By Liz Oakes
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FOREST PARK - Cincinnati Mills, formerly known as Forest Fair Mall, has cleared its final funding hurdle for $18 million in public improvements as workers scramble to have the mall open by spring.
City Council last week signed off on a funding package for parking redesign and repaving, new garage lighting and security cameras, among other upgrades.
The approval was the final obstacle to a 30-year bond issue next month by the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, said Tim Sharp, the authority's head.
"It clears a path for us to go out and issue the bonds," said Forest Park economic development director Paul Brehm.
Property taxes on the improved mall property will repay the bonds, Sharp said.
The Port Authority is involved because mall boundaries cross two city jurisdictions, three school districts and two counties - Hamilton and Butler.
Part of the mall is in Fairfield, which gave its blessing to the funding package Jan. 12.
Arlington, Va.-based Mills Corp., which bought the mall in 2002 for nearly $70 million, has said it plans to spend between $80 million and $90 million to renovate it.
City officials say they've been told the mall is shooting for a late April or early May re-opening. Mills Corp. wouldn't say whether it would make that date.
Renovations began last February.
Stores where shoppers can walk in from outside, including Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and Kohl's, have remained open during construction.
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