Thursday, June 22, 2000
Council to OK Nordstrom
But majority wants strings attached
By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer
There are enough votes on Cincinnati City Council to put a Nordstrom department store downtown. But most council members want to attach conditions to a $48.7 million incentive package for the Seattle-based retailer.
Nordstrom store in Indianapolis.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
Those conditions would cap the city's contribution, ensure cost overruns are borne by the developer and bring in outside lawyers to negotiate terms with the developer and Nordstrom.
It would also require the store to stock merchandise as high or higher in quality as a second Nordstrom proposed for a new mall in Deerfield Township in War ren County.
That was enough to sway councilman Phil Heimlich.
I've come to the conclusion, after a great deal of thought and research, that this is not a good deal, he said. But it is the only deal we could get.
A preliminary agreement with the developer, Eagle Realty, comes up for a council vote Monday.
Councilman Todd Portune, who said he likely will vote in favor of an agreement, said the conditions favored by Mr. Heimlich and four others do not go far enough.
What does it do? he asked. It is a far cry from the specific things that need to be done.
He said the conditions don't address several issues, including ownership of the building and air rights above the store that would allow development on top of Nordstrom.
There are things I might add to it, Mr. Portune said.
He also questioned why outside experts need to be brought in to close the deal.
A letter of intent signed by Nordstrom last month outlines a $48.7 million package: $26 million from the city to build the store, a parking garage and skywalks; $12.7 million from the Cincinnati Equity Fund, formed by private businesses to help downtown develop ment; $5 million in tax-increment financing, which Nordstrom will repay in lieu of property taxes; and a $5 million loan from the state that city officials say they will repay.
In return, Nordstrom will lease the property at Fifth and Race streets for 20 years, renewable for up to 70 years, and maintain the building, adjacent property and skywalks. It would open the store by spring 2003.
A motion signed by Mr. Heimlich, Mayor Charlie Luken, and council members Alicia Reece, James Tarbell and Charles Winburn would cap all city contributions for the store at $35.9 million. That would include the city's direct contribution, the state loan and the tax-increment financing.
I don't want this to turn out like the Bengals' new stadium, said Ms. Reece. The county is on the hook for about $45 million in cost overruns at the stadium.
Mr. Heimlich said city administrators have been moving forward with very little vision that instead of trying to put together a complete retail project, they concentrated on a single store.
Three or four years ago, the city should have been lining up realty in the area, he said, so that instead of a stand-alone store (it) could have had lots of retail components, he said. But despite my disappointment in the city administration, this is the only option available. We have allowed ourselves to be put in a position where we don't have any other choice.
He said the deal for Cincinnati eclipses most others including Indianapolis, Norfolk, Va., and Providence, R.I. in that the city is putting up much more money up front and getting a lot less for it.
Those cities, he said, used money generated by projects to create downtown shopping centers in which Nordstrom is a tenant.
Here, the city got a store, paid a huge sum of money and that was it, Mr. Heimlich said.
Council to OK Nordstrom
PULFER: Clean out your desk, Mr. Shirey
UC approves garage plans
Ohio, Kentucky can't cut gasoline sales tax
Passers-by help nab suspect in rape attack
Driver gets top penalty for death
Man arrested in clerk's beating
New parks chief named
Piketon reels from news of plant closure
Uranium plant shutting down
Mason's water source still low
SAMPLES: Race fans give columnist an earful
Report: Ohio 20th in per-pupil spending
KNIPPENBERG: Kaplans mark 50th amid 400 friends
French Park offers a wooded wonderland
GET TO IT
KIESEWETTER: WCPO seeks HDTV e-mail addresses
Pig Parade: Monte(sow)ri Pig in a (Peace) Blanket
'Salome' draws out soprano's stamina
Who should be cast away?
Cops to add substation
Council to pitch a tent
Court weighs in on harassment
Erlanger library plans to almost double in size
For local sources, go to the ultimate source: Richardson
Fort Wright appoints fire chief
Lot size an issue in home plan
Man killed, officer hurt in shootout
Man pleads guilty in slaying, attempted rape
Neighbors build garden
Pension hike gets political
Plan to restrict water use in droughts OK'd
Queen City's moments to shine reflected in book
Residency proposal debated
Runner's efforts give girl funeral
Students choose old school
Teller charged in county theft
Theater finds friend - again - in restorer
Young ones also get letter grades