Music Venue at The Banks is Likely Moving Forward... Eventually

Cincinnati City Council and the Hamilton County Commission have both voted to approve a deal providing infrastructure for a music venue at The Banks, but relocating a business nearby could prove complicated.

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A rendering of the proposed MEMI music venue at The Banks - Provided
A rendering of the proposed MEMI music venue at The Banks

The Hamilton County Commission and Cincinnati City Council have both voted to approve a deal providing infrastructure for a music venue by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's booking and promotions arm, MEMI, at riverfront development The Banks.

But there are still some complications. Hilltop Basic Resources, a concrete company, will need to move to make way for parking near Paul Brown Stadium as part of the deal. Its preferred relocation site — on the banks of the Ohio River in Lower Price Hill — has caused some concern from neighborhood groups there.

Commission members Todd Portune and Denise Driehaus voted for the agreement, while commission member Stephanie Summerow Dumas voted against it. 

Hamilton County will chip in roughly $8.7 million toward the $29 million needed to cover infrastructure for the project. That amount covers the city's portion of the infrastructure costs, which will be repaid with city revenues from The Banks. The rest of the infrastructure costs will come from state grants and other revenues from The Banks.

That deal won approval from Mayor John Cranley despite Cranley's initial belief that the project should go on a different parcel at The Banks. However, Cranley says, the deal the county has presented is good enough to approve the venue's placement on other parcels nearby that are currently used for tailgating by Cincinnati Bengals fans. That location required approval from the Bengals — approval granted only after the county promised to build a parking lot southwest of the stadium on land Hilltop currently occupies to replace the land where the music venue will go.

That means the concrete company will need to move. It says the only suitable location is the land in Lower Price Hill, but some community groups are concerned about that location and say they would like the area used for recreation, not industrial use. 

Cincinnati City Council yesterday implemented a 90-day Interim Development Control overlay proposed by Councilmember Tamaya Dennard for the land and areas around it to give more time to study the impact of development there.

“I’m concerned about the safety and health risks involved with having another heavy industrial business in the community,” Lower Price Hill Community Council President Cynthia Ford told council yesterday, noting that the community has long been the site of environmentally problematic industry that has often required extensive remediation. 

But Hilltop attorney Tim Burke says the company will only have unloading operations, not concrete productions, at the Lower Price Hill site. Burke said the company needs river access to receive shipments from barges. 

Council member Amy Murray says that she is working to bring together the company and community groups to reach an agreement before the 90 days is up. 

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