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Kean Ventures plans massive $75 million development at former Swifton Commons site

Chris Wetterich

Nov 11, 2022

A rendering of Kean Ventures proposed development at Midpointe Crossing.

Kean Ventures LLC is planning a massive, $75 million mixed-use development on the site of the former Swifton Commons Mall in Bond Hill, which will include several phases.

The project will include multifamily housing, ground-floor commercial and office and restaurant developments in future phases. Kean is asking the Cincinnati Planning Commission to change the zoning to allow for a planned development. Commissioners are scheduled to meet Nov. 18 to consider the plan.

“Moving away from the existing auto-oriented zoning in favor of a planned development is a way to continue building the momentum for when the time is right to begin construction next year,” Kean principal Stephen Dronen told the Business Courier Thursday.

The price tag is an estimate for only the first phase, Dronen said, and he cautioned it likely will change given the movement in construction costs.

The mixed-use development would be centered around a landscaped boulevard that would connect Reading Road and Seymour Avenue.

Kean plans eight residential buildings, a commercial building, two office buildings and two commercial/residential mixed-use buildings.

There would be between 250 and 400 apartments and 429 surface or “tuck-under” parking spaces. The commercial and office buildings would have 5,000 to 15,000 square feet of commercial space in the first phase and 10,000 to 60,000 square feet of office, restaurants and other commercial uses in later phases.

About 71% of the site will be covered by the buildings, with a total footprint of 762,300. The buildings would be either three or four stories tall.

The Bond Hill Community Council backs the zoning change conditioned on a community benefits agreement being developed and it expressed support for affordable, market-rate apartments.“

The proposed development will reactivate long-time vacant and underutilized properties,” according to the city planning staff.Construction could begin in the summer of 2023, with occupancy scheduled at the beginning of 2026.

The zoning change will have to go to Cincinnati City Council. Incentives also would need to go to council and a proposal on that will come at a later date, Dronen said.

The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority owns the property and said two years ago it may partner with Kean on the 27-acre site.

“This is the the first step in a comprehensive redevelopment of the site. This will provide the guidelines for what will be built on the Midpointe property. The developer will continue to work with the community, the city and The Port to finalize the site plan and project details,” said Tom Millikin, a spokesman for the Port.

When the Port acquired and demolished the former mall in 2013, it had hoped to find major office users for the site, followed by retail. It has been trying to develop the site since 2015. Residential usage was not generally emphasized previously.

The Port owns, plans to redevelop or has already redeveloped properties totaling about 120 acres within a few miles of the area, including the completed TechSolve II redevelopment, the former Cincinnati Gardens site, where Messer Financial Services and Terrex Development & Construction LLC developed a speculative manufacturing building now occupied by Team Industrial Services and Bond Hill’s business district.

Swifton Commons was built in 1956 and was Cincinnati’s first shopping mall and one of the largest in the state. Competition from newer enclosed malls left Swifton mostly vacant throughout the 1980s. A 1994 effort to renovate it was largely unsuccessful, resulting in a string of ownership changes.

Before the Port acquired it, Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church, the city’s oldest Black church, had bought the center in foreclosure in 1999.

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