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City: Old Drawbridge Site Development Moving Forward

The former site of the Drawbridge Inn in Fort Mitchell will be developed, possibly as soon as this summer.

The site, which previously was home to the iconic hotel and convention center, was slated to be redeveloped with Christ Hospital hoping to construct a new ambulatory surgical center.

Christ's plans were thwarted by a legal challenge from St. Elizabeth Healthcare which contended that there was no need for such an operation by its Cincinnati-based rivals.

A Franklin County Circuit Court judge agreed with St. Elizabeth. Judge Thomas Wingate decided last June that Northern Kentucky already has nine outpatient surgery centers, adding that each of them is less than 50 percent utilized. 

“This duplication and proliferation necessarily impairs the cost efficiency of the health-care delivery system in the planning area,” Wingate wrote in his ruling which reversed a ruling from a year prior by an administrative judge at the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Christ moved to appeal Wingate's decision the following month.

There has been no update on the legal status of that case.

But the development at the old Drawbridge site, now open acreage along Royal Drive off Buttermilk Pike in Ft. Mitchell, is moving forward.

And, it turns out, Christ is still involved.

"There is a little bit of change (to the plans)," Ft. Mitchell Mayor Jude Hehman said at Monday night's city council meeting. He said that he had met with representatives from Christ and Bellevue-based Brandicorp, which is developing the site, earlier in the day. As of now, instead of a surgical center, there would be smaller buildings. Instead of a large parking garage, there would be a smaller one with more surface parking.

Specific plans were not available.

Christ and Brandicorp representatives plan to meet with Ft. Mitchell city council at its next meeting on Jan. 28.

The development is dubbed the Fort Mitchell Gateway Project, and as of last year included plans for a hotel, restaurants, retail businesses, and multi-family housing units.

Moving forward on the plans would be welcome news for Ft. Mitchell. Last year's court ruling stalled the city's largest development and soon after forced nearby Montgomery Inn to close its long-running Ft. Mitchell location. The restaurant cited the court ruling and declining sales for its abrupt closure, noting that it had been hanging on in anticipation of the Gateway Project.

The city created a tax increment finance (TIF) district for the site and already has the proper zoning in place. There is still a need for a development agreement with the city. "But other than that, unless they come with other changes, they are ready to go," Hehman said.

This story may be updated if Christ Hospital responds to a request for comment.
 
The Gateway Project was not the only development in Ft. Mitchell noted on Monday night.
 
The former Remke grocery building is under construction, part of a redevelopment of that site. City officials said that there were no updates on prospective tenants, but news on that front could come soon.
 
Demolition is set to begin on the former Brown Mackie College location on Buttermilk Pike and a new building will take its place near the new strip center developed by Zalla Companies where new businesses like Bru Burger are now located.
 
Construction is set to begin in the spring on the new US Bank branch that will occupy the site that was formerly home to Average Joes sports bar.
 
Mayor Hehman also said that the developers of a proposed apartment community on Grandview Drive, one that caused concern for families of the crowded Beechwood Independent School District, have requested a meeting about that project. Details on what may be discussed were not available.

The council also voted to move their meetings' start time to 6:30 p.m. rather than 7 p.m., effective immediately.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher