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Troubled Main Street Property Now in Hands of New Owners

"I've been through a lot of bad buildings but never in my life have I been through a property in such a state of disrepair."

The massive building that prominently sits on the corner of Sixth & Main Streets in Covington's Mainstrasse Village has been an eyesore for years. Vacant and blighted, and in recent weeks, a safety hazard, the property now has new owners, a pair of familiar faces in the Village.

Paul Weckman and Emily Wolff, the couple that own Otto's on Main Street, picked up the property from its Florida-based owner.

The sale came just in time.

"It was very scary at times," Wolff said. "I've not even been through the whole building because it's a safety hazard. We had an interior wall start to collapse on some of our workers."

"If we had waited longer to close, this building would have been a pile of bricks on the side of the street."

The purchase of 602 Main Street was announced at Monday afternoon's urban design review board meeting. Wolff is an appointed member of the board.

"It's been the bane of our existence for years," said Beth Johnson, Covington's historic preservation officer. "Everyone is ecstatic but there is a lot of work to be done. There is going to be a lot of stabilization work going on."

"The brick was about to fall out of the building at any point."

The sidewalk around the property has been blocked off to pedestrians for weeks after pieces of the building began to fall. Wolff said that they could feel the building move while they were inside it.

She and her husband won't yet announce what their plans are for the property but the purchase is a positive one for the neighborhood. Weckman and Wolff have a proven record with Otto's, are residents of the neighborhood, and their twin 11-year old sons are leading a campaign to improve Goebel Park in the neighborhood.

Work has already begun on stabilizing the structure.

The sale comes at a critical time for Mainstrasse Village as 602 Main Street sits at the southeast corner of the neighborhood's most important intersection and had sat vacant for years. The northeast corner is also now vacant following the closure of Chez Nora. That property remains for sale at a recently reduced price.

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: 602 Main Street/RCN