Downtown Cincinnati restaurant owners plead with Hamilton County not to move downtown jobs

Downtown Cincinnati restaurant owners plead with Hamilton County not to move downtown jobs

The letter comes just months after the county released a request for proposals to explore other potential worksites.

“Downtown Cincinnati’s vibrancy and growth is critical to the entire region,” the letter from the Cincinnati chapter of the Ohio Restaurant Association’s local alliance states. “County and city government have always been vital stewards of downtown – the centerpiece of our region’s renaissance. You’ve always been the ones to set the example. Your investment allowed us to flourish and bring that success to the whole county.”

Evan Andrews, vice president of Montgomery Inn, who spoke on behalf of the local alliance, said local restaurants don’t want to lose any downtown jobs and are worried a move by the county would be a bad signal to businesses in Cincinnati’s urban core.

“Hamilton County has an extensive track record of stimulating economic growth, particularly downtown, from Over-the-Rhine to The Banks. Through strategic partnerships and investments, the county prioritizes a supportive environment for county employees, residents, and businesses – including restaurants,” said spokeswoman Bridget Doherty. “Our local restaurants contribute to our County’s uniqueness and rich culture. We truly value and appreciate their feedback and perspective.”

In May, Hamilton County released a request for proposals asking to lease 350,000 to 400,000 square feet of office space, along with 1,200 on-site parking spaces, with access to another 350.

The request for proposals calls for the office space to be within 7 miles of the courthouse, two or three blocks from Interstates 71, 74 or 75 or the Norwood Lateral and be along a Metro bus line. It also must have 1,200 on-site parking spaces, with access to another 350 spaces “located in a structured parking facility located on the property of the leased building.” The cost of the parking spaces “are to be included as a part of the base cost per square foot.”

While downtown restaurants continue to recover from the pandemic, Mondays and Fridays still are rough as hybrid work continues, Andrews said.

Meanwhile, the convention business has slowed to a trickle and is set to stop entirely as the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. rehabilitates the Duke Energy Convention Center, a plan restaurants support but also say will be a hardship while it’s underway.

“The big fear is what’s going to happen to the economy,” Andrews said.

The restaurants have not yet heard back from the county.

“I think we’re hopeful that the county realizes that while it may not seem like a big deal to them … it’s a big deal to those in the Central Business District. It’s a big deal to Cincinnati as a whole to be seen as a thriving city,” Andrews said.

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