Cincy Council ready to vote on Music Hall lease

Apr 8, 2013

Cincinnati Council's Budget and Finance Committee will likely approve a lease agreement Monday to allow the long awaited renovation of Music Hall to move forward. 

The city's planning commission approved the issue Friday. 

The city would lease the facility to the Music Hall Revitalization Company for 75 years for $1 a year. 

That group would be charged with raising private money to rehab the venue.  The city would contribute $10 million to the project, which will cost at least $50 million.  But it likely will be less than $100 million. 

Otto Budig, Jr. with the Revitalization Company said part of the delay getting the lease negotiated was when the construction will begin.  The city initially wanted work to start in 2014.  Budig said now the group has until June 2016 to get started.

"Our objective here is to raise most of the money before we move into this project," Budig said.  "The worst possible thing we could do not only for Music Hall and the city, is start the project, not have enough money and then let it go.  That would be dreadful." 

The revitalization group will likely be getting help from 3CDC.  Budig said it's shown the ability to get large, complex projects completed.

"What this does is not only provide Music Hall revitalization with a higher level of interest, but it develops a level of validity for the project," Budig said.  "Not to mention the fact that they are very, very good at what they do."

Budig said the Music Hall plan has been in the works for a long-time.

"And unfortunately many people when they knew about Music Hall revitalization, recognizing how important it was and is, to stand on the shoulders of the people who built this iconic building and bring it into the 21st century, many of these people wanted to have a sprint," Budig said.  "This is not a sprint.  This is a marathon, but we're going to finish it."

Budig said the group hopes to begin fundraising efforts in May or June. 

The Music Hall plan focuses on enhanced accessibility, a more comfortable seating arrangement and expanded restroom capacity.  The facility will be closed for about a year and a half when the construction begins. 

Otto Budig, Jr. is a member of the Cincinnati Public Radio Board of Directors.