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Comeback's Crown Jewel: Coppins Building Officially Sold to Make Way for Hotel Covington

The crown jewel of the Covington Comeback is moving forward, finally, after months of delays.

The Hotel Covington was the signature development achievement of Mayor Chuck Scheper's brief tenure, arriving amid a flurry of regional buzz at the end of 2012.

By the end of 2013, Covington City Hall had vacated the Coppins Building, constructed as a department store and office building in 1909, to make way for the estimated $28 million boutique hotel being developed by the Salyers Group of the Madison Event Center and Fabulous Furs fame. The Salyers are working closely with Chicago-based Aparium Hospitality which has similar projects under its belt, including one in Milwaukee.

But throughout 2014, the project was stalled, hitting multiple hurdles and creating widespread whispers about whether it would happen at all.

Well, it looks like it will happen. Late this week, the Salyers Group finally closed on the purchase of the building from the City of Covington (which currently operates in a rented renovated building on Pike Street owned by the Salyers Group).

"The project is moving full steam ahead," Guy van Rooyen, CEO of the Salyers Group, told The River City News Friday. That is a welcome message after months of disappointing news.

It started in January when the deal for the hotel, which is expect to have more than 100 rooms with a restaurant and bar creating more than 100 jobs in the towering downtown structure at Seventh & Madison, was restructured. The original deal in October 2012 said that the Coppins Building, named for the original department store that was housed there, would be sold by the City for $3 million to be paid by the developers over twenty years. One part of that deal included a term that it could be possible that not one dime of that $3 million price tag would be paid until the end of the twenty-year agreement.

At a city commission meeting in January, the city lowered the price to $1 million and included a provision that the developers would pay $25,000 and then the rest at closing, which happened this week. It was explained at the time that having the cash for the building up front was more attractive from the city's perspective in the long run.

In February, van Rooyen kept excitement alive during a presentation before the Covington Business Council where renderings of the project were revealed for the first time.

 

Then in April, it was revealed that nothing would be happening at the proposed hotel site until federal New Market Tax Credits were announced in the summer, something upon which the project was contingent, it was said. That did not stop van Rooyen from announcing that the company was moving forward on the renovation of the Doctors Building, which sits on the other side of Seventh Street from the planned hotel, which is slated to become residential. The Salyers Group will partner with Ashley Development on the Doctors Building after a successful collaboration on the redevelopment of the Mutual Building which is becoming residential directly across from the hotel site on Madison Avenue.

But then in June, the New Market Tax Credits were announced and the hotel project was not among the award recipients. The developers promised that this was not a fatal blow, and van Rooyen said he would be moving on to Plan B.

The Aparium Group, meanwhile, moved forward on announcing a new hotel project in Detroit shortly after the tax credits were announced.

In spite of the tax credit setback, it was revealed in July that the Salyers Group would be closing on the sale of the Coppins Building.

After a roller coaster ride eighteen months long, that sale was completed this week.

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