Sunday, September 28, 2003

Levee begins growth spurt

Retail, food fun included

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NEWPORT - Newport on the Levee is embarking on a six-month growth spurt that will bring new retailers, restaurants and entertainment to the popular riverfront attraction.

For the first time, the Levee will feature high-end specialty women's apparel stores. Also planned is a jazz and blues club and a sushi restaurant, said Yaromir Steiner, the founder and president of Steiner + Associates, the Levee's Columbus, Ohio-based developer and operator.

"We have a very visible, high quality location for retail" at the Levee, Steiner, 51, said during a recent interview at his company's headquarters in the Easton Town Center in Columbus

"And yes, we are working on some deals," Steiner said.

Steiner would not divulge specifics of the expansion, including the names of new tenants that will be periodically announced between October and March.

But he did say coming to the Levee will be a sushi restaurant, a jazz and blues nightclub and a "traditional quick meal" restaurant.

The levee will also introduce more upscale shopping through women's apparel shops.

More than shopping

"I want to create projects mingling retail and leisure-time uses in one environment," Steiner said.

But Greater Cincinnati's sluggish real estate and hospitality markets still have Steiner's long-term plans for a hotel and office building at the Levee in limbo.

Hilton Garden, which has hotels at other Steiner projects including Easton, has expressed interest in building a hotel at the Levee. But with hotel occupancy rates in this area at less that 60 percent, compared to more than 80 percent at Easton, Hilton is not ready to move, Steiner said.

"It's a great location" for a hotel and office building, Steiner said.

"But the market isn't ready."

Steiner said the Levee was never meant to be a pure shopping center, but like his other developments, an entertainment destination that offers specialty retail.


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