Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Downtown Holiday Inn closer to reality

Downtown Cincinnati is closer to getting a Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites after Monday's approval of a development and service agreement package by Cincinnati City Council's Budget and Finance Committee.

Downtown Hills, LLC wants to build the 11-story, 200-room hotel at the corner of Seventh Street and Broadway, currently part of the Seventh Street Garage. In order to do so, the City would swap that property with the developer for the former American Red Cross building, allowing the City to build a seven-story, 610-space public parking garage with ground-floor retail at Seventh and Sycamore streets.

A new north-south public street between Seventh and Eighth streets would provide access to the parking garage, the hotel, and the block's existing buildings.

Construction costs are for the hotel are estimated at $14 million. The parking garage and street, estimated to cost $11.5 million, would be financed through net operating income from the new garage and tax increment financing revenues from the hotel.

Both agreements are on tomorrow's Council agenda.

The Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites would join two other hotel projects already underway Downtown – the Residence Inn Cincinnati Downtown extended-stay hotel at the former Phelps Apartments in Lytle Park, and a 21c Museum Hotel in the former Metropole Hotel on Walnut Street in the Backstage District.

Revised concepts

The latest concept plan is the third revision for the developer.

Cincinnati City Council first approved of a hotel use for the site when it approved the creation of a planned development district (PD-55) in September 2008, triggering an option that allowed the developer to purchase the property from the American Red Cross in May 2009.

At that time, the developer was proposing a 13-story building containing the hotel and 150 parking spaces. That project was contingent on City financing of the parking component, but the City decided against the plan due to limited economic return and bond uncertainty.

In May 2010, the developer returned with a proposal to build a 16-story building, with the bottom eight levels containing 1,000 parking spaces.

That plan was modified to better match the scale of surrounding buildings and provide interest at street level, and, on December 3, 2010, the City Planning Commission approved a concept plan for the development – with conditions.

The City's Economic Development Division plans to hire an architect to address the Planning Commission's aesthetic returns, and a revised concept plan will be reviewed by the Urban Design Review Board, City Planning Commission, and City Council before a final development plan is submitted for approval.

Parking is key

Downtown Hills, LLC has entered into an agreement with InterContinental Hotels Group, but cannot get financing unless it can demonstrate that the development will have sufficient parking.

This comes at a time when the City says that the 257-space Seventh Street Garage, built in 1958 and rated by consultants as "poor", outdated and not ADA-compliant, needs to be replaced.

During construction, monthly users of the Seventh Street Garage likely will be relocated to the Broadway or Garfield garages. When completed, at least 200 spaces in the new garage are expected to be reserved for hourly and monthly users, including hotel guests.

That should lessen – but not alleviate – the parking crunch that already exists in the northeastern quadrant of Downtown due to the loss of approximately 1,800 spaces at the Broadway Commons casino site.

Previous reading on BC:
Seventh Street Garage to be replaced (2/1/11)
New, green American Red Cross HQ draws dignitaries (6/22/10)
City approves rezoning for Downtown hotel (9/30/08)
EDC to hear proposal for new Downtown hotel (9/19/08)