As groundbreakings go, the scraping of several inches of sod by a large front-end loader was more mighty than most for The Marcum, an apartment and retail development in downtown Hamilton.
Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller told a crowd of about 100, “I think it’s real symbolic that we’ve got this huge piece of equipment back here (the loader) because this is a real kick — I’m not going to say the word I want to say — a real kick-butt time here in the city of Hamilton when it comes to economic development.”
After comments by local officials, U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, and the developer, the machine started up and peeled away several yards of soil Monday, ceremonially marking the start of construction.
“We are very excited. We’ve been waiting for this day to come,” said Dan Bates, president of the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.
He called it “a whole new direction to continue the development of the city of Hamilton.”
Officials said the approximately 100 luxury-apartment complex, which will have street-level retail, might not have happened without a call Hamilton Finance Director Tom Vanderhorst made a year ago to Jim Cohen of CMC Properties of Blue Ash.
CMC developed a similar project in downtown Loveland, the city where Vanderhorst used to work.
“It points to the future for this region,” Davidson said on what now is a grass-covered property three blocks north of High Street and one block from the Great Miami River. “It’s nice to come out and see so many people that want to be a part of it.”
“I think this points to people that really are putting their faith in this path, that there is going to be demand for these sort of apartments,” Davidson said.
Moeller noted RiversEdge amphitheater is just across the street from the newly developed Marcum Park, which includes the existing RiversEdge amphitheater, host to many outdoor concerts throughout the summer. The park will have its grand opening May 6.
“This location was a start-up, stop; start-up, stop,” Moeller said. “But now, it is really, really going. This area has also already become an attractive, appealing destination location to play. And with the Marcum Apartments, this now becomes the attractive, appealing destination location to live.”
Cohen said many have asked him, “Why Hamilton, and why now?”
“If those people were here today, they wouldn’t be asking the question,” Cohen said. “Because the answer is on the banks of the beautiful Great Miami River, where this city’s founding families built foundries, financial institutions and Mosler Safe (Co.)…. Those families made fortunes of money, and poured it back into their community, in architecture and infrastructure.”
“Hamilton back then and today has some of the most beautiful buildings in this region … that make visitors look up in awe, every time they drive into this town,” Cohen said.
He indicated his development was encouraged by the proposed Spooky Nook Sports at Champion Mill, a mega indoor sports complex planned for across the river along North B Street, as well as small-businesses that already have repopulated the downtown area along High Street and are beginning to fill storefronts now along Main Street, just across the river.
“I am so pleased that Sam Beiler (founder of Spooky Nook) will be breaking ground on the Champion sports complex right across the river, before we know it,” Cohen said. “He recognized early on the phenomenal location of Hamilton, its people. And I thank Sam for bringing Spooky Nook to Hamilton.”