Friday, March 03, 2000

Riverfront redevelopment awaits funding

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The plans for a redeveloped riverfront are set. Now about $75 million has to be found pay for it.

        There also must be an agreement between city and county officials — along with modifications to agreements with the Bengals, Reds and Firstar Center — to move parking garages north of Third Street.

        And it all needs to happen over the next few months.

        Cincinnati City Manager John Shirey said there is still a $50 million hole in funding for The Banks develop ment project and $25 million more needed to pay for infrastructure along the central riverfront.

        A plan to find that money must be agreed to by city and county leaders in a matter of months, so that developers can begin writing proposals for the massive development this summer.

        City Councilman Todd Portune said funding is the most important issue facing the riverfront.

        “It's what we all need to know — what is the real picture on the financing and what are the impediments,” Mr. Portune said.

        The only answer he got Thursday during a meeting of the Riverfront Steering Committee meeting is: We're working on it.

        Mr. Shirey and Hamilton County Administrator Dave Krings have been in many meetings trying to work out a plan, which may include cash from the federal and state governments.

        “I don't know that anyone at this point can say precisely what will be built and when or how it will be paid for,” Mr. Krings said.

        Tom Humes, a member of the Riverfront Advisers that drew up The Banks development proposal — which incorporates housing, retail, park space and restaurants between the two stadiums — said a finance committee of county and city staff may help find the solution.

        “We hope we can come back with a funding plan in the next several months that will not answer every question, but will give a concept,” Mr. Humes said.

        The other major issue in riverfront development — moving parking garages north of Third Street — should be easier to tackle because all of the parties involved agree it would be in the city's best interest, officials say.


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