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'A chance for us to do something spectacular': More details on concert venue, hotel planned near TQL Stadium

The Cincinnati Planning Commission will review a concept plan for the development Friday
An 18-story modern hotel will overlook the stadium from its highest floors.
Posted at 3:32 PM, Sep 13, 2023

CINCINNATI — A concert venue, high-rise hotel, restaurants and bars, apartments and office space are part of a new development planned just north of TQL Stadium that will go before the Cincinnati Planning Commission on Friday.

“Our goal is to complement the stadium design … so tall, dense, modern,” said Chad Munitz, chief development officer for FC Cincinnati, which plans to build just north of the stadium on a block of Central Parkway where the Cincinnati Ballet and the Tri-State Wholesale Building once stood.

The project is expected to cost $250 to $300 million, with construction beginning in December or January and a grand opening predicted for the first half of 2026.

The project may spur more growth in the West End neighborhood, with the site blocks away from a new garage being built andwhat will be a renovated Duke Energy Convention Center and new headquarter hotel.

A $300 million mixed-use development will break ground in December near TQL Stadium.
A $300 million mixed-use development will break ground in December near TQL Stadium.

“This is a chance for us to do something spectacular,” said Munitz, who notes that during community meetings West End residents urged FC Cincinnati to “go big,” with design and amenities such as restaurants and farmer’s markets.

FC Cincinnati is partnering with Marquee Development, which developed Gallagher Way in Wrigleyville, the entertainment area outside Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Ricketts family owns both the baseball team and the sports and entertainment agency.

Renderings of what a new plaza outside TQL Stadium could look like, with LED screen and office space.
Renderings of what a new plaza outside TQL Stadium could look like, with LED screen and office space.

“When we partnered with Marquee Development … and focused on how you interact with fans, how you do programming events during games and during matches and then how you keep the space active outside of that,” Munitz said. “They’ve been great partners with us helping us think through it.”

A months-long winter festival at Gallagher Way had more than 500,000 visitors in 2022, with an ice-skating rink, ice bumper cars, Santa’s Workshop, a traditional German holiday market, private chalet rentals and a holiday train ride.

Renderings of what a new plaza outside TQL Stadium could look like, with LED screen and office space.
Renderings of what a new plaza outside TQL Stadium could look like, with LED screen and office space.

Marquee Development also produces Stadium Chef Series dinners benefiting the James Beard Foundation inside three ballparks across the country, including Wrigley Field.

“I don’t know if we’ll have an identical setup, but yes having some activities … where there’s always programming happening, there’s always good, fun family things happening in our district,” Munitz said. “We’ll look at summer, winter, fall festivals. We’ll do movie nights. We’ll do outdoor markets. We’ll do some exercise events.”

Renderings of grand staircase planned for new development near TQL Stadium.
Renderings of grand staircase planned for new development near TQL Stadium.

The heart of the new mixed-use development is the central event plaza, which will host public events on 2.5 acres that can be divided for smaller functions, such as morning yoga classes.

“We’re having a new stairwell that comes up from the plaza up to that concourse level which is really an artistic stairwell that will have both the plantings, stairs and the ADA ramps,” Munitz said. “That will flow into the main event space. There will be an event lawn there, a large LED screen that will be on top of the office building … we’d like to have a playground area and a spray ground for kids and families to enjoy.”

A $300 million mixed-use development will break ground in December near TQL Stadium.
A $300 million mixed-use development will break ground in December near TQL Stadium.

On game days, the fan experience will be extended and “you’ll see parties and our fans participating both inside and outside the stadium,” Munitz said.

A new 1,500-seat concert venue is planned for the site, along with an 18-story hotel that will have views of the stadium from the tallest floors. The hotel will be developed by the team behind the Over-the-Rhine bar Ghost Baby, which is Josh Heuser’s The Compendium LLC.

Renderings of what a new plaza outside TQL Stadium could look like, with trees and artwork.
Renderings of what a new plaza outside TQL Stadium could look like, with trees and artwork.

“It will be a great boutique hotel probably one of the nicest hotels that we have in the city,” Munitz said.

Also planned for the site: an 80,000-square-foot office building; and 65,000 square feet of street level commercial space that will feature new bars and restaurants and the FC Cincinnati team store.

Renderings of new development near TQL Stadium as viewed from Central Parkway.
Renderings of new development near TQL Stadium as viewed from Central Parkway.

“We’d love to do a great sports bar, a world class sports bar as part of the mixed-use development and then having some interaction with SuperBook Sports, being our gaming partner as part of that is a good possibility,” Munitz said about the likely sportsbook on site.

The project will add a new garage with 350 to 500 additional parking spaces. The first phase of an apartment community will have 150 units, which could expand to a total of 500 units in the coming years if FC Cincinnati can acquire a few properties that are still privately owned in the Bauer Avenue area.

“The mixed use is owned by the soccer club … and that’s purposeful to have that together to make sure that our ambition for what this is going to be, our commitment that this is really a civic asset, and giving back to the neighborhood and that it’s going to be ours for the long term,” Munitz said.

A high-rise hotel, concert venue part of new development near TQL Stadium.
A high-rise hotel, concert venue part of new development near TQL Stadium.

FC Cincinnati is seeking a zoning change and approval of their concept plan from the zoning commission. The West End Community Council has already given a letter of approval for the project.

A final plan with more detailed renderings of the project will go before the planning commission later this fall, and once approved, FCC can close on construction financing and start building.

FCC is asking the city for tax increment financing and is requesting the city vacate rights of way and sell portions of Bauer Avenue, Wade Street, Central Avenue and Kuhfers Alley to them for $1.

A new 1,500-seat concert venue is planned for this green space near TQL Stadium.
A new 1,500-seat concert venue is planned for this green space near TQL Stadium.

FCC has also applied for state tax credits.

“Our goal is to see lots of additional development happen in the West End,” Munitz said.

As the city decides what to do with the Town Center Garage in the West End, across Central Parkway from Music Hall, WCPO asked Munitz what he would like to see built at the site since it is one block away from TQL Stadium.

One possible scenario is to build a new concert arena at this site, replacing the aging Heritage Bank Center near Great American Ballpark.

A new mixed-use development will break ground in December next to TQL Stadium.
A new mixed-use development will break ground in December next to TQL Stadium.

“I think it’s important for the health of the urban core to get a great new modern arena. And I would hate to see the (the Town Center Garage) site being taken offline before the community has done a thorough study to see if the arena fits there or somewhere else,” Munitz said. “What I’d like to see is the city and the county get together with the business leaders, with Visit Cincinnati … and see is there a good site to put an arena knowing that we need a new modern arena.”

“I think something has to happen at that site in the next calendar year. It’s a great site, it’s owned by the city that should see investment and really add as an additional catalyst to adding activity along Central Parkway, really from Findlay Market all the way down to the convention center,” Munitz said.

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