Apartment complex project in OTR fails

There have been a few different projects in my hometown of Cincinnati to improve an area called Over-the-Rhine. Growing up, we were told to stay away from OTR because of its reputation as an unsafe, crime-filled neighborhood, despite its historic importance to the city. However, in the past 10 to 15 years the city has put a lot of money and time into revamping the historical district, which is now the cool place to go for drinks or good food, shop for unique clothes and especially live.

Last May, a new apartment complex project was approved for OTR on the corner of Elm and Liberty. The residents, architects and multiple groups in the district were unhappy with the decision, including Vice Mayor David Mann. These groups aren’t confident that the new building fits the same style OTR currently has, and won’t offer affordable housing. The plan was paused in late August because of the outrage of residents. Since then there hasn’t been any news coverage on it. My uncle is the current mayor of Cincinnati, and said the project is currently stalled for lack of financing.

The company Source 3 is leading the project, and has had to compromise since the community expressed concern with the original design. For example, the height of the building was decreased. The project was projected to cost $26 million, which is another reason it spent so much time being passed around city hall. The company was criticized of not involving the community in its decisions when designing the building.

From what we’ve learned about project management, Source 3 was unsuccessful in the early stages of planning and approving this project for OTR. The steps in project management are to define, organize, plan, monitor and control. S3 defined and organized the project, but the planning fell short. Technically the customers for this project included the residence of not only OTR but also of the entire city of Cincinnati, since the historical value is on interest to the whole city and surrounding suburbs. S3 failed to plan in accordance with the expectations and desires of the customers. The price of the project was another obstacle encountered during the planning phase. These problems not only lead to the project being halted, but if the project had been passed the would have caused risks. One concern was the building not being affordable for the demographic that already lives in OTR. If this is true, S3 and OTR risk losing money if the apartments are not purchased.

A different new apartment complex opened up last month just three blocks from the location S3 wanted to put its new apartments. It would be interested to find out how the planning process for this project differed from the process S3 used.





4 thoughts on “Apartment complex project in OTR fails

  • February 7, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    I found this post to be especially interesting because there has been a situation that was similar to this where I grew up as well. There was a downtown area that once once the cultural center of the city, but over the years the district has turned into bulldozed lots and empty storefronts. About ten years ago, the city approved a project to renovate this area and support businesses to move back to the area. Similar to the OTR area, it became a great place for food, drinks and shopping; the project seemed like it was a huge success. However, it was later found out that some of the project managers were cutting corners when remodeling and rebuilding some of the buildings, some of the buildings were not built to code. It was a huge financial strain to fix this issue, luckily the errors were fixed and the project continued to be an overall success. In your case, if the new apartment complex did not fit the identity of OTR it could have had a very negative impact on the success of that project. These are great examples of the importance of project management. If there are a few errors in the management of the project, the entire project could become a failure.

    • February 7, 2018 at 10:02 pm

      Similarly to Michael, I can relate to experiencing companies cutting corners when undergoing massive urban projects. In my native city of San Francisco, an architecture company created this extravagant new apartment building called the Millennium Tower. Local celebrities and millionaires alike were buying these apartments as soon as they came available. However, 10 years after it was built, it has sunk 17 inches and tilted 14 inches. This outlines an enormous planning failure on behalf of the company. Because of this failure at this stage of the planning process, all subsequent processes would be unable to function correctly. Given what occurred in San Francisco, I’m glad that S3 is taking its time and not rushing to build a building that no one wants. While it would likely not sink, it is better to highlight a problem in the process before it’s too late than to be left open to a lawsuit and a giant loss for the company.


  • February 7, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    The company, Source 3, seems to have failed in the process strategy are of customer involvement. It seems that in not listening to its customers Source 3 did not foresee the potential pitfalls that were ahead of it. While there are drawbacks to involving potential customer in one’s business operations it can help a company gain insight into what is expected of them. It may be interesting to hear from Source 3 as to whether there was any discussion of reaching out to the community in order to prevent backlash like this.
    This can help serve as an example to other developers who are seeking to transform previously rundown neighborhoods. As this trend continues companies need to be aware of the possible repercussions of their actions. With social media as powerful as it is today movements and public opinion can easily affect the outcomes of a company’s business operations.

  • February 8, 2018 at 8:50 am

    I agree with Thomas’ point about reaching out to the community. I think in situations like this, in which new apartment or store complexes are being built, the community’s approval is a big factor. People often have strong opinions about their living environments, and rightfully so, so I’m a little surprised that Source 3 even found itself in this situation. Not finding out the community’s opinion on this complex seems like a pretty big blunder to me, especially for a project of this size and cost. I think Elizabeth makes a good point about insufficient planning on Source 3’s part, but one could argue that they did a poor job of organizing as well. For an established company like Source 3 to disregard such an essential factor, not establishing a team of residents within the community to collaborate with Source 3 on this endeavor resulted in planning a project that faced avoidable backlash and cost Cincinnati millions. I think for any sort of public work, as Elizabeth noted, knowing the full scale of ‘customers’ (or in other words, anyone affected by the project) is extremely important, as not only is it going to be seen in public where residents live, but often times it is publicly funded as well.

Comments are closed.