CINCINNATI - Some restaurant and bar owners in Oakley and Hyde Park say they are not happy with changing plans for the new Oakley Station development that may greatly increase their competition.
The Oakley Station developer, Vandercar, voiced their plans to the Oakley Community Council for a new entertainment district at Oakley Station. It is expected to replace the big box stores that were originally planned for the former site of part of the Cincinnati Milacron complex.
Vandercar developer Steven Dragon said building an entertainment district is a positive move for the neighborhood.
"I think the kind of restaurants we are getting interest from are national restaurants and are looked at as franchise and don't necessarily compete with Oakley businesses in the area," he said.
Oakley residents like Cody Rehn share local business owners' concerns. Rehn said he and his wife just closed on a home, but after learning of the 72 acre project, he said he is scared.
"I don't make a lot of money," Rehn said. "I take everything I have to afford the house and want to do it because it feels really good because I want to be a resident of Oakley and you're taking that away from me."
During Tuesday's meeting, business owners also said it is not fair that the entertainment district would be able to use up to 15 liquor permits for a minimum fee of $2,344 per permit, while they said they had to pay a large sum of money for theirs.
Mark Rogers is owner of the 20th Century Theater and Habits Cafe in Oakley.
"It was sold to the community on a deceptive basis that they were going to do big box retail, movie theaters, apartments and condos. Now they're going to do exactly what they told us they weren't going to do and now they're asking for an entertainment district overlay so they can get free liquor licenses and compete with us on an unfair basis," Rogers said.
Rogers said business has been a challenge with a struggling economy. He feels 12 or more competing restaurants and bars in an Oakley Station entertainment district would kill his business.
"Here we have new restaurants that have come into Oakley, that if they knew that this was coming, they would not have invested in Oakley," Rogers said. "We have other restaurants like mine that have been here 33 years and is doing well but I can't stand 15 new restaurants, 18 new restaurants within a mile."
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