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Banks concert venue clears another hurdle, but the race isn't over yet

Posted at 11:42 PM, Apr 10, 2019

CINCINNATI — City and county officials announced Wednesday they had reached an agreement to finance the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s new concert venue at The Banks, taking another step — but far from the last — on a years-long march to construction.

“It’s very exciting to see this thing move forward,” Hamilton County Commission president Denise Driehaus said, acknowledging: “It’s been a while.”

Under the new plan, which took months for Cincinnati and Hamilton County leaders to reach, the county will pay millions up-front to have the venue built, and the city will pay it back later with concert revenue.

The commission will vote Thursday to approve it; City Council will vote the following week.

“It’s really exciting,” Councilwoman Amy Murray said. “The music venue on The Banks is going to be outstanding. It’ll be great for the businesses there, the citizens. It’ll add a vitality that we have down there, and just increase it.”

FROM LAST YEAR: Hamilton County signs new lease with Bengals so concert venue can be built at The Banks

With that hang-up resolved, however, more remain, the most pressing of which is the question of space. The venue’s future location is in a parking lot often used by Bengals tailgaters, and building it will create a domino chain of displacement.

The venue will move into the tailgaters’ lot; the tailgaters will move onto a nearby plot of land owned by Hilltop Companies, a seller of aggregates and ready-mixed concrete; and Hilltop will move…somewhere.

Local leaders hope to figure out where as quickly as possible.

“I think everything is on the table,” Murray said. “We need to get this done as soon as we can. So we can move forward. We don’t need to delay the music venue any longer.”

Driehaus raised the possibility the city would sell a portion land by the Ohio River to Hilltop. The company has also shown interest moving to Queensgate or Lower Price Hill, but residents of those neighborhoods have been resistant.

One thing is certain, she said: “We’re ready to go. This one piece needs to be resolved. I’m confident we’ll get there.”