Developer eyeing Downtown space for new skyscraper

Posted at 5:37 PM, Feb 10, 2020

CINCINNATI — If one Columbus-based developer has his way, the iconic Cincinnati skyline could get another addition.

Michael Schiff, of Schiff Capital Group, graduated from the University of Cincinnati and started his business in Columbus -- but now he's back in the Queen City, and he's eyeing up an office building on Elm Street.

"Occupancy rate is above 99 percent on multi-family down there," said Schiff. "So, we feel like, if we build more, more people will come down there."

Schiff and his business partner, former Bengals safety Chinedum Ndukwe, are thinking of building a skyscraper with mixed-use space inside for retail, offices, apartments and a rooftop restaurant. They'd have to lease the space from The Port, which owns the property -- on the ground. Schiff and Ndukwe own the air space there, though.

The Port would need to lease the air space from Schiff's company if they ever wanted to build anything over two stories in that zone.

"And they control the area, and they control the situation," said Schiff. "And they're going to come up with a very dynamic, exciting plan. And then we will do our best efforts to complement that."

Schiff's project would be across from the Millennium Hotel, which shut down earlier this year. The Port is closing on that deal and could build a newer hotel to complement the nearby Duke Energy Convention Center.

"We are focusing on the Millennium right now," wrote Laura Brunner, president of The Port, in a statement. "Conversations around Elm will not take place until later this year."

In the same block, Macy's headquarters will soon face empty space as well, so Schiff said his plan could help bring back jobs in the Downtown area.

"We're going to be very sensitive to affordable housing and workforce housing and, you know, employment for Cincinnatians," said Schiff. "And that's what we will work together with The Port, the mayor and the council and listen to their suggestions and cooperate with them however we can."

Schiff said he hopes to make a deal with The Port and start building in nine to 12 months. It can take around a year to build this type of project.