CINCINNATI — Cincinnati’s Greyhound bus terminal has been sold to a local real estate company known for its land-banking activities in the urban core.
The sale comes as Greyound itself was sold to a German bus company that has yet to detail its future plans for Cincinnati.
“Greyhound is operating in the existing terminal and will continue to do so until a new location is determined,” spokeswoman Crystal Booker told WCPO’s Evan Millward Oct. 20.
FlixMobility announced Oct. 21 that it would pay $172 million for Greyhound, which UK-based FirstGroup has been trying to sell for two years. The iconic U.S. bus company lost $27 million in its last two fiscal years, prompting FirstGroup to sell the company’s land holdings and seek a buyer.
Hamilton County real estate records show a Chavez Properties affiliate paid $4.25 million for the Greyhound site at 1005 Gilbert Ave. Chavez Properties plans to operate a parking lot on the site next to Hard Rock Casino until developers buy it for an office, retail, hotel or housing project.
“We’re not the highest and best use guys,” said Martin Chavez, managing partner of the family-owned company. “Our idea is to hold it until those guys come around. There’s a lot of momentum downtown. So, our hope is that it’s sooner rather than later.”
It’s an approach that has already worked on the northeast corner of Downtown. In 2010, casino developers Rock Ventures paid $35 million for the 20-acre Broadway Commons site, which Chavez Properties patiently assembled over decades. The sale price was roughly triple what the company paid to acquire the site, which now houses Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati.
The Florida-based casino company is happy to have a new neighbor in Cincinnati.
“Assuming they don’t build another bus terminal, yes, I think it’s a real good thing,” said Jon Lucas, chief operating officer for Hard Rock International. “Housing would be awesome, obviously. The more residential downtown, obviously better for us.”
Lucas is planning a $70 million hotel addition for the Cincinnati property and expects the Greyhound site to be redeveloped before too long.
“I’m amazed about the construction in downtown Cincinnati,” Lucas said. “I mean, every time I come here there’s more cranes and there’s more construction workers and sites cleared.”
The Greyhound property is across the street from another 2-acre parking lot owned by Chavez Properties, with entrances on Court Street and Eggleston Ave. When FirstGroup hired a real estate broker to market the property last fall, Chavez Properties jumped at the chance.
“We love Cincinnati,” said Melanie Chavez, a partner in charge of the company’s Fast Park unit. “We like being here. We like the downtown market. We think there is upside. So, we’re always interested.”
Martin Chavez described as a sale/leaseback arrangement. He also said the company has already received inquiries about buying the property, including one from a broker looking for a site for a potential retail project.
“That’s what this property needed, someone for the interim, because it was just too complicated a deal for somebody to go vertical right away,” he said. “It kind of needed a steward to help Greyhound … work through the other issues on the property and then get it ready for the person who’s going vertical.”
Although FlixMobility did not respond to questions about the acquisition, its press release said the company sees growth potential for Greyhound, thanks to rising fuel prices.
“Consumers across North America are increasingly seeking affordable, comfortable, smart and sustainable mobility solutions,” said André Schwämmlein, FlixMobility’s founder and CEO, in a press release. “A compelling offering will draw significantly more travelers away from private cars to shared intercity bus mobility. Together, FlixBus and Greyhound will be better able to meet this increased demand.”