Cincinnati City Council Gives Final Approvals for Fourth and Race Project

The $116 million residential, retail and parking project will go forward after more than five years of planning with $9.5 million and key tax exemptions from the city.

click to enlarge A rendering of the finished 4th and Race development - 3CDC
A rendering of the finished 4th and Race development

More than five years after planning began on a major development at the corner of Fourth and Race Streets downtown, Cincinnati City Council today gave approval on two pieces of legislation that will clear the way for the project to move forward.

The $116 million project will include 264 market-rate residential units, a 584-space parking garage and 22,000 feet of retail space.

Financing uncertainties have kept the project in limbo until recently, but developer Flaherty & Collins, along with the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) and the Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority, are poised to go ahead with the project using the tax abatements and other city help passed today.

Council approved $9.5 million in grants for the project, which will go toward part of the parking garage. In return, the city will get a portion of parking proceeds from the garage. Council also passed a tax exemption agreement on part of the development, a controversial measure that means the project won't pay into VTICA, a property tax alternative that gives developers an abatement in return for contributions to a fund for the streetcar. Councilmembers Chris Seelbach and P.G. Sittenfeld balked at that part of the deal. Developers, and Mayor John Cranley, say the incentive is necessary to make the financing work for the long-stalled project.

Under the current plan, the Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority will own the residential portion of the project and lease it back to the developers, meaning they won't have to pay sales taxes on building materials. The Redevelopment Authority has also agreed to issue $30 million in bonds on parking revenues to finance portions of the garage and retail space.

It's been a long, sometimes contentious road to get the project off the ground. The city tore down the previous Pogue's parking garage in 2016 at the site of the development, to the consternation of some nearby businesses, and, as recently as last month, rumors circulated that the project was dead due to difficulty in securing financing. Now, with final legislative hurdles cleared, developers say they could break ground as soon as later this month on the project.

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