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CINCINNATI-The city and Hamilton County have achieved three of the four conditions to push forward the $907 million Cincinnati Banks project, which includes 1.8 million sf of apartments and condos, one million sf of office, up to 400,000 sf of retail and up to 400,000 sf of hotel rooms. The governmental bodies recently gave the development team of Carter & Associates Commercial Services LLC and the Dawson Co., both based in Atlanta, one month to gain financing. The project, which will be capped at 24-stories high and 2.8 million sf total, will run from Second Street on the north to the riverfront on the south, between the Great American Ball Park on the east and Paul Brown Stadium on the west.

Previous company statements have indicated that private investment will ring in at between $600 million to $800 million, and that public entities will kick in about $109 million, which includes funding for a new road called Freedom Way. The development team was given until Feb. 29 to piece together lending terms. A Carter spokeswoman tells GlobeSt.com that the team is halfway there. “We’ve secured preliminary financing with three major Cincinnati banks, and also have engaged several equity partners,” she tells GlobeSt.com on Friday. The spokeswoman declined to name the financiers involved.

She says the team has been having weekly meetings, putting the project into motion. “All I can say is that we don’t anticipate any problems. All the financing people we’ve talked to have expressed a keen interest in the project. We’re still looking at a spring groundbreaking,” she says. The project is expected to start this year, with the first phase, including 300 apartments and 70,000 sf of retail, complete in the blocks between Walnut and Main by 2010. The first phase could also include 100 condos and at least 200,000 sf of office. The entire project may take until 2017 to complete, according to development team statements. The developer is reporting activity and interest in regard to retail and office leasing, but the spokeswoman refused to name any companies now in negotiations. “We’re not going to release that information until after the 29th,” she says.

The city and the county recently achieved three contingency items that it had been tasked with for the project. The government bodies entered into an agreement with the National Underground Freedom Center in late January to gain the land in front of the center’s building. Also, two Community Entertainment Districts were established in January that increased the number of Banks proprietors who may be able to sell liquor. Finally, an amendment to the TIF district legislation was passed by the city council that finalizes the provisions that the project needs to allow collected taxes to be reinvested in the project.

Also in late January, the city and county released the first request for qualifications for the project, for consulting services. The entire team is expected to release the site preparation-demolition bid package in February.

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