GE's coming to The Banks expected to spur faster growth

Project could be finished years ahead of schedule

CINCINNATI – With the official announcement delivered, GE's coming to The Banks is expected to spur more rapid development along the Ohio River, participants said Tuesday. 

An upscale hotel and more housing, office and retail are expected to quickly follow, and there's even something in it for the Reds and Bengals.

Not only that, The Banks project could be completed by the end of the decade, years ahead of schedule. 

"GE's decision to build at The Banks means the entire five phases of the project could be completed much earlier than expected. Instead of 10 to 15 years, it's now estimated it could be only five or six before it's fully built out," said Joe Allen, who will head GE's global operations center.

"This is something that's unprecedented."

A hotel will soon be announced for the corner of Freedom and Joe Nuxhall ways, said Tom Gabelman, project counsel for Hamilton County.

"It will definitely be an upscale hotel.  It will be a little bit edgy, but it will be one that fits well with everything that's happening on The Banks," Gabelman said.

The site is across the street from Great American Ball Park, and the Reds can't wait for it to be built.

"Sooner than later," said Reds COO Phil Castellini.  "We missed an opportunity to have it for the All-Star Game (In 2015).  So, hopefully 2016 or shortly thereafter we'll have one done."

Also, two levels of parking will be built south of Freedom Way as the base for offices, housing and retail.

"We're looking at an investment of $300 million to $400 million by the private sector within those blocks," Gabelman said.

The Bengals could have vetoed some of The Banks plans, but owner Mike Brown compromised when GE came calling.

"We had legal powers, but they paled compared to what else was at stake here," Brown said.  "This is a big thing for our city and our legal powers were a little thing."

Brown has only one tiny request.

"We'd like parking for our tailgaters and we are hoping that we can hang on to some of that," he said.

Work continues on new apartments next to the site where GE's 12-story, $90-million tower will go up beside the National Underground Freedom Railroad Center.

GE will employ up to 2,000 at The Banks.

State and local leaders celebrated with GE officials Tuesday in the same room at Atrium Two where the parties to the first agreements for The Banks signed five years ago.

GE leaders took a selfie of the moment with Ohio Gov. John Kasich and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Kasich applauded everyone and everything that  contributed to the deal.

"The quality of the people here, the DNA, the work of Jobs Ohio, the fact that this community was so excited and welcoming this expansion, the fact that we're stable, we're strong, the future is bright - all those things come together to create this," Kasich said.

Cincinnati and Hamilton County and the state gave the company millions of dollars in incentives.

The center will generate more than $100 million in payroll.

GE has already 50 and 100 employees downtown to begin prep work.

The Banks  facility will be one of only five global operations in the world, said Shane Fitzsimmons, Senior Vice President of Global Operations.

The others will be in China and Saudi Arabia as well as Monterey, Mexico and Budapest, Hungary, Fitzsimmons said.

Construction is expected to start this fall.

RELATED: Reds owner talks about his role in luring GE to The Banks
MORE: City, county leaders approve GE incentive package



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