CINCINNATI BUSINESS COURIER REPORTS:
The development team that wants to build a $90 million apartment tower along the banks of the Ohio River presented its vision for the project on March 23 to Cincinnati’s Urban Design Review Board.
The board, which advises the city manager on design decisions but does not have the power to compel design changes, mostly praised the 25-story, 352-unit apartment tower.
Jim Borders, president of Atlanta-based Novare Group, presented plans for SkyHouse Cincinnati to the five-member board Wednesday afternoon. He explained to the board his company’s history, the SkyHouse development and why the developers decided to look at building an apartment tower in Cincinnati.
“Our company vision is to create great urban experiences,” Borders said during the roughly hour-long meeting. “We like to be in places where people want to partner with us to do that.”
For the most part, the board had a lot of positive comments about the project, calling it “wonderful.” The five-member board includes chair Buck Niehoff, John Senhauser, Paul Muller, Jay Chatterjee and Jim Fitzgerald.
Members did mention they thought the color of the glass, which was green on the initial rendering, might not be the best fit for Cincinnati’s skyline.
The board suggested possibly changing the color of the windows to better match the rest of Cincinnati.
Muller, a board member and executive director of the Cincinnati Preservation Association, expressed his concerns about the base of the building not matching up with the rest of the tower.
Chatterjee, a board member and dean emeritus of University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning, wanted to know how the tower, which is very similar to other SkyHouses in other cities, would be different.
Loomis said the site of SkyHouse Cincinnati was designed to tie into Yeatman’s Cove Park and Sawyer Point Park.
Borders and his team took the board’s input and plan to come back with another rendering that addresses the board’s issues.
SkyHouse Cincinnati would be located at the former Montgomery Inn Banquet Center on East Pete Rose Way at the north end of the Purple People Bridge. It would be 25 stories tall, with 84 studios, 174 one-bedroom units, 76 two-bedroom units, 18 three-bedroom units, a four-level, 504-space parking deck, a pocket park, a dog park, 3,000 square feet of ground floor retail and terraced steps leading down to the riverfront.
Tom Gabelman, a member of Frost Brown Todd’s construction practice group, is working with Novare Group on the SkyHouse Cincinnati project. He said he expects the project to go back before the board within a couple of weeks.
A number of recent projects in downtown Cincinnati were met with more criticism. The board wanted a bolder, more distinctive look for the AC Hotel by Marriott at the Banks, it described General Electric’s Global Operations Center at the Banks as “routine,” and in 2011 the board called the initial designs for Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati “ghostly” and “jarring.”