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Approved: Boutique Hotel Project in Covington Scores $5 Million-plus in Tax Incentives

The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority approved incentives of more than $5 million on Wednesday for the $21.5-million Hotel Covington being developed in downtown Covington through a partnership between the Salyers Group and Aparium Hotel Group.

The project is eligible for up to $5.4 million in incentives over a 10-year period through a rebate of sales taxes generated by the tourism attraction. The authority considers applications under the Kentucky Tourism Development Act, which allows eligible tourism attractions a rebate of sales tax up to 25 percent of project capital costs over a 10-year period. Projects must meet certain criteria to be eligible, such as having a positive economic impact for the Commonwealth and attracting at least 25 percent of guests from out of state.

“We wish to thank the State of Kentucky, specifically the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority, for supporting this transformational project for downtown Covington,” said Guy van Rooyen, president of The Salyers Group, the Covington-based business and real-estate investment company.

“Our family and our companies have a long history of investing in and believing in downtown Covington,” van Rooyen said. “We are proud to be part of a project that restores another historic building in Covington while generating new jobs and economic impact and attracting visitors to our city, region, and state. We also are proud that the Commonwealth of Kentucky believes in and is investing in this project as well.”

The Salyers Group is partnering with the Aparium Hotel Group of Chicago, which has developed luxury boutique hotels in other cities, to renovate the 107-year-old Coppin Department Store Building into an 85,000-square-foot hotel. The hotel will have 114 luxury rooms and feature a signature restaurant, bar, and patio on its first floor.

The project will rehabilitate the seven-story structure at 638 Madison Ave. -- Covington’s first “skyscraper” -- which was constructed in 1908 using the then-new construction techniques of reinforced concrete with a brick veneer. The hotel’s design will carefully blend the historical and architectural uniqueness of the structure with the modern-day amenities of a luxury hotel. 

The building, which took three years to construct, originally housed the Coppin’s Department Store on the first three floors and offices on the upper floors. The Coppins store was closed in 1977. In 1984, the City of Covington purchased the building for $1.5 million and renovated it for use as its city hall, which opened in September 1990. City Hall was relocated to Pike Street in 2013.

van Rooyen said he sees the hotel as a complement to the existing wedding venues that have long been established in downtown Covington. The Salyers Group operates The Madison Event Center, Northern Kentucky’s most popular banquet and reception facility, which operates one of its reception centers directly across the street from the hotel site. The company also operates Donna Salyers' Fabulous-Bridal at 601 Madison Avenue and Donna Salyers’ Fabulous-Furs at 20 West 11th St. in Covington.

The company’s two event centers – located at 700 Madison Ave. and 740 Madison Ave. -- attract more than 90,000 people and 500 events annually to the heart of Covington, according to van Rooyen.

-Staff report

Photo: The Hotel Covington/RCN file