding led by Carter, Dawson and their investors, and $12 million in grant funding from the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County for the residential portion of the project.  Subject to contingencies, the second part of Phase I will include an office building of at least 200,000 square feet and possibly a hotel. The private investment for phase 1B is estimated at about $75 million.  Although the particulars of subsequent phases remain flexible, they could total 1 million to 1.8 million square feet of apartments and residential condos; 200,000 to 1 million square feet of office space; 200,000 to 400,000 square feet of restaurants, bars, and other retail; hotel development of 200,000 to 400,000 square feet; and  parking for nearly 1,800 cars.  The Banks also includes a 40-acre riverfront park that will include playgrounds, a 12-acre “great lawn,” walking and biking paths, gardens, and a promenade overlooking the entire park. A focal point of the area is the existing National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a museum and educational center.  The entire site is bookended by Cincinnati’s two major stadiums: the Bengals’ Paul Brown Stadium, which opened in 2000, and the Reds’ Great American Ball Park, which opened in 2003.  CPN reported in February that, according to a report by Property & Portfolio Research Inc., Cincinnati has one of the country’s highest major market office vacancy rates. An 11 percent increase in office construction in Cincinnati this year should add 1.8 million square feet to the city’s office space supply, pushing the office vacancy rate to about 20 percent by the end of 2009.