Sunday, July 18, 1999

Norwood has plan for GM lot

Redevelopment ideas in works

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NORWOOD — A proposed urban renewal plan, involving a 15-acre parking lot for workers at the former Norwood General Motors Assembly plant which closed here in 1987, is under review by the city's planning commission.

        Community Development Director Rick Dettmer said the plan is a first step in an initiative to develop a 25-acre tract which also would reconfigure the intersection of Carthage Avenue and Montgomery Road just north of the Norwood Lateral interchange.

        While Mr. Dettmer said the overall development concept is in a formative stage, General Motors, which owns the parking lot, is in discussions with developer Al. Neyer Inc., of Fairfax, to sell the lot.

        The parking lot is the last remaining property in the city owned by GM, where once the auto manufacturer employed 4,300 workers at its automobile assembly plant. GM was then city's largest employer. GM purchased the site from the old Globe-Wernicke Co., a furniture manufacturer, and then razed the old plant to create parking for auto workers.

        “This proposed urban renewal district involves the for mer GM site and the triangular Flatiron Building — at the point where Carthage and Montgomery meet. It also includes an old warehouse building along Ross Avenue next to (and east of) the GM lot,” Mr. Dettmer said. “No residential properties are involved in the plan.”

        Should the planning commission recommend the urban renewal district and council approve it as expected, the move would designate the area as blighted and in need of redevelopment, and allow the city to take needed properties through eminent domain — at fair market value — if purchase agreements cannot be reached, officials said.

        With the urban renewal dis trict, Mr. Dettmer said the city could enter into a development agreement with Al. Neyer Inc. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency must also approve the site for development. Development plans also would be subject to public discussion and planning commission and council approval, he said.

        Jim Neyer, of Al. Neyer Inc., said the concept calls for an office building of some 150,000 square feet, an upscale hotel, one or two restaurants and a large grocery store.

        Mr. Neyer said Norwood — with its central location in the county — is ideal for office and commercial development and has developed a successful track record with its Central Parke and other office and commercial developments. “We intend to build on that success. It will be a good market,” he said.

        Mr. Dettmer said that some existing buildings within the urban renewal district are not targets for redevelopment including the American Laundry Building, a new White Castle restaurant and a United Dairy Farmers store.

        While plans are not finalized, Carthage no longer will meet Montgomery at a point, but will be redirected. The street pattern will be redesigned to serve the new development and improve traffic flow. This will help alleviate traffic congestion at the five points where presently Montgomery, Carthage and Smith Road and a westbound ramp to the Norwood Lateral converge.

        The Ohio Department of Transportation will be involved in the planning since Carthage Avenue is part of Ohio 561 and Montgomery Road is part of Ohio 3 and U.S. 22, Mr. Dettmer said.

        Mayor Joe Hochbein said the planning commission is expected to act on the urban renewal plan at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Aug. 9 at City Hall, Maple Avenue and Montgomery Road. A town meeting on the issue will be at the former PNC Bank Building across Maple Avenue from City Hall, 1-3 p.m. Aug. 7.


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