Sunday, January 11, 2004

Retail plan proposed for Milacron plant site

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

OAKLEY - A Cincinnati developer has proposed a plan to convert the former Cincinnati Milacron machine plant here into a $225 million shopping, entertainment and office complex.

Kent Arnold, president of Vision Land Development, the firm developing the 70-acre site, said the proposed Millworks project would be unlike any retail development in Greater Cincinnati. It would feature a state-of-the-art, 18-screen movie complex with plush amenities such as a bar, cafe and VIP seating.

Anchor tenants would include a bookstore, a sporting goods superstore, gourmet grocery, department store and possibly a fitness center and hotel. There would also be several restaurants new and unique to Cincinnati, Arnold said.

No tenants have been signed, but Arnold said Saturday he was in the process of finalizing agreements with prospective retailers. He said he would announce them early next month when demolition at the site begins.

The proposed mall is slated for a 2005 opening, but is not yet a done deal. City officials and the developer are trying to craft a tax increment financing plan for the project and resolve some zoning issues.

"We're developing an urban village concept that's not comparable to anything in the area," Arnold said. "It's a cross between the shopping available at Kenwood, the ambiance of Hyde Park Square and the entertainment of Newport on the Levee, only in a greater amount."

The mall would be located next to the recently built Cincinnati Center, which features Target, Circuit City and Meijer, near Interstate 71 and the Norwood Lateral.

Sue Doucleff, president of the Oakley Community Council, said redevelopment of the site is a positive. But, many residents have concerns about increased traffic that would be generated by more retail, she said.

"Ridge Avenue at I-71 is not set up to handle that kind of traffic," Doucleff said. "We don't want to bottleneck ourselves into our community."

Doucleff said the developer has been working with both city officials and community leaders to address traffic and other infrastructure concerns.

The city is looking into the possibility of rerouting Ibsen Avenue and connecting it with Kennedy Avenue to create an alternative access point to the proposed development, she said.

"But that is years in the works because you're talking about a lot of money and major property acquisitions," Doucleff said.


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