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The Banks is the area along the Cincinnati riverfront between Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ballpark. It has a mix of residential, retail, and office space as well as a beautiful green space complete with playgrounds, swings, and rose gardens. / Image: Kirk Rhein Photography / Published: 12.1.16

Why 2017 Could Be The Year The Banks Really Takes Off

Back in 1997, Cincinnati's 18+ acres of riverfront real estate were crowded with warehouses and railroads. Basically, it was a really ugly doormat.

What a difference 20 years makes.

Still, if you were to describe The Banks as of mid-2016, you might use a phrase like “growing pains.” (Chill out guys, we're all on the same team here.) Implied is The Banks’ undisputed destiny — a vibrant mix of business, shopping, entertainment, dining, and residential units totaling several million square feet of usable space. But for the moment, The Banks fulfills that destiny only in part.

Not for long, though. Next year will be a big one for the riverfront development. Here’s why.


Sure, a few places have closed over the years, but the mainstays — Moerlein Lager House, Jefferson Social, Yard House, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and Tin Roof — are uniformly excellent.

Just as exciting are the slew of new places that will have opened by next year: The Stretch, Taste of Belgium (it's already open), Pies & Pints, Burger Fi, and Tiger Dumpling. At the same time, Howl at the Moon is already scooping up streetcar riders with its beguiling blend of Billy Joel and bowling.


There's more to do at The Banks than anticipate/mourn Reds and Bengals games. Park your car in one of its ten bajillion parking spaces and head to the riverfront's signature green space, Smale Riverfront Park. Not only can you chill out with family and friends while enjoying the best view of Downtown Cincinnati that exists, but you can also ride the carousel at Anderson Pavilion.


Here’s where it gets interesting, because when you think of The Banks, you probably think of beer, food, baseball, football, and green space. But just like OTR can’t survive on Senate dogs and pale ales, The Banks can’t survive on quesadillas and, well, pale ales. Housing is key, and The Banks is certainly ramping up in that department.

Current At The Banks brought 300 modern apartment units to the riverfront in 2012, while Radius At The Banks (do they think we're gonna forget where it is?) recently brought 292 more online. Expect both to be nearly full by mid-2017, a big deal considering more residents = a larger consumer base for bars, restaurants, and retail = a better (The) Banks for the rest of us.


The Banks worked hard to attract a hotel to the riverfront, and in 2017 those efforts will yield an AC Hotel just north of Moerlein Lager House. The 165-room hotel is part of an observable boom in Downtown hotel construction. But with a location at The Banks, the AC Hotel will offer what no other market entrant can... an unbeatable location. More to the point, the upscale, contemporary hotel brand known for its European influences will invigorate The Banks with a steady flow of out-of-town foot traffic.

Here's hoping they leave Cincy having guzzled as much local beer as humanly possible.


Arguably the biggest win for The Banks in its 15-year history was GE’s decision to locate its Global Operations Center at the riverfront development.

Opened in September, the influx of GE employees is already having a demonstrable effect on The Banks’ bars, restaurants, and retail. Just goes to show that as important as residential units are to The Banks’ continued viability, drawing businesses there results in just as large a multiplier effect. They don’t all need to be GE-scale projects, but with plans on the table to develop 180 Walnut into an office tower, any future business tenants would be a huge get.


The Banks is doing really well, but 2017 could be the year it takes off. Why?

  • Several new bars and restaurants
  • A riverfront park that keeps getting better
  • 292 new residential units
  • 165 new hotel rooms
  • A recently opened Fortune 100 global HQ
  • The potential of a new office tower at 180 Walnut

Add in next year's inevitable World Series and Super Bowl title runs and you've definitely got something cookin' down there. In fact, I’m guessing by next November we’ll be saying those “growing pains” at The Banks were so 2016.

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Want to learn more about what’s at The Banks? Check out The Banks website.