Friday, February 08, 2002

Banks schedule may move back

Cash shortage threatens choice of developer

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Port Authority may have to revise its schedule in bringing on board a developer to build the $600 million riverfront development known as The Banks.

        Tom Humes, a board member of the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, said the schedule is in jeopardy because Hamilton County does not have enough money to bankroll the $70 million in parking garages that would lift the development out of the flood plain.

        The original plan was to issue a “Request for Proposals” to the three development firms vying for the job in March, ask for their final presentations in May, and have the firm selected by July.

        “We have to evaluate whether that schedule is most beneficial for the port, given the challenges we face,” Mr. Humes said.

        Jack Rouse, chairman of the Port Authority, said a recommendation will be made soon about what the port's next move should be.

        Hamilton County Administrator Dave Krings said not much has changed from the county's perspective. Sales tax revenues are still trickling in slower than anticipated, which means there is no money to begin building the parking garages.

        An “interim” financing plan drawn up by the port, in which two local banks would lend money if there isn't enough revenue for the garages, got a lukewarm reception from the county.

        “Interim financing still requires us to have the money, and we don't,” Mr. Krings said.

        In other Port Authority action, the agency will lend its name to a Cincinnati project seeking Clean Ohio funds this year. The port will apply for the grant that would help the city turn the Center Hill landfill into an industrial development.


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