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Banks music venue construction is moving forward again

Posted at 4:39 PM, Aug 21, 2020

CINCINNATI — Construction of the Banks riverside music venue resumed Friday after a two-week pause caused by a property-rights dispute between the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Jean-Francois Flechet, who owns the Taste of Belgium restaurant chain and anticipates an uptick in Banks-area business when the venue opens, was happy to hear it.

“It’s in everybody’s interest to get that moving on,” he said.

City-county disagreements have dogged the venue’s construction from the start, leading to delays and intergovernmental standoffs over parking lots, parking garages and the role of the Bengals in shaping riverfront development.

Taxpayers aren’t on the hook for the cost of building the venue itself — it’s privately funded. However, taxpayers do cover the estimated $36 million cost of public infrastructure around it.

Delays contribute to that cost, City Council member David Mann said Friday.

“We've saved some tax dollars by reaching an agreement,” he said. “If we continued with disagreements, construction would have been delayed, and that would have cost more money."

The city and county have each blamed the other for various delays. The work-stoppage and eventual restart this time hinged on the city co-signing a construction contract — one that county representatives said they’d been waiting for city officials to sign since April.

Flechet said he was excited to see the project move one step closer to completion. When the music venue is finished — and when it’s safe for people to attend concerts — people in the Banks area expect it to deliver a new shot of energy and commerce to their neighborhood.

“We just don’t know how long it’s going to take before we can see people come to the music venue because of COVID,” Flechet said. “But in the long run, it’s a great thing, and the sooner it gets built, the better.”

The indoor portion of the venue will be completed by December. Officials hope to complete the outdoor portion by May 2021, just in time for concert season.