Kenwood Collection developer likes chances for retail project

David Birdsall details plans for Kenwood project

CINCINNATI - The new developer in charge of the former Kenwood Towne Place project said demographics and a strong real estate operating team will drive office and retail tenants to the new Kenwood Collection.

David Birdsall, president of the Phillips Edison Strategic Investment Fund, delivered an update on the long-stalled Kenwood project at a commercial real estate event hosted by the Cincinnati Business Courier at Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati.

Birdsall said more than $15 billion in "spending power" resides within a 90-minute drive of the Kenwood project, which will court retail tenants at the International Council of Shopping Centers Convention in Las Vegas later this month.

“The operators are now in charge of the project,” Birdsall told a crowd of about 700 local real estate professionals. “We understand how to play our cards, so I like our chances.”

Phillips Edison bought Kenwood Towne Place out of foreclosure last summer. That followed three years of legal battles between contractors, investors and the Bank of America, which financed the rusty, half-finished building at I-71 and Montgomery Road.

The project was renamed in April, when Phillips Edison revealed its renovations would bring 220,000 square feet of office space to the project on seven floors, along with a spa, health club and new restaurants. Renovation plans also call for 300,000 square feet of retail space on three levels.

In an interview, Birdsall said Phillips Edison has received “a lot of interest” from potential retail and office tenants but no deals are signed and he declined to name prospects.

“With office, people need to believe that it’s finally going to get finished,” he said. “Office is a little different because people want you to show them that it’s there. Retailers can imagine it.”

Birdsall won’t be the major retail project courting tenants at the annual ReCon convention, which starts May 19 in Las Vegas. Florence Mayor Diane Whalen will be there, promoting $13 million in new improvements to that city's Mall Road retail corridor. Liberty Center , a $400 million mixed-use project planned by Columbus–based Steiner + Associates, also hopes to sign retailers in Vegas. WCPO Digital will attend the ReCon event, tracking the progress of local developments.

“I don’t see them as competition for us,” Birdsall said of Liberty Center. “If I owned Tri-County Mall I’d be worried or Streets of West Chester, I’d be worried. But not for what we’re trying to do.”

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