A Letter from the Developer

To the Citizens of Fort Thomas,

The Fort Thomas School District, Campbell County and Fort Thomas City Council decision to support our residential mixed-use development paves the way for another great community asset. Besides the best schools and parks in Northern Kentucky, residents will boast about their attractive downtown in the coming years.

This project would not have happened without their collective leadership. Building a new mixed-use development is expensive and risky. Everyone knows about escalating construction costs, but a bigger challenge for a developer is entering an untested market. Fort Thomas is a downtown with primarily older retail and office space and lower rents. It is a city without modern condominium flats with elevators and underground parking. So, we are going to establish a new market with our project.

We are bullish on Fort Thomas but needed the partnership with the City to make the numbers work. This partnership includes Industrial Revenue Bonds that will be paid off by the new tax proceeds collected by the City on the project. It also includes the City purchase of land and construction of a public parking lot to support merchants.

Public incentives to stimulate economic development are not just happening on large projects like Ovation but smaller mixed-use projects in neighboring communities like Newport and Covington. For example, Duveneck, River Haus and John R. Green projects all received donated land or funds to create public parking along with tax incentives.

Our collective investment will result in many positive returns. For the school system, a significant increase in future revenue from real estate taxes. For the City, an opportunity to attract additional retail/office development and earnings taxes. For existing merchants, a way to generate additional traffic or expand into new commercial space. For citizens, the realization of your community plan “to create a vibrant and resilient business district.”

For our development team the outcome is not just a fair return on investment. It is about the satisfaction of building community. We look forward to working with you to create an exciting new gathering place and new residential lifestyle for Fort Thomas.

Sincerely,
Rick Greiwe
Greiwe Development

Fort Thomas Town Center Revised Plan

After input from the Planning Commission, Design Review Board and listening to citizens we have made several adjustments to the original concept plan including:

Building Length

The new plan breaks the single building into two buildings with a 30 ft. wide garden in between.

The mixed-use building on the corner includes 18 condominiums instead of 24 with underground parking for residents and visitors. The 12,000 SF of commercial space will feature neighborhood services and retail. The second commercial building will feature a 4,300 SF sit down restaurant and office space on the second level.

Building Mass

Two different architecture types are introduced along Ft. Thomas Avenue to break up the mass of the development. The mixed-use building on the corner draws its inspiration from the various types of architecture in town. Millwork and cast stone detailing along with balconies and projecting gable bays add texture and depth to the façade and give the building its residential character.

The commercial building to the north has a modern restaurant and office space that works in harmony with its flat roof lines of historic commercial structures scattered throughout the town center. Aluminum storefront windows with metal panel accents are used on the first floor and punched window openings with a projecting bay for architectural articulation on the second floor.

Building Height

By means of lesser roof slope and floor-to-floor heights, the building height is reduced from 53.6 ft. to 50 ft. to the top of gable and ridge to stay in compliance with the town center zoning, the corner building will include commercial space on the first level with 13 ft. finished ceilings and two levels of residential units with 10 ft. ceilings.

The commercial building is 35 ft. high to the top of parapet, with finished ceilings for a restaurant space at 16 ft and office on second level with 12 ft. ceilings. The adjacent Schone Cabinetry building to the north is 4 ft. taller than this commercial building and WesBanco building across the street is 2 ft. taller. The two-level commercial building provides a nice transition in scale to the other buildings in the town center.

Streetscape

The entire length of the development will be activated with pedestrian space that complements the town center. Ft. Thomas Avenue will include, per Fort Thomas streetscape standards, a 6 ft. wide public sidewalk and 4-6 ft. wide planting strip between the covered promenade and the public sidewalk on the mixed-use building frontage.

The commercial building to the north will have a 16 ft. deep outdoor seating area adjacent to large storefront and operable glazed wall systems to open the restaurant to the street.

A 30 ft. wide space between the two buildings has a garden with trees and landscaped beds. It will be a place for condo residents to enjoy and a beautiful access point to the retail business and public parking lot.

The façade of the mixed-use building has an 11 ft. wide promenade with alternating roof and trellis sections. The promenade terminates into a Plaza on the corner of Highland and Ft. Thomas that will feature colorful flower planters and umbrella tables and will be a great place to gather in the town center.

Garage Entry

After studying several entries for the residential garage, the Woodland Place location was selected. There are however several changes suggested by residents and the developer incorporated into the revised plan:

  • Increased setback of an additional 5 ft. for a total of 13.6 ft. from property line and a total of 20 ft. to the sidewalk and 30 ft. from curb. No setback is required in the zoning code.
  • Increased space for stacking cars with 3 spaces in garage and 1 car outside garage that can wait to enter Woodland without blocking sidewalk.
  • Increased visitor parking in garage from 3 to 9 spaces.
  • Exit drive of garage lined up between homes across street and landscape material offered to owners.
  • Professionally landscaped and maintained gateway to neighborhood on hillside to replace surface parking lot and retaining wall.
  • Request to City to remove utility box and pole to increase visibility.

The height of the residential will be stepped back to two levels over the garage. The entry is designed to respect the residential character of the street with a stone clad building base and recessed garage door. Residential units with outdoor balconies will face Woodland Place.

Condos

How can condos work here?

Greiwe Development has constructed 120 condos in Mariemont, 30 in Hyde Park, and 114 in Downtown. Targeted to the empty nester, senior, and single professional audience, these for sale “flats” feature one level open floorplans with high-end designer finishes. An elevator from each level accesses a private parking garage.

The offices, tenants, neighborhood services and retail will be curated for the commercial space to enhance the residences above. The businesses will add another reason to live in the walkable downtown.

This type of housing is not available in Ft. Thomas or the surrounding communities and the demographic profile will support the product.

Retail

Why will retail be successful this time?

Many businesses have failed on the corner and some citizens question why this project will succeed. Previous restaurants, gift shops, offices, and others have operated out of houses, not modern commercial space. There was no central mass of retail to attract customers.

The new buildings will be an attractive destination for shopping, dining, and neighborhood services. It will be a prestigious address for businesses. The targeted commercial tenants will create a reason to frequent the location on a regular basis.

More and more traditional town centers throughout the region and nation are experiencing a revitalization as residents desire places to live, work, shop, and play in walkable neighborhoods.

Ft. Thomas has a unique opportunity to attract young, urban couples as they start families and look for the best school systems. These millennials will seek the same services within walking distance to shop and socialize. The proposed mixed-use project will appeal to this audience as well as long-time residents who desire a place to gather in the town center.

Project Scale and Height

Scale of Project

The scale of the project has been revised. The length has been broken into two buildings and the mass by introducing two architectural styles. The project sets the stage for the revitalization of the town center which is now characterized by businesses operating out of older houses on the west side of Fort Thomas Ave.

A modern town center envisioned in the Ft. Thomas Comprehensive Plan has buildings with setbacks that are near the sidewalk and create a sense of place. The commercial space will have large glass storefronts with attractive facades. The floorplans are conducive to retail, office, and neighborhood service businesses. Many residents have raised the question ‘Do we want to be a bedroom community with just great schools and parks, or do we also want a great town center where we can gather, dine, shop, and work?’

Height of Project

The mixed-use building has been redesigned to conform to the 50 ft. height limitation. The second commercial building is 35 ft. high.

Garage and Entry

Study Analyzes Safest Access to Underground Parking

The egress of the garage was placed on Woodland because it is the best for residents to access Highland Avenue. A traffic study identified the Highland and Woodland intersection as the safest route for heading east or west, especially with the backup at Fort Thomas during peak hours. In addition, the garage entry on Woodland is at the grade at this level. There is a 10-foot drop from the corner of Ft. Thomas and Highland to Woodland and the garage will be underground along Ft. Thomas Ave.

The roundtrips for the proposed 18-unit project is estimated at 21 per day. This is based upon the garage door counts for similar Greiwe Development projects in Mariemont.

The traffic study also verified these number of trips based upon similar projects targeted to similar audiences. Woodland Place residents currently experience 15 roundtrips per day and 30 trips during the busy tax season at the Grosser Building. The existing retaining wall and 12 car surface parking lot would be replaced with an attractively landscaped hillside. In addition, the building height at the corner of Highland and Woodland has been lowered one level to benefit the neighborhood.

The setback of the building has been increased and will exceed the zoning requirement by 10 ft. The building will be a total of 30 ft. from the curb.

The corner will feature the same handsome materials as the front of the building with a stone garage façade and brick on the first and second residential levels. The garage door will also be recessed inside the garage and not create a noise impact.

Visitor parking has been increased to address neighborhood concerns and space added for four cars to wait to enter Woodland if congestion occurs at the intersection.

City’s Comprehensive Plan Supports Project

The recent update of the Plan was completed in December 2018. It is a result of widespread public participation and best practices in city planning. The developer was recruited by city leaders to assist with the execution of the town center vision outlined in the Plan.

The Quality of Life and Business District Development Goals in the Plan support the proposed development. The interpretation of the Plan will be a topic of public discourse during the approval process with some citizens in favor and some not in favor of pursuing these goals.

Many residents remember the old town center with neighborhood retail and services and believe this is the time to expand and activate the center for the next generation of Ft. Thomas.

A Town Center for Future Generations

The new town center hopes to recall a time in Fort Thomas when it was bustling with shops, restaurants and more. Places like Highland Theater, Stegner’s Grocery, Briarcliff, The Busy Bee, Marshal Granger Jewelers and Cloverleaf Dairy were fixtures of our community.

We hope to create a town center that is once again the hub of Fort Thomas. A place where we can live an even more engaging lifestyle with our neighbors, family and friends.

What would you like to see?

Do you remember the Town Center from a generation ago? What do you remember? What would you like to see from that bygone era in today’s development? We want to hear from you!