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Port Authority close to buying Army Reserve site in Bond Hill

Posted at 7:00 PM, Nov 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-08 19:04:14-05

CINCINNATI, Ohio - Move over Over-the-Rhine, Bond Hill is next up in Cincinnati’s redevelopment plan.

The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority announced it will soon acquire property at Seymour Avenue in the neighborhood of Bond Hill that currently houses a U.S. Army Reserve training site.

Since the Army Reserve cannot accept cash payments for property acquisition, this deal — now more than four years in the making — will call for both parties to sign an exchange agreement authorizing the Port Authority to develop a state-of-the-art training facility at the Army Reserve’s existing base in Maineville, Ohio.

The port is working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure the Maineville renovations work to accommodate and train troops.

Organizers hope to have the deal completed by year’s end.

“(The Seymour Avenue site) is a great piece of land, currently underutilized by the owner,” said Port Authority spokeswoman Gail Paul. “It’s not an easy process, as there are a lot of moving parts, so we’re the right organization to facilitate its resolution.”

In its role connecting businesses with the community, the Port Authority is well versed in the acquisition process, with much of its recent work concentrated in Bond Hill. Over the past four- plus years, the port has brokered a number of developments along Seymour Avenue and the areas that formerly housed Swifton Commons Mall.

In January, the port rebranded a mixed-use retail and office development as Midpointe Crossing.

That same port-owned TechSolve II Business Park is now home to advanced manufacturing tenants. Once the current acquisition deal is done, the port plans to install more advanced manufacturing jobs in the former Army Reserve site.

“It makes sense because the market already understood advanced manufacturing in that part of the neighborhood, and for us, this is all about job creation,” Port Authority Executive Vice President Darin Hall said. “We knew we could attract jobs there and pull those jobs closer to our Midpointe site.”

In 2014, the port hired commercial real estate agency CBRE to market the expansion of its TechSolve II Park. The group expressed enthusiasm for the forthcoming acquisition and the addition of manufacturing jobs to the area’s growing commercial offerings

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“We’re excited to see continued development along the Paddock Road corridor, and along with that will come the addition of more retail, apartments, and offices,” said CBRE Vice President Doug Whitten. “There’s very good upside to all of this, and ultimately, it will provide those incoming employees with a great place to work.”

The port’s acquisition team cited a 2008 Brookings Institute study that identified Bond Hill as a target for the next phases of Greater Cincinnati redevelopment.

“The Cincinnati Chamber and other business leaders got together and said we need to be focusing our investment and looking at where our regional assets are,” Paul said.
“They identified certainly Downtown, Uptown, and Over-the-Rhine, which all have a development catalyst through 3CDC and other groups. But then there were these other areas — Bond Hill, Roselawn, Queensgate, and Madisonville — that really  didn’t have an agency focused there, but they have great assets like good transportation, excellent workforce and historic investment in infrastructure. These areas just needed more focused investment to create better outcomes, so the port chose to take that on.”

Hall stressed that the port wants to see through its commitment to establishing the new Army Reserve facility in Maineville before making any solid plans for the Seymour Avenue property.
But he reiterated the top goal remains to transform vacant spaces to bring goods and services to a historically underutilized part of town.

“Our goal is to de-risk properties that are abandoned or blighted or those that are delinquent,” Hall said. “Part of that is abating those properties and in some cases, demolishing them, and making those properties available back to the community through our network of brokers.”

The port will use existing capital contributions from the city — including money garnered from a 2014 deal involving leased space at Fountain Square South garage — to develop the Seymour Avenue property.

 Read more about the Port Authority’s current projects here: