Banks Project Eyes Spring Groundbreaking

(CINCINNATI) -- The city of Cincinnati, Hamilton County and Banks development team of Carter and Dawson Company announced Thursday that several development agreement contingencies have been met and a spring 2008 groundbreaking is in sight.

The major milestones met recently include several contingency items by the city and county:

* The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center's interest in Lot 7 of the Banks -- the city county and the Freedom Center entered into an agreement last Friday in which the Freedom Center released its interest in the land in front of the building.

* Establishment of two Community Entertainment Districts -- these districts were established by a resolution of city council on Jan. 9. The districts will allow the Banks to attract more places for people to eat, drink and have fun by increasing the number of Banks proprietors that may be able to sell liquor.

* Establishment of Tax Increment Financing -- an amendment to the TIF district legislation was passed by city council on Nov. 1 that finalizes the provisions the Banks projects needs allows much of the project's collected taxes to be "reinvested" in the project, helping to fund the development.

Also on Thursday, the city and county jointly released the first request for qualifications under the Banks Agreement. It is for consulting services from firms with specialized qualifications in inclusion outreach in connection with the implementation of the "joint policy for small business enterprise, economic inclusion and workforce development."

Carter and Dawson have also provided the city and county with a status report on the Phase 1A financing, which includes:

* Securing preliminary financing commitments from three major local banks helping to meet the development team's goal of utilizing local banks in the construction financing process. The developer also obtained letters of interest from several non-local banks.

* Engaged several equity partners to secure preliminary commitments for additional equity participation in the Banks project in addition to Carter and Dawson's investment.

The city and county have granted the development team until Feb. 29, 2008 to secure commitments from lenders and equity investors.