Redevelopment project will transform St. Bernard

St. Bernard, OH – Civitas Development Group announces it has been chosen to partner with the village of St. Bernard’s community development leadership to explore comprehensive redevelopment of a village-owned strip shopping center site that comprises one bookend of the village’s
Vine Street commercial corridor.

Civitas Development CEO Darin Hall said his company has reached an agreement with St. Bernard Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) to lead predevelopment activities and community engagement to determine a new future for the site. The CIC owns the site that is located west of Vine Street at its intersection with Ross Avenue. The Village and CIC worked in tandem to acquire and assemble underperforming parcels in order to be able to control redevelopment consistent with the community’s vision for high-quality housing and distinctive neighborhood restaurants and amenities.

St. Bernard Mayor Jonathan Stuchell is the President of the CIC, a non-profit corporation that serves as the designated economic development agency for the Village with the purpose of advancing, encouraging, and promoting the industrial, economic, commercial and civic development in order to maintain and enhance the quality of life for residents and businesses. Stuchell called the shopping center a catalytic property whose holistic redevelopment will help reinvigorate the entire business district, bringing new residents and neighborhood retail to a key quadrant; enhancing the community’s tax base; and generating additional redevelopment in the Heritage Hill District along Vine Street to the south. Stuchell said the vision for the site calls for buildings with a mix of uses that increase density and promote pedestrian-level activation of space, within a walkable environment.

Housing, retail, and service businesses built around a plaza and designed to be appropriately scaled to nearby homes and businesses is consistent with the CIC’s preliminary development plan. Initial massing studies demonstrate the site could support upwards of 200 residential units and at least 5,000 square feet of commercial space.

Project Context – Site Positioning

Stuchell said choosing a development partner for the site is an important step in what is expected to be a two-year engagement, development, and construction timeframe. “Civitas Development has shown us they have formed a team with the vision, expertise, and capacity to lead all aspects of St. Bernard Square, which is an estimated $32 million redevelopment. They have assembled a strong capital partnership and have expressed a willingness to make meaningful private investment in St. Bernard, leveraging the public investment we have made in the site and in surrounding properties.”

For St. Bernard Square, Civitas Development has engaged a national development partner with a strong balance sheet and extensive experience in successful mixed-use multi-family residential and retail project development in other markets. Regnum Capital Partners’ CEO Brian Dusek is working alongside Hall and CIC leadership on St. Bernard Square.

Civitas Development is a real estate focused company that helps equip cities and municipalities with strategies that maximize public sector tools in projects that matter to the community. Also in the Cincinnati region, Civitas Development is leading a scattered-location single-family housing redevelopment in Evanston, repurposing vacant lots resulting from the demolition of blighted homes. The company recently was part of a partnership that completed the first phase of a residential development in Columbus, Ohio, managing the development of 20 new homes under a shared equity homeownership model for NCRC Housing Rehab in collaboration with the Central Ohio Community Land Trust. Hall said he founded Civitas Development in 2018 as a logical progression of his experience in commercial lending, investment banking, community revitalization and commercial real estate.

The Village of St. Bernard is an approximately 1-square-mile independent community centrally located in the heart of the Cincinnati region – minutes to Uptown district and other first-tier City neighborhoods. St. Bernard has made sustained strategic investment to encourage new public and private investment for years. It purchased the shopping center properties and subsequently transferred the site to the St. Bernard CIC to facilitate redevelopment and attract private capital. Since 2011, the Village has proactively repositioned dozens of properties to
facilitate growth.

The development team has engaged GBBN as the architect for the project, beginning with the facilitation of three community engagement sessions to create a design concept that aligns community vision and needs with findings of the environmental assessment and site due diligence.