To achieve its mission to strategically revitalize Cincinnati’s downtown urban core, 3CDC has the flexibility to function in a variety of roles.
As a developer, 3CDC directly manages a redevelopment or new construction project. The developer is responsible for hiring all of the partners for a project. The partners work directly for and report to the developer. This is a role that 3CDC may play when redeveloping public spaces such as Fountain Square. In this example 3CDC was hired by the City, which owns Fountain Square, to oversee and manage the plaza and garage renovation. 3CDC was responsible for every aspect of the project, from design to managing the bidding and construction process. The Fountain Square renovation began in October 2005, and was rededicated in October 2006.
Other public project examples of 3CDC’s role as a developer include the Vine Street streetscape project in Over-the-Rhine, undertaken in partnership with the City of Cincinnati in the summer of 2009, and the expansion and renovation of Washington Park, which began in fall 2010 and reopened to the public in July 2012.
As master developer, 3CDC plans through how individual projects will successfully come together to create a cohesive redevelopment, adopting a holistic approach that leads to a proper mix of commercial, residential and public spaces working together to create a vibrant neighborhood.
To implement the Over-the-Rhine (OTR) master plan, for example, 3CDC identifies land banking opportunities, oversees property acquisition, investigates redevelopment viability, engages developers, funds pre-development work and provides financing expertise and resources to complete the project. The actual construction phase of the projects are handled by the developer, but 3CDC, as the master developer, continues to manage the overall project and provide strategic direction for the on-going phases of the project. The sale and leasing of redeveloped property results in the repayment of loans, which allows additional development to be financed.
The renovation in Over-the-Rhine is an example of 3CDC’s role as a master developer. The vision for mixed-use redevelopment beginning at Central Parkway and Vine Street has led to an on-going block-by-block renaissance of Over-the-Rhine. In this role, 3CDC is planning ahead for what is needed next to ensure a vibrant, successful mixed-use neighborhood that will meet the needs of current residents and businesses and attract new residents and businesses to the neighborhood.
Once a project is complete, 3CDC may serve as asset manager to ensure that the goals of the project are fulfilled and outcomes achieved.
3CDC oversees the daily management of Fountain Square and the Fountain Square North Garage, as well as Washington Park and the Washington Park Garage. With the renovation of Fountain Square and Washington Park complete, the City has charged 3CDC with the task of maintaining and programming both spaces to ensure that they continue to serve as destination locations – active places that attract people to downtown and Over-the-Rhine. 3CDC produces hundreds of events each year, attracting millions of people to Fountain Square and Washington Park.
In addition to these civic assets, 3CDC’s own assets include the 12th & Vine Parking Lot, the 14th Street Parking Lot, Mercer Garage, Saengerhalle commercial building, Parvis residential and commercial building, Belmain residential building, and the commercial spaces within Duveneck, Trideca, GoodFellows, Boca, Sotto, and Igby’s.
When Mercer Commons, phase V development in Over-the-Rhine, and the Fifth & Race projects are complete, 3CDC will also manage the residential and commercial leasing and garage operations at these locations.
3CDC does not loan funds to projects outside of its own. The funds are drawn from two private equity funds that specifically target 3CDC’s redevelopment work in downtown and Over-the-Rhine.
In November 2004, the staff of 3CDC accepted the daily operating responsibilities for the Cincinnati New Markets Fund (CNMF) and the Cincinnati Equity Fund (CEF). The separate governing Board of these two private funds consolidated financing programs geared toward urban redevelopment to accomplish the common goal shared by all three organizations. CNMF and CEF loans spur economic development in the Central Business District (CBD) and Over-the-Rhine (OTR) providing:
- A key source of capital as lending institutions abandon the market
- Capital for land banking
- Funding for pre-development activities
- 2-4% interest rates
- Interest-only payments (NMTC loans)
- No pre-sale requirements
- Loans made on non-recourse basis to developers
- Loan proceeds revolve and are reinvested in additional projects
As manager of CNMF and CEF, 3CDC acts as a bank, loaning and investing money in projects that will bring benefits to and spur additional private development in the center city. CNMF and CEF funds are used to redevelop existing buildings on or bring new construction to land banked properties owned by 3CDC. These projects would generally not qualify for the rates and terms required by conventional banking.
To date, over $717 million has been invested in the CBD and OTR. Approximately $313 million of that investment, or 44%, is from CEF, CNMF & tax credit equity. The success achieved is due to the dedication of the CNMF & CEF Board of Directors, City officials and staff, community organizations and residents.
In all these roles, 3CDC works collaboratively with funding partners, the City of Cincinnati, and the state of Ohio to bring stability and vitality to formerly distressed urban areas.
TO SUCCESSFULLY FULFILL ALL OF ITS POTENTIAL ROLES INVOLVES SOME OR ALL OF THE FOLLOWING STEPS:
Identify buildings and vacant property in target areas with potential for positive future
Purchase buildings and vacant property for future redevelopment; ensuring the property is maintained and does not suffer further deterioration before redevelopment can begin.
CREATE VIABLE PROJECTS
Identify potential developments that compliment the condition, size and history of the building as well of the needs of the community.
Develop, in cooperation with the City of Cincinnati, a viable funding structure to finance the renovation project.
MANAGE THE PROJECT
Engage qualified development team to ensure that the quality of the redevelopment meets 3CDC standards, is completed on time and on budget and successfully marketed for sale or lease.
CINCINNATI NEW MARKETS FUND, LLC
The Cincinnati New Markets Fund (CNMF) is a private organization comprised of 13 leading Cincinnati corporations. CNMF focuses on making loans and equity investments that help to revitalize and strengthen the center city of Cincinnati, including both the central business district (CBD) and the adjacent Over-the-Rhine (OTR) neighborhood. These areas are considered distressed neighborhoods and therefore qualify for NMTC investments.
CNMF is the result of the federal New Markets Tax Credit Program (NMTC), which was established by Congress in 2000 as part of the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act. It provides a credit against federal income taxes to privately managed investment funds such as CNMF. In turn, these investment funds, or community development entities (CDE), make loans and capital investments to stimulate development in distressed communities.
The managing members of 3CDC committed over $90 million to compete for an NMTC allocation award in 2003-2004. During that round of funding, the Federal government received applications from 271 entities requesting a total allocation of $30.4 billion. CNMF’s $50 million award was one of only 62 applications accepted nationally in a process that awarded a total of $3.5 billion. Investment of this allocation included the revitalization of Fountain Square and approximately 250 residential units and 91,000 SF of commercial space in Over-the-Rhine.
In October 2008, another application from 3CDC on behalf of CNMF was accepted and awarded $35 million in New Markets Tax Credits from the CDFI. This was the sixth round for the NMTC program. In all, 239 organizations nationwide requested funding totaling over $21 billion. CNMF received one of only 70 awards granted this round by CDFI. The award has allowed CNMF and its strategic partners to continue redevelopment downtown north of Fifth Street as well as its revitalization efforts in OTR, specifically moving north on Vine Street and the renovation of Washington Park.
3CDC has been awarded 2 more NMTC allocations since then for a total of $153 million. Total development directly spurred by CNMF investment equals $717 million.
As the manager of CNMF, 3CDC makes loans to developers for redevelopment projects in the target areas. Most developers will not or cannot borrow money from a conventional lender to undertake risky development opportunities. Once a development is completed, the developer begins to pay back the loan and the repayment goes back into CNMF allowing even more loans to be made.
The overall goal of CNMF is to support 3CDC’s efforts to revitalize the CBD and OTR by making below market-rate loans to commercial, residential and community real estate projects. Currently, there are two main offerings: a mezzanine loan product and mixed-use construction loan product. Revitalization is resulting in the creation of new home ownership opportunities and jobs, repopulation of the neighborhoods and reduction in crime. Without CNMF’s low-cost capital, such efforts would not be financially feasible.
By making an investment in a CDE, an individual or corporate investor can receive a tax credit worth 39% of the initial investment, distributed over seven years, along with any anticipated return on their investment in the CDE. The program is administered by the CDFI Fund; an arm of the U.S. Treasury.
THE CINCINNATI EQUITY FUND, LTD.
The Cincinnati Equity Fund (CEF) was created in 1995 to support real estate development and compliment the low-income housing market by providing market-rate housing units to create mixed-income neighborhoods. To date, CEF and CEF II have made over $136 million in loans resulting in $672 million in total development directly spurred by the fund’s investments. Projects include Fountain Square, Washington Park, Nicholson’s, Palomino, Boca/Sotto, Igby’s, The Banks, and Over-the-Rhine condo developments.
CEF provides gap financing for downtown real estate development projects that would not otherwise happen but for the debt facility provided by CEF. Currently, there are two main offerings: a mezzanine loan product and mixed-use construction loan product. Both products offer components such as 2-4% interest rates, funding for pre-development and no pre-sale requirements.