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New Downtown Hamilton Mixed-Use Success

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MUSA Citizen
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Joined: Nov 19 2015
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    Posted: May 21 2018 at 10:44am

Developer of mixed-use project: ‘We’re not selling apartments. We’re selling Hamilton’


Construction continues on The Marcum building that includes living and retail space in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

May 20, 2018
By 
  • Eric Schwartzberg, Staff Writer

  • HAMILTON — 

    The opening of a mixed-used development’s first residential and retail tenants this summer in downtown Hamilton is expected to have a significant and lasting economic effect on the city.

    The Marcum, which features 103 apartment units and 10,000 square feet of first-floor commercial space, is set to welcome its first tenants this July, according to Jim Cohen, president of the project’s developer, Blue Ash-based CMC Properties.

    The residential portion of the project, which is located across from the Courtyard by Marriott and the brand-new Marcum Park, is 55 percent pre-leased, Cohen said.

    Rental rates range from $910 for a one-bedroom apartment to $1,530 for a three-bedroom, he said. Those rates have fluctuated since pre-leasing began on the project as demand has waxed or waned for various floors or apartments.

    The Marcum adding between 150 and 200 new people living downtown is “significant on many fronts,” according to Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith.

    “First, the additional foot traffic assists our small businesses with more frequent customers, which makes them more sustainable,” Smith told the Journal-News. “Second, the more people walking in the downtown after work hours helps with the safety perception.”

  • “Finally, workforce is very tight. The Marcum is a mixed-use amenity most communities don’t have. This will attract professional people, which we continue to need with the various accounting, legal, creative and other professional jobs which have located here in the past few years,” he said.

    Opening in the retail component of The Marcum this summer will be Tano Bistro & Catering, The Casual Pint and Revive Salon.

    “I have been looking to open a salon in Hamilton for years and as soon as I heard about the Marcum project, I knew this was the place I wanted to be,” Revive Salon owner Gina Stitzel said. “Along with all the activity at the Marcum Park with the concerts, Hamilton Flea, festivals and other events creates the perfect atmosphere I have been looking to be a part of. I am excited to be actively involved and contribute to that great atmosphere.”

    Jody Gunderson, the city’s economic development director, said a diverse mix of housing options is something that is important for any vibrant city.

    “In the past few years, we have enjoyed a significant increase in small businesses, restaurants, craft breweries, and developments like Marcum Park in our downtown corridors,” Gunderson said. “This kind of environment has become increasingly important in attracting both millennials and baby boomers who are seeking to find that live-work-play way of life.”

    That has prompted the need for additional housing options to suit a wide range of ages and tastes and has become an important part of the city’s strategic planning, he said.

    “The Marcum Apartments is another great recruitment tool to help build a sustainable community here in Hamilton,” Gunderson said.

    A city needs people living downtown “putting feet on the street” to bring additional shops and restaurants, he said, adding that it also needs businesses open and activities happening to motivate individuals to live there.

    “One of the key assets Hamilton has going for us is a real demand for both downtown living and small business ownership, which is a great position to be in,” Gunderson said.

    The Marcum is very similar in nature to what CMC Properties did in downtown Loveland and Milford on the Little Miami River, Cohen said. As far as a city within the Greater Cincinnati area, “you can’t top” Hamilton, he said.

    “The architecture is second to none,” he said. “When you couple that with the Great Miami River, a beautiful, brand-new park directly across the street, a 100-plus-year-old YMCA … right next door, the Fitton Center for the Arts. If you think of the facilities that are existing in downtown Hamilton, they’re incomparable. “We’re not selling the apartments,” he said. “What we’re selling is Hamilton.”

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote buddhalite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 21 2018 at 1:35pm
It is an absolutely great solution.  It'll never happen here.  Oh wait - don't we already HAVE at least 2 similar projects (albeit smaller) on the books?  Oh yeah....

FWIW - One year ago per the CinBiz Journal the apartments were 'almost fully leased and going fast' - now they're 55% PREleased (meaning the number is overstated) and the prices have dropped $100 each way on the rents.

What does all this mean?  

These places sound great.  These places look great.  But when a decent discount store and full-service grocery store a a 4-5 mile hike across town....well, the allure wears off pretty quickly. 

In Lafayette, Louisiana they built one of these places - MASSIVE place - Today the retail is still 50% empty, the apartments, well let's just say I know the guy who works for the electric company that does nothing but non-payment turn-offs in that development and it's a 50-hr/week job for him, the residents just can't afford the rent and electricity, and it's just another place in the city that caters to a small segment of the population - and just does nothing for the rest of the community.

If private money wants to build something like this in Middletown - sure, why not?  But....private money isn't.  Remember when the twin towers of grayness were built in Hamilton?  Remember how much it was stated that it would revive the downtown area?  Remember how many businesses shot up around it?  How many are still there?  Is that area thriving - outside of festivals?  

In a WCPO article the dev director of Hamilton states, "If you want to be in an authentic city, you're not going to find that in West Chester or Liberty Township, with all due respect to those communities."

I call Shenanigans.  Ask the 100,000+ people who fled places like Hamiltucky, Middletown, Cincinnati and the like and settled there.  Go ahead.....I'll wait.  Those places are more 'community' than the places they left have been in 40+ years.....that WHY they left.

I again, have no issues with development.  There's a million reasons why downtown is impractical - and trying to force the current regime to do anything other than demolish structures is going to be fruitless.

So - back to the same old conclusion - the only things that matter at this point are elections.  Who's gonna run - who's gonna change the course of our future?
"Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it."—Henry David Thoreau
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