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Friday, February 17, 2017

Fort Thomas Developers Present Business Plan to Planning Commission

Kyle Stevie presents his development plan for the two Midway district properties he and his partner, Chris Reid, recently acquired. FTM file. 
On Wednesday, February 15, a public hearing was held in front of the Planning Commission of Fort Thomas to review the business development plan for Fort Thomas developers, Chris Reid and Kyle Stevie.  The neighbors and business partners recently acquired 1011 and 1013 S. Fort Thomas Avenue, which had been problem properties in the Midway business district for years.

RELATED: Midway District Properties Sold To Fort Thomas Developers

We learned more about the developers' plans for the building as the commission reviewed items like parking, noise levels, acceptable uses for potential tenants and how the new tenants would fit into the already tight-quartered Midway Central Business District.

As noted by the Planning Commission and Stevie, there have been no leases signed by potential tenants, but the plan makes note that there have been fluid and detailed negotiations with The Colonel's Creamery and Aged and Oaked Bourbon and Wine Bar. Rough floor layouts and renderings of what the space could look like was shown at the public hearing.

The Colonel's Creamery, owned by Don Lambert, had previously held negotiations to move to Fort Thomas in the newly subdivided space of Fort Thomas Convenient Mart at 42 N. Fort Thomas Avenue, owned by Fort Thomas Enterprises. Those plans ultimately fell through, and Lambert renewed his lease at The Friendly Market in Florence in September, but Lambert said he's working with the Small Business Development Center to put together a financing package.

"That's something that I need to endeavor regardless of whether I might locate," said Lambert. "I can't say that I'm going to locate to Fort Thomas for sure, but it may be possible. I wouldn't deny it."

Stevie and Reid, who form the partnership KCCA Developers, acquired the properties in December for $150,000 and began immediately taking them to the bones.

1011 and 1013 S. Fort Thomas Ave. FTM file. 

Reid's company, Start to Finish Contracting, has completely gutted the interior the building. The building has been framed and a subfloor laid. Stevie said that without a lease signed, it wouldn't be possible to talk about the exterior look of the building, but as of now he said there will be two garage door style windows in the front of the building in the 1011 building and the current window in the middle of the building will be converted to a door way.

"The original purpose of these buildings were commercial," said Stevie. "Fort Thomas Matters recently posted a photo from the 1930's showing the building as housing a recreation parlor.We do not have history beyond that photo. We believe at some point in the 1970's the building were one residential and four apartments were put into the buildings. As the century closed the building became known for its seediness, not it's history. The past five years the building has been abandoned attracting various criminal activities." 

1011 and 1013 S. Ft. Thomas Ave. in the 1930s. FTM file. 
Stevie said that when he originally walked through the buildings the first things he noticed was the foul smell and drug paraphernalia strewn about the apartments.

RELATED: Renovations Are Underway At Midway Properties 1011 and 1013 S. Fort Thomas

The properties had been vacant for years. Previously there were residential apartments on the first and second floor.

Kevin Barbian, General Services Director of Fort Thomas, said that previously the first floor uses were legal nonconforming as apartments, meaning the residential units on the street level there and throughout the district have been grandfathered in.

"The business district now calls for second floor residents only.  The first floor occupancies
probably were changed to residential before the current regulations for the CBD were implemented, and therefore, were allowed to remain," he said.

Aside from the two new commercial tenants, Stevie said there would be two apartments built in the second floor of the 1013 building.

"We want to bring in a different clientele than what the current businesses like The Midway and Pub are bringing in," said Stevie. "To try to compete with them right now would be financial suicide. Our ultimate goal would be to keep Fort Thomas money in Fort Thomas."

If there was one theme that was most concerning to the commission, it involved the topic of parking.

Barbian said that the proposed ice cream shop at 1300 S. Fort Thomas Avenue is approximately 1,200 square feet and the proposed bourbon bar at 1100 S. Fort Thomas Avenue is approximately 1,500 square feet.

"One area of concern will be parking and the increase of traffic to the area," said Stevie. "As a historic district built around restaurants and bars, the renovation of this building and the additional traffic it will bring should be seen as an economic bonus to the city. Instead of squalor and crimes, there will be taxable income."

Still, the topic lingered among those on the commission.

"Based on the occupancy types, these buildings would typically require 18 and 32 parking spaces respectively, but this is obviously not a typical development plan. The Planning Commission could waive this requirement in this circumstance where the owners are physically unable to provide additional off-street parking due to the limitations in lot area," he said.

That waiver was granted, with the stipulation that the city would clearly mark parking lines from the water tower to the Midway business district so that patrons understood that parking was available, a fact that neighboring businesses brought up at the public hearing.

The Planning Commission also signed off on the outdoor patio that would be adjacent to the proposed bourbon bar and granted a waiver for a buffer yard that would abut the Cincinnati Bell property at 947 S. Fort Thomas Avenue.

The motion was passed unanimously by Planning Commission members Larry Schultz, Hans Tinkler, Dan Gorman, Dave Wormald, Jerry Noran and Dan Fehler. The next round of city input will take place once tenants have signed leases at that location. The Design Review Board will also have some oversight on the exterior of the building.

Fort Thomas Matters will have more on this story as it develops.

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