Monday, November 01, 1999

2nd project for target zone


City hopes to lift area from blight

BY WALT SCHAEFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Mike Rahall, left, Reading's safety services director; Mayor Earl Schmidt; and Ruthie Keefe, senior vice president of Spectrum, tour a former Steinberg's warehouse that Spectrum will move into after renovations.
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        READING — Spectrummarketing is moving from downtown Cincinnati to a former Steinberg's Appliance showroom and warehouse on Sunnybrook Drive.

        It is the second recent announcement of business growth in a depressed area targeted by Reading officials this year for economic revitalization.

        “We are extremely excited about what is happening at the south end of Reading Road in our city,” Mayor Earl Schmidt said.

        “They are putting $6 million, including equipment and renovation costs, into the building that has been vacant (since 1997).

        “Any time you fill up a vacant building with a solid business it does two things for you. First, it eliminates the problem of a vacancy and future blight and stagnant business growth; and, second, it brings earnings tax dollars into our community.”

        Ruthie Keefe, senior vice president of Spectrum, a marketing support division of Detroit-based Lason Inc., said the company was looking for a larger facility to encompass its new “comprehensive packaging and fulfillment division” with its existing business.

        That requires a large amount of warehouse storage space to hold materials for clients — particularly packaging, she said.

        “This building is 110,000 square feet compared to the 20,000 we have downtown. It has 12 truck docks and a security system in place that we have had to beef up,” Ms. Keefe said. “We wanted to stay within the Interstate 275 beltway. We have a lot of clients up north as well as many in town.”

        Forty-five employees will move from 26 E. Sixth Street and about 15 new positions are being created by the expansion, Ms. Keefe said. If growth expectations prove true, the company expects additional jobs within the next few years — and could double its payroll.

        Spectrum has about 600 clients including Procter & Gamble, Ethicon Endo-Surgery and Hoescht Marion Roussel, and a large number of smaller clients, including law firms.

        Among Spectrum's specialized services is a litigation department that provides court exhibits and legal document and interview scanning onto compact discs, Ms. Keefe said.

        “We just could not find a place we could afford and where we could grow downtown. Places were too expensive or they did not have enough docks. There are a lot of different things, and it just didn't work out.”

        The Reading location is centrally located within Hamilton County — near Interstate 75 and Ronald Reagan Highway and to Spectrum's client base, Ms. Keefe said.

        Last month, the Cincinnati Commercial Group (CCG), which manages about 700,000 square feet of commercial and light industrial space throughout Greater Cincinnati, announced it was completing a $5 million to $6 million project on Reading Road north of Sunnybrook Drive.

        That project involves razing the Carousel Theater to make room for five office and warehouse buildings, converting a former health spa to CCG offices and remodeling the Sycamore Medical Center, according to Cindy Aiken, vice president of Cincinnati Commercial Property Management, a division of CCG.

        The project will add 250 to 260 jobs, she said.

       



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