BY LUCY MAY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
An Atlanta firm that has developed urban neighborhoods across the country will unveil a vision today for housing at Broadway Commons, where some want to see a new Reds stadium.
Post Properties depiction of housing at Broadway Commons.
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John Mears, executive vice president of Atlanta-based Post Properties, will appear before Cincinnati City Council's Neighborhood and Small Business Development Committee to introduce his company and talk about the possibilities for Broadway.
Mr. Mears insists his company does not want to be seen as "the influence that derailed baseball on Broadway."
"If the population wants a stadium on Broadway, then that's where the public should have it," he said Monday. "Our position has been if that doesn't work out, this is another possibility."
Neighborhood Committee Chairman Charlie Winburn sees the visit as a way to unveil his own vision to his fellow council members.
"I'm saying here is another strategy for Broadway Commons, and these are the people who can do it," he said.
Those who want to keep the Reds on the riverfront have embraced housing at Broadway as part of their campaign.
The whole discussion has become embroiled in Issue 11. The ballot measure asks voters to create a county charter requiring any new Reds ballpark to be built at Broadway.
Councilman Jim Tarbell, Broadway's best-known baseball advocate, charges that Mr. Mears' interest is nothing more than a distraction that's part of the pro-riverfront campaign.
"It's so fraudulent at this point in time to be pursuing that," he said. "It is careless and irresponsible."
Mr. Winburn said the city should embrace Post's interest and timing as a good way to attract more people to live downtown.
"There's a need for downtown housing," said Mr. Winburn, who has supported baseball at Broadway in the past but now favors the riverfront. "I think this is a great opportunity for us to develop Broadway Commons."
Mr. Mears first came to town in May looking for potential sites for an urban residential development. That's when he met Kathy Laker Schwab, the residential adviser for Downtown Cincinnati Inc.
She showed him several spots, including the riverfront and Broadway Commons.
Mr. Mears liked the idea of housing on the riverfront but didn't want to wait as long as four years for the Fort Washington Way reconstruction. The firm viewed Broadway, on the other hand, as a site that could be developed immediately, she said.
Post Properties has developed similar neighborhoods in Seaside, Fla., and Tampa, Fla., and has redeveloped downtown buildings in Dallas and Nashville, Tenn. Nationwide, the company owns more than 32,000 apartment units in 94 communities.
Neil Bortz of Towne Properties in Mount Adams has expressed interest in developing housing and retail at Broadway, too.
Mr. Bortz is an unabashed supporter of a new Reds stadium on the riverfront, but Mr. Mears said Post Properties isn't trying to push the baseball debate one way or the other.
Mr. Mears said such a large development -- with 600 housing units -- would require some financial help and a lot of cooperation from the city.
Some Broadway backers have said Post Properties would only pursue the deal if the city bought the Broadway land for the project.
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