The Enquirer Building is located at 617 Vine Street in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio and was the home of the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper from 1926 until 1992, when the company relocated to Elm Street.4 The 14-story, 288,000 square-foot building was designed by Lockwood Greene & Company in the Art Deco and Art Moderne styles and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
The Enquirer Building was purchased by an affiliate of Middle Earth in 2007 for $2.5 million with plans to convert the structure into condominiums.6 The company received $5 million in state historic tax credits and began gutting the interior but stopped work in 2008. In September 2011, Bank of America filed a foreclosure lawsuit against Middle Earth. Middle Earth had borrowed $2.3 million but failed to pay the note when it matured two years later. On September 27, the affiliate went into receivership and the building’s court-appointed receiver, CBRE, listed the building for sale.
Several of the last office tenants, including Downtown Cincinnati Inc. and Stout & Gallant, moved out in late-2009.7 The last retail store, Cincinnati Tobacconist, closed in March 2010.
The building was purchased by SREE Hotels of Charlotte, North Carolina for $3.7 million 2 5 and proposed its first historic renovation and first hotel in the region.3 The company proposed converting the vacant office tower into two limited service hotels for two Hilton brands, Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites, along with 9,000 square-feet of first-floor retail. The project entailed the construction of 144 Hampton Inn units and 105 Homewood Suites units.1 The conversion of the office building into a hotel is estimated to cost $27 million, partially offset by state historic tax credits and an additional $7.3 million in city tax breaks only if the building is rated silver LEED for environmentally friendly construction.4 5
SREE selected JDL Warm Construction for pre-construction services, CR Architecture + Design for architectural services and HGC Construction of Walnut Hills as the construction manager for the hotel conversion project.1 Approximately 40 bid packages are to be awarded that range from $10,000 to $3.5 million and an average of 150 workers will be present daily on the project.
The two hotels are scheduled to open in early 2015.1