Suit filed over renovation of Cincinnati’s Emery Theatre

The Cincinnati Business Courier reports that a protracted and complex legal battle over renovation of the Emery Theatre in Over-the-Rhine continued this week, as the Requiem Project, a group that has participated in the theater's redevelopment, filed suit in the Ohio Court of Claims, alleging that the University of Cincinnati breached its contract with the group and committed fraud, among other claims.

The Emery Theatre is a historic concert hall in Over-the-Rhine, built in 1911. It came under U.C.'s ownership in 1969. The building now houses apartments and businesses, including Coffee Emporium and the Cincinnati Development Fund, but the theater is still in need of renovation.

The Business Courier reports that although U.C. owns the property, it leased the building to Emery Center Apartments Limited Partnership, which renovated the apartment space to create market rate rental housing. The money from the rentals was to go to fund the renovation of the theater space. The theater was subleased to Emery Center Corp (ECC). ECC entered into an agreement with the Requiem Project to renovate the space, but did not have U.C. sign off on a long-term lease.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Business Courier, the Requiem Project began work on the redevelopment, including fundraising, but was eventually ordered to stop and locked out of the building in 2013. Requiem then filed a suit in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, but agreed to put it on hold so the parties could negotiate and work on a sale of the property to another developer who would let Requiem do the renovations. When the sale did not happen, Requiem filed the current suit, asking the court to order U.C. and the other groups to sublease the property to them and allow them to renovate it. The suit also seeks damages in the amount of $25,000 for lost revenue for the time that Requiem was locked out of the building. The full text of the complaint is available, here.

U.C. claims through spokesperson Greg Vehr that they have never had a contract with Requiem, and that Requiem is attempting to draw them into a dispute that they are having with Emery Center Corp. U.C. has not yet filed a formal answer to the complaint with the Court of Claims.

*Photo credit: Flickr user 5chw4r7z: The Requiem Project - The Emery Theatre