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Cranley Wants More Answers On Queensgate Land Swap

John Cranley won't bring any legislation about The Banks music venue deal to a vote unless the full Cincinnati council tells him to. Mayor Cranley promised that at the end of a nearly three-hour long economic growth and zoning committee meeting Tuesday night in Price Hill. It's the latest twist in a long, complicated effort that involves The Banks, the Bengals, a Lower Price Hill park project, a building materials company, a barge terminal and Downtown parking.

The council committee is considering a plan that would free up space at The Banks for an indoor/outdoor music venue. To get the approval of the Bengals, The Banks Working Group looked at relocating Hilltop Basic Resources to Queensgate, to free up that space for Bengals parking and tailgating.

Tuesday night's meeting was about a proposed land swap. Hilltop and Cincinnati would exchange parcels of land on either side of the Mill Creek, where it meets the Ohio River. Hilltop would get 2.1 acres on the east side of the creek, and the city would get 2.3 acres on the west side, which would be turned into a park.

Mayor Cranley says he won't  send anything to council for approval unless some questions are answered. "I've had a majority of council tell me they want to know what the traffic study is, they want to know how much Hilltop is getting paid, they want to know the environmental study is finished and the cost of remediation to Noramco.  So, unless I hear explicitly from a majority of council that they don't want those things I'll wait for that information before I refer legislation."

Cranley says he had talked with Christopher Smitherman, Chris Seelbach and David Mann, who was at the meeting. Mann says he's troubled by how long the process is taking. He says council signed off on the location of the music venue in 2018.

"I know that the mayor feels very strongly that council made the wrong decision and has raised a number of issues. I assume the issues deserve a lot of study and attention, but I think council has to look at the administration and say 'look at these and tell us what you think we should do.' " Mann wonders if the city administration isn't sure how to proceed.

Cranley says there are a lot of questions about the land swap that haven't been answered. He and Hamilton County's Banks counsel Tom Gabelman talked over each other several times, prompting committee chair Amy Murray to rebuke them both, "We are not in a courthouse."

Gabelman says right now the music venue is scheduled to open in about a year.

This story has been updated to correct the name of Hilltop Basic Resources, and to clarify the timetable of the music venue.