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Cincinnati: Fountain Square: Development and News

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It was a stroke of terrible bad luck that caused Cincinnati's retail revival to collapse.  McAlpin's was bought out and closed just as Lazarus was about to open at Fountain Place.  So Tower Place never benefited from having anchor stores at either end.  If McAlpin's had remained independent, the Nordstrom (and earlier) plans for 5th & Race wouldn't have been abandoned. 

 

Also, nobody seemed to anticipate that the completion of Cross County HIghway in 1997 would give Kenwood the push it needed to become the region's dominant mall, to the detriment of all others.  There obviously aren't a ton of wealthy people between Wyoming and the Indiana border, but suddenly an easy 10+ mile cross county drive from Finneytown, Mt. Healthy, Colerain, and White Oak became possible. 

 

Cross County Highway not only undermined Northgate, Tri-County, and Forest Fair Malls, it also undermined downtown. 

 

 

 

 

 

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By contrast to Cincinnati, Boston's subway system literally converges at their Downtown Macy's.  The transfer station between the Red Line (the system's busiest) and the Orange Line is called Downtown Crossing, and you can walk directly into their Macy's from the subway platform without having to walk upstairs to the sidewalk.  The perfect subway access means it's much more convenient for hundreds of thousands of people to go to that particular department store than virtually any other, even ones that are physically closer to where they live. 

 

Cincinnati's expressway layout converges on Downtown from four directions, but there are also the various ladder steps between I-75 and I-71 that left the door open for nodes to form that would compete with downtown. 

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9 hours ago, Brutus_buckeye said:

Macy's has been struggling nationally for years and we have watched as all other cities our peer size or larger have lost their downtown stores.

 

That's a bold statement. All? As Jake mentioned, Boston's downtown store does great. Philly's downtown store also does great. NYC obviously. I'm sure there are lots of other examples of downtown stores thriving. The big difference is that cities that can support downtown department stores probably have real fixed rail transit systems. 

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Cleveland has all three of its rail lines and its BRT converge at its downtown mall, and it still lost all of its department stores. Of course, Cleveland has a lot of different, more complex economic issues than even Cincinnati, and its overall retail market has always been weak compared to downstate for whatever reason. 

Edited by BigDipper 80

“To an Ohio resident - wherever he lives - some other part of his state seems unreal.”

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1 hour ago, DEPACincy said:

 

That's a bold statement. All? As Jake mentioned, Boston's downtown store does great. Philly's downtown store also does great. NYC obviously. I'm sure there are lots of other examples of downtown stores thriving. The big difference is that cities that can support downtown department stores probably have real fixed rail transit systems. 

 

I think it has more to do with an influx of wealthy urban residents and tourists that support the bigger city urban department stores.

 

We need more residents downtown, and not just more residents, but Residents with spending money. That and tourists. 

 

Tourists like to shop and spend money. Cincy food and beer scene is fantastic but you can only eat so much food and drink do much beer before you want to do something else.

 

Cincy retail, aside from the small independent botiques, is practically non existent and needs an overhaul.

 

To many people on Reddit ask r/cincinnati about how they are first time visitors and want to shop but all of the comments direct them to the suburbs or Kenwood mall.

 

Another point, if I'm an urban resident how the heck am I supposed to buy clothes? Living in the suburbs you can swing by Target or go to the mall, and buy something quick. Maybe some new underwear and socks. You can't do that in the urban core right now.

 

I think having a functioning retail scene is almost as import as a grocery store. For years, people asked urban residents how do you buy groceries? Now the question will become, how do you buy clothes? 

 

 

 

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36 minutes ago, BigDipper 80 said:

Cleveland has all three of its rail lines and its BRT converge at its downtown mall, and it still lost all of its department stores. Of course, Cleveland has a lot of different, more complex economic issues than even Cincinnati, and its overall retail market has always been weak compared to downstate for whatever reason. 

 

But for years Cleveland deemphasized its transit system in favor of endless expansion of highways. I-271, for example, is an even more ridiculous, sprawl-inducing boondoggle than I-275.

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38 minutes ago, BigDipper 80 said:

Cleveland has all three of its rail lines and its BRT converge at its downtown mall, and it still lost all of its department stores. Of course, Cleveland has a lot of different, more complex economic issues than even Cincinnati, and its overall retail market has always been weak compared to downstate for whatever reason. 

 

Cleveland's rail system is small potatoes compared to Boston's T.  It's so good and parking is so difficult throughout the Boston area that many middle class and wealthy people do not own cars.  Meanwhile, pretty much everyone except the very poorest people in Cincinnati and Cleveland own cars. 

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A lot of Canadian cities have thriving downtown malls, and most of them are accessible via rail transit. Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto is a massive mall that literally stretches between two subway stations (Queen and Dundas). If you have to drive to a mall, you might as well drive to one surrounded by massive parking lots rather than one where you have to navigate a confusing parking garage and then pay to park.

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I don’t think we can compare New York, Boston, and Philly’s downtown retail scenes to Cincinnati. Totally different situations. 

 

That said, I can think of a few peer-ish cities that have downtown department stores. Portland has a ton of retail downtown. Indy has lost a few department stores recently, but I think has a few remaining. Minneapolis, New Orleans, Salt Lake City all have department stores, too. For all this discussion, Cincy does still have Saks downtown (for now) and we only lost Macy’s last year. All things considered, Cincy has fared better than most of our peers in this department. 

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55 minutes ago, edale said:

I don’t think we can compare New York, Boston, and Philly’s downtown retail scenes to Cincinnati. Totally different situations. 

 

That said, I can think of a few peer-ish cities that have downtown department stores. Portland has a ton of retail downtown. Indy has lost a few department stores recently, but I think has a few remaining. Minneapolis, New Orleans, Salt Lake City all have department stores, too. For all this discussion, Cincy does still have Saks downtown (for now) and we only lost Macy’s last year. All things considered, Cincy has fared better than most of our peers in this department. 

 

No you're right. But he said our size or larger and those three popped into my head because I used to live in the Northeast corridor. Thanks for adding the peer cities to the list. 

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Hell, Spokane has a downtown Nordstrom.  In America, aside from transit-rich cities, it's a crap-shoot.


"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

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4 hours ago, taestell said:

A lot of Canadian cities have thriving downtown malls, and most of them are accessible via rail transit. Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto is a massive mall that literally stretches between two subway stations (Queen and Dundas). If you have to drive to a mall, you might as well drive to one surrounded by massive parking lots rather than one where you have to navigate a confusing parking garage and then pay to park.

 

as an aside, downtown Toronto has just one large old-style department store left--the Bay--and even then it's not as big as Eaton's and Simpsons were, both gone for years, the two great stores that were rivals (like Macy's and Gimbel's in NY). I don't think the new Nordstrom's is that big, is it? Also, the Toronto suburbs have enormous malls in addition to Eaton Centre, but the irony of this, at least according to family members who live in the area, is that the selection is not as great for all sorts of goods as it is in the US.

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The downtown Nordstrom in Toronto at Eaton Centre is quite large, by American standards.  They also have another flagship Hudson's Bay at Yonge and Bloor and a Holt Renfrew.


"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

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1 hour ago, BigDipper 80 said:

Hamilton had a downtown Elder-Beerman until 2009, somehow.

 

My old boss worked in accounting for Elder-Beerman back in the 1960s.  He told me that on Fridays they'd back up the armored truck and pay everybody in the office with cash in envelopes.  

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On ‎6‎/‎7‎/‎2019 at 8:12 AM, DEPACincy said:

 

That's a bold statement. All? As Jake mentioned, Boston's downtown store does great. Philly's downtown store also does great. NYC obviously. I'm sure there are lots of other examples of downtown stores thriving. The big difference is that cities that can support downtown department stores probably have real fixed rail transit systems. 

Boston, NYC, Philly, San Fran, etc are different animals.

Peer cities like Cleveland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Minneapolis have all lost all or some of their downtown department stores. All of those cities have fixed rail transit too.

Rail or no rail, when you have a huge downtown with a critical mass of downtown workers during the day and residents throughout and then mix in some tourists, you can make the retail viable whether you have rail or not.  I think Indy proves this (yes, I know Simon probably heavily subsidizes Nordstrom down there) as they are a huge convention town and are running out of towners through their downtown mall constantly.

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On ‎6‎/‎7‎/‎2019 at 9:55 AM, DEPACincy said:

 

But for years Cleveland deemphasized its transit system in favor of endless expansion of highways. I-271, for example, is an even more ridiculous, sprawl-inducing boondoggle than I-275.

Part of Cleveland's problem was that they were the victim of consolidation in the department store industry. St. Louis had May HQ, Cincy was obviously Federated and even Mercantile, Columbus had the original Lazarus and Indy has the Simon company there. All, as good corporate citizens tend to do, subsidized the downtown store in their home market at the time. Cleveland lost their hometown chain when Dillards purchased them. That hastened the department store demise in downtown Cleveland.

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^It had a skywalk to the parking garage, but I believe the garage is city-owned.

 

The City of Richmond actually owned the department store building for most of its life, selling it a few years ago.

 

Hamilton's Elder-Beerman was built in 1968, and I believe Richmond was about 4 years later in the area of downtown destroyed by the massive gas explosion.

 

It was a hard blow when Hamilton E-B closed in 2019, but now that the building has been redeveloped into retail and office space, its probably for the best that it closed earlier and the transition time is behind us. 

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On 6/9/2019 at 10:01 PM, Brutus_buckeye said:

I think Indy proves this (yes, I know Simon probably heavily subsidizes Nordstrom down there) as they are a huge convention town and are running out of towners through their downtown mall constantly.

 

Nordstrom in Downtown Indy closed in 2011. Carson Pirie Scott closed last year. Put a fork in Indy's Downtown Department store scene...even with Simon propping it up, it's gone.

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Anchors in most malls pretty much haven't paid rent in a long time. Once Wal-Mart clothing became acceptable and a very large portion of jobs are done in uniforms. All those secretarial and sales positions that got replaced by e-mail, health care and warehouse work clobbered department stores. People don't think about Cintas running Bloomingdale's out of business but it totally happened indirectly.

Edited by GCrites80s
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10 minutes ago, seaswan said:

Thats really dissapointing. That better not be the news weve been waiting months to hear. 

 

I just dont think 3cdc has the resources to work on so many projects at once...they already have 4th and Race, OTR projects, Downtown Convention Project, etc....

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Yeah its just that when 3CDC acquired it there was a ton of hype around redevelopment, I'm pretty sure Cranley said there would be "exciting news" in the fall. A bit of a letdown if you ask me 

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I'm not really if there is a long term plan that for that site. There have been rumors that a new fountain square tower was still on track, but I'm not sure how that would be possible if you lease the entire building to office and retail. 

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16 hours ago, SleepyLeroy said:

Saw this marketing brochure online. Looks like they are trying to attract an office tenant to replace MACYS on the first floor. No matter how flashy this is though those views of the building on page 5 make it look downright dumpy. https://images1.loopnet.com/d2/qgbacrNjcPOyamIhGl8R1-iFc6FTPeg4P9YhvxnAgbU/document.pdf

 

 

The Fountain place redevelopment  is a done deal from what I’ve been told. Last I heard it will be “multiple floors of office space” and “hundreds of jobs”. That brochure is only being used to market the retail spaces not the office space (it’s already leased).

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3 minutes ago, 646empire said:

 

The Fountain place redevelopment  is a done deal from what I’ve been told. Last I heard it will be “multiple floors of office space” and “hundreds of jobs”. That brochure is only being used to market the retail spaces not the office space (it’s already leased).

 

So no flashy new tower?

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1 minute ago, troeros said:

 

So no flashy new tower?

 

Thats the mystery at this point. I was under the impression that there would be no tower but a very nice redo of the building itself. But now it seems the project may have grown a bit. My contact was briefed earlier in the summer in regards to the future of the skywalk connecting the Carew tower.

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Just now, 646empire said:

 

Thats the mystery at this point. I was under the impression that there would be no tower but a very nice redo of the building itself. But now it seems the project may have grown a bit. My contact was briefed earlier in the summer in regards to the future of the skywalk connecting the Carew tower.

 

Hmm interesting. I'm hoping that the, lack of news/"delay" on this matter is due to something larger than just new office/retail tenants. As nice as it would be to have that corner activated again, it would be great to see that highly valuable corner being used to it's highest potential (ideally mixed use with a strong residential component as well. )

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1 minute ago, troeros said:

 

Hmm interesting. I'm hoping that the, lack of news/"delay" on this matter is due to something larger than just new office/retail tenants. As nice as it would be to have that corner activated again, it would be great to see that highly valuable corner being used to it's highest potential (ideally mixed use with a strong residential component as well. )

 

100% agree. The good news is it seems like it’s a “any day now” announcement certainly no later than this fall AND this will be a rare no delay project meaning they will be starting construction very soon after the announcement due to the office space being leased already.

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Question for you guys has construction started on 5/3rds Fountain square redevelopment?  Is the new potbelly restaurant ready?? They where going to move next door. Have they started to take down the Facade that lights up at night?? I did see Graeters Ice Cream posted on social media a week or so ago that they are closed until 2020

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43 minutes ago, 646empire said:

Question for you guys has construction started on 5/3rds Fountain square redevelopment?  Is the new potbelly restaurant ready?? They where going to move next door. Have they started to take down the Facade that lights up at night?? I did see Graeters Ice Cream posted on social media a week or so ago that they are closed until 2020

 

I saw an article recently from wcpo I believe stating they started construction recently to commemorate the anniversary of the fifth third shooting. 

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20 hours ago, 646empire said:

 

100% agree. The good news is it seems like it’s a “any day now” announcement certainly no later than this fall AND this will be a rare no delay project meaning they will be starting construction very soon after the announcement due to the office space being leased already.

So again, just confused if this is just a build out of what's there ir if there is a new tower in the offing?

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1 hour ago, Rabbit Hash said:

So again, just confused if this is just a build out of what's there ir if there is a new tower in the offing?

 

 

As I said, from the convo I had earlier in the summer I was under the impression that it was just a renovation of the current building and that’s it. Since then I’ve heard that’s it’s “grown” in size what that means I’m not sure.

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3 minutes ago, 646empire said:

 

 

As I said, from the convo I had earlier in the summer I was under the impression that it was just a renovation of the current building and that’s it. Since then I’ve heard that’s it’s “grown” in size what that means I’m not sure.

 

Question..in what capacity is your source connected to the project? 

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