Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Developer angling to build high-end Florence stores

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FLORENCE — The Cincinnati developer who had proposed a downtown Nordstrom store wants the 65 acres occupied by World of Sports off Houston Road near Ky. 18 and is willing to work with the city on a land swap.

        The deal hinges on adding another piece of property owned by the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

        To further complicate the issue, the airport's aviation director said Tuesday the airport can't consider selling property to Florence until it gets approval from the Federal Aviation Administration that would permit Boone County to turn over Hossman Road to the airport for runway expansion.

[photo] World of Sports, where Greg Slone of Ludlow putted Tuesday, is at the center of a proposed land swap that could bring high-end stores to the Interstate 75 locale.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        The airport board's planning and development committee has agreed to continue discussions with Florence on the possibility of the city purchasing or leasing 15-20 acres of airport land adjacent to land optioned by North American Properties, a Cincinnati developer.

        “North American approached us about acquiring the World of Sports (golf course) property,” Florence Mayor Diane Whalen said Tuesday, of the 65-acre public par-3 course. “We discussed a land swap, with North American giving the city 50 acres across Houston Road from the golf course.”

        North American Properties, which has developed loft apartments in downtown Cincinnati and was to be the Nordstrom developer before that store pulled out, holds options on land on Houston Road but wants the World of Sports property because it is visible from Interstate 75. The developer indicated to Florence officials it was considering a shopping area with high-end stores at the site.

        The mayor said North American said it would be willing to build a new golf course on the undeveloped property for the city, and even drew up a preliminary plan for the par-3 course. But Mrs. Whalen said city officials felt the 50-acre plan was too cramped.

        “We won't take any less (land) than we have now,” she said. “So we need 15-20 acres of airport land adjacent to North American's 50 acres. We have had several offers from developers for the World of Sports site, but . . . we will only consider an exchange that gives us the same amount of green space and a public golf course.”

        Airport director of aviation Bob Holscher said the airport awaits word from the FAA on the possibility of obtaining Hossman Road, which is needed for construction of a third north-south runway.

        The FAA also must then approve a plan by Boone County to build a feeder road around the south end of the airport from Ky. 18.

        “Once we get information from the FAA, we'll meet with Boone County and Florence to work on the other issues,” Mr. Holscher said. “But a lot of things have to come together, and it's going to be a while before we have any real answers.”

        Mrs. Whalen said the city is optimistic a deal can be struck with the airport and North American Properties. “We would be really disappointed if the airport wasn't willing to work with us on this,” she said.


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