Former Middletown bank building redevelopment delayed until Goetz Tower project finishes

The redevelopment of the former First National Bank building is on hold until the completion of the redevelopment of the Goetz Tower.

City Manager Jim Palenick recently told the Journal-News that the redevelopment of the building at 2 N. Main St. would be on hold until after the the seven-floor, 91-year-old Goetz Tower, which features commercial space on the first floor and 16 market-rate apartments ,is completed and marketed, and occupied.

“It’s hard to finance a project when you have an unproven market,” he said.

Chris Xeil Lyons, Middletown’s economic development director, said the city envisions the First National Bank redevelopment to be mixed use with the first-floor as commercial and the rest of the building used possibly as office and residential space.

The city reacquired the former First National Bank building from Cincinnati State’s Board of Trustees in May 2019 for $2, the same price at which the college bought the building from the city.

That decision ended several months of uncertainty about the 47,000-square-foot building’s future. In July 2018, the college issued a nonbinding letter of intent to transfer the building to the Art Central Foundation. However, in January 2019, Middletown officials objected and said they wanted to retake ownership of the building for future redevelopment.

The city’s objection surprised Cincinnati State officials, who put the transfer on hold to avoid jeopardizing their relationship with the city. The delay also derailed the Art Central Foundation’s redevelopment plans for the building.

ACF, a local nonprofit, owns the building next door at 4 N. Main St., also known as the Thatcher Temple Arts Building. That was part of the Thatcher group of buildings and was transferred by the city to the Arts Central Foundation. Both were part of a group of several buildings that were purchased from Middletown in October 2013.

Goetz Tower work to begin

Developer Steve Coon said work should begin this month on the Goetz Tower project.

Coon said work was delayed in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues. The project has been beset by other delays over the past few years.

He said there were changes made to the $4.5 million project that required new construction drawings to be reviewed by the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office.

Those changes included smaller units — four units per floor instead of three units — and a second fire escape. Coon said the units will feature custom cabinets and granite counters.

“Our architect figured out a way to put in the second interior fire escape,” Coon said. “These will be ‘high-end’ buildouts that will be no different to what you’d see in Cincinnati or Hamilton.”

Coon believes there is “so much opportunity in Middletown.”

“I think there is a potential of four to five other housing projects and they will be successful if they are ‘high-end’ projects as long as they don’t cut corners,” he said.

Coon, who has redeveloped building throughout the state and is involved with the Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill project in Hamilton, said he hopes to complete the Goetz Tower project by Christmas 2021.

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