Wednesday, October 13, 1999

Condos get city assist

Mt. Airy site for 152 units

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A group of Tristate developers is planning a 152-unit condominium complex in Mount Airy, the largest development of its kind that the city has worked on in 20 years.

        The city of Cincinnati and the developers are expected to break ground on Thursday. Civic leaders say the condominiums, geared for middle-class buyers, will boost home ownership in the city.

        “With the right site and the right product, there are definitely opportunities within the city,” said Ron Mechlin, one of the project's developers. He is working with fellow Northern Kentucky developer Chuck Berling. The Drees Co. is building the complex.

        Cincinnati is committing $1.26 million toward the roads, sewers and other infrastructure for the complex. The project is expected to be valued at about $23 million once completed. The city will recoup its $1.26 million investment in 31/2 years through property taxes.

        The complex and the partnership with private developers represent an “exciting” opportunity for the city, said Cheryl Meadows, Cincinnati's Department of Neighborhood Services director.

        City leaders have worked to increase the number of homeowners. Cincinnati ranks fifth-lowest among the nation's major metropolitan areas with 38 percent home ownership.

        The new complex will be called Mount Airy Oaks. A string of large oak trees that shade the site will remain through the construction, said Mary Foote, a project manager with Cincinnati's neighborhood services.

        The new residences will measure 1,500 to 2,000 square feet, with fully equipped kitchens, luxury baths, stone or brick facades, bay windows and patios. The developer is also planning butterfly gardens and a pool. More than 80 percent of the 33-acre site will remain green space, Mr. Mechlin said.

        The condominium prices will range from $119,000 to $160,000.

        While the city has worked to develop other condominiums in the city recently, those were geared toward specific customers such as the elderly or poor, Ms. Foote said.

        The problem generally with new developments in the city is a lack of good vacant sites, said Gerard Hyland, supervising community development analyst with neighborhood services. The city's few vacant sites often pose problems, such as steep hills. The Mount Airy location had been an estate, with a since-demolished home on a large plot.


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