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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What happened to the locavore movement?

The news is out that the Atlanta-based Carter/Dawson development team has selected Birmingham-based Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC as the general contractor for the private development portions of The Banks. The Carter/Dawson team stated in a press release that Brasfield & Gorrie is "one of the largest privately-held contracting firms in the nation, and brings their extensive successful experience in building complex, mixed-use, vertically integrated developments in dense urban areas."

This may be all well and good but the issue I have is that they're based out of Birmingham. It's not that there is anything wrong with Birmingham, or Atlanta for that matter, but there are huge sums of public money going into The Banks development. These tax dollars should be spent in the taxpayer's best interest, and with unemployment hovering around 10 percent, we should be demanding that these contracts be awarded to local companies who will be employing Cincinnatians.

The Banks development plan - rendering provided.

It's much like the rationale behind shopping local. When you award contracts to local companies they'll hire people in the region, those people will take that money and upkeep their homes, go shopping, eat out, and support the local economy. When we give these contracts away to someone else there goes much of that money.

I can't say for sure whether Brasfield & Gorrie is the best firm for the job, because they very well might be, but I do know that there are qualified companies here locally that would have loved the opportunity to not only get this contract, but also make a lasting impact on the city they call home. The one bright spot is that Brasfield & Gorrie has committed to achieving the development team's goal of at least 30 percent SBE participation, and committed to utilizing a "significant amount of local talent to get the job done efficiently and effectively."

Phase 1A of The Banks development - rendering provided.

Brasfield & Gorrie is expected to start assembling their team on site almost immediately and will begin construction on the overbuild of Phase 1A in December with a set completion date of Spring 2011. Once complete, The Banks will represent a total private investment around $600 million. Paul Brown Stadium, Great American Ball Park, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Riverfront Transit Center are all complete and part of Cincinnati's Riverfront Master Plan developed by Urban Design Associates. The Central Riverfront Park is under construction now and will compliment the entire development.


Jo Moore said...

I think the hiring of non Cincinnati firms companies to perform work in Cincinnati should be looked at all the way around...during the summer there was a work crew that painted the under structure of I-71 as it crosses over Victory Parkway...The names on the trucks were not local...does that mean there are no qualified painters in Cincinnati? They did a good job, however...

The city needs to legal weight the bidding process to favor local firms..especially during these economic times...

Jason said...

In large construction projects of this kind, the overall general contractor subcontracts a extremely large portion of the work to other companies. They're more like the umbrella firm, and you can be sure that many of the subcontractors will be local companies employing Cincinnatians.

I don't dispute the point that it would be nicer for a local company to be selected, but I would rather them choose the best general contractor to manage the project than have an inexperienced or less able company chosen simply due to their geographic location.

It's more important to me, personally, that the Banks development be managed effectively and be completed without wasting too much money or time.

Randy Simes said...


I completely agree with you. It's a tough topic because I too want the best team for the job. At the same time I want the region to receive as large a benefit as possible. I'm sure that Brasfield & Gorrie is a capable firm that will do a tremendous job, but I would have liked to see that opportunity offered to someone locally too. Maybe Cincinnati area firms don't have as much experience, but what better way to build a reputation and grow your company than by performing a $600 million urban mixed-use project that you can add to your company's portfolio of work?

5chw4r7z said...

Is that an actual rendering of what they want the Banks to look like?
If so, that's the best picture I've seen so far, some of the others have been bland.
I like the decks on the residential units.

5chw4r7z said...

OH, one more thing, if Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC has a proven track record, isn't it better than going with the firm that dropped the ball up in Kenwood? They were certainly trying to move into bigger prodjects and bit off more than they could chew.

Randy Simes said...


That's the most recent rendering that I have seen. I love the balconies too and I believe they were added at the request of the Urban Design Review Board. The UDRB also commented on varrying the facade to break up the building mass. In this most recent rendering they have definitely improved on both fronts, and I believe that is why they finally got the URDB's approval.

Randy Simes said...

In the press release I recieved it stated that Brasfield & Gorrie is a very financially sound company. In this economy I would venture to say this might have been the item that pushed them over the top. Their local experience consists of the Saks renovation several years ago, and their portfolio of work outside of that does not scream impressive urban mixed-use contracting firm to me.

And you're right...going with anyone even remotely related to Bear Creek would have been terrible for this, or any, project. That's why the City refused to allow that team of firms to do the project and chose Carter/Dawson (then AIG/Carter) instead. But even at the same time there were other local teams that bid to be the master developers. And in that case it too boiled down to financial strength.

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