Investing in Over-The-Rhine: Highlights from 3CDC

Greater Ohio's partners continue to create innovative programs and models that are building prosperity across Ohio. This month we spotlight the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) as an innovative private-public partnership that is providing catalytic leadership in revitalizing Cincinnati’s urban core.  This month’s guest blog post comes from Anastasia Mileham, Vice President of Communications at 3CDC.

The Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) is a non -profit, full-service, real estate development company formed in 2004 by Cincinnati’s corporate and civic leaders. Its mission is to strengthen the core assets of downtown by revitalizing the Central Business District (CBD) and Over-The-Rhine (OTR).

Over-the-Rhine is one of the most economically distressed areas in the country with a poverty rate of 58%, unem­ployment rate of over 25%, and median household income of $9,895. Geographically situated just north of the center city, the troubles in OTR have contributed to a destabilization of the CBD. This unstable environment has prevented growth and investment in the city’s core, which has in turn impacted the health of the entire region. In the absence of a major turnaround, the region was in danger of losing some of its largest employers, further exacer­bating the persistent distress in Cincinnati’s center city.

 3CDC's efforts to revitalize low-income communities are funded by five separate revolving loan funds, totally over $195 million.  3CDC has also been awarded three New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) allocations to date, totaling $103 million. (The NMTC Program provides a credit against federal income taxes to privately managed institutions investing in distressed areas.)  Since its formation 3CDC and its partners have invested more than $324 million in the CBD and OTR by making below market-rate loans to commercial, residential and community real estate projects. Without access to the funds’ low-cost capital, such efforts would not be financially feasible.

 3CDC’s redevelopment efforts in OTR have resulted in 186 condominiums, 68 rental units, and more than 91,000 SF of commercial space, mostly created in historic, vacant and vandalized buildings. More than 85% of the condominiums are sold, the rental units are 100% filled, and a vibrant shopping and dining district has replaced empty storefronts with over 80% of the completed commercial space now leased. Since 2004, crime has dropped more than 51% and continues to decrease.

 The first NMTC allocation of $50 million is used as a revolv­ing loan fund, which has enabled 3CDC to invest $69.6 million in real estate projects throughout Cincinnati’s urban core. The second allocation of $35 million is invested into three critical developments: (1) Washington Park, an 8-acre public park with a 450-space underground parking garage, (2) 21c Cincinnati, a 160-room boutique hotel with public art museum, and (3) Saengerhalle, a 32,000 SF mixed-use office and retail complex. The third allocation of $18 million is invested into a vacant building (Maisonette) being renovated into a restaurant/entertainment complex in the CBD, and an historic building in OTR (Paint Building) being developed into 10,000 SF of commercial space.

 3CDC has set high standards with its investments using proceeds from the previ­ous $103 million NMTC allocation. Its successful track record would not have been possible without the Federal New Market Tax Credit program. All of these projects, endorsed by the community, were catalytic in nature and resulted in significant commu­nity and economic impact felt throughout the region.