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The Banks Cincy

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UC moves step closer to Downtown law school

The University of Cincinnati moved a step closer Tuesday to moving its law school to The Banks.

In a 6-1 vote, the UC board of trustees approved a resolution to “fully pursue and evaluate” moving selected academic facilities to the Downtown riverfront site.

Outgoing Board Chairman Thomas Humes said the move has the potential to bring the city and university together and enhance education and opportunities for students and faculty. He added the opportunity to create something “distinctive and dynamic in the heart of the city comes only once in a few generations.”

“It will be a beacon of education and the university in the heart of the city and at its front door,” Humes said.

The relocation is contingent upon final board approval and meeting the following requirements:

  • Reaching final terms, design and use agreements between UC, the city, Hamilton County and planners of The Banks development by August.
  • Raising at least $25 million on behalf of the College of Law for the project.
  • Terms and conditions to be determined by the University Banks Working Group, a team established Tuesday to take an in-depth look at the project. The group features President Santa Ono, Finance and Administration Committee Chair Thomas Cassady and Real Estate Subcommittee Chair Wym Portman.

Board member Peg Valentine cast the sole “no” vote.

She said the resolution is unnecessary and members of the board don’t need to be involved in researching the law school’s move. That’s a management role that should be left to Ono’s team, she said.

There are multiple sites at The Banks that could house the law school, but university officials have their eyes on a parcel of land called Lot 24. That site is immediately south of the new General Electric Co. office building and 291 units of apartments and about 20,000 square feet of street-level retail space.

Construction crews are working on a $29.3 million project on Lot 24 to add a two-level, 690-space parking deck and extend Race Street one block south. The construction is needed to raise the site out of the floodplain and allow for future development.

Law school dean Jennifer Bard said the current building, at the northeast corner of Clifton and Calhoun, needs substantial renovation.

“This offers a wonderful opportunity to create the space our faculty, staff and students need to continue our mission to educate and inspire leaders who pursue justice and advance the role of law in society,” Bard said in a news release.

Established in 1833, the University of Cincinnati College of Law is the first law school west of the Alleghenies and the fourth-oldest continuously operating law school in the country. When it began as the Cincinnati Law School with 17 students, it was located above a Downtown Cincinnati office.

Talks have heated up during the last few months about moving the law school Downtown, but the discussions have been in progress for at least four years.

Hamilton County Commission President Chris Monzel said he’s hopeful a deal can be reached to bring UC’s College of Law to The Banks.

“I think this would be awesome and outstanding for The Banks development in terms of bringing energy and a 24-hour environment,” he said. “It’s a huge win for the project.”

Later this year, local business and government leaders expect to hear whether the state will grant a $12 million request to help complete public infrastructure work to help facilitate projects such as the law school.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to correct information related to the board vote tally.