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by German Lopez 06.26.2013
Posted In: News, Development, Streetcar, City Council at 02:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
city hall

City Council Approves Streetcar Budget Fixes

Funding for development at Fourth, Race streets also gets approval

City Council today approved funding and accountability measures for the Cincinnati streetcar project, allowing the project to move forward.

On Monday, the Budget and Finance Committee approved the measures, which CityBeat covered in further detail here. The funding ordinance closes the streetcar project's $17.4 million budget gap by issuing more debt and pulling funding from various capital projects, including infrastructure improvements around the Horseshoe Casino.

The accountability motion will require the city manager to update City Council with a timeline of key milestones, performance measures, an operating plan, staffing assessments and monthly progress reports.

Council members Roxanne Qualls, Laure Quinlivan, Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young voted for the measures. Council members P.G. Sittenfeld, Chris Smitherman and Charlie Winburn voted against both. Councilwoman Pam Thomas voted against the funding ordinance, but she voted for the accountability motion.

City Council also unanimously approved funding for a development project on Fourth and Race streets, which includes a downtown grocery store, luxury apartment tower and parking garage to replace Pogue's Garage. CityBeat covered that project in further detail here.

 
 
by German Lopez 02.12.2013
Posted In: Anna Louise Inn, Courts, Development, News at 02:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
anna louise inn

Anna Louise Inn, Western & Southern Returning to Court

Hearings set with Judge Norbert Nadel for April

The Anna Louise Inn and Western & Southern will meet again in court in April to begin the next chapter of the ongoing zoning dispute between the longtime neighbors. 

In a Feb. 8 ruling, the Ohio First District Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court that Cincinnati Union Bethel, which owns the Inn, filed an incomplete permit application. The ruling asks CUB to resubmit the funding requests to the city of Cincinnati — except this time CUB will have to include details about previously omitted parts of the Anna Louise Inn and the Off the Streets program. 

But Tim Burke, attorney for CUB, says CUB already carried out the court’s requirements. After Judge Norbert Nadel ruled May 4 that the Inn didn’t properly fill out its original application, CUB started a second chain of applications to obtain a conditional use permit to meet Nadel’s zoning specifications. The new applications have been approved by Cincinnati’s Historic Conservation Board and the Cincinnati Zoning Board of Appeals, but Western & Southern is appealing those rulings as well.

Last week’s appeals court ruling sent the case back down to the lower court on a legal technicality. With the ruling, all the Anna Louise Inn cases, including the separate chain of zoning appeals, are essentially consolidated to Nadel. 

The dispute began in 2010, when Western & Southern sued the Anna Louise Inn over zoning issues to block $13 million in city- and state-distributed federal loans to renovate the building. Western & Southern declined an opportunity to purchase the building in 2009, but now seems interested in turning it into a luxury hotel. 

The Anna Louise Inn is a 103-year-old building that provides shelter to low-income women. Its Off the Streets program helps women involved in prostitution turn their lives around.

For more information about this ongoing dispute, visit CityBeat's collection of coverage here.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 03.21.2012
 
 
naming rights1

Morning News and Stuff

One day a few years from now Cincinnati motorists might drive their vehicles across the Procter & Gamble Bridge. Ohio's transportation officials are considering ways to create public-private partnerships to help pay for large, expensive projects like the planned replacement for the Brent Spence Bridge, which is estimated to cost $2 billion. The Ohio Department of Transportation has formed a new Division of Innovative Delivery to ponder new methods for raising revenue, which might include selling the naming rights to bridges and roads or using more tolls. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Corporate States of America.

The expansion of Cincinnati's recycling program is yielding good results. 2011 was the first full year for the expanded program that included larger containers and the use of the RecycleBank rewards program. The amount of recycled material increased 49 percent when comparing 2011 to 2009, while participation jumped by 75 percent. As a result, the city saved more than $900,000 in dumping fees and related costs. Each ton of refuse shifted from the landfill to recycling saves the city about $100.

A transgender student at Miami University in Oxford is challenging campus officials for not allowing him to serve as a resident assistant in an all-male residence hall. Instead, he was offered a position in a suite living with female students. Kaeden Kass, who was born a female but dresses and identifies as male, filed a complaint against the dean of students and the university council.

Gov. John Kasich signed an executive order this week creating an “employment first” policy requiring case managers for disabled people to first look for job placement at private businesses rather than turning to more typical sheltered workshop environments, where nearly all the employees are disabled. The new policy applies to the state departments of Developmental Disabilities, Mental Health and Education; the Rehabilitation Services Commission; and school districts.

Cincinnati firefighters are investigating the cause of a series of fires that occurred early this morning in the city's Carthage neighborhood. Crews had to extinguish blazes involving at least three garages and two vehicles in separate incidents. Officials are calling the fires suspicious and are working to find a possible suspect. Damage is estimated at $20,000.

In news elsewhere, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney easily won the Illinois primary Tuesday. Romney received 46.7 percent of the vote, compared to 35 percent for Rick Santorum. Oh, yeah: Ron Paul got 9.3 percent and Newt Gingrich got 8 percent. (That's right, Paul beat Gingrich.) The results give credibility to GOP fears that Santorum's appeal is limited to the Deep South and conservative areas in the West.

The next primary is Saturday in Louisiana, which is causing some controversy. A super PAC that supports Romney has started sending mailers to Louisiana voters but didn't quite get the details correct. Restore Our Future told voters in the mailer they should vote for Romney on Tuesday, March 24. But the 24th is actually a Saturday, not Tuesday. The super PAC has said the mixup was accidental, but some Santorum supporters suspect it was intentional to confuse voters.

A detailed study shows increased oil drilling in the United States doesn't affect gasoline prices at the pump. A statistical analysis of 36 years of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production by the Associated Press shows no statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and gas prices. If more domestic oil drilling worked as some politicians allege, motorists would now be paying about $2 a gallon for gas. Hey, Mitt and Rick: It's time to try a new scare tactic.

French police were locked in a standoff this morning and exchanged gunfire with an Islamic militant barricaded in an apartment who is suspected of being the gunman who killed three French soldiers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi over the past eight days. Authorities identified the suspect as Mohammed Merah, 24, a French citizen who has spent time with Islamic groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

At least 11 boys were castrated while in the care of the Dutch Roman Catholic church in the 1950s to rid them of homosexuality, a newspaper investigation reports. One person, who was 18 at the time, was castrated in 1956 after telling police he was being sexually abused by a priest. Dutch officials ordered an investigation after the report was published in the NRC Handelsblad newspaper.
 
 
by German Lopez 06.10.2013
Posted In: News, Development, Food Deserts at 04:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
downtown grocery

Committee Approves Plan for Downtown Grocery Store

Plan also includes parking garage, luxury apartments

In a 7-0 vote today, City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee approved development plans for Fourth and Race streets to build a downtown grocery store, 300 luxury apartments and a parking garage to replace Pogue’s Garage.

Following the city’s $8.5 million purchase of the property, the project will cost $80 million. The city will provide $12 million through a five-year forgivable loan, and the rest — $68 million — will come from private financing.

The committee hearing largely focused on the downtown grocery store, which Odis Jones, the city’s economic development director, called the “next step” of the city’s overall plans to invigorate residential space and drive down office vacancy downtown.

Development company Flaherty and Collins will oversee the grocery store project, which was originally attached to the city’s plans to semi-privatize its parking assets.

The grocery store will be 15,000 square feet — slightly smaller than the Kroger store on Vine Street, which is about 17,000 square feet — and open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. It will be run by an independent operator, which is so far unnamed.

Flaherty and Collins CEO David Flaherty acknowledged it’s “a compact space,” but he said it will be enough space for a “full-service grocery store” with all the essentials, including fresh produce.

The grocery store will be at the base of a new, 30-story residential tower, which will include 300 luxury apartments and a pool.

Across the street, the city will replace Pogue’s Garage, which city officials have long called an “eyesore,” with a new garage.

The seven Democrats on City Council voted in favor of the plan, with Independent Councilman Chris Smitherman and Republican Councilman Charlie Winburn abstaining.

Democratic Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld questioned the funding sources for the project. City officials explained the $12 million loan will come through urban renewal bonds, which were previously set aside in an urban revival plan that encompasses all of downtown.

Jones said the money was going to a hotel-convention center deal when the city originally pitched the parking plan, but that deal has since collapsed.

City officials also noted the urban renewal fund, which is generated through downtown taxes, can only be used on capital improvement projects that support development and redevelopment downtown. Although the fund could be modified by City Council, it could never go to operating budget expenses such as police and fire.

Public dollars will go to the public garage, while private funds will carry the rest of the project.

The city’s $12 million investment comes through a five-year forgivable loan, which means the city will get its money back if parts of the project, including the privately funded grocery store, fail to meet standards within five years. After the five years are over, the loan is forgiven and any failure would result in a total loss on the investment.

Smitherman, who opposed the city’s parking plan, criticized the city administration for not presenting the current funding plan as an alternative to the parking plan: “What I’d like as a public policymaker is to see all of the options in front of me so that I can choose not just one option but maybe three options.”

Sittenfeld also questioned Flaherty about two previous projects Flaherty and Collins undertook that went bankrupt. Flaherty said the bankruptcies were mostly related to the economic downturn of 2008, but admitted the bankruptcies forced the company to make changes.

The city estimates the project will produce 650 construction jobs and 35 permanent, full-time jobs.

For the city, the project is part of a much bigger plan that includes getting 3,000-5,000 new residential units built downtown in the next five years to meet rising demand.

“It’s hot to be downtown right now,” Jones said.

Jones explained the property would have cost Cincinnati millions of dollars regardless of the city’s buyout and development plans because of a liability agreement the city made in the 1980s.

“When you start from there and you gradually come up and look holistically at the project, taking action was not only necessary, it was prudent,” he said.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 04.19.2012
 
 
layoffs

Morning News and Stuff

In an effort to avoid an estimated $43 million deficit, the Cincinnati Board of Education decided Wednesday to eliminate 237 teaching jobs for next school year. Of the job cuts, 35 are layoffs, 112 are retirements or resignations, and 90 are long-term substitutes. In March, the board also approved laying off 40 administrators. The actions are expected to create $20 million in savings, but officials say more cuts are needed.

Cincinnati City Council has approved an ordinance cracking down on so-called “predatory towing.” Some local towing companies haven't been following state guidelines about how much may be charged for the towing and impoundment of vehicles. The city law clarifies that they must be complied with, and companies that violate the fees can lose lucrative towing contracts with the Cincinnati Police Department.

As part of their standard procedures, state regulators are reviewing the background of a company slated to open the state's first casino next month and Cincinnati's casino next year. The Ohio Casino Control Commission meets this week to review a newly completed report on Rock Ohio Caesars. It will include details about the company's financial stability and whether it has any criminal background.

Although Earth Day isn't until Sunday, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is marking the holiday early by sponsoring an e-waste recycling drive today to collect and recycle unwanted electronic waste from guests. Collection is from 4-6:30 p.m., and all electronic devices will be recycled by 2trg, a certified recycler that operates under zero landfill and zero export policies. A $10 cash fee will be charged for each TV set, and all other acceptable items will be recycled for free. Other acceptable items include cables, CD-ROM drives, cellular phones, DVD players, keyboards, laptops, LCD monitors, microwave ovens, printers and more.

Locally-based Fifth Third Bank says its first-quarter net income quadrupled, thanks in part to its stake in the payment processor Vantiv, which had its initial public offering. The company reported net income of $421 million today, or 45 cents per share. That compares with $88 million, or 10 cents per share, reported in the same period last year. Apparently, there's only a recession going on for some of us.

In news elsewhere, House Speaker John Boehner (R-West Chester) is dismissing criticism brought against the Republican budget plan by Catholic bishops. Referencing Matthew 25, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called on Congress to put the poor first in budget priorities and rethink cuts to programs that help them. But Boehner, a Catholic, said at a press conference Wednesday the cuts were necessary, despite the impact they may have on the poor. “What’s more of a concern to me is the fact that if we don’t start to make some decisions about getting our fiscal house in order there won’t be a safety net,” he said. “There won’t be these programs.” (Hey, John: Maybe you should take another look at the Pentagon's budget.)

Six former employees of a company connected to a firm founded by GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney filed a federal lawsuit this week, alleging they were fired because they weren't Mormon. The plaintiffs worked for Sorenson Capital Partners, whose managing directors and officers are former partners or executives at Bain Capital and Bain & Co. Romney founded Bain Capital in 1984 after working for Bain & Co. The plaintiffs seek $5.35 million in damages for breach of contract, discrimination and retaliation.

If the CIA gets its way, acting suspicious will be enough to get you killed in Yemen. The spy agency is seeking authority to expand its covert drone campaign in Yemen by launching strikes against terrorism suspects even when it does not know the identities of those who could be killed, U.S. officials said. Securing permission to use these “signature strikes” would allow the agency to hit targets based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior, such as imagery showing militants gathering at known al-Qaeda compounds or unloading explosives. Remember: They hate us because we love freedom.

Syria and the United Nations have reached a tentative deal to deploy observers to monitor the nation's ceasefire, officials from both sides said. A spokesman for peace envoy Kofi Annan said the agreement covered the observers' functions and Syrian government's responsibilities. It came after the U.N. secretary general said Syria was failing to comply with its peace plan obligations. The plan seeks to end unrest which has killed at least 9,000 people.

The global economic downturn is even visible in China, where large amounts of retail and office space sit vacant, in nearly pristine condition, having never been used. Part of the problem is Chinese industry has been producing massive amounts of steel, cement, and aluminum, so much that its economy cannot absorb all of the output. For example, the seven-story Global Furnishing Design and Exhibition Center in Shanghai, the most populous city in the world, is known as “the ghost mall of China” due to its empty corridors and vacant stores.
 
 
by Kevin Osborne 04.04.2012
 
 
mallory

Mallory to Give State of the City Address

Event will be Tuesday at Aronoff Center

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory will deliver his annual State of the City address next week.

The address, which will be Mallory’s seventh since taking office, will be given 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. It will be held in the Jarson-Kaplan Theater at the Aronoff Center for the Arts, located at 650 Walnut St., downtown.

When CityBeat asked what the theme would be for this year’s address, a spokeswoman for Mallory declined comment.

“Our office won’t be previewing or giving information out about the speech this year,” said Julianna Rice, a policy aide to the mayor.

Generally, because seating is limited, anyone wishing to attend must receive a ticket through the mayor’s office. For more information, call 513-352-3250.

Mallory, a Democrat, was sworn in as the 68th mayor of Cincinnati on Dec. 1, 2005 and was reelected in 2009.  He cannot run again in 2013 due to term limits.

Mallory’s election marked a new era for City Hall as the first two-term mayor under the city's new “stronger-mayor” system, as well as Cincinnati’s first directly-elected black mayor, and the first mayor in more than 70 years who didn’t first serve on City Council.

Mallory celebrated his 50th birthday on Monday.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 02.29.2012
 
 
dohoney

Morning News and Stuff

One headline about Tuesday's bitterly-contested primary in Michigan summarizes events succinctly: “Mitt wins ugly.” Mitt Romney won the contest in his native state, giving him the edge in the battle over the Republican presidential nomination, but not by a large margin. Romney received 41.1 percent of the vote to Rick Santorum's 37.9 percent. They were separated by 32,393 votes — respectable, but nothing to gloat about as Mitt outspent his rival by a large margin. Romney won a much more convincing victory in Arizona, where he got 47.3 percent of the vote compared to Santorum's 26.6 percent.

All of this means next week's “Super Tuesday” will be even more closely watched. There are seven primaries (Ohio, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia) and three caucuses (Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota) slated for March 6 and — once again — the Buckeye State could be a bellwether for the race. “While Santorum’s own super PAC will help him remain viable in Ohio, a Romney win there, combined with some other key states that day (Virginia will not not be seen as a clean victory since only Romney and Ron Paul are on the ballot), could start winding down the race,” Politico reported.

City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. defended his recommendation to give a Hamilton soul food restaurant nearly $1 million in grants and loans to create a second location at The Banks district in downtown Cincinnati. Some officials have criticized the pending deal after learning Liz and Trent Rogers, owners of Mahogany’s Cafe and Grill, owe about $49,000 in back taxes to the federal government. In a memo to City Council sent Tuesday afternoon, Dohoney wrote that city financing is the only way to attract small, minority-owned businesses like Mahogany’s to The Banks, and fits with the developers’ vision to include some locally owned restaurants in the project.

With Cincinnati Public Schools facing a $43 million deficit, Superintendent Mary Ronan said some layoffs are likely. If there are layoffs, affected staffers will be informed during the last week of April. “Everyone has balanced their budget by taking money away from the district," Ronan told WLWT-TV (Channel 5). "So now, we're looking at layoffs."

It's time to get rid of that ratty old sofa sitting next to your garage. Cincinnati City Council will vote today on a proposed ordinance that will place restrictions on what residents can store outside of their homes. Any item intended for use in the interior of a house, like appliances and most furniture, won't be able to be left outside for an extended period of time. Violators would have 10 days to correct problems. If the person doesn't, he or she would face fines ranging from $250 to $1,000, along with up to one year in jail.

If you think corporate executives are coddled or that bankers add little of true value to the economy, you might want to skip this blurb. Fifth Third Bank paid $7.1 million to CEO Kevin Kabat last year, giving him a 49 percent compensation increase. Kabat's pay hike is due, at least partially, to the bank’s repayment last year of $3.4 billion it borrowed through the U.S. Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). That got Fifth Third released from federal restrictions on executive pay, The Business Courier reports.

In news elsewhere, three investigations have been launched into the Koran burnings at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan by the U.S. military. The event ignited days of deadly protests that caused the deaths of up to 30 Afghanis and might have caused the shooting deaths of four American soldiers.

A prisoner held at the Guantanamo Bay prison since 2003 is expected to plead guilty soon at a war crimes tribunal. Pakistani Majid Khan, 32, who had lived in the United States, will admit to terror-related charges in exchange for leniency. He faces five war crimes charges, including conspiring with al-Qaeda, murder and attempted murder.

Twenty-five suspected members of the loose-knit Anonymous hacker movement were arrested in a sweep across Europe and South America by Interpol, the international law enforcement agency. The suspects, aged between 17 and 40, are suspected of planning coordinated cyber-attacks against institutions including Colombia's defense ministry and presidential websites.
 
 
by Kevin Osborne 01.26.2012
Posted In: Business, Development, Urban Planning at 03:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
fountain

Vendors Sought for Fountain Square

Tuesdays will be market day at downtown’s Fountain Square beginning in late spring and lasting until early fall. And to fill the market, the group that manages the plaza is accepting applications from interested vendors.

The Cincinnati City Center Development Corp. (3CDC) will operate the market for 21 weeks, from May 1 to Sept. 25. The midday, mini-market will be open from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Read More

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 04.11.2012
 
 
mayor

Morning News and Stuff

“Accentuate the positive” has always been Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory's motto when giving his annual State of the City address, and Tuesday night's speech was no different. Mallory talked about the new development in Over-the-Rhine and The Banks riverfront district, adding that type of vision for the future must continue. The mayor also said city officials must strive to improve the quality of life for residents.

A national teachers' union said Cincinnati Public Schools officials have used faulty budget estimates to justify a plan to lay off up to 225 teachers next week. CPS says it will have a $43 million deficit next year and already has laid off 40 administrators. At the request of the local union president, the American Federation of Teachers reviewed the CPS budget forecast and declared it has identified at least $17.9 million in savings, enough to save at least 197 teaching jobs.

Less than a week after the Reds agreed to a major contract extension for Joey Votto, the team now has struck a deal with Brandon Phillips. The second baseman will get a six-year, $72.5 million contract. Referring to the deals, Sports Illustrated wrote, “the small-market Cincinnati Reds show that they're serious about winning.”

A University of Cincinnati student remains hospitalized today after a toxic chemical explosion on campus overnight. Police say a female student was working with the chemical alone at the engineering building around 1 a.m. when a reaction caused an explosion. The student was working on a process known as aluminum etching.

Oxford police have had to stand watch while members of a fraternity that was ordered to shut down at Miami University clear out their belongings from the frat house. Sigma Chi International officials yanked the local charter and ordered the 29 frat house occupants evicted by today after years of sanctions for alleged drug use, alcohol abuse, hazing and property damage. Police had to arrest an apparently inebriated 21-year-old student from Chicago for refusing to leave the scene after he repeatedly barked at a police dog. (How douchey.)

In news elsewhere, Rick Santorum announced Tuesday he was leaving the race for the Republican presidential nomination, clearing the path for Mitt Romney. Although Santorum — an ex-Pennsylvania senator who lost reelection in 2006 — said his decision partially was prompted by health concerns about his three-year-old daughter, Bella, most pundits agree he likely was afraid of losing the primary election in his home state on April 24, which could've dashed his plans for a political future.

More Americans think the U.S. Supreme Court justices will be acting mostly on their partisan political views than on a neutral reading of the law when they decide the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care law, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News. Only 40 percent of respondents expect their decisions to be rooted primarily “on the basis of the law.”

Attorneys representing George Zimmerman in the Florida shooting death of an unarmed black teenager dropped out of the case Tuesday, saying they've had no contact with their client since Sunday. The attorneys, who conceded they had never met their client in-person, said Zimmerman had been in contact with Fox News commentator Sean Hannity during the same period. Meanwhile, special prosecutor Angela Corey said Tuesday she would hold a press conference “in the next 72 hours.” Corey will decide whether Zimmerman should face criminal charges for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

McDonald's has become the fifth major company to recently drop its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The shadowy group, which has ties to the Koch brothers and the NRA, provides model legislation for state lawmakers to introduce on various conservative and “free market” issues. ALEC has been criticized for pushing the “stand your ground” law in Florida that allows people to kill someone in public places if they feel their life is threatened. Other firms that have dropped membership are Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Intuit.

A massive earthquake off Indonesia’s western coast triggered tsunami fears across the Indian Ocean today, sending residents in coastal cities fleeing to higher ground. The U.S. Geological Survey said the first 8.6-magnitude quake was centered about 19 miles beneath the ocean floor. At least one aftershock also has been reported.
 
 
by 07.08.2011
 
 

Kearney Hosts Small Business Forum

A state lawmaker will host two sessions later this month designed to give advice to small business owners on obtaining loans to start or expand a business.

State Sen. Eric Kearney (D-9th District) is sponsoring the Small Business Credit Access Forum on July 28. The sessions will be held at the TechSolve Business Park, located at 6705 Stegner Drive in Carthage.

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