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Ft. Mitchell Looks to Next Steps for Former Christ Site

Mayor Jude Hehman said Monday night that he feels "a little relief" now that Christ Hospital has announced that it is abandoning its plans for a mixed-use development at a large site near I-75 in the city.

Christ's plans for an outpatient surgery center were blocked by a state appeals court amid a challenge by rival St. Elizabeth Healthcare over whether it was needed. 

In addition to medical services, the development was to include residential and commercial opportunities. 

Hehman said now that the Christ idea is over, "we have new direction and a new focus."

"I believe in that property," Hehman said. "I know everybody in this room, on this council believes in that property, so we're going to really start focusing on what the development is. Eight years that property has been sitting there."

The site was previously home to the Northern Kentucky landmark Drawbridge Inn which closed and was razed.

Christ still owns the site, but Hehman said Monday that he believes the planned developer, Bellevue-based Brandicorp, has an option to purchase it. Beyond that, the future is uncertain.

One approach that could be different going forward is the potential use of a tax increment finance (TIF) district, the mayor said. TIF districts, which are increasingly common across Northern Kentucky, are development tools used by cities or other local governments to capture tax revenue created by increases in property values for use on public improvements within that district.

"We don't need to go after TIF money," Hehman said. "If we're not going to have big parking structures, if there's not that type of infrastructure change, I would be asking council not to approve any TIF monies.

"It is more about the development and getting the right people in there."

City council will begin its planning sessions in January.

Alternate possibility for future of Highland Avenue

The City of Fort Mitchell has been weighing the resurfacing of Highland Avenue, but Public Works Director Matt Stegman on Monday presented, along with Councilman Jerry Deatherage, another idea: widening the road.

"I don't think the number of cars is shrinking in Ft. Mitchell," Deatherage said. "I think we at least owe it to the residents to bring an open forum. If we bring the proposal to the general public and we put an open house together, I think this is something we put a little more ink to."

He was speaking of the draft proposal presented Monday by Stegman.

The proposed resurfacing of Highland would start in March or April next year from Dixie Highway to Longmeadow Lane, with a completion date the following May or June. The anticipated cost is $165,000.

A proposed widening could start in July next year with a completion in the fall at a cost from $575,000. The proposed widening of Highland would take place between Dixie and Ross Avenue.

Mayor Hehman said the road tax funds could cover that additional cost.

"This is our only chance, if we're going to do something bold like this and get buy-in from the community," Hehman said. "I don't see a mayor or council spending this kind of money after you've resurfaced the street. It's that pivotal now-or-never."

The widening would, Stegman said, allow for parking on one side and for two vehicles going in opposite directions to pass each other cleanly. The street is currently 25-feet wide.

"That extra width gives us that possibility," he said.

Recreation numbers presented

There were forty scheduled events over the past fiscal year, parks and recreation department program and communication coordinator Janie Patterson reported. That represents ten more events hosted by the department than in the previous fiscal year.

While there were more events, Patterson said, the annual was cost was lower, dropping from roughly $20,000 in 2017-18 to around $17,000 in 2018-19.

Patterson's report was praised by Councilwoman Mary Burns. 

"I'm very impressed," Burns said. "For years, we never got any reports."

The city's tree-lighting events and ceremony are scheduled for Saturday, December 7 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the downtown business district, and then from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the city building. The tree's lights come on at 7:45 p.m.

Boy Scout hosts successful blood drive

Boy Scout and Ft. Mitchell resident Luke Curry reported a successful blood drive that he put together at the city building recently.

The project is part of Curry's effort to become an Eagle Scout.

"It was very successful," he said of the event that was facilitated by Hoxworth Blood Center, which has a location in the city.

According to Curry, there were sixty-four donors of 65 units of blood. Seventeen people were first-time donors.

"With those sixty-five pints of blood, we saved up to 195 lives," Curry said.

The event also raised $620 for Hoxworth.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher