Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Riverside/Sedamsville: The Yards

When will City Council consider a rezoning for The Yards?

The Vandercar Holdings project, in the Riverside and Sedamsville area on what is known as the Conrail site, was panned by the City Planning Commission on March 16, 2007 for not conforming to the existing Land Use Plan and for lacking a corresponding fiscal impact analysis.

It was scheduled to be heard in front of the Economic Development Committee on April 24.

That is normally followed by a City Council vote, usually the very next day.

So far it hasn't made the Council agenda.

The concept plan

In September 2005, Vandercar Holdings owner Rob Smyjunas announced plans for a 60-acre power center, containing five big-box tenants, to be built on long-vacant land between River Road and Southside Avenue.

The $60 million-$80 million project drew comparisons to Vandercar's Center of Cincinnati project in Oakley.

When the formal development agreement for The Yards was filed with City Council in June 2006, the project changed slightly to four large buildings and "a few" smaller ones, including restaurants and a bank. The total square footage was estimated to be about 600,000 square feet.

The proposal also called for the creation of a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district and a sale by the City of Cincinnati to Vandercar of an adjacent 22 acre parcel ($1.8 million).

In July 2006, the City Planning Commission recommended that City Council should not accept the concept plan offered in the development agreement.

However, swayed by support from the Riverside and Sedamsville community councils and the Price Hill Civic Club, City Council passed an ordinance to enter into a contract of sale with Vandercar for the acreage.

PUDs and TIFs

The passing of the ordinance left Vandercar to seek a zoning change to line up the TIF money.

The acreage in question is already part of a City-created TIF district, TIF District 14 (MAP).

Vandercar wants to separate the project site from the existing TIF district and designate it as PD 48 (Planned Unit Development).

PD status, which would change the current zoning from single-family and manufacturing uses, would allow the developer to direct TIF monies specifically from its project into raising the site out of the 100-year flood plain, building a retaining wall along River Road, installing sewers and improving the intersection of River Road and Fairbanks Avenue.

"We have enough manufacturing"*

The plans for the project have changed since they were first announced.

Vandercar now proposes a development that is more mixed-use and would have up to 22 buildings, including a large retail store, an office building or hotel (multi-story, 40K-120K sq ft), a multi-screen cinema and numerous smaller commercial stores.

It would total up to 985,000 square feet of retail and 120,000 square feet of office space on what is now 74 acres.

Most of the 6.5 acres of planned open space would be along the River Road frontage.

What a "yes" vote means

A City Council "yes" vote on the PD zoning change would accept this concept plan.

Vandercar would then be required to submit a more thorough final development plan to the City Planning Commission, which has not been to kind to them thus far.

A City Council approval of a final development plan by this summer could mean completion in the 3rd quarter of 2009.


* Partial quote from Doug Kohls, Sedamsville Community Council, regarding the City Planning Commission's vote. "Complex Denied Zoning Change", 3/17/07 Cincinnati Enquirer.


matthew said...

great summary. are you a resident of Riverside or Sedamsville?


Kevin LeMaster said...


No, I don't live there. I just find the whole thing very intruiging. It will be interesting to see if what results is the product of developers, the City, the surrounding industrial concerns, or the local residents.

It could end up pleasing all involved, but usually someone gets left out.

Anonymous said...

"We have enough manufacturing"*

Um, no. Manufacturing jobs have an economic impact about 3x that of retail.

I think Sedamsville/Riverside/Sayler Park would benefit from this, and it would spur residential development along River Road, but am not sure pure retail/hospitality is the best value use for all of the land in question.

Without trespassing: what do you suppose is the radial configuration in the northwest "corner" of the site as seen on googlemaps?

Kevin LeMaster said...

^ Could you clarify your question?

Anonymous said...

the radial structure is an old railroad roundhouse.

I don't dissagree that a manufacturing job is better than a low wage service job. the comment "we have enough manufacturing" should be referring to the fact that we have enough land zoned manufacutring and industrial. keeping a giant land bank of manufacturing zoning so close to the city center is wastful. the econ. dev department still has a mindset that ford or toyota is going to swoop down and build a factory any day now... just silly.

DanThoms said...

I agree, no manufacturing. I want them to build a movie theater for my own selfish reasons. I just want to be walking distance from a theater :)

Kevin LeMaster said...

They are not building anything. The plan is dead.

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