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Zoning battle could still trip up Banks music venue

Posted at 1:29 AM, Oct 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-31 01:29:04-04

CINCINNATI — The Battle of the Banks is getting down to the wire.

Construction of a new music venue in the riverside business district is scheduled to begin Nov. 14. City leaders and nearby business owners expect the finished space to attract about 150 events each year and eager crowds to go with them — a particular boon for The Banks, which thrives on game days but has otherwise struggled throughout its decade-plus of existence.

“The music venue is really a game-changer for businesses at The Banks,” Taste of Belgium owner Jean-Francois Flechet said Wednesday night. “It will bring a diverse crowd and especially bring people during the winter months.”

But lingering bureaucratic loose ends could trip up the construction deadline, potentially delaying the Banks venue’s opening date until after a rival spot opens across the river in Newport.

The newest, as of Wednesday: The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners has requested a meeting of the Cincinnati City Planning Commission, a group including city manager Patrick Duhaney and City Councilman Christopher Smitherman, to approve entertainment zoning for the venue.

Any changes made by the commission would need final approval from City Council.

Tom Gableman, the attorney for the Hamilton County commissioners, acknowledged it’s yet another step in an already protracted journey toward construction. However, he said, stakeholders will be left in limbo without Council approval.

“Everybody wants see this thing open,” he said. “It’s been a long process. They’re in the position where they want to release the contracts and get their steel orders and so on for the music venue. We have a real simple change that’’s been requested.”

Flechet, like many, is simply impatient.

“I think it’s important to just get going and get it built," he said.