CINCINNATI - The Anna Louise Inn will continue its mission, but at an alternate location, after an agreement was reached Monday between Western & Southern Financial Group and Cincinnati Union Bethel (CUB).
The two sides agreed to a purchase of the women's center by Western & Southern from CUB for $4 million.
The agreement enables Anna Louise Inn to continue its mission at an alternate location with the goal of completing a new home within two years. As a result of the agreement, which is subject to certain conditions, all litigation between the parties and the city of Cincinnati will be dismissed prior to closing, and CUB will keep the name Anna Louise Inn.
The new site will be in Mt. Auburn, at the corner of Reading Road and Kinsey Avenue, across from the United Way of Greater Cincinnati.
Western & Southern CEO John Barrett spoke to 9 On Your Side anchor Carol Williams about his plans to turn the former Anna Louise Inn location into a boutique hotel. He called the deal a "win-win" for the city.
"A $400 million economic benefit over 30 years, that's one. Impetus to create more and better things around Lytle Park, a shot in the arm for the whole city," said Barrett.
Barrett said he plans for a new restaurant along with the hotel on the edge of Lytle Park. He said he envisions a renovated Lytle Park looking similar to a park in Paris.
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The sale makes way for Western & Southern to explore developing the existing facility into a vibrant new hotel that they say will spur additional development in Lytle Park and downtown, building on the new Residence Inn at the Phelps, Great American Tower at Queen City Square, Horseshoe Casino, Over-the-Rhine redevelopment, revitalization in the core of downtown and the Banks, according to a press release sent jointly by Western & Southern and CUB.
"Our focus has always remained on our mission of securing safe and affordable housing for our women," said Steve MacConnell, president & CEO of Cincinnati Union Bethel, in the press release. "Working with Western & Southern, we were able to not only preserve affordable housing but also improve it. This is a good and fair resolution for our residents, the community and all of our programs, including our successful early childhood education and Off the Streets programs. This agreement also settles the court cases, which gives us the opportunity to retain our funding for a wonderful new home for our residents."
Cincinnati Union Bethel had rejected all offers in the past, stating it didn't want to move the facility, which has operated near Third and Lytle streets since it opened on Memorial Day 1909.
Western & Southern, also located near Third and Lytle, in the past had reportedly offered CUB either $3 million to purchase the property or the greater of two independent appraisals.
While it remained unclear what lead the two sides to come to an agreement after years of a negotiations stalemate, tax records show that Cincinnati Union Bethel has been operating at a deficit for at least the last two years.
In 2011, the nonprofit's tax filing showed a deficit of $286,111. The tax filing showed that Cincinnati Union Bethel had net assets totaling $3.3 million. The nonprofit paid a combined total of $373,463 in 2011 to its three paid staffers: McConnell; Mary Carole Melton, executive vice president; and it's director of finance
In 2010, Cincinnati Union Bethel reported an operating deficit of $48,735.
Tax filings for 2012 were not available.
View Cincinnati Union Bethel's 2011 tax returns:
Protesters of a sale of the historic Anna Louise Inn have rallied at several events in the past year, concerned that the Lytle Park center would be shut down completely to be turned into a hotel.
Western & Southern says they have always supported affordable housing. They have backed the 100-unit Brackett Village, a low-income housing development in Over-the-Rhine, and the Carthaginian, an affordable seniors-only housing community of 37 units developed with Cincinnati Housing Partners
"We have invested in thousands of low income housing units over our long history," John F. Barrett, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Western & Southern, said in the press release. "Similarly, we believe our agreement with CUB will lead to a brand new facility for Anna Louise Inn that will provide new opportunities to expand services for those who need it most. Our stance has consistently been that this could be a win-win, and now it is just that. "
Barrett said the company's plans for the Lytle Park facility would be similar to the renovations made at the Guilford Building and Phelps Building, both also in Lytle Park.
"Not only will the residents at Anna Louise Inn get a brand new building, but according to a recent University of Cincinnati economic study, a new hotel at the site could generate up to $400 million in economic development over 30 years," Barrett said in the press release. "This truly is a win for everyone, and will make Lytle Park a destination like no other. It will become our most distinctive neighborhood – a new, special area, which will help the City attract people downtown."
The Anna Louise Inn was founded when the brother of former President William Howard Taft, attorney Charles P. Taft, donated the site and helped provide funding to erect a five-story building to accommodate 120 women in single rooms. The inn was named after Taft's daughter, Anna Louise Taft Semple. It now provides safe and affordable housing for women so they can live independently and within their means.
Cincinnati Union Bethel, founded in 1830, is the longest-running social service agency in the Midwest and has three programs: Early childhood education, which includes four Head Start preschools; Off the Streets, which provides services for prostituted women; and the Anna Louise Inn. For more information about Cincinnati Union Bethel or its programs, please visit www.cinunionbethel.org.