Updated: Wednesday, 3:45 p.m.
A Cincinnati City Council committee on Monday gave a green light to a plan by Cincinnati Public Radio to buy a city-owned lot across from City Hall to build new studios. On Wednesday, council unanimously approved the measure 8-0, with one member excused.
On Monday, the Budget and Finance Committee voted 7-0 to recommend the sale of the Ninth Street parking lot to Cincinnati Public Radio, owner of WVXU-FM and WGUC-FM.
Committee chair David Mann said the radio stations plan to pay fair market value for the property, about $1.5 million. He said they have three years to arrange the financing for the purchase and then two years after the sale closes to build the facility.
"There's a lot yet to occur in the future," he said.
The city had been trying to redevelop the Ninth and Plum site since the fall of 2016 and had previously been working with a private developer who had proposed building market-rate apartments above first-floor retail and a parking garage.
But last June, the council committee rejected selling the land to the Indianapolis-based developer, Milhaus. That opened the way for the stations to talk to city planners about their offer to buy the approximately three-quarters of an acre lot.
At that time, Council Member Chris Seelbach was the only vote against rejecting the Milhaus housing plan. But on Monday, he changed his vote, agreeing to support the public radio plan. "That development is off the table now, so I will support this," he said.
However, he said he still believes a market-rate housing development is needed in that sector of downtown.
Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld said he supports the public radio project because he envisions "an impressive civic campus" around those city blocks, with City Hall, St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, the Lloyd Library, the Cincinnati Fire Museum and, eventually, the new home of Cincinnati Public Radio.
With the unanimous committee vote, it's expected that the proposal will pass the full nine-member council when it is taken up on Wednesday March 13.
Editor's note: David Holthaus' reporting is independent and has only been edited by Cincinnati Public Radio for clarity and grammar.