$120 million mixed-use project to become ‘entertainment destination’

Story first seen in the Cincinnati Business Courier

A $120 million mixed-use development north of Cincinnati is expected to become an entertainment hot spot, thanks in part to a new designation.

The District at Deerfield, a planned mixed-use development that would include 362 apartments, about 95,000 square feet of commercial space and a proposed 150-room hotel on 28 acres in Deerfield Township, has secured a community entertainment district designation. This gives the development from Silverman & Co. Inc. seven liquor licenses for restaurant and entertainment uses.

Ryan Silverman, vice president of Silverman & Co., said this designation will help attract locally owned, chef-driven restaurants to make District at Deerfield an “entertainment destination.”

“This will become a downtown area and public square for Deerfield,” Silverman told me.

I first reported on Silverman & Co.’s plans for the mixed-use development between Mason-Montgomery Road and Wilkens Boulevard in January 2017. The centerpiece of the project is a 2-acre public square that will be owned by the township and feature programming and community events on a regular basis.

Silverman said the public space will be about 2 acres with a mix of landscaping, hardscaping, areas for live music and a number of seating areas.

“You’ll be able to go to a wine bar, have a glass of wine before dinner, eat a meal, then walk around the public square and hear live music,” Silverman said.

Silverman & Co. has hired OnSite Retail Group to lease the commercial space that will surround the community park. Scott Saddlemire, principal with OnSite Retail, said having the community entertainment designation is a “kickstarter for the project.”

“Liquor permits can be difficult and very expensive to get,” Saddlemire told me. “For the tenants we’re trying to attract to this project, this sends a strong message that not only are they welcome, they can get in quickly and at a reasonable cost.”

The seven liquor licenses at District at Deerfield will be $2,344 per year. On the secondary market similar liquor licenses can run between $25,000 and $35,000.

Ohio limits the number of liquor licenses for bars and entertainment establishments that make their money selling alcohol based on the population of jurisdictions like counties and cities. Community Entertainment Districts allow more licenses to be granted, but they can’t leave the area.

The aim for District at Deerfield is to have a number of restaurants and entertainment uses as well as other experiential retailers such as pilates studios or a high-end salon. Saddlemire also said he’s hoping to attract a microbrewery to the development.

“They’re trying to create something that just doesn’t exist up there,” Saddlemire said.

Silverman said District at Deerfield also will be appealing to restaurants because of the number of rooftops nearby and its strong daytime population.

Michael Twombley, restaurant specialist with OnSite Retail, said the community entertainment designation will help tenants put more money into design, staffing and other startup costs.

“Having a CED also lets them know that area is going to be a destination location for other restaurants and bars,” Twombley told me.

Before construction can begin on District at Deerfield, an extension of Parkway Drive that will connect Mason-Montgomery Road to Wilkens Boulevard through the site will be built. Construction of the road is expected to begin in the next 45 to 60 days.

District at Deerfield is expected to be built in two phases. The first phase, which will be north of the extended Parkway Drive, will have 242 high-end apartments. This phase is expected to break ground later this spring. The four-story building will have an urban design with its own green space and amenity area, elevators and high-end finishes. 

The second phase south of Parkway Drive will include the public square and 95,000 square feet of street-level retail with two levels of 120 loft-style apartments above. Silverman sees this second phase breaking ground in early 2019.

The first apartments would be delivered in late spring 2019.