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Photos: Inside Newport's Monmouth Row Apartment Development

The dust has mostly settled and the first residents are moving into the completed buildings of Monmouth Row, the $10 million apartment development in the middle of Downtown Newport.

Even the gym equipment has arrived at the site that is attracting young professionals and empty-nesters to the urban lifestyle many are seeking.

There are 101 units going for an average of $1,000 per month and nearly half are already rented.

"To get this critical mass of one hundred units in the Central Business District, it's going to be huge for the Monmouth corridor," said Matt Olliges, project manager for Towne Properties which developed the site with Carlisle Construction.

Monmouth Row is mere steps from Newport on the Levee, the region's riverfront entertainment district that will soon add a hotel and new apartments of its own, and is at the northern end of the city's historic commercial area. That's good news for the forthcoming businesses, and the longstanding ones. "Young people want to be in the small, hip, trendy, non-chain places," Ollies said. Mokka, Strong's Pizza, Newport Pizza, Packhouse Meats, to name a few, are the types of independent businesses expected to get a big boost. "Those places are going to thrive."

A new business will also open up in the 2,200 square feet of retail space on the ground level of Monmouth Row, though nothing specific is signed. There is, however, lots of interest in the space, Olliges said.

In his state of the city presentation earlier this year, City Manager Tom Fromme complimented the architectural style of the apartment development which replaced an entire block of vacant buildings. "It's a great addition. You're going to see a ripple effect if businesses take advantage of that," Fromme said.

"Newport is where it's happening. Everything is happening in Newport."

With the trend pointing to more and more people looking to live in urban areas that offer walkability and entertainment, Newport is well-positioned to compete with any area in Greater Cincinnati. With Over-the-Rhine being the most often cited gentrification success story, Newport is prepared not only to catch the overflow, but to welcome people who want a better value, whether it be at Monmouth Row or the ritzy Vue 180. "Newport is a vibrant city and it was the right place and the right time," Olliges said. "It is a great value compared to OTR or the Banks."

Towne Properties will also play a role in positioning other communities in the urban renaissance. Though Olliges, who is also a Bellevue city councilman, is not certain where the next development will land, he is sure it will be in the region's core. "We want to do more in the River Cities," he said. "It's an opportunity for me to spread my wings and bring more Northern Kentucky into the company."

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

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