Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Oversight group to cost $2.1M

Port Authority would control riverfront development

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It would cost $2.1 million over three years to establish the organization to be responsible for building housing, offices, an entertainment district and a park along Cincinnati's riverfront.

Jack Rouse
Jack Rouse
        Jack Rouse, chairman of the group of volunteers who drew up The Banks development plan, said the city and county have to agree to reshape the Hamilton County Port Authority by mid-September so the project can move forward.

        The $2.1 million, which would be used to hire an executive director, development directors and office staff, would be split evenly between Hamilton County and the city of Cincinnati.

        Keeping the project on time is important so other riverfront development projects won't get bogged down, he said.

        “Using the Port Authority is the only way to realize the vision of The Banks,” Mr. Rouse said Tuesday at a meeting of the city-county Riverfront Steering Committee.

        Mr. Rouse said the city and county have to agree on the Port Authority so that development proposals can be evaluated. The goal is to have a developer, or developers, selected the first of the year.

        Mr. Rouse, who provided a list of recommended board members for the group, had two major recommendations for the steering committee:

        • The county and city have to agree to revamp the Port Authority with full powers available under the law. The county would have to adopt a resolution; the city, an ordinance.

        • The county and city should fund the group at $700,000 per year for three years.

        The Port Authority would have the power to tax, if the proposed tax were approved by a popular vote. Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken asked why the group should be given that power since it does not intend to use it.

        Mr. Rouse said the taxing ability would help attract the best developers. “If we start to remove powers — even powers you don't intend to use — it starts to undermine the Port Authority,” Mr. Rouse said.

        City Councilman Todd Portune said the issue will be a priority when council returns from summer break.


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