Newport on the Levee to be sold to Cincinnati-based North American Properties

Deal to be finalized by August

CINCINNATI - A Cincinnati-based company that developed Florence Mall and Northgate Mall decades ago has now signed a purchase contract for Newport on the Levee.

The Price Group LLC, the San Diego-based owner of the Newport entertainment center, confirmed in a press release Friday that the sale resulted from an “unsolicited indication of interest” from North American Properties, a development company that was once affiliated with Western & Southern Financial Group Inc.

Contract terms were not disclosed. But Chief Investment Officer Tim Perry is quoted in a press release as saying North American Properties wants to “reimagine” the property.

In an interview with WCPO, Perry said he hopes to complete the purchase by August and he’s encouraged by early market research showing Newport on the Levee has regional drawing power.

“The future is going to be exciting at Newport on the Levee,” he said. “Retail has changed so much that experiential opportunities with great anchors like the aquarium, movie theaters and the restaurants are hard to find. Investing in that hardware and reprogramming it for the future, we think has a lot of opportunity.”

Perry wasn't specific about future plans. But he said North American Properties will take into consideration market research and tenant feedback as it develops its merchandising plan. He said the Newport Skywheel project, a massive observation wheel announced in 2015, is not integral to its plans going forward.

Newport on the Levee is already in the middle of a transformation, with a new hotel and apartment building east of the original riverfront retail complex that Columbus-based Steiner Associates opened in 2001. An independently operated Imax theater failed at the Levee in 2003. Attempts to recruit fashion retailers never took hold. But the Levee has filled retail space with restaurants and office tenants that Perry wants to retain.

“We think the integrated use of office, residential, hotel, some soft goods and service and the retail is essential to bring life 18 hours a day to every asset,” he said. “Regardless of whether it’s Newport or one of our other assets we develop, we seek to bring the same excitement level to the project for the entire day.”

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