The Port Board of Directors approves plan to acquire, improve, and operate two downtown Cincinnati parking garages

609 Elm and 605 Plum will add to The Port’s operation & ownership of downtown parking properties; sale expected to close March 1, 2019
Board also approves The Port public finance programs for Neighborhoods at Summit Park project in Blue Ash; and Mariemont City School District for high school renovation

CINCINNATI – The Port Board of Directors approved a plan to advance downtown economic development at today’s board meeting through the acquisition of two parking garages located in the southwest quadrant of downtown Cincinnati. To finance the acquisition, the Board today passed resolutions allowing The Port to obtain loans, issue bonds, and refinance debt on existing properties it owns and controls. The Port also plans to collaborate with the Columbus-Franklin County Finance Authority as a finance partner through a bond issuance from its Central Ohio Bond Fund, in addition to tapping The Port’s Southwest Ohio Regional Bond Fund.

The Port has an agreement to purchase 609 Elm Street and 605 Plum Street garages from LAZ Parking Realty Investors, LLC, a national owner and management company. Combined, the garages have a total of 1,570 parking spaces. According to CEO Laura Brunner, acquiring the properties helps The Port achieve goals for its own growth as well as expand on its mission of improving real estate for long-term economic benefit.

“Today our board took a strong step to strengthen our investments in real estate we believe will have a catalytic effect on future development and vibrancy in the downtown district near the Duke Energy Convention Center and the Fourth and Race project. With this acquisition, we are also building on strong partnerships we have with the City of Cincinnati, several Ohio development finance agencies and state agencies that when combined, make this an innovative public-private partnership driving growth downtown.”

“The Port best serves Cincinnati by providing and coordinating public resources to drive local economic development,” according to Charles Luken, Board Chair. “Our immediate plan for these assets involves investing more than $1.5 million to bring them to a state of good repair, similar to what we have done to improve Fountain Square South, which is now among downtown’s best-performing parking facilities.” Mr. Luken said the City of Cincinnati had an instrumental role in the plan by agreeing to modify terms of The Port’s lease of Fountain Square South.

“The City has given us flexibility that will allow us to refinance debt on the garage,” Mr. Luken said. “This is critical to this acquisition and will also allow us to fund a new operating reserve, strengthening The Port’s balance sheet.” The Port has operated Fountain Square South parking garage under a long-term lease with the City since 2014. It issued $10.8 million in bonds from garage revenue to fund redevelopment projects located in the city.


To finance the $25.5 million purchase of 609 Elm and 605 Plum, The Port has agreements with a variety of sources utilizing various financing programs, including:

  • Refinance outstanding bonds from its 2100 Section Road and Fountain Square South Garage properties and issue new revenue bonds;
  • Enter into a loan agreement with Columbus Franklin County Finance Authority in an amount not to exceed $7.3 million;
  • Issue bonds through Southwest Ohio Regional Bond Fund in an amount up to $5 million to refinance Fountain Square South Garage;
  • Enter into a loan agreement with the State of Ohio through the Department of Transportation’s State Infrastructure Bank bond fund to borrow up to $16 million;
  • Enter into a loan agreement with the Ohio Development Services Agency’s Regional 166 Direct Loan Program to borrow up to $8 million;
  • Issue bonds through Southwest Ohio Regional Bond Fund in an amount up to $4.5 million for the garages acquisition.

DiPerna Advisors is financial advisor to ODOT’s State Infrastructure Bank and structured The Port’s financing plan for the garage acquisitions. According to DiPerna Advisors Director Josiah Huber, “This project demonstrates what happens when multiple finance authorities, a progressive city and state agencies unite in a deal that utilizes an array of financing tools to create momentum.”


The Port estimates that garage construction will begin this year to improve traffic flow, repair concrete and stairs, add or replace guardrails and handrails, improve lighting and add fire and other safety protections. The garages are not expected to close during the repairs, The Port said. SP Plus Parking Management Services will manage the properties.

Resolutions Approved:

2019-04 SORBF

2019-05 Parking Facilities

2019-06 LOC


Also at the January 16 Board meeting, The Port Board unanimously voted to authorize the agency to provide public finance assistance to two projects significant to Hamilton County communities:

Neighborhoods at Summit Park: The Port will issue up to $9 million in tax increment financing bonds to finance public improvements that support Phase 1A of the Neighborhoods at Summit Park development, known as The Approach, a $60 million phase that includes apartments, commercial/retail space and a parking deck. In 2017, the board had authorized The Port to enter into a preliminary cooperative agreement with the City of Blue Ash and developer Summit View Development LLC, (Al. Neyer and Vandercar Holdings LLC) to issue TIF bonds to finance infrastructure that supports the 100+ acre site – formerly the Blue Ash Airport — for planned, multiphase, mixed-use development. Resolution 2019-02 Blue Ash

Mariemont City School District: The board approved The Port to enter into a long-term lease to issue up to $45 million in tax-exempt lease revenue bonds to finance the construction of a new high school facility at 1 Warrior Way. Project includes 165,000 square feet of academic, performing arts and athletic space. 2019-03 Mariemont City Schools

Board member Mario San Marco said The Port’s work to help finance the school creates good will and helps further the community positively. The current high school is near capacity with 526 students.

Finance Committee: The Board approved the establishment of a Finance committee, and elected Patricia Smitson as Chair and added members Shane Wright and Manuel Chavez. 2019-01 Finance Advisory Committee

Officers: The Board approved Charles Luken as Chair and Manuel Chavez as Vice Chair, renewing positions they have held.

About The Port

The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority (The Port) is a quasi-public agency that is the principal real estate development finance agency serving Hamilton County and the City of Cincinnati. The Port both initiates redevelopment and manages projects on behalf of local governments and private institutions to improve property value and promote job creation. Visit for more information.

January 16, 2019

CONTACT: Gail Paul, VP Communication Strategy The Port – Cincinnati, Ohio
513.632-3832 (o); (513) 379-8153 (m)