The Vernon Manor is a former hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio with a reputation for being “the place to stay” for traveling musicians.1 It has since been renovated into offices for the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.


History

Completed in 1924 at a cost of $1.5 million, the Vernon Manor was modeled after the Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, England.10 The seven-story hotel featured 177 rooms and several apartments.3 7

The Vernon was facing the possibility of bankruptcy in 1934 10 and was in a dilapidated state by the 1940’s. Walter Schott, a local car dealer, purchased the hotel in 1945 and renovated the facility. It developed a reputation under Schott’s ownership for hosting traveling musicians, including The Beetles, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Kenny Chesney,1 and politicians, including Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.2

By the 1970’s, the hotel had become a single rent occupancy facility.10 Most of the occupants were permanent, low-income residents and the building languished until it was acquired by the Belvedere Corporation in 1986.Belvedere renovated the property in 1999, constructing a new lobby, fitness room, and two business centers, and expanding restaurant and bar.8

Due to low occupancy, Belvedere closed the Vernon Manor on March 31, 2009.1

Redevelopment

Early redevelopment proposals from September 2009 called for the hotel to be converted into 100 low-income apartments by the Wallick Hendy Development Company.3 4 The Belvedere would either sell the building or keep partial ownership. Neighborhood leaders questioned whether extra low-income housing would be best for an area oversaturated with such housing.

In early October, Al Neyer Inc. proposed to convert the hotel into an office building for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.4 The $35 million to $38 million project called for Children’s to be the building’s singular occupant for up to 17 years.4 11 A $10.5 million, 440-car parking structure would be erected adjacent to the building.6 Children’s, in return, would relocate up to 600 employees to the building.5

Financing would be derived from state historic tax credits, federal New Markets tax credits, tax increment financing, and loans.4

The Cincinnati City Council voted in favor on an aid package for the sale of the Vernon Manor on December 16.5 The city’s Economic Development Department had been working with Neyer on a financial assistance package. The first ordinance considered would allow the city to spend funds from the Corryville tax increment financing district to acquire property for $10.4 million for the parking structure.6 A second ordinance would permit a 25-year lease and management accord to Neyer for the garage. After the agreement terminated, control of the garage would revert to the developer. The Build Cincinnati Development Fund later received $4.5 million towards the project from the Ohio Enterprise Bond Fund 11 and $3 million from an urban redevelopment loan.13

A liquidation sale of the hotel’s contents began in mid-February 2010.9 Renovations of the Vernon Manor began April 12 and was completed on June 23, 2011.11

Sources