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Council poised to approve $2.9 million loan for Terrace Plaza hazard abatement

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WCPO
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Cincinnati Council is set to approve a $2.9 million loan for hazard abatement at the historic Terrace Plaza building Downtown.

The money would come from property tax revenue earmarked for public improvement projects — specifically, the Downtown OTR West Equivalent Fund, a Tax Increment Finance district.

"The more time we take in trying to fix things in this city, the cost keeps increasing," said Council Member Scotty Johnson, calling the building an embarrassment in its current state. "Whatever we can do to get this done, let's get it done."

The 75-year-old building has been mostly vacant and falling into disrepair since 2008. City officials said earlier this year it needs an entirely new roof and there's significant mold and rust throughout the walls.

Since that evaluation last spring, even more problems have been identified, including with windows on the eighth floor.

The developer — Cincinnati Development III LLC, an affiliate of Birkla Investment Group — would repay the loan within seven years.

Council voted 8-1 in May to deny historic landmark status to the building. The developer and some city officials said historic landmark restrictions would make redevelopment too expensive. Another developer said the restrictions wouldn't be cost prohibitive.

Council Member Reggie Harris says this is a critical step in revitalizing the area.

"In the spring, we took this up in Equitable Growth and Housing [Committee]. We had to make a really difficult decision about not granting it historic status, because that status would make it almost impossible to use it," Harris said. "And so just sort of connecting how things work — like we did this in [May], so then that enabled a developer to come in."

Council's Budget and Finance Committee approved the loan Monday. It will go up for final approval at Council's regular meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Compare the Terrace Plaza in 1948 to 2021

Becca Costello grew up in Williamsburg and Batavia (in Clermont County) listening to WVXU. Before joining the WVXU newsroom, she worked in public radio & TV journalism in Bloomington, Indiana and Lincoln, Nebraska. Becca has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including from local chapters of the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists, and contributed to regional and national Murrow Award winners. Becca has a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Becca's dog Cincy (named for the city they once again call home) is even more anxious than she is.