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Amberley Village industrial site that was on Jeff Bezos' radar now primed for a buyer

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Posted at 7:00 AM, Sep 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-27 07:00:34-04

AMBERLEY VILLAGE, Ohio -- A 56-acre industrial site in Amberley Village was on the short list for Jeff Bezos' space company, Blue Origin. Although the property ultimately got a pass on the $200 million project, officials say it's a positive sign there's still demand for large swaths of land in Hamilton County.

Blue Origin, which announced in January plans to build a new rocket-production facility in Alabama, had considered the old Gibson Greeting Card headquarters at 2100 Section Road, officials with the Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority said last week. The site, slated for completion at the end of this month following the tear-down of a 600,000-square-foot office and manufacturing facility, was one of six contenders nationally -- and the only one in Ohio.

Blue Origin is backed by Bezos, Amazon's chief executive officer.

"Certainly, timing was a consideration," said Melissa Johnson, vice president of industrial development at the redevelopment authority. "But to be the only site in Ohio -- and one of six nationally -- is a real testament to the anticipation of the market for 56 acres in Cincinnati.

"Rewind to January, and the project was certainly in different condition," she added. "I think we had taken one swipe at the building with a piece of demolition equipment."

Today, work is "substantially complete" and marketing efforts continue, Johnson said. The property was officially listed in recent weeks, although punch-list items remain, to build traction, she added.

The old Gibson Greeting Card headquarters at 2100 Section Road ranks among the largest and most well located "shovel ready" sites in the region. It comprises 56 acres and is listed at a purchase price of nearly $8 million. Photo provided

The redevelopment authority, formally known as the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, purchased the site in mid-2016 as part of a larger industrial strategy to repurpose large, underperforming tracts for advanced manufacturing. It was about the same time of year that the agency also bought the Cincinnati Gardens,  another project expected to bring hundreds of jobs after the arena is razed later this year.

The agency is investing about $14 million in Amberley overall, a cost that includes acquisition, demolition, asbestos abatement, stormwater infrastructure modifications, site clearing and grading. Teardown started in December and crews raised a portion of the property about 12 feet out of a flood plain for maximum development. Build-out is now 700,000-800,000 square feet, Johnson said.

It ranks among the largest and most well located "shovel ready" sites in the region. Per its metrics, the redevelopment authority estimates a return on investment of up to 800 jobs.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for new development," Tom Muething, Amberley Village mayor, said in a previous release. "The village looks forward to this rare opportunity of a grounds-up redevelopment project that will eliminate an abandoned building, produce a highly attractive site, and ultimately attract a new manufacturer that will benefit our community for decades to come."

Purchase price is $7.56 million, or $135,000 an acre. Cushman & Wakefield is the listing broker.

Johnson said her agency is also utilizing both traditional and non-traditional methods to market the site, including video. The authority is working with Amberley Village regarding the use of TIF, or tax increment financing, to support site development costs.

By 2022, the redevelopment authority plans to reposition and prepare 500 total acres of underperforming industrial sites.