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Photos: Historic Covington Lumber Mill Prepares for Transformation

For 130 years, the Hellmann Lumber Company played an important role in the building of Covington.

Now its historic building will play another role in its revitalization.

Though the company, still family-owned after all these years, now operates in Walton, its former headquarters on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Covington will be the new home of the Center for Great Neighborhoods and its Hellmann Creative Center.

The Hellmann project converts the 13,800-square feet former Hellmann Lumber Mill into The Center’s new headquarters, community meeting and event space, and leasable artist studios. The former Mill has been vacant since 2005 and was preserved by the Commonwealth of Kentucky during the widening of State Route 1120 (MLK). The $2.2 million development allows The Center to have presence on a major commercial corridor and be more accessible and visible for all of Covington.
Earlier this year, the Hellmann Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Center hired Covington-based Hub & Weber, PLC, to serve as architects for the project. Via the Midwest Nonprofit Lenders Alliance, IFF is providing a $1.75 million loan with the Cincinnati Development Fund to help the Center restore the mill building. The Center applied for federal historic status for the circa-1880 building as well as federal and state tax credit equity. Heritage Bank, with assistance from HOPE of Kentucky, LLC, is purchasing the federal historic tax credits. Century Construction will serve as general contractor for the redevelopment. 
The Center received a $1.5 million multi-year grant as part of The Kresge Foundation’s creative placemaking initiative, $500,000 of which was designated for Hellmann. The Kresge Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation that promotes human progress by supporting endeavors in community development, education, environment, health, the arts and culture, and human services. The Center is using Kresge funds to integrate arts and culture into neighborhood revitalization activities. The Center also received significant grants for the Hellmann Creative Center from local foundations, including The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, Mayerson Foundation, Greater Cincinnati Foundation, and Duke Energy Urban Revitalization Initiative.

Most of those entities were represented at Thursday's ceremony that celebrated the beginning of the building's transformation, as was Don Hellmann, former head of the company, and many of his relatives.

The Center, which will move from its space at 1650 Russell Street in Peaselburg, also unveiled its new branding image, as crated by Covington-based BLDG.

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Slideshow Images & Captions: 
CGN Board Chair John Scott