Rowing Center project likely to spark interest in Great Miami River

Credit: Journal-News

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Rowers with the Great Miami Rowing Center in Hamilton are getting ready to go out onto the river on Thursday, June 2, 2022. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

Credit: Journal-News

The Great Miami River has been one of the most underutilized assets in the city of Hamilton, but a $6.5 million development could be the catalyst to spark more interest around and on the river, local officials said.

The Great Miami Rowing Center at 110 N. B St. plans to build a $6.5 million mixed-use development to include a new boathouse and training center. There is also a component that includes apartments next to the facility, which will be constructed by the partnering developer. Details on that part have not been released and not part of the training center portion of the project.

“The rowing club was founded on an economic basis,” said GMRC Executive Director Kristina Latta-Landefeld. “It was about bringing people to Hamilton at a time when people were driving through Hamilton. Our team was made up at the beginning of people who were coming to Hamilton for the first time, and seeing it for the first time because they wanted to row.”

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Pictured are artist renderings of the planned $6.5 million mixed-use project to provide the Great Miami Rowing Center with a new training center and boathouse. It will also feature a community recreation center. PROVIDED

Credit: Provided

Pictured are artist renderings of the planned $6.5 million mixed-use project to provide the Great Miami Rowing Center with a new training center and boathouse. It will also feature a community recreation center. PROVIDED

Credit: Provided

Combined ShapeCaption
Pictured are artist renderings of the planned $6.5 million mixed-use project to provide the Great Miami Rowing Center with a new training center and boathouse. It will also feature a community recreation center. PROVIDED

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

The rowing center was founded 15 years ago and competes on a national level. They qualified eight boats to the national tournament (though seven will participate), and a new facility will allow the organization to continue its growth.

Part of that growth is to promote active and recreational use of the river, Latta-Landefeld said.

“I think what we can provide is both on the water access but also training to be on the water,” she said. “I think this is going to be a really interesting crossroads between sports, recreation, and activity that so many people are longing to have.”

Kayak and boat rentals are a part of what they want to do, as well as water safety education.

“A lot of people are scared of this river, and there is good reason for it,” Latta-Landefeld said. “There have been some tragedies on this river. We want to make sure we can make it as safe in an accessible way and have fun.”

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Rowers with the Great Miami Rowing Center in Hamilton are getting ready to go out onto the river on Thursday, June 2, 2022. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

Rowers with the Great Miami Rowing Center in Hamilton are getting ready to go out onto the river on Thursday, June 2, 2022. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

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Rowers with the Great Miami Rowing Center in Hamilton are getting ready to go out onto the river on Thursday, June 2, 2022. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

Plans call for a two-story, 14,000-square-foot building to house the existing fleet of rowing shells, kayaks, and equipment with room for expansion, and spaces for the team, coaches, and the broader GMRC community.

It would also include a year-round café, and provide kayak and boat rentals to the public.

The second level of the facility would include a training space, and also serve as a location for events and recreation that features expansive views of the city. The design concept is for a sustainable facility that would support the health and wellness of the community, optimize energy performance, and adapt to the evolving needs of the organization and the community.

The organization expects to have construction bid packages together before spring 2023 and hopes an eight-month construction process starts around March. Preliminary estimates show the project to range from $6 million to $6.5 million.

Latta-Landefeld said the biggest hurdle right now is fundraising. Though this is “the best place we’ve ever been in” with its partners, like the Miami Conservancy District, which will sell some land to the rowing center for the development.

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Great Miami Rowing Center Hamilton

Great Miami Rowing Center Hamilton

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Great Miami Rowing Center Hamilton

“All the stars have aligned, and now we just have to get to our fundraising goal,” she said.

The GMRC’s $6.5 million project includes a boathouse, community recreation and training center. The organization partnered with Susan T Rodriguez Architecture Design, a local developer known for several developments that include apartments, townhomes, and other mixed-use projects.

The project has received funding commitments of nearly half the goal from three donors. The Harry T. Wilks Family Foundation, Hamilton Community Foundation and the city of Hamilton each contributed $1 million. Hamilton’s contribution, according to City Manager Joshua Smith, would be contributed to the GMRC upon successfully raising matching funds. The city’s contribution would come from American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Smith said as Hamilton continues to create a community that’s attractive for job creation, the GMRC project “will be another unique amenity to assist.”

“Since the 1920 City Plan authored by Harland Bartholomew identified how one of our most important assets ― our river ― was ignored, the city has struggled to activate our water in a positive way,” the city manager said. “Not only would the proposed boathouse bring needed energy to the waterfront, it would be a great complement to the other recent improvements, including RiversEdge, Marcum Park, and the Spooky Nook at Champion mixed-use project.”

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The Great Miami Rowing Center is planning a $6.5 million mixed-use development project on North B Street. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

The Great Miami Rowing Center is planning a $6.5 million mixed-use development project on North B Street. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

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The Great Miami Rowing Center is planning a $6.5 million mixed-use development project on North B Street. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

Though the proposed project has not yet been analyzed for its economic impact potential, the rowing club has already had an impact on the city, said Hamilton Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dan Bates.

“There’s a large percentage from the rowing club that comes from outside Hamilton,” he said. “There’s also a significant number of people that live in Hamilton that participate that aren’t as affluent as some of the people that come from the outside. It’s an attraction across segments, which is pretty exciting.”

Beyond the current impact, Bates calls this project a “catalyst to provide greater focus on the potential of the river, not just for development but also for recreation.”

Latta-Landefeld said the rowing center can be the starting point and stopping point for anyone along the Great Miami River trail as the city’s beltline trail will connect along the river.

“No matter what, we’re going to make this project happen, even if we have to right-size the project to make it work,” she said.

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Great Miami Rowing Center held a scrimmage race on the river as visitors stroll through Hamilton Flea, a monthly urban artisan market, Saturday, May 14, 2022 at Marcum Park in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Great Miami Rowing Center held a scrimmage race on the river as visitors stroll through Hamilton Flea, a monthly urban artisan market, Saturday, May 14, 2022 at Marcum Park in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Combined ShapeCaption
Great Miami Rowing Center held a scrimmage race on the river as visitors stroll through Hamilton Flea, a monthly urban artisan market, Saturday, May 14, 2022 at Marcum Park in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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