University of Cincinnati Seeks Sale of Downtown's Emery Center Apartment Building

The building was constructed in 1911 and contains the historic Emery Theater, which was the subject of a 2016 legal settlement

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click to enlarge Emery Center - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Emery Center

The University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to authorize the sale of the Emery Center, an apartment and retail building at 1112 Walnut St. that the university has owned since 1969. The building contains the historic but currently shuttered Emery Theater. 

UC Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Robert Ambach will approve any sale of the building, which also contains 58 apartments, Coffee Emporium and office space. The property, appraised at almost $5 million by the Hamilton County Auditor in 2017, will be marketed by CBRE.

UC says it isn't in the apartment business and wants to sell the building to focus on its mission of providing higher education and research.

The Emery, constructed in 1911 as the Ohio Mechanics' Institute, is named for philanthropist Mary Emery. The school, which was absorbed into UC, closed its doors in 1988.

The university and a developer converted the building to apartments in 2001. UC leases those apartments to a group called Emery Center Apartments. 

click to enlarge The Emery Theater in the 1940s - CityBeat archives
CityBeat archives
The Emery Theater in the 1940s

Emery's will stipulates that the theater must remain open for public performances. The Emery Theater hosted the Cincinnati Symphony orchestra from 1912 to 1936. The theater was once considered one of the best in the country, but is "beyond repair," according to university documents. Those documents also say the apartments in the building aren't bringing in enough money to cover its expenses. 

In 2016, UC paid $200,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by fundraisers from New York who attempted to raise money to renovate the theater under the name Requiem Project. 

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