City Investment in Downtown Businesses

Our friends over at Middletown USA seem fixated on the millions of dollars that we pump into downtown each year.  I thought it was important to lay out the facts and then have a discussion.   I started on this blog post yesterday and hit the wrong button and published it half written.  I apologize for the confusion if you saw the earlier posting.

Our intention was always to prime the pump for private sector commercial redevelopment and then to get out of the way.  We did that with Pendelton Arts Center and Cincinnati State and earlier with Beau Verre.   Here is our investment in downtown since I took over as City Manager in 2015:

New Businesses 2015

  1. Savorie Artisan Market & Café  (No City investment)
  2. Triple Moon Coffee Company (No City investment)
  3. eMage Signs & Graphics  (No City investment)
  4. Society (No City investment)
  5. Mockingbirds (No City investment)
  6. The Windamere (Sold city building for $140,000 for re-use*)
  7. Gallery on Clinton (No City investment)
  8. Flores Leather Works (No City investment)

New Businesses in 2016

  1. West Central Wine (No City investment)
  2. House of Lux (No City investment)
  3. @theSquare (No City investment)
  4. My Favorite Things (No City investment)
  5. Shutter Girls (No City investment)
  6. Lester’s Rock N Roll (No City investment)
  7. Bethsaida Total Body (No City investment)
  8. Haven Yoga (No City investment)
  9. Haven Kids Play Place (No City investment)
  10. Torchlight Pass (CRA Agreement**, vacated alley for outdoor seating)
  11. My Mobile (No City investment)
  12. 1214 Central Store (No City investment)
  13. Haute Fusion Studio (No City investment)
  14. SoulCraft (No City investment)
  15. MC Hair (No City investment)
  16. Canal Pub @the Landing (No City investment)
  17. Irodawgz Training Academy  (No City investment)
  18. All About You Café & Catering (No City investment)
  19. Collective Studio (No City investment)
  20. Pearl’s Tattoo Supply (No City investment)
  21. Hanavan Figurative Art Studio (No City investment)
  22. D&D Doggie Wash (No City investment)
  23. Bold Traditions Tattoo (No City investment)

New Studios/Spacesin PAC in 2016  (No further City investment in PAC)

  1. llyson Turner
  2. Creative Vibe
  3. Jelly Doodles by Cassie
  4. Bittersweet Farms
  5. Jeremy Damron
  6. Kathy Larue
  7. Jenni Salazar
  8. Jessica Trammell
  9. Margaret Sampson
  10. Michelle Harney
  11. Johnathan Sparks

New Businesses in 2017 To Date

  1. The Slice  (No City investment)
  2. Liberty Spirits (CRA Agreement **)
  3. CJ’s Game Stop (No City Investment)
  4. Central Market & Deli (No City Investment)
  5. Spoken Bicycles (No City investment)
  6. All About You 2 Café (No City investment)
  7. One Market & Eatery​​ (Sold city building for $1 and Redevelopment Agreement***)

Coming Soon in 2017

  1. Gracie’s (No City Investment)
  2. Rolling Mills Brewing Company (No City investment)
  3. The Living Tree (No City investment)
  4. Central Tap & Pint (Vacated alley for outdoor seating)
  5. Central Ave Used Furniture (No City investment)
  6. UR Antiques & Sweets (ice cream shop)(No City investment)
  7. A dance studio next to Crab Apple (no name yet)(No City investment)

The City has also provided funding for the façade grant program.  This is a reimbursable grant for exterior repairs to storefronts.   The façade grant program is funded through a HUD program from the 1980’s called UDAG.  Here is HUD’s explanation of the program:

“The Secretary is authorized to make urban development action grants to cities and urban counties which are experiencing severe economic distress to help stimulate economic development activity needed to aid in economic recovery. There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $225,000,000 for fiscal year 1988, and $225,000,000 for fiscal year 1989. Any amount appropriated under this subsection shall remain available until expended.”

We have been loaning and recycling that fund since 1989.  DMI (Downtown Middletown Inc.) currently oversees the receipt of applications and the distribution of funding for façade grants.  To date it has been used for downtown façade renovations.  The thought was to utilize the grants in a small area to make a noticeable difference in storefront appearance. We have temporarily suspended the program for 2017 and are looking at future uses for the remaining funds, including opening the program up to some other dedicated area outside of downtown.

The following grants have been made since 2015:

Year                        Owner                                                  Amount

2015                     Middletown Arts Center                     $ 1,890.00

2015                     Middletown Better Homes                $ 2,000.00

2015                     Barbara Park Realty                          $ 10,000.00

2015                     Pendleton Corp                                  $ 7,713.00

2015                     2005 Group                                         $    956.00

2015                    Art Central Foundation                    $ 1,693.00

2015                   Middletown Better Homes               $  5,000.00

2015                   Cincy by the Slice                               $ 4000.00

2015                   Denny Lumber                                   $ 4,000.00

2015                   Art Central Foundation                   $ 1,500.00

2015                   Liberty Spirits                                   $ 2,000.00

2015                   1310 Pendleton                                 $ 3,000.00

2016                   Liberty Spirits                                  $     500.00

2016                  Torchlight Pass, LLC                       $ 30,000.00

2016                 All About You Catering                   $  600.00

2016                One Market Eatery                           $ 7,926.00

2016                Gracie’s LLC                                       $20,000.00

2016                Central Y Canal Investment           $ 1,580.00

2016                West Central Wine                          $  432.00

Total:                                                                        $104,840.00

* To review the Windamere Agreement, click here:

Windamere – Sale of Bank One Bldg.

**For an explanation on CRA Agreements, see the blog post : Community Reinvestment Area Agreements Downtown

Torchlight Pass CRA Agreement:

Torchlight Pass-CRA

***To review the Liberty Spirits Agreement for One Market Eatery, click here:

Liberty Spirits development agreement – One Market

Liberty Spirits CRA Agreement for Distillery:

Liberty Spirits-CRA

In the same way we primed the pump for commercial redevelopment, we are now investing in the Goetz Tower market rate apartments with the hope to stimulate downtown residential redevelopment.  I’ve covered the Goetz Tower project in a few other posts so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here.

This is what we have invested in downtown businesses since 2015.  The façade grant program is funded  completely by 1988-1989 federal grant dollars.  You have, in fact, almost no local tax dollars invested in downtown businesses since 2015, let alone millions of dollars.


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