"Downtown property owners have criticized the higher-density version of the Banks project, saying it would directly compete against downtown." --quote from the Business Courier
Also this Enquirer article confirms:
"Several building owners in the downtown business district represented by Cincinnati attorney Joseph Trauth, also oppose the Banks. The businesses believe the project is too big and will steal their tenants." --quote from Enquirer
I still think that that is a goofy criticism, but the main topic of the above quoted Enquirer article is actually the opposition coming from another group that I wasn't thinking about before: the Over-The-Rhine Foundation.
Thanks to Kevin on Building-Cincinnati, I have been able to find out a lot about what they think. The OTR Foundation published a letter stating that now was not the right time for The Banks. Kevin summarizes the letter and links to the full version of it he uploaded to Scribd in this post.
The OTR Foundation's complaint is of a somewhat different nature that that of Joseph Trauth and I feel much more sympathy for it. OTR Foundation isn't complaining about too much competition in a real-estate / rental-space market, they are more complaining about disproportionate use of city tax dollars. OTR as a district (as well as other neighborhoods) will have to compete with The Banks for funding in the city budget. They ask: why would we spend $1 billion on brand new district when we're spending $500,000 per year tearing down the historic district we already have? (OTR is on the National Register of Historic Places) OTR could see substantial benefit from just $10-20 million.
And the letter brings up some other important points as well, such as whether the type of development The Banks is trying to be would actual yield the purported benefits for the city.
I have to say I was somewhat convinced. The questions I now have for city council are: How much money is being invested in OTR? How closely is the OTR Comprehensive Plan being followed? Will future budgets cut funds from OTR related projects to pay for Banks related projects? Does Michael Morgan have a legitimate point when he claims that funds will be diverted?
I still think that The Banks needs to be built. Something needs to be built. I also still don't buy the argument that The Banks will compete against downtown for visitors/residents/businesses. I think that if the Banks does well then downtown will do well because The Banks is a part of downtown.
Nonetheless we shouldn't take this as an opportunity to strip money from existing projects in existing districts. OTR is too valuable to lose even if it is in exchange for The Banks.