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Springdale approves plan for massive redevelopment of Tri-County Mall

Plans call for more than 50 buildings, thousands of residential units and a dramatic repurposing of the 61-year-old mall.
Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 4:54 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Springdale City Council on Wednesday voted to advance a $1 billion project in the current footprint of Tri-County Mall.

The vote concerned a developer agreement and a zoning change required for the project to move forward. Council members approved it unanimously, according to our media partners at the Enquirer.

The plan envisions the adaptive reuse of many of the mall’s properties, which would be stripped to their basic shell and structure.

Preliminary renderings of the redevelopment of Tri-County Mall
Preliminary renderings of the redevelopment of Tri-County Mall(City of Springdale/BHDP)

The plan calls for up to 20 residential buildings and up to 2,600 residential units on the 76.5-acre site. The buildings could have a maximum height of ten stories.

Another 39 buildings would contain space for offices, bars and restaurants, entertainment offerings, recreation facilities, fitness centers, hotels and more.

The project would also include retail, though the concept plan notes that “uncertainties and economic forces adversely affecting traditional retail” call for proportionately less retail than entertainment space.

At least 15 percent of the project would be green space.

Current garages totaling 3,100 combined parking spaces would be preserved. Additional surface and structured parking could be part of the development as well.

The two Texas developers behind the project, Park Harbor Capital and Market Space Capital enlisted architecture firm BHDP to create the concept plan.

”Regional malls have been struggling for many years, and the outlook for them isn’t getting any better,” Michael VanHuss, Park Harbor Capital managing partner said. “So we’ve been on the lookout for malls that can be assembled in total, that are strategically located in major metropolitan areas that we feel have growth potential.”

Purchase and sale agreements are in place for the mall as well as parcels formerly occupied by Macy’s and Sears.

The project would proceed across five phases, each on two-year timelines, for a total timeframe of around 12 years.

“To say I’m excited is an understatement,” said Springdale Mayor Doyle Webster. “I’m ecstatic and I think all of our city officials feel the same way. We think it’s a new day for the city and we think that this will end up being the crown jewel for the City of Springdale.”

The Springdale Planning Commission held a hearing on a modification to the site’s existing Planned Unit Development Dec. 7. The commission recommended approval and referred the project to Springdale City Council for consideration.

The developers are not seeking county incentives, meaning the plan will not need to go before the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, according to County Administrator Jeff Aluotto.

Preliminary site plan for the redevelopment of Tri-County mall.
Preliminary site plan for the redevelopment of Tri-County mall.(City of Springdale/BHDP)

Tri-County Mall opened in 1960 amid a wave of suburbanization.

The initial anchor tenants were Pogue’s (later JC Penney) and Shillito’s (later Lazarus, then Macy’s,) both headquartered in Downtown Cincinnati. There were 51 stores in total.

The Sears wing was added in 1969. An expansion project finished in 1992 saw the addition of a second level and dozens of new retail spaces as well as a fourth anchor tenant in McAlpin’s, which became Dillards.

Ownership of the mall changed hands multiple times in the ‘90s on concerns that the country’s retail environment was oversaturated.

The fears were well founded. Tri-County’s anchor tenants successively left through the 2000s, punctuating the mall’s slow decline.

Macy’s was the last to shutter earlier this year.

That news followed Macy’s store closure downtown and the company’s decision to relocate its headquarters to New York, effectively closing the book on the department store era—if not the mall era writ large—in Cincinnati.

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