CINCINNATI-A new tallest building in Cincinnati is moving forward: Western & Southern Financial Group, based here, has announced that it will build the second phase of its Queen City Square project, the proposed 825,000-sf Great American Insurance Building. American Financial Group Inc. secured the project by agreeing to a long-term lease for 530,000 sf of the $300 million building, occupying 22 floors of the 40-story tower.

The building, to be developed and managed by Western & Southern’s subsidiary Eagle Realty Group, will feature a large tiara-like cap, in reference to the Queen name. The tower will be built at Fourth and Sycamore, next to the company’s current first phase, the 200,000-sf 303 building. Mario San Marco, president of Eagle, says the demand for new office space has been incredible. “There had not been a new office building in Cincinnati until the 303 was completed in 2006. Now, that building is more than 94% occupied, and soon to be 97% occupied. I think that demonstrates there are quality tenants that are growing here and want new space,” San Marco tells

American Financial now operates out of five buildings in the Downtown. This move will allow the company to consolidate three of the offices, its insurance divisions, into one location. “It will also allow us room for future growth and expansion,” said American CEO Craig Linder in a statement. The company has about 6,500 employees nationwide, with about 40% in Downtown Cincinnati.

The new building will also have 25,000 sf of retail space, San Marco says. Construction will begin in mid-2008, and should be complete by 2011. He says marketing work is now starting to fill the rest of the structure. “We wanted to get that first lease behind us,” San Marco says. He would not detail the lease rates, but average class A rents are $22.97 per sf, according to a third-quarter report by Grubb & Ellis.

The company will likely receive TIF funding and infrastructure assistance from the city, he says. The city and the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority provided similar incentives for the 303 building.

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