‘This was thrown upon us’: Developers face criticism over Blue Ash stadium design
CINCINNATI (Enquirer) - The developers of a massive, mixed-use project adjacent to Summit Park faced pushback Thursday night from some members of the Blue Ash City Council over a proposal to build a $15 million, 5,000-seat athletic stadium, according to our media partners at the Enquirer.
Some of the concerns expressed by council members were a perceived lack of transparency on the part of the development team, Oakley-based Vandercar Holdings and Downtown-based Al Neyer, and that the stadium’s use as a concert venue could compete with an existing venue at Summit Park.
“We didn’t ask for this presentation, you know, this was thrown upon us,” Councilman Jeff Capell told the developers’ representatives. “An update doesn’t mean, ‘yeah, we’re going to stuff a football stadium and a whole bunch of apartments on you.’”
Rob Smyjunas, CEO of Vandercar Holdings, said his firm gives occasional updates to the city regarding its mixed-use project, “the Neighborhoods at Summit Park,” adding they wanted to allow the designer a chance to provide context to the community about the design changes.
Blue Ash Mayor Marc Sirkin said Thursday night’s presentation was the city’s first look at the stadium design. He clashed with Capell over the councilman’s claims the developer lacked transparency, saying the entire council requested an update on the project.
“I don’t know why you’re angry now,” Sirkin said. “They did exactly what the seven of us asked for.”
Sirkin stressed that the parcel on which the proposed stadium would be built doesn’t belong to Blue Ash, adding that it would sit on a private, approximately 100-acre property that used to be part of the Cincinnati-Blue Ash Airport. He said the developers must still obtain approvals from the city before the stadium proposal can move forward.
“It’s way down the road,” Sirkin said.
The stadium is part of a $90 million proposal that also calls for retail, dining, lodging and corporate uses, as well as upscale apartments.
“It’s a one-of-a-kind venue that’s unique to the United States,” said Bill Baker, managing partner at MSA Design.
Smyjunas said the original plan was to build a parking garage on the space.
Vandercar has partnered with MSA Design, which has previously done architecture work at Summit Park. The Downtown-based firm designed Summit Park’s 150-foot observation tower. MSA has also designed professional, college and high school sports venues across the region and nationwide, including the Reds, Houston Astros and Miami Marlins’ stadiums.
Neither the city council nor the developers publicly announced whether the stadium would house Moeller High School’s football program, the only prominent prep football program in the region without its own home field.
When asked whether the stadium will become the new home for Moeller football, Smyjunas told The Enquirer, “We’re in conversations with other potential users for the venue” including concert promoters and other sports programs.
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