Friday, January 12, 2001

Price $1.5M more to re-create Nordstrom site as parking lot

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It cost nearly $11 million to dig out a spot for a downtown Nordstrom store.

        Now Cincinnati taxpayers will have to pay another $1.5 million to fill in the hole and turn it into a temporary parking lot.

        Finance officials next week will ask City Council to approve an emergency transfer of funds to build the parking lot at Fifth and Race streets.

        City Finance Director Timothy Riordan says it “is necessary to provide downtown parking as quickly as possible and to minimize the blighting influence of the vacant site.”

        After Nordstrom pulled out of a $48.7 million deal in November to build a downtown store, council members said they would make a temporary parking lot of the site.

        “It sure beats having a hole in the ground,” City Parking Superintendent Chuck Cullen said Thursday.

        The lot, slated to open April 30, will have 200 spaces. Rates will be $1 for the first two hours and $1 for each additional hour, based on three-hour maximum.

        With an anticipated annual revenue of $280,000, it would take about 5 1/2 years for the lot to pay for itself.

        Although officials are asking for $1.75 million, some of that will be set aside to pay for tearing the lot up when a new development is chosen for the site.

        A small portion of the money will also be used to improve two other city-owned lots.

        Mr. Cullen said the downtown lot will be similar to one the city operated at Fountain Square West, which was a vacant lot for years before Lazarus was built.

        “As depressing as it is, at least it will provide a service to the public,” said Councilman John Cranley, adding the city needs to be careful with the property. “We need to take the time to figure out what to do with the site.

        Councilman Phil Heimlich agreed, but said the city should never have attempted to develop the site in the first place — and should now turn it over to private developers.

        “Perhaps we should leave the hole there, as a reminder we can't keep doing business as usual.”


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