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Bad winter hurting businesses at The Banks

CINCINNATI (Joe Webb) -- Rotten weather really hit hard at The Banks, where bars and restaurants depend on Reds and Bengals fans.

Fortunately for them, the Reds home opener is just around the corner.  It's no surprise that the dead time between the Bengals season and the Reds Opening Day is tough on businesses at The Banks.  One business, Mahogany's at The Banks, has been in the news because the city loaned it money so it's finances are public record.

The bottom line is business may be down at The Banks but the development is surviving and getting ready to get bigger.  It's a sunny but cold Tuesday at and the lunch business is what you'd expect on a cold day.  Depending on who you talk to, this has been a rotten winter or just another winter for the development between the ballparks.  If you talk to Liz Rogers at Mahogany's, she and her neighbors are struggling.

She tells us, "People just lost a lot of money.  Lost a lot of business.  A lot of employees were unable to make it into work.  It's just been horrible because you just can't gauge for it.  Especially the type of winter that we've had."

Mahogany's troubles making rent payments and paying off a city loan have forced threats of eviction but Rogers is open and wants people to know it.  She paid half her back rent Monday and bought some time.  City leaders are concerned Mahogany's problems at The Banks are not unique.

"I have concerns that it's not yet a destination point.  So everybody down there is struggling.  They do okay when the teams are playing but when the teams are not playing and with the weather we've had it's just a struggle for everybody," said

A struggle, maybe, but hardly a defeat.  The first phase of The Banks, the two blocks just west of Great American ballpark, is almost fully leased.  There is only one space left for someone to come in and rent.  They've also just put in more than 300 apartments that are 100% leased.  There is a waiting list to live in the spaces.

Financing is in place for phase two, west of the Freedom Center with groundbreaking coming this spring or summer.  Liz Rogers says a bad winter and an embezzling finance manager have pushed her to the brink.  But she says she's in it for the long haul.

"We're looking forward to Opening Day.  We keep pushing forward.  We have our peaks and valleys but we've got a brand new management team.  We're really excited about the changes in our company and making those changes profitable moving forward," Rogers said.

In the agreement she signed Monday, Liz Rogers agrees to pay the rest of her rent by next Monday.  If it's not paid, she agrees to vacate the space and let her landlord change the locks.  She says she will keep the business open, and it was open for business Tuesday.

Phase two of The Banks project will include hundred additional apartments and retail on the first floor just like in phase one.  If the entire Banks project is completed, it will cover eight blocks between Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ballpark.

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