Council Passes Two Key Approvals for Music Venue at The Banks

With the measures council approved, the music venue looks ready to move forward. But not everyone is thrilled with potential plans for other lots at the riverfront development.

Nov 21, 2019 at 9:18 am
Rendering of a music venue at The Banks. - MEMI
Rendering of a music venue at The Banks.

Cincinnati City Council gave approval to two measures that clear the way for a music venue and other development at The Banks.

Council voted to approve a development agreement that will shuffle air rights on Lot 27 — where Music and Event Management Inc. will build the music venue — from the county to MEMI via the city.

That agreement also transfers air rights above Lot 23 east of the venue to the city so a park serving as an outdoor performance space for the venue can be finished. The final part of the agreement transfers a portion of Race Street at The Banks from the city to the county.

In a separate vote, council approved $1.45 million for the park on Lot 23, though full funding for that park has not yet been secured. MEMI will also pay $1.45 million for the park, but it is unclear where the rest of the $11.4 million needed to finish it will come from.

Last week, council approved an agreement with Hamilton County over the riverfront development, providing a new framework for finishing The Banks by divvying up the remaining parcels between the city and the county.

While business owners at The Banks have applauded the fact that the music venue is moving forward, hoping it will bring more foot traffic and business, nearby owners of office space cried foul in the council meeting at a newly-revealed possibility that more office space could be built on remaining plots.

Under its new agreement with the county, two lots in the northwestern portion of The Banks controlled by the city, Lots 1 and 13, are now zoned to allow office use, while two other lots just north of the music venue site controlled by the county, Lots 24 and 25, are as well. Additionally, there are plans to build office space on Lot 26 on the northeast side of The Banks.

More office space downtown would be a big problem, Neal Mayerson told council. Mayerson owns the Scripps Center directly across Fort Washington Way from The Banks.

He says the city already has more than 1 million square feet of vacant Class A office space downtown equating to roughly $250 million in property value.

"To add more capacity for office space in an environment where the supply far outreaches demand seems to be irresponsible to all of us who have been longtime investors in the downtown market," he told council.