Thursday, October 26, 2000

Batsakes caps deal for space downtown

By Ken Alltucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Batsakes Hat Shop has settled a dispute with Cincinnati, and the city will now help move the retailer one block from the corner it has occupied for nine decades.

        The city wants to bulldoze the buildings at Sixth and Walnut to make room for a new Contemporary Arts Center. The new Batsakes will open in January, just a block away at Sixth and Vine in a space occupied by a Delta ticket office near the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

        Delta will close that office and another at the Atrium One building and reopen at Fourth and Walnut.

        Batsakes owner Gus Miller said the city has agreed to pay $195,000 for relocation costs and attorney fees.

        “We're not going out of business — we're going for more business,” said Mr. Miller, a colorful Cincinnati merchant whose customer list includes opera star Luciano Pavarotti, actor Bill Cosby and President Clinton. “I'm only 67. I'm just getting good at this.”

        The fate of Mr. Miller's hat shop had been uncertain. The move against the Batsakes building was one of many times the city has threatened or used eminent domain to force removal of small businesses to provide room for larger developments.

        Robert Manley, an attorney representing Batsakes building owner Firstar Bank, said both sides agreed to terms but an agreement has yet to be signed.

        Deputy City Solicitor Peter Heile confirmed an agreement has been reached, but said minor details need to be ironed out before two lawsuits will be dropped.

        Mr. Miller has signed a five-year lease to occupy the Sixth and Vine store.

        He's concerned that the city's offer won't be enough to cover relocation and construction costs to ensure the new shop looks like the old one. He's more worried that customers won't find the new store.

        He'll have to call his buddy, Mr. Pavarotti, and let him know.


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