Once a major employer for the residents of Oakley, the old Cincinnati Milacron factory has been vacant for years.
Past efforts to build something on the site failed in the sluggish economy, but a recent deal between the City of Cincinnati and Vandercar Holdings
will bring 850,000 sq ft of new mixed use development to the site.
Demolition is expected to begin as early as next week to make way for the $120 million complex at the corner of Marburg and Ibsen roads.
Preliminary plans include a 55,000 square foot movie theater, 200 residential apartments, up to 350,000 sq ft of retail or restaurant space and 250,000 sq ft of office space. The theater, apartments and more than half of the retail space is to be completed by the end of 2012. The developer intends to get LEED certification for the entire project, the agreement says.
Patrick Ewing, the interim director of economic development for the city of Cincinnati, said the development is projected to bring in $800,000 in annual tax earning revenues to the city; funds that can pay for sanitation, police, and other city services that desperately need more cash.
"Ever since Milacron left the site to go to Clermont County, we've been tying to find a way to put something there to make up for the loss of that tax base," Ewing said.
The city will provide $9.9 million in tax relief funding to the project, and help Vandercar apply for a $3 million grant from the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund.
Oakley residents expressed concern at public meetings on the project about the rise of "big box" development in their district. Oakley Community Council
member Brent Van Lieu said the concerns were addressed in the plan.
The agreement says the project can only build 175,000 sq ft of "big box" retail space out of the possible 350,000 sq ft of retail.
Ewing said he had never seen a "big box" stipulation in a development agreement before, and it is too early to tell exactly how this stipulation will guide this development.
"It's been a fairly recent term that nobody has really defined," Ewing said. "It's like an obscenity, everybody knows it when they see it but nobody can define it."
The agreement contains no definition of what a "big box" development is, but says that no single retail space can be larger than 75,000 sq ft.
"You have to set a limit on how big these things can be," Ewing said. "That's what we've understood to be the concerns of the neighborhood."
Writer: Henry Sweets