Historic Vernon Manor Hotel to become medical office building

The historic Vernon Manor Hotel - which recently closed its doors - won't sit vacant for much longer.  The structure from the 1920s will soon be transformed into Class A office space by Cincinnati-based Al Neyer Inc. and will house professional offices for Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

The $37 million project will include an extensive interior renovation of the 171,000 square-foot building, construction of a new 440-vehicle parking garage valued at $7.1 million and will create approximately 105 construction jobs.  The project will result in the relocation of 600 employees from other Cincinnati Children's locations that will free up additional space there for new clinical and research jobs at its main campus in nearby Avondale.

"We had our sights on this project from the moment the hotel closed down," said Gail Paul, spokesperson with Al Neyer Inc.  "The commitment we got from Cincinnati Children's really kick started the project and made it financially feasible."

Cincinnati Children's has signed a 17-year lease on the entire structure.  $9.9 million in New Market Tax Credits were instrumental in financing the project and were allocated through PNC Bank and the Cincinnati Development Fund.  Another $1.3 million came from Federal Historic Tax Credits.

"When you are dealing with a project of this size it really takes the cooperation of many people to make it happen," Paul explained.  "Taking this on is a significant project for our company, but we love this kind of reuse project which is similar in nature to the work we did restoring and developing the space dunnhumbyUSA now occupies downtown."

The targeted completion date is set for May 2011 and has thus far received terrific support from the surrounding communities.  Paul noted that Al Neyer Inc. is particular proud of the partnership established with a local African-American investor group that will own a majority stake in the project once complete.  The African-American investor group, Real Estate Enterprises for African-American Leaders (REEAAL), is led and was created by Edwin Rigaud, a 36-year Procter & Gamble alumni who also served as the President and CEO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

"Everyone relates to this building, not just for its historical significance, but for its siting as well," described Paul.  "It is a great landmark for the city and this region prominently located at the top of the hill, and people are really happy to see it stay."

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Tiffani Fisher
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