Sunday, February 06, 2000

Avenue to open way for offices

Development is planned for Blue Ash

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BLUE ASH — Work on a new $2 million avenue connecting Kenwood Road and Reed Hartman Highway will start in April as the city prepares for creation of 1.3 million square feet of new upscale office development.

        City Manager Marvin Thompson says that the new developments will generate an estimated $2.6 million annual increase in earnings taxes for the community and Sycamore City Schools.

        The new road, Osborne Boulevard, will be built with city funding on part of the old Obsorne Trucking Co. site north of Creek Road and south of Cornell Road and should be near completion when developers — Hines Interests of Chicago — begin construction in November.

        The first of four, six- to seven-story buildings should be finished by November 2001 with at least a second building started by then — if leasing projections are accurate, officials said.

        In all, Hines will create 650,000 square feet of office space in four main buildings on 30 acres that now includes the vacant trucking company buildings and the former General Foods complex — both old and becoming blighted, Mr. Thompson said. Also planned on out lots are an upscale restaurant, a bank and a child care center.

        “Hines is a huge development company worldwide,” Mr. Thompson said. “They have done office tower buildings in many large center cities — including the Chemed Tower and PNC Bank Building in downtown Cincinnati. They have decided to diversify and build suburban office parks. They have chosen Blue Ash. They came to us. They told us their intent is to build the premier office park in suburban Cincinnati.”

        Officials estimate the total cost of the Hines' development at $90 million.

        “The other thing is that we have some old warehouse buildings (north of the Hines site) that have been purchased within the last 30 days by CABOT, (a property holdings firm) based in Boston,” Mr. Thompson said. CABOT paid about $14.5 million for the 40-acre warehousing site.

        The city manager said that while CABOT has not made public its intent, the company is expected to continue to rent the old warehouses while, over time, selling parcels of five to seven acres to smaller developers committed to razing the warehouses and building additional upscale office buildings.

        Mr. Thompson said another 650,000 square feet of offices will eventually be created on the CABOT holdings.

        “We came to Cincinnati for a variety of reasons,” said Michael Fletcher, vice president of Hines in Chicago. “One is it is a very conservative city and we are a conservative firm. Cincinnati enjoys good, steady growth and is diversified and not dependent on one or two industries.”

        Mr. Fletcher said industry trends indicate office growth is highest at this time in suburban areas. Presently, 70 percent of Hines office developments are suburban.

        “Blue Ash is ideally located with easy access to Interstate 71 and the (Interstate 275) beltway and close to a significant employee base. We find companies want to find locations where their employees' travel time to work is minimal without the hassle of a long commute.”


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