Cincy's high-end condos banking on baby boomers

Posted at 8:18 AM, Nov 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-20 08:18:10-05

CINCINNATI – Aging Cincinnatians and rising rents could be the recipe for a new wave of condominium investment and development, local real estate experts say.

Already, a growing number of baby boomers eager to downsize is boosting Greater Cincinnati’s high-end condo market, said Rick Griewe, founder of Hyde Park-based Griewe Development Group.

The firm has two luxury condominium developments under way in Hyde Park and Mariemont, and recently announced plans for a nearly 80-unit condo project in Montgomery.

“The boomers are definitely the biggest segment for condominiums right now,” Griewe said. “But they’re looking for lifestyle, not just a condo. You downsize to have fun, and they want to be in a place where they can walk to dining, restaurants and entertainment.”


           Griewe Development's 30-unit condo development in Hyde Park.


This year alone, a third of all senior citizens in Ohio were baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), according to state data. By 2030, nine out of 10 seniors are projected to be Boomers.

“This is a segment of the population that is going to grow very rapidly over the next 20 years, and we’re going to need housing that fits the lifestyle they want,” said Shaun Bond, director of University of Cincinnati's Real Estate Center. “It will be interesting to see as more choices become available, will people opt to downsize and buy a condo, or just rent.”

Multiple Multi-Million-Dollar Projects Under Way

Griewe says he’s betting on the slice of the market that wants to buy. 

In Hyde Park, the firm will deliver 30 new luxury condominiums along Observatory Avenue by next summer. Already 16 of the units have been sold, with the homes priced from $700,000 to $2 million.

Also underway is an 18-unit condo development in Mariemont slated to be finished next November. Named Livingood Park, six homes have already been sold with prices ranging from $675,000 to $1.6 million.


             Rendering of Livingood Park in Mariemont. Provided


In October, Griewe announced plans for another 72 high-end condos that will part of a more than $100 million redevelopment plan in Montgomery that will include new office space, retail and a hotel. While the project is slated to break ground next year, work on the condo isn’t expected to begin until February.

Backed by investors Rob Sibcy of real estate firm Sibcy Cline and Tom Williams of North American Properties, Griewe was among the few developers able to persevere through the recession, delivering condo projects including Nolan Park and Emery Park in Mariemont.



Rob Sibcy (left) and Rich Griewe (right) speak with Adam Fronczek, pastor at Knox Presbyterian Church

“Even though the banks stopped lending, life was marching on for many people,” Griewe said. “We haven’t stopped because of (Williams' and Sibcy's) ability to sign on the line and their confidence in this market.”

Next Up For Griewe: Downtown

As the housing and job markets recover, Griewe says downtown Cincinnati is poised for even more investment.

“That’s where I want to go next after these suburban projects,” he said. “Downtown is the most walkable of all the communities, which will be especially true with the streetcar’s completion. It has the most energy, all the best restaurants, dining and entertainment and that’s what millenials and boomers want.”

Piquing his interest, he says, are rising apartment rental rates which have climbed between 3.5 percent and 4 percent each year since 2011.

Rents, which averaged $804 across the region in 2014, have climbed the most in Cincinnati’s central market – which includes Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. There, average rent per square foot has climbed from 91 cents in 2011 to $1.07 in 2014, according to data from CB Richard Ellis, a real estate services firm.

“Millenials are starting to pay $2,000 a month or more for rent at some properties – that’s the next condo market,”  Griewe said. “As apartment rents go higher, and people get used to paying more to live Downtown, it’s going to help the condo world.”