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Kenton County to Evaluate Golf Course, Administration Building

The Kenton County Fiscal Court agreed Tuesday to have its administration building in Covington and its golf courses in Independence professionally evaluated.

Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann and County Commissioners Jon Draud and Joe Nienaber voted to accept a request for qualifications from Corporex to take a look at opportunities for the tall, aging Kenton County Administration Building on Court Street. The building has been the target of possible redevelopment which may include a demolition to make way for new construction, or to fill the building with the Chase College of Law which would move from the Highland Heights campus of Northern Kentucky University. Kenton County's government may continue to operate there or may move elsewhere. Plans to join the City of Covington government in a new, massive project estimated at $65 million near Pike & Washington Streets are no longer on the table at the moment.

The evaluation by Corporex, the Covington-based development company chaired by Bill Butler, would come in two facets: what the county's needs would be should it stay and what the costs would be for continued use, and also a look at what the cost would be for another entity to take over the building.

"We have been looking at other aministration building sites and our own building and we have gotten a wide variety as to the cost of repurposing this building or to remain in it," said Joe Shriver, county administrator. He said Corporex, which offered its services for $1, would provide "real numbers" to be used in the decision-making process.

"I think this fits in real well with Bill Butler's commitment to downtown Covington," Draud said during the meeting Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, NorthPointe, the Cincinnati-based development firm behind the so-called Duveneck Place project, said that the project was slowed but not stalled by the county's departure from moving there with the City of Covington. 

"It slows the project down a little bit, but we go to Plan B," said NorthPointe's Lisa Scovic. The development team was expected to appear at Covington City Hall on Monday to seek permission from the urban design review board to demolish a pair of buildings on Washington Street but has since decided to pull that item from the agenda, Scovic said. "We are going to pull it for right now and go into August. We are still working on it. It takes some time and we haven't quite gotten where we want to be yet."

In addition to the Kenton County Buildign evaluation, the three Kenton County Golf Courses will also be looked at. 

"We are looking to evaluate golf course evaluations and how many golf courses we need in Northern Kentucky based on population," said Scott Gunning, assistant county administrator. The National Golf Foundation was awarded the contract on Tuesday and will help the county find ways to improve efficiencies and increase revenue. 

"It will give us a concrete business plan on how to operate," Gunning said. He added that three other bids were also received, but came from management companies that may have had ulterior motives. "We wanted an unbiased approach. (National Golf Foundation is) an objective third party. They are up to date on national trends in the golf business."

The foundation is also currently evaluating Boone County's golf operations.

"They are by far what you consider the most unbiased group. They don't have a stake in whatever they report back to the fiscal court," said Dan Moening, general manager of the Kenton County Golf Course. "They are not trying to get a contract to run the golf course. There is no outside influence with them."

The cost to the county will be $20,000. "It will show us what we are doing right and what we can improve on," Moening said. He expects a five-year projection for the golf course's future from the evaluation.

It has been seventeen years since the last third party evaluation of the course, Gunning said.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo: Kenton County Golf Course (via Kenton County)