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The Banks Cincy

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Another new project launching at The Banks

It has taken $130.3 million of public investment and $128 million of private money to build The Banks.

But that doesn’t include what’s under construction: The $29.3 million public project underway on Race Street, a $160 million of investment to develop General Electric Co.’s U.S. Global Operations Center and a building with 291 apartments and 19,000 square feet of retail space.

It also doesn’t include the planned $35 million AC Hotel development, $120 million Smale Riverfront Park project, taxpayer-funded Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park, extending the Downtown street grid and rebuilding Fort Washington Way.

Add that up and public and private parties have spent nearly $2 billion along 195 acres of Cincinnati’s riverfront in the last two decades. That’s one mega-sized partnership.

And that word partnership came up often in remarks from site planners, public officials and construction leaders during a ceremonial groundbreaking event at The Banks Tuesday morning.

Leaders gathered to mark the launch of a $29.3 million project called Phase IIIA, which will result in adding a two-level, 690-space parking structure and extending Race Street one block south. It is the latest in a slew of construction projects that have launched this year at the development.

Phil Beck, project executive for The Banks’ public parties, described The Banks as a major team effort. Phase IIIA site preparation began two weeks ago and construction crews are expected to complete work in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to Beck.

Hamilton County issued $22.3 million in bonds for the project. The rest of the money is coming from the state of Ohio and city of Cincinnati.

“This added infrastructure is designed to serve the growing number of residents, workers, and visitors to Cincinnati’s premier riverfront development – The Banks,” he said.

It isn’t immediately clear what the future holds for the site now called “Lot 24,” which is located due south of buildings under construction for GE and the Radius apartments. The Banks’ development team – featuring Atlanta-based companies Carter & Associates and the Dawson Co. – are continuing due diligence work to figure out the possibilities. Officials estimated that the Lot 24 site could feature about 400,000 square feet of development.

Right now, the property, on a city block along Race Street near West Freedom Way, is used for tailgating during Cincinnati Bengals home games and open-air parking. Creating the two-level structure would bring that block above the 500-year floodplain, connect with the existing Central Riverfront Garage to the north and create the “podium” for private development, Beck said.

Construction activity has been plentiful at The Banks this year and visitors for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game had a front-row view of developments last month. But Hamilton County Commission President Greg Hartmann said he disagreed with opinions that the game should have been held in a few years when construction work is complete.

“We were able to show the world the progress we’re seeing right here in Cincinnati and Hamilton County on our front doorstep,” said Hartmann, standing behind a four-foot-tall podium with earth-drilling auger cranes in the background.

Messer Construction, which has completed infrastructure improvements at The Banks since 1999, is managing the current $29.3 million construction project. Prus Construction and Beaty Construction landed the first contracts, totaling $4.3 million, in the project. Prus is handling site preparation work and Beaty is responsible for building the structure’s foundations.

“It has been a very enjoyable partnership,” said Steve Eder, Messer vice president and Cincinnati region leader. “It really fulfills our purpose and that’s to build better lives for our community, our customers and each other.”

Beck said each Banks public project phase has been delivered on time and on budget. He described the development’s safety record as “stellar” with 462,000 hours worked on infrastructure improvements without a lost time incident.

The project is expected to create jobs for 200 workers in construction trades. About 30 percent of the contract is expected to be spent with Small Business Enterprises.