Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More than you ever wanted to know about The Banks

Last Wednesday, workers started pouring concrete for The Banks development's first elevated slab, which will serve as an intermediate parking deck below Freedom Way.

The day before, Cincinnati City Council's Economic Development Committee (EDC) heard a report from the Office of City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. and the City Banks Project Team on the status of the project, an update requested through a motion passed last November and further requested by the EDC on January 27.

The following information was contained in that report.

Updates concerning costs, changes to the development mix, and construction schedules are likely to be presented to the EDC on a monthly basis.

Cash flow analysis

The City's contribution to Phase 1 of The Banks is estimated to be $30.4 million. (See the full City and county cost breakdown on Scribd here.)

So far, the City has issued $17.5 million in bonds for its share, and, of those bonds, $5 million was set aside in both 2007 and in 2008 ($10 million total) in two capital project accounts for the Parks Department.

Additionally, since 2000 several capital project accounts have been established for the riverfront street grid, utilities, and site infrastructure.

The remaining $7.5 million in bond revenue is being held by the Department of Transportation and Engineering within those accounts.

By the end of this month, the City plans to draft an ordinance authorizing the issuance of bonds to fund the remainder of its $30.4 million obligation.

In case of cost overruns, the City has the capacity to issue up to an additional $2 million in debt without impacting the City's six-year capital plan.

The City and Hamilton County also share evenly a $2.9 million owner's contingency in the final budget.

What has the City and county spent?

Through January 2009, the total amount encumbered on the project was $12,083,956, of which $8,055,670 has been spent.

Of the total amount spent, the county has spent 42 percent ($3,403,633), the City 37 percent ($2,972,588), and 21 percent has been paid through grants ($1,679,449).

Impact Assessment of hotel, condo, and parking changes

The Carter-Dawson development team has requested the addition of a hotel to Phase 1B, a reduction in the number of condominiums for Phase 1B, and a change in the parking mix for Phase 1.

According to Section 4.1.3 of the Master Development Agreement, possible changes in the product mix due to market conditions have been built into the contract -- only minimum and maximum ranges for each product type were given, with a total built ceiling of 2.8 million square feet.

The lost condominiums in Phase 1B would be replaced with a 120- to 200-room boutique hotel of 100,000-150,000 square feet.

This change would still leave between 100,000 and 250,000 square feet of potential hotel development available for Phase 2, and would not reduce the required 1,000,000 square feet of residential construction required in The Banks.

Nor would it affect the minimum square footage requirement of approximately 636,620 square feet for all of Phases 1 and 1B.

The loss of condominium units would decrease the number of publicly-funded private parking spaces by nearly 100, resulting in a savings to the City and county of $1.6 million.

It also is anticipated that the addition of a hotel could jumpstart the beginning of Phase 1B even earlier, hastening a $2 million payment to the City and Hamilton County by Carter-Dawson and bringing in early tax increment financing (TIF) dollars.

Street grid construction

Mehring Way from Main Street to Elm Street and Freedom Way from Rosa Parks to Race Street are the last segments of the street grid remaining to be constructed.

Both streets segments must be built through county-owned surface parking lots that must be kept as a condition of the Cincinnati Bengals lease agreement.

As a representative example, the report uses Mehring Way to illustrate the three steps that will be required for construction:

  • The removal of Ted Berry Way between Vine and Elm streets to relocate utilities for the project
  • Construction of the roadway and sidewalks between Main Street and the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge
  • Construction of the roadway and sidewalks between the bridge and Elm Street
Further breaking it down to lessen parking disruptions:
  • Utility relocations for Phase 1 will begin through Lot D, west of the bridge, with trenches plated during events. Work will proceed from east to west and from west to east simultaneously. This should be completed prior to the beginning of the Bengals' 2010 season.
  • Roadway and sidewalk construction will start at Main Street and will proceed from east to west, concluding at the bridge by spring 2010, when the parking garage opens. This work will be coordinated with the first phase of Central Riverfront Park.
  • Following the Bengals' 2010 season, work on the segment west of the bridge will commence both from east to west and from west to east. Work on this segment sis expected to be complete by fall 2011.
  • Restriping of Lot D and the new Lot D1, south of the new Mehring Way, may be required.

Freedom Way

Freedom Way will be constructed in a similar manner.

But, instead of utility relocations, the elevated roadway will require the construction of foundations and piers.

To achieve this, piles will need to be drilled in Lot C, then the excavation of pile caps will be completed and the pile caps formed and poured.

Once the concrete is cured, pile cap excavations will be backfilled and the paving restored in time for the Bengals' 2010 season.

Following the season, the pile caps will be re-excavated and work will begin on the piers and roadway deck.

Lot C then will be repaved, striped, and returned to parking use.

Last Wednesday, construction contracts for two blocks of the street, between Walnut and Main streets, were awarded to Baker Concrete Construction for $5 million.

These two blocks of roadway will connect to the existing Freedom Way south of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and will not disrupt and parking lots.

The report notes that "at no time will construction activities be halted to preserve parking counts or to mitigate a loss of parking revenues".

Previous reading on BC:
The Banks photo update, 12/28/08 (12/31/08)
Monzel: Provide Banks updates (9/9/08)
Urba design board to review designs for The Banks (6/23/08)
The Banks photo update, 5/24/08 (6/3/08)
Banks PD amended (4/29/08)