Skyhouse, planned riverfront skyscraper, is out, but new developer has other plans

Artistry would add 300+ rental units to downtown
Posted at 6:03 PM, Jun 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-19 19:02:23-04

CINCINNATI — Plans for a luxury apartment skyscraper on the riverfront in eastern Downtown have been ditched, but a new developer has its own big hopes for the site, WCPO has learned.

Skyhouse, a 25-story, $94 million project announced two years ago, was supposed to change Cincinnati's riverfront with 400 apartments towering above 601 Pete Rose Way. The land, now a parking lot, is prime real estate near the waterfront parks and the Purple People Bridge, within walking distance of Great American Ball Park and The Banks.

Skyhouse was supposed to be opulent with a rooftop pool and fitness center, dog park, 500 parking spots and a magnificent four-sided view of the city skyline, the river, the hillsides, Northern Kentucky and all the environs.

Now that mega project is dead, according to city documents, but another is right behind it.

The $77 million Artistry scales down to six stories but still brings more than 300 rental units to downtown.

“Cincinnati continues to be a healthy spot for residential development. The market is still strong,” Doug Moorman of Development Strategies Group told WCPO.

Moorman said Downtown can still handle 1,000 units of residential.

So what happened to Skyhouse?

As WCPO has reported, Skyhouse struggled with financing from the get-go - saved by what then-City Manager Harry Black called a precedent-setting profit-sharing agreement with the city in exchange for tax breaks.

The Atlanta-based developers didn't return a call Wednesday seeking comment.

“What that does is make those big buildings a little more difficult to finance or to even contemplate because the rents might not be at a level yet in downtown Cincinnati where you can afford to build a high rise,” Moorman said.

“I would suspect that when you combine increasing land costs, increasing labor costs, increasing costs for materials …”

A spokesperson for Indianapolis-based Milhaus, which will develop the Artistry, said it's thrilled with the location.

Milhaus representatives will be in town next week with more details when the Artistry goes before City Council for approval.