3CDC, city of Cincinnati to break ground May 31 on second phase of Mercer Commons development

Work will include 67 apartments, commercial space

CINCINNATI -- The next phase of the massive Mercer Commons development in Over-the-Rhine will break ground Friday to bring 67 new apartments and another 10,600 square feet of commercial space to the historic neighborhood.

The three phases of the $63 million project encompass 2.67 acres between East 13 th and 14 th streets, bounded by Vine Street on the west and Walnut street on the east.

The first phase of the project is under construction, and a new 340-space parking garage that is part of the project opened earlier this month.The project’s master developer is the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp., or 3CDC.

“It was needed,” Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce President Emilie Johnson said of the garage. “With all the new retailers and restaurants that are almost directly across the street from the garage, it has been a great addition.”

In all, the Mercer Commons project includes the redevelopment of 19 historic buildings and 26 vacant parcels of land. It aims to help connect development on Vine Street from the 1200 block to the 1400 block and create a connection to Walnut Street.

“It starts to further connect the two already distinct business district,” Johnson said, referring to the businesses on Main Street and Vine Street. “Bringing Walnut along just helps to connect those two better.”

It also will complement the work that Over-the-Rhine developer Urban Sites has done along Walnut Street between 14th and 15th streets, said Greg Olson, Urban Sites CEO.

“To us, 3CDC has really helped fill in the gaps between our buildings and made it more of a comprehensive plan,” he said.

Demand Is Strong

Urban Sites is currently developing 47 apartments in nine different buildings on Walnut Street, Olson said. Every time the company finishes an apartment unit, it is rented within a day or two, he said.

“The demand is very strong down here,” he said.

Mercer Commons, he added, “will make a nice transition to our block.”

The first phase of Mercer Commons includes restoring four historic buildings into 11 for-sale units, the construction of five new townhomes and one building that will include 12 for-sale residential units and 4,000 square feet of commercial space.

The rehabbed condominiums should be finished next month, according to a news release from 3CDC. The new townhomes and mixed-use building will be finished in the fall, the release said.

Construction of the second phase will take 15 months, and apartments will be available in June 2014, according to the release.

Thirty of the apartments will be priced with rents low enough to be affordable for people who earn between 50 percent and 60 percent of the region’s median income, according to 3CDC. Rental rates were not immediately available.

St. Louis-based McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc., is developing the project for the city of Cincinnati and 3CDC and will own and manage the residential units once they’re completed.

3CDC, which is the master developer and the lender for the project, will own and manage the commercial space in all the Mercer Commons phases.

Those helping to fund the second phase of the Mercer Commons project are: U.S. Bank, Ohio Housing Finance Agency, Ohio Development Services Agency, Cincinnati Development Fund, Cincinnati Equity Fund II, Cincinnati New Markets Fund, 3CDC and the city of Cincinnati. HGC Construction is the general contractor for the project. The design team includes City Studios and City Architecture.

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