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Union Terminal Lands Big Financing Deal

Union Terminal
Tana Weingartner
Union Terminal

There's big news for the Union Terminal restoration project. In simple terms, Bank of America is buying the project's federal historic tax credits for a net amount of around $31 million.

That's roughly $9.8 million more than budgeted.

Cincinnati Museum Center President Elizabeth Pierce says she's cautiously optimistic that extra money will bolster the project's third and final bid to win $3.25 million in state historic tax credits. She adds the unexpected overage could also fill the gap should those state tax credits be denied again.

Members of the board overseeing the restoration call the Bank of America deal a "great result." Chair John Silverman says it shows Bank of America really believes in the project since the bank doesn't have a strong presence in this market.

Fifth Third is lending money to assist Bank of America.

PNC Bank is also joining the restoration effort. The bank is fronting the project $56.5 million. Those funds will cover construction costs up front while the county continues to collect the sales tax revenues that are paying for the bulk of the work.

About 20 percent of the way through the work, Union Terminal Restoration Advisory Committee members say there have been no major shocks or setbacks.

Mike Burson is the Owner's Representative with the Union Terminal Corporation. He says he feels good about the contingency budget and what surprises have come up as the work progresses. "We still have a few walls to open up but I'm comfortable with our contingencies."

The current project total now stands at $219 million, up from $212 million. Pierce says the extra Bank of America funds are covering some contingencies and allowing the project to do a little bit more than planned.

Burson says the project qualified for some extra funding thanks to the additional financing. Those dollars pay for replacing some windows that were installed in 1989. "The windows were not performing very well," says Burson. "They were going to require an extensive amount of work and we made the decision that it was a better choice to just replace them. This, of course, helped us bring in more tax credits."

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Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Most recently, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She served on the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors from 2007 - 2009.