Earlier this week, I criticized Chris Bortz and City Council for delaying action on a request by Northeastern Security Development Group to vertically divide the property that includes Tower Place Mall into two separate lots. Since then, I've talked with (and been chewed out by) a couple of people whose opinions I respect and who know far more about real estate than I do, and it seems that Bortz is probably taking a fairly prudent course of action.
(Mr. Bortz, by the way, graciously offered to speak with me about the issue....I called him back--in hindsight, probably when he was in the middle of Wednesday's Council meeting--but didn't start a phone tag game, because sometimes I have to pretend to actually be a lawyer who blogs rather than a blogger who practices law.)
NSD is an out-of-town development company and, as far as I can tell, doesn't have any history of development projects in Cincinnati. So Council doesn't have any basis on which to simply trust in their promises of pouring money into Tower Place. Granting their request would make it a lot easier to sell off the mall and retain the parking garage. Yes, it's possible (as I pointed out) that they'll let Tower Place die in the absence of action from Council. But Council doesn't want to act in such a way as to make it easier for them to kill off Tower Place.
So Council just needs a clear picture of what NSD has in plan for Tower Place. They need to see a real commitment to turning Tower Place around. No one wants to see the mall fail. Council has limited power to help it succeed, and in this instance, they're doing what they can to make sure an out-of-town developer with no local ties doesn't turn a quick buck at the expense of a key downtown attraction.
So there you go. I'm wrong, again. And apologies to Council and Chris Bortz for my too-quick reaction.