Xavier moves forward with University Station

By: Andrew Koch

After two years of planning, construction has begun on University Station, a new development the university hopes will benefit Xavier students as well as the Norwood, Evanston and Avondale communities.

Phase One of the University Station project is a 315,000-square-feet of mixed-use development, which developers Messer Construction Company and Ackermann Group say will be open to both students and members of the community.

“Xavier has worked with Messer and Ackermann as well as representatives from Norwood, Evanston and Avondale to design the ideal, walkable, mixed-use development for our neighborhood,” Director of the Community Building Institute at Xavier Liz Blume said.

“We’re thinking about the kinds of uses that will serve the university and the larger community, things like new restaurants, a bank, our bookstore being more accessible to the community – things that will improve the amenities available to everyone who lives nearby,” Blume said.

Eleven thousand-square feet of the new development will be set aside for a new Xavier bookstore. In addition, plans for Phase One also include a 480-bed, 180-unit apartment complex that will serve both Xavier students and surrounding communities.

Developers are currently making deals with tenants over leasing the rest of the land, which includes 40,000 square feet of office space and 35,000 square feet of retail space.

According to a university press release, Phase One will cost an estimated $54 million, a figure that will be financed by a lead loan and a combination of local and national New Market Tax Credits. The project is also receiving funds from a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) fund through the City of Norwood.

The site of University Station once featured a plant owned by chemical company Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik (BASF). The company donated the seven acres of land that used to house the chemical plant to the university in 2000, 10 years after the plant was destroyed in an explosion.

Xavier bought much of the remaining land in 2004 from Zumbiel Packaging, which had a packaging plant on Clenaey Avenue before relocating to Northern Kentucky.

While Xavier’s XUPROP CO will still own the land, developers Messer Construction Company and the Ackermann Group have a 95-year lease on the site and will own all buildings and other improvements.

Developers expect Phase One to be complete by August 2014 and are still making plans for Phase Two of the project, which could include additional office and retail space and possibly a hotel.