Saturday, March 10, 2001

Developer scouting Newport location

Property owners along Grand, Vine contacted

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — A top Cincinnati developer may be interested in more than just the riverfront, according to residents along Grand Avenue and Vine Street on the hill overlooking Interstate 471 and the Ohio River.

        Realtors have been canvassing the neighborhood in recent weeks reportedly seeking to buy dozens of homes and pieces of property. Owners have been told an unidentified developer is after the property.

[photo] Vine Street in Newport, where property owners say they've been contacted about selling their land to an unidentified developer.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        Mike Tester, who owns a building on Grand Avenue near 10th Street, said he was informed that a Realtor was inquiring about purchases for Al Neyer Inc., the developer working with Steiner and Associates on a proposed hotel and office/condo complex on the river, just east of Newport on the Levee and near the L&N Bridge.

        “There is a lot of (development) opportunity in Newport, and we've talked to the city about a number of sites,” John E. Neyer, marketing director for Al Neyer Inc., said Friday. “We know that the opportunities exist. But everything other than the riverfront project is very speculative, very preliminary right now.”

        Mr. Neyer declined to pinpoint the Vine Street-Grand Avenue area as being of particular interest to the developer.

        Newport City Manager Phil Ciafardini said Friday the city was aware that a developer, whom he declined to identify, had expressed interest in the area.

        “There is a preliminary concept plan that would include retail, commercial and residential development,” Mr. Ciafardini said. “But it's really preliminary. We have no idea if this will happen. At this point the city has no involvement.”

        The area under discussion is bordered on the east by I-471 and the section of Grand Avenue that parallels the interstate. To the south and west the border is Park Avenue, and to the north, 10th Street.

        The top of the hill, where Vine Street crests, provides one of the more spectacular views of downtown Cincinnati, Mount Adams and the riverfront, and includes several acres of undeveloped land owned by interests in California.

        Mr. Ciafardini pointed out that for the city to be involved in a development, a redevelopment area would have to be created and zoning in the area changed.

        “It's a lengthy process, and we're a long way from anything like that now,” he said.

        Tom McQueen, who owns three houses on the Vine Street hill, as well as Uncle Charlie's Music Shop on Monmouth Street, was one of several property owners who said they were contacted by local Realtor Jim McCord about purchasing their houses.

        Mr. McCord said only that he was acting on behalf of a developer.

        “I would consider selling my house, but I would have to receive a good offer,” Mr. McQueen said.

        Mr. Tester said Mr. McCord called him and told him a developer was interested in his property. “I gave (the Realtor) a figure, but I haven't heard anything since,” he said.

        The Rev. Roger Lloyd, pastor of the Calvary Apostolic Church on Grand Avenue, said Mr. McCord also contacted him about selling the church and an adjacent vacant lot.

        “He said he was representing a developer,” the Rev. Mr. Lloyd said. “I said it wasn't for sale, but we discussed what the property would be worth. Later he gave us a contract for $5,000 less than we had talked about, and said that was all the developer was willing to offer. We haven't talked since.”


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