Cincinnati’s Carew Tower to be converted into apartments, condos

CINCINNATI (WXIX) – Downtown Cincinnati’s most iconic skyscraper, the Carew Tower, will be converted to residential use after an extensive redevelopment project.

The Ohio Department of Development has awarded nearly $6.5 million to the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority for the building’s remediation.

The grant award’s project description notes remediation will include asbestos abatement, interior demolition and a full roof replacement, following which former office spaces “will be converted for residential use.”

The state grant award comes from the Ohio Brownfield Remediation Program, which is designed to clean up industrial, commercial and institutional sites that are abandoned, idled or underutilized due to a known or potential release of hazardous substances.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday announced $88 million in awards for 123 brownfield remediation projects, including the Carew Tower.

“Revitalizing these properties can transform the landscape of a local community,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development. “By investing in these sites, we allow communities to turn them into something that is worth noting, visiting and a highlight to the local area.”

The Carew Tower remains in operation, according to the project details, but is “predominantly vacant and suffering from steady deterioration.”

Details of its remediation, including a project timeline and the Port’s involvement, are still unclear.

It remains an enticing prospect for Downtown Cincinnati, where post-pandemic momentum is building thanks to several large adaptive-reuse projects proposed, underway or recently completed: the Central Trust Tower; the Mercantile Building and the Traction building; the Terrace Plaza Hotel; and the Ingalls building.

Two boutique hotels opened last year: a Kinley Hotel and TownePlace Suites. Also in the works: the convention center project including a $500 million name-brand hotel.

The Carew Tower was sold in August after a drawn-out foreclosure lawsuit that brought the former owner, Greg Power, before a bankruptcy judge. Power, who took ownership in 2014, had defaulted on a $9.7 million bank loan and owed hundreds of thousands in delinquent utility bills.

Power began marketing the tower for sale in July 2020. Months later, according to county records, he stopped paying sewer charges to MSD. Duke Energy threatened twice in 2021 to shut off the power to the building.

The final sale price was $18 million to New York-based Veles Partners. The firm has not returned FOX19′s comment request as of this writing.

The tower and retail together were assessed at $28 million in 2020, according to the Enquirer citing Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes.

The comparatively low sale price reflects market trends post-COVID, the high cost of remediation and economic uncertainty, according to a separate Enquirer report.

“The $18 million sales price reflects the age of this building and the sheer amount of capital it would take to make that into a productive asset,” Carl Goertemoeller, executive director of the University of Cincinnati’s Real Estate Center, said in September.

The 49-story Art Deco tower was the tallest building west of the Allegheny Mountains when it was completed in 1930.

It remains the tallest building in Downtown Cincinnati by functional space. Great American Tower is around 90ft. taller including its tiara but contains eight fewer floors.

The Carew building complex includes the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza. The hotel was not part of the tower’s sale.

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