WVXU, WGUC planning new Evanston studios
Cincinnati Public Radio wants to construct a new two-story headquarters on Dana Avenue near I-71 exit after abandoning plans for a new building across from Cincinnati City Hall.
Update 10 a.m. Wednesday July 13: Cincinnati Public Radio closed on the purchase of the Dana Avenue property Tuesday for construction of a new home for WVXU-FM and WGUC-FM.
The public broadcaster paid $600,000 for 0.79 acre at 2117 Dana Avenue, west of the Keystone Parke Hilton Garden Inn and the Dana Avenue Interstate 71 interchange.
Richard Eiswerth, Cincinnati Public Radio president, CEO and general manager, says he wants to break ground before the end of the year for the two-story, 30,000 square-foot headquarters with radio studios, offices and a performance space.
Cincinnati City Council approved a request by Neyer Properties Inc. on June 29 to remove the parcel from the tax increment financing district created in 2008 for the Keystone Parke development.
Original post Monday June 27, 2022: Cincinnati Public Radio's WVXU-FM and WGUC-FM are planning to build new studios on Dana Avenue in Evanston by the Keystone Parke Hilton Garden Inn, the American Red Cross Greater Cincinnati Tri-State chapter and Evanston Park.
A proposal for a new two-story, 30,000-square foot headquarters with radio studios, offices and a performance space was made public Monday at Cincinnati City Council's Budget and Finance Committee.
It's the second time in three years that Cincinnati Public Radio has sought council action for a new location. The nonprofit broadcaster has abandoned its 2018 plan for building new studios at Ninth and Plum streets, across from City Hall, because site remediation, demolition and storm water issues more than doubled the initial $1.5-million cost, says Richard Eiswerth, Cincinnati Public Radio president, CEO and general manager.
The Evanston facility, on 0.79 acres at 2117 Dana Avenue, would nearly double the space Cincinnati Public Radio rents on the second floor of the Crosley Telecommunications Center owned by public television station WCET-TV at Central Parkway and Ezzard Charles Drive, across from Music Hall.
The new building will have a "professional recording studio that is about four times the size of our current Corbett Studio, which is our present production studio," Eiswerth says. It will also have a large first-floor gathering space to "serve as a public performance venue for students, professional and amateur musicians, public lectures, political debates and public meetings," he says.
The new location, just west of the Interstate 71 Dana Avenue exit, will have a podcast studio "available free of charge for the general public," he says. Being next to Evanston Park "will provide us the opportunity to partner with the Cincinnati Recreation Commission to host a variety of outdoor performances, gatherings and celebrations," Eiswerth says.
The first step was taken Monday, when Budget and Finance Committee members approved a request by Neyer Properties Inc. to remove the parcel from the tax increment financing (or TIF) district created in 2008 for the Keystone Parke development. It will be considered by the full council Wednesday.
Markiea Carter, city community and economic development director, told the committee that "no other incentive is being requested from the city" for the project.
John Curp, interim city manager, told council members and Mayor Aftab Pureval in a memo last week that "as a nonprofit that has to regularly raise donations to help cover its capital and operating costs, being able to utilize its nonprofit tax exemption is essential."
Cincinnati Public Radio's existing location in the Crosley center "has become insufficient for its current needs, so CPR has been fundraising and searching for a location to construct new offices," Curp wrote.
"The project will allow CPR to retain 40 existing FTE (full-time equivalent) jobs with an annual payroll of approximately $2.6 million, and the new location will additionally allow CPR to create three new FTE jobs with an annual payroll of $175,000," Curp wrote.
The project is being funded by private donations and other private funds, he wrote. Fundraising "has been sufficiently successful to date that CPR intends to close on the property purchase this summer," Curp wrote.
Current plans call for CPR to begin construction before the end of the year, Eiswerth says. "We are about midway through our capital campaign, so a lot depends on the speed and success of that critical initiative."
The 15-month construction will generate 50 temporary construction jobs, with an annual payroll of approximately $2.5 million, Curp wrote. "CPR's project investment represents a $26 million total investment, including $23 million toward the real estate improvements and $3 million towards machinery, equipment and furnishing." Curp wrote.
Because Evanston Park is adjacent to the west and south, "there are ongoing conversations with the Evanston Community Council and Cincinnati Recreation Commission to ensure that the edges of the project fit in harmoniously with the surrounding park," Curp said.
Eiswerth says a big part of moving to Evanston was to become "part of a neighborhood. That’s what our new site at Keystone Parke provides: Evanston is a real neighborhood. It’s a diverse, vibrant, and up-and-coming area. We look forward to being a part of its continuing evolution. Indeed, we would like to serve as an engine for that growth."
WGUC-FM began broadcasting in 1960 from the University of Cincinnati campus. The station moved in 1980 to the Crosley center named for Powel Crosley Jr., the industrialist and broadcasting pioneer who started WLW-AM in 1922 and the city's first TV station, WLWT-TV, in 1948.
WVXU-FM, founded in 1970 at Xavier University, moved from the Xavier campus into the Crosley center in 2005 after Cincinnati Public Radio purchased the station from Xavier. The proposed Dana Avenue studios are less than two miles from Xavier University.
John Kiesewetter's reporting is independent. Cincinnati Public Radio has only edited this story for style and grammar.