Phase 1a of The Banks on pace for Spring 2011 opening

Cincinnati City Council's Strategic Growth Committee received a critical update on The Banks development at City Hall this past week.  Assistant City Manager, David L. Holmes, and Banks Project Executive, John F. Deatrick, were both on hand to explain the project's progress in further detail.

The update focused on Phase 1a of the construction plan, which includes 300 apartments and nearly 80,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space with parking garages below street level. As of this January, Phase 1a is 65 percent constructed and staying well within the budget previously set for the development - the City and County have pledged $20 million and $5 million respectively.  After both the city and the county have paid their committed shares, they will split the remaining cost 50/50.

"Because of the nature of the project, every day is a challenge," said Deatrick, "but because of the project team we have been able to work through it all."

Phase 1a of The Banks is projected to open by Opening Day 2011, and according to the project team leaders, apartment leasing will begin in fall of 2010.  Projected price points of those apartments are still up in the air.

The scope of construction that is complete is mostly parking and mechanical, electrical and plumbing infrastructure. Currently, crews are laying shear walls and columns in the south site by the bridge. The workers are waiting for warmer weather to come back in order to pour more concrete.  Once the exterior facades on the buildings are finished the surrounding streets that are currently closed off will reopen.

The project's financial director stated that 74 percent of construction workers for the project currently live in the Cincinnati metropolitan area, while 20 percent are minorities, and 2.5 percent are female.  The statistics regarding local employment on the project have been of particular concern by local political leaders and was a point that was reemphasized by City Council members Charlie Winburn, Laure Quinlivan and committee chair Chris Bortz.

"The proof is really in the pudding," said Deatrick in regards to the project's success. "We're under budget so far, the project is on schedule with the parking garage scheduled to open in June, we're hitting our inclusion targets, and we have recorded 160,000 man hours with no lost time due to accidents."

So far The Banks has achieved $1.6 million in bid savings due to a competitive bidding process, and the project team has also been able to avoid using $2.1 million in contingency funds.

Following the completion of Phase 1a in early 2011, work will begin on reconstructing Mehring Way to cut a wider arc above the river, bordering the new Central Riverfront Park. As a result, project managers are currently in the process of appropriating stimulus funds for this development.

Retailers for the Phase 1a portion of the project are still yet to be announced, but much has been speculated about a potential grocery store, entertainment venues like an ESPN Zone, and other restaurants, bars and entertainment venues to compliment the evolving riverfront district. Connectivity to the existing Riverfront Transit Center, and proposed Cincinnati Streetcar, will then help connect The Banks to the rest of Downtown, Over-the-Rhine, and Uptown neighborhoods.

Writers: Randy A. Simes & Jenny Kessler
Photography by Scott Beseler
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