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Council Poised To Approve Development Of Uptown Corridor, City's 'Next Big Thing'

uptown innovation rendering
University of Cincinnati
A rendering of the new UC digital futures facility at Martin Luther King Drive and Reading Road.

Cincinnati City Council is expected to vote Wednesday on a sale and development agreement for the Uptown Gateway project in Avondale.

It's a mixed-use development at the southeast quadrant of Martin Luther King Drive and Reading Road.

A City Council committee Tuesday approved $9.5 million in city incentives for the project. 

That includes selling the land to the developer for $1. The fair market value is $2.9 million. 

The city will also set up a 30-year project TIF, which allows the developer to use tax-exempt bonds to fund a $50.1 million parking garage with 1,300 to 1,500 spaces. Instead of paying property taxes, the developer will make payments on the bonds to pay for the garage. The Port Authority will issue and service those bonds.

Mayor John Cranley, Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld, developers, and others gathered for a press conference across the street from the site Tuesday morning.

"This is the next big thing combining research, students and revitalization," Cranley said.

Sittenfeld called the project the future of Cincinnati's economy.

"Harnessing the power of innovation, tapping bright, young entrepreneurial minds, building connectivity with world class research institutions," Sittenfeld said. "This is what's going to propel us forward as a city."

The University of Cincinnati announced in August its digital futures building will be the first tenant of the Uptown Gateway. 

UC President Neville Pinto said the 180,000-square foot space will allow faculty and students to work with industry on the digital future.

"Our vision for the new building is that of a digital research commons," Pinto said. "Which will bring together our advanced capabilities in computer hardware and software, data sciences, digital expression, and human factors to interface with our external partners."

Pinto says the facility will help the region thrive in the rapidly changing knowledge economy.

Phase 1A of the project has a $150 million price tag and will include another 180,000-square foot office building and 158-unit hotel. The first phase is expected to break ground this spring with completion in 2021.

Phase 1B will include more office space and parking, while Phase 2 could include 100 to 400 units of residential housing.

Terrex Development & Construction and Messer Construction are partnering to build the project.

The Uptown Consortium has assembled more than 100 parcels of real estate for the Innovation Corridor.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.