Member Login

Pike Street Building Targeted for Redevelopment But Parts of Building May Go

The structure commonly referred to as the Tanino's Building, named for its last occupant, a restaurant, may be the latest Downtown Covington building slated for redevelopment.

Tony Kreutzjans of Orleans Development has an option on the building and appeared before the city's Urban Design Review Bard (UDRB) on Monday where he requested permission to demolish the building in the rear and the fourth floor on top.

The building is currently owned by the City of Covington and was purchased for $197,000 in 2005 at the early stages of what would ultimately be a failed effort to create an Arts District along the Pike Street corridor.

Any sale to Kreutzjans would have to be approved by the city commission but one contingency of his development agreement is that he go before UDRB and other necessary entities as part of a due diligence phase. Kreutzjans, the developer of upscale residences on the same block of Pike Street as well as the new Market Lofts a block west and other properties, said Monday that he has examined development possibilities for the Tanino's building for nearly eight years.

He may finally have the numbers to make it work but only if the rear building is removed to make way for parking and the fourth floor is removed due to lack of access. Kreutzjans is working with the Center for Great Neighborhoods on residents at the neighboring Pike Star Building and the Tanino's building would be opened up to use the same stairs inside the Pike Star Building but there would be no access to the fourth floor that way.

 photo taninos3_zpse86e304e.jpg

Rear building that would be razed/RCN

Historic Preservation Officer Beth Johnson recommended to the UDRB that it approve the demolition of the rear structure but disapprove of the removal of the fourth floor. The Tanino's building was built before 1877 as was the rear building which was connected to the front building between 1877 and 1886. While it has historic value, its demolition would not affect the streetscape. Removing the fourth floor would have an effect on the streetscape, Johnson said, and it is also historic in that it is older than fifty years old but was not part of the building originally. It was added between 1909 and 1949.

The meeting got off to a slow start due to a lack of quorum. A board of nine voting members needs five to be present according to Assistant City Manager and City Solicitor Frank Warnock and assistant city solicitor Bryce Rhoades who met privately on the matter for several minutes. Members Vic Canfied, the chair, and Chris Meyer, Charles King, and Jack Gore were present. Member Jim Guthrie recused himself since he is the architect working with Kreutzjans and member Rebecca Weber recused herself since she was the real estate agent that sold the property to the city. Members Brandi Bresser, Emily Wolff, and Sue Sampson were absent, but Johnson was able to get Sampson on the phone and eventually to City Hall so that the issue could proceed.

The board approved the demolition of the rear structure by a vote of 4-1 with Meyer dissenting. His concern was that the historic structure would be removed in favor of just seven parking spaces. "I think the historic commercial buildings like that are contributors to the district so it's hard for me to consider demolishing that entire building for a gain of seven parking spots," Meyer said, adding that there is a parking lot nearby.

Kreutzjans said that without the private parking option the opportunity to gain a loan would be made more difficult since the nearby parking lot would not be guaranteed for tenants and is often mentioned in possible future development plans as a site for a new building.

Ultimately, Kreutzjans withdrew his request to remove the fourth floor while more analysis is done. Members of the UDRB expressed hesitation to approve the removal. Kreutzjans said that he had considered doing townhouse style two-floor apartments as he did for the condos he developed on the same block but the lack of usable stairs was the hang-up. Under his current plan, there would be commercial retail space on the first floor and four apartments on the second and third floors with tenants accessing their units through the Pike Star Building's steps. If he has to keep the fourth floor, Kreutzjans said it would likely remain vacant and used as an attic.

A timeline for resubmitting the plans for a city commission vote on the sale was not available.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photos by RCN