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Millennium Hotel Proposal Halts New Convention Center Hotel Plans

Local leaders have complained about the state of the Millennium Hotel and said it has not helped convention business.
Bill Rinehart
Local leaders have complained about the state of the Millennium Hotel and said it has not helped convention business.

Updated Aug 8, 8:45 a.m.

Plans to build a new hotel at Fifth and Plum in downtown Cincinnati are on hold. Someone is interested in buying the Millennium Hotel.

A release from a Millennium Hotel spokesman Wednesday afternoon confirms the company "has entered into a purchase and sale agreement with a local development company for the sale of our hotel in Cincinnati."

The Center City Development Corporation's board of directors decided to hold off issuing a request for proposals for a new convention center hotel, according to CEO and President Steve Leeper. "As this is a significant event that would ultimately affect our ability to issue and complete a successful RFP, we have decided to pause our activity until there is additional clarity on the project."

Leeper says until Hamilton County looks at the development plan for the Millennium, 3CDC will avoid sending out "mixed messages to the development and hospitality communities."

A statement from Hamilton County Administrator Jeff Aluotto says the county is "completely committed to attracting and building a new world-class convention center hotel," and agrees with 3CDC's pause.

Aluotto says the developer has a confidentiality agreement and a conditional contract.

He says "this development has the potential to be a game changer in the convention center landscape with possible effects on the location and future expansion of the convention center."

The Hamilton County prosecutor's office is reviewing the proposal, according to Commission President Denise Driehaus, to see if it would be better than building new.

The Port bought the parking lot at Fifth and Plum, across the street from the Duke Energy Convention Center in 2018. In April 2019, 3CDC, along with representatives of Cincinnati, Hamilton County, and the Port, announced plans to accept proposals from developers.

Driehaus says she's not sure what would happen to the land if the local developer's plans go through. "There's a lot of potential for that site. Is it the expansion of the convention center? Is it some different kind of development that will compliment what's going on at a class A hotel and the convention center? I think there are lots of opportunities on that site. It's prime real estate."

She says the use of county money is "not, to my knowledge, even on the table." She says if any tax dollars would be needed, those funds would come from the hotel/motel tax, not the general fund.

Driehaus says she expects to see "some answers by the end of the month."

This story was updated to correct that the Port bought the land at 5th and Plum, not 3CDC.

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Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio: and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.