Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith said 2022 was the busiest year in his dozen years since leading the city’s administration.
But he sees this year to be even busier, and said comping this spring, there will be a lot of construction happening around town.
“While several large projects have captured most of the attention in recent years, our focus has always been providing exceptional basic services,” he said.
City leaders are consistently asking questions on what they can do to better the city: How do they improve neighborhoods? How do they work with partners like the Hamilton Parks Conservancy to improve park experiences? How do they make our small business districts more vibrant? How do they enhance revenues in order to invest more in streets and public safety? What investments can be made to improve traffic?
“Every year, we challenge ourselves on ways to better answer these questions, and to build a stronger, more resilient Hamilton,” Smith said.
A lot of the construction is related to the impact of the $165 million, 1.2 million-square-foot Spooky Nook at Champion Mill complex.
Spooky Nook officials are working on grand opening details. Though much of the 1.2 million-square-foot complex has opened, there are areas, such as the Champion Mill Arcade, that are not yet ready.
“There is work still to do,” said Spooky Nook spokeswoman Bonnie Bastian.
Many businesses that had already opened cited the mega-complex that features sports and events venues, a convention center, and a hotel as to why they opened, Smith said, adding that the Main Street restaurant Billy Yanks wouldn’t have opened if it wasn’t for Spooky Nook. He also said the new Hilton hotel project, which should see noticeable construction activity this spring, is a direct result of Spooky Nook.
But the economic development activities aren’t exclusively because of the megacomplex, “but it’s probably been one of the biggest boosts in terms of recruiting restaurants and new apartments and new small businesses.”
Other projects that should be opening in 2023 include the much-anticipated Agave & Rye, which Smith said should open in November though the company hasn’t released any project details, Third Eye Brewing’s second location, and Rossville Flats mixed-use development.
Also, this year, the Cohen Recycling project should be underway. There is still some work to finalize, but once the Black Street plant relocates less than a mile north to a smaller parcel, the company can focus on selling the 17.7-acre to a developer. It was reported this past May that this project would be a $300 million to $350 million investment over the next several years, and include multiple hotels, a residential space, an office space, and a grocer.
“People have been waiting to hear more details about that,” said Smith. “That should be fully announced. There’s going to be a lot of things built on that site. You always keep your fingers crossed that the economy doesn’t go south, but the plans are very exciting.”
Beyond the Cohen Recycling plant project, Hamilton will be focused on the Lindenwald business district, which would include the Cincinnati-based Schuler Benninghofen project to be developed by Bloomfield/Schon. The project would create apartments, commercial space, and upwards of 50 indoor parking spaces.
“For the first time since I’ve been in Hamilton, we have a lot more development interest in some of the smaller business districts, Lindenwald in particular,” Smith said. “As High Street and Main Street get built out, and we continue to look to expand jobs and create new jobs, Lidenwaled would be a logical area.”
There will also be a focus on parts of East Hamilton, and Smith said the North End will see a lot of attention as plans are expected to be finalized this year with the North Hamilton Crossing project, which could open up additional development opportunities. A public meeting regarding the project is set to take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Jan. 23 at Fairwood Elementary School on North Fair Avenue.
Smith said North Hamilton Crossing, which could be between $80 million to $120 million as it would include a river crossing, would in no way be constructed this year, and he “highly doubts” it would be in 2024.
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