Monday, March 29, 1999

Middletown to get new office building




BY JANET C. WETZEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIDDLETOWN — It could be the start of something big downtown.

        By early June, work is to begin on a $2 million, two-story office/bank building at Main Street and Reinartz Boulevard — the first major development downtown since the Cinergy building went up on Main in 1969.

        The news comes as officials are considering tearing the roof off the old City Centre Mall, possibly demolishing some of the mall buildings, then launching a downtown revitalization.

        “This new building is the start of the renaissance,” said Steve Posey, with Midd-West Development Ltd., the project development company and a subsidiary of Posey Property Co. Inc. “There are enough entrepreneurs in this city that I'm sure they'll definitely see the advantage of being downtown.”

        Details of the development deal are not final, but they include a land trade with the city, said City Manager Ron Olson, who called the project timely and welcome.

        “This confirms the value of our downtown as a primary employment center,” Mr. Olson said.

        The Middletown branch of the Cincinnati-based Frost & Jacobs law firm will lease the 8,000-square-foot second floor of the 20,000-square-foot building. First National Bank of Southwestern Ohio will lease 4,000 square feet of the first floor, and the other half will be leased to another tenant, Mr. Posey said.

        The new retail service branch is crucial in the bank's quest to improve customer convenience, said Jack O'Neill, senior vice president. The late-1920s bank-owned building at Main Street and Central Avenue has no space for ATM machines and drive-up banking.

       

        The fate of the old bank building is undecided. Some employees have already been moved to other branches or satellite offices, and some of the estimated 40 there also will be moved elsewhere. The building may be used for office space, leased or sold, Mr. O'Neill said.

        Growth at Frost & Jacobs, one of several law firms in that building, is prompting its move, said Tom Swope, partner in charge of the Middletown branch.

        The new building will have space for 20 staff members and allow the company to stay downtown, he said.

        “We serve clients out of this office from ... all of Butler and Warren counties and beyond, so downtown is a good location,” Mr. Swope said. “It's also close to the 12th District Court of Appeals, Middletown Municipal Court and the Middletown branch of the Butler County Law Library.”

        The parties have worked more than a year on a deal to make the building possible.

        The city is trading Mr. Posey a 1-acre-plus site and a small plot, set aside many years ago for extra parking, for a similar-sized parcel on Broad Street. Additionally, the city will contribute $55,000 to help Mr. Posey buy another small parcel adjacent to the proposed building site if contract deadlines are met, Mr. Olson said.

       



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