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What's next for Cincinnati's convention center

Cincinnati Convention Center.PNG
Duke Energy Convention Center
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Renovating the Duke Energy Convention Center is estimated to cost $100 million. That doesn't include the cost of any expansion. Building a hotel has a price tag of $360 million.

The president of the City Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) told Hamilton County commissioners Tuesday he would like to select a convention center hotel developer by the end of the year and start construction by the middle of next year.

Steve Leeper says picking the developer will be a two-step process beginning with a request for expressions of interest. (REOI) “And we’re going to various people to help us develop that list,” he says. “And then we would try to narrow it down to four or five firms at which point in time we would ask them for a very specific submission document.”

A new hotel is expected to cost $360 million and may not take up the entire two acres where The Millennium Hotel stood. Leeper says there may be room for other development there like shops and restaurants.

Convention Center renovation

Renovating the Duke Energy Convention Center will cost tens of millions. That doesn’t include any expansion.

“I’m not going to kid you. I imagine it’s going to be every bit of $100 million or north of that,” says Leeper. “So where do you fund that? There’s obviously a couple of different options here, one is that we more efficiently use our lodging tax.”

Commissioner Alecia Reece questioned the funding of all this, wondering how to explain it to the public. “We have spent a lot of taxpayer money on facilities. We own two stadiums (that need renovation) and the taxpayers are saying, hold on, we can’t keep funding all of this.”

Reece wants to know, “How do we get more use out of public facilities that we have right now?”

Leeper will make the same convention center presentation to members of Cincinnati City Council next week.

The renovated convention center and a new hotel would be part of a convention center district as reported by WVXU’s Becca Costello.