Construction of University Station development project at Montgomery and Cleneay begins in July

Funding is secured for the $54 million first phase of the project next to campus | June 28, 2013

Courtesy of Cincinnati Enquirer

Courtesy of Cincinnati Enquirer

Preparatory site work for the construction of University Station, a mixed-use development at Montgomery Road and Cleneay Avenue adjacent to Xavier’s campus, gets underway in July. Planning for the project has been underway for two years between Xavier and developers Messer Construction Co. and Ackermann Group, who have worked with city and community leaders to plan a development that benefits Norwood, Cincinnati and the Evanston neighborhood.

“We’ve worked very closely with Xavier University as well as leaders from the cities of Norwood and Cincinnati and the Evanston Community Council to fulfill our vision for a revitalized Montgomery corridor,” said Dobbs Ackermann, CEO of Ackermann Group.

The developers have announced that funding is secured and the site is ready for preparation work. Construction fencing will be in place in early July as the team gets ready to begin the project, which is being financed by a lead loan from U.S. Bank and through an allocation of New Market Tax Credits from local and national sources currently being finalized. In addition, the project is using funds from a City of Norwood Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District to help finance the required public improvements.

Ackermann said the project is conceived and designed as a pedestrian-friendly urban space that he believes will be far more than a standard mixed-use development.

“University Station will be a catalyst for the continued visual and economic improvement of the Norwood, Evanston and Avondale communities, and a connector that links the communities to Xavier University,” he said.

Liz Blume, director of the Community Building Institute at Xavier and a former planning director for the City of Cincinnati, said planning for the project has been very collaborative.

“Xavier has worked with Messer and Ackermann as well as representatives from Norwood, Evanston and Avondale to design the ideal, walkable, mixed-used development for our neighborhood,” she said. “We’re thinking about the kinds of uses that will serve the University and the larger community, things like new restaurants, a bank, our book store being more accessible to the community—things that will improve the amenities available to everyone who lives nearby.”

University Station is an off-campus project intended to serve the University and larger community and create a welcoming environment for the whole neighborhood. It is located on a 20-acre site that used to be occupied by the BASF plant, Zumbiel Packaging and other smaller businesses. The land will continue to be owned by Xavier’s XUPROP CO and leased for 95 years to a Messer/Ackermann entity with the buildings and other improvements owned by the developer as well.

Phase One is a $54 million, 315,000-square-foot mixed-use development on 15 acres connected by a neighborhood street grid. It includes 40,000 square feet of office space, 35,000 square feet of retail—11,000 square feet for the Xavier University bookstore—900 parking spaces and a 225,000-square-foot, 480-bed, 180-unit apartment complex serving Xavier and the local community. The developer is working with several prospective tenants for the office and retail space and expects to announce leases in the next several weeks.

As Phase One is being built, the development team will be working on the second phase of University Station, which includes significant additional office space, more new retail and possibly a hotel on the remaining 300,000 square feet of property.

Messer expects construction of University Station to begin in mid-July. More than 350 jobs will be created over the course of the first phase of the development, which is slated to open in August 2014.