Porkopolis

Friday, June 30, 2006

No ‘Banks’ Developer for Nine Months

An advisory panel won’t be ready to recommend a developer to build The Banks, a multimillion-dollar project along Cincinnati’s riverfront, for another 6 to 9 months. But the panel has set some minimum expectations for whoever is selected.

The Banks Working Group met for the second time today, and members agreed to some basic timelines and principles as they move ahead with reviewing potential developers. Panel member Robert Rhein said applicants must be willing to put up a letter of credit or a bond to ensure their commitment to building The Banks, if selected. Also, a developer will be expected to sign a completion guarantee, because the project will be built in phases over 10 years.

The panel has yet to meet the four developers recommended by a Hamilton County task force but plans on holding in-person interviews in July. If any of the four developers can’t make the interview, they will be eliminated from consideration, Rhein said.

Prospective developers are the Western-Southern Financial Group of Cincinnati, AIG Global Real Estate Investment Corp. of Atlanta, the Rockefeller Group/Kimco of New York and the Partnership for Lasting Urban Growth of Columbus.

If the four fail to impress the panel will their plans, the selection process will be open to other developers, members said.

“We don’t feel any pressure that we have to select one of these if the plan is garbage,” Rhein said. “There’s no feeling that we’re so desperate to do something that we’ll do anything.”

Hamilton County Commission President Phil Heimlich, who created The Banks Working Group in conjunction with Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, had hoped a developer would be picked this summer and construction could begin late this year or in early 2007. That timeline is unrealistic, panel members said.

Any developer recommended by the panel also must agree to a workforce inclusion policy that ensures participation by minority and women contractors. The policy is being drafted by a subcommittee of the working group, headed by Steve Love of the African American Chamber of Commerce. The subcommittee also consists of members from the local NAACP, the Baptist Ministers Conference, the Urban League, the AMOS Project, the Building Trades Council and others. The inclusion policy probably will be done by July 31, Love said.

Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials created The Banks Working Group in April to quicken the process of selecting a developer. Proposed in 1999, the project has stalled over funding and jurisdictional issues, particularly who will pay for $68 million in parking garages. Sales tax revenues were supposed to pay for the garages but are far below projections.

The Banks will involve $200 million in public funding to supplement $600 million in private investment in a vacant eight-block area located just north of the Ohio River.

— Kevin Osborne

2 Comments:

  • Yet another humiliation for Phil Heimlich. DeWine was wise to distance himself from Heimlich on the jail issue, even though Leis and Lindner were on board. Undoubtedly DeWine has seen poll numbers and knows that Phil's days as a commish are numbered. Pat's doesn't intend to go down with Heimlich's sinking ship.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:14 AM  

  • a question for people much smarter than me --
    why do we have to contribute $200 million to a private development? is't it worthwhile without taxpayers supplementing it? i understand we want to controlthe development - but....

    By Anonymous one advocate, at 2:21 AM  

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