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Residential, Business Projects in Covington, Ludlow Win Funds

This story has been updated to reflect corrections of errors made in the initial press release and to clarify the context of one of the projects.

Duke Energy announced this year's recipients of its annual Urban Revitalization grants, and the recipients include two downtown Covington buildings that were previously slated to be part of Gateway Community & Technical College's urban metro campus, but will now be used in other fashions.

The former YMCA on Madison Avenue (which has an East Pike Street address according to Kenton County property records) will be transformed into approximately 35 residential units with commercial and office space, according to a news release from Duke Energy Foundation. A follow-up comment from Gateway stated, "The Catalytic Fund of Northern Kentucky received the grant from Duke Energy to create architectural and schematic drawings to partner with Gateway identify and execute a mixed use plan for the former YMCA on Madison Avenue."

The 70,000-sq. ft. building was awarded $40,000 in this year's Duke Energy Urban Revitalization grants. The money was awarded to the Catalytic Fund of Northern Kentucky, which has assisted multiple high-profile development projects in Northern Kentucky's river cities.

Further details on the project were not immediately available.

The building is currently owned by the Commonwealth of Kentucky and previously hosted state offices that have since been relocated to Latonia. At one point, it was envisioned to be part of a larger plan for the urban metro campus of Gateway Technical & Community College, but those plans have been scaled back.

The historic church at 501 Greenup Street, which is set to become a performing arts space and culinary arts center, was awarded $45,000 through the Catalytic Fund. The project is expected to create at least 30 new permanent jobs, a news release said.

The church was also once part of Gateway's downtown Covington plans.

Duke also awarded the Catalytic Fund $30,000 for the Ludlow Yards project, which was voted down last week by Ludlow city council, though its developer left a glimmer of hope that the project could resurface. Ludlow Yards, as presented to city council, would have created a new 4-story building with 72 market rate and affordable apartment units and 10,000-sq. ft. of commercial space on Elm Street at the gateway to the city.

Other Northern Kentucky projects awarded funds include Orchard Park Place in Covington. A vacant and blighted lot is set to become inexpensive commercial spaces for two creative businesses to expand their work and create full-time job opportunities.

Further details on that project were not available.

$40,000 was awarded to the Center for Great Neighborhoods to facilitate the Orchard Park Place project.

The Baker's Table received $20,000 through the Catalytic Fund as it works to renovate 1004 Monmouth Street in Newport, the former location of Lucy's on Monmouth and Packhouse Meats. As of August 14, new information was made available regarding the Baker’s Table. It will no longer be locating in Covington and will instead continue working on the space on 1004 Monmouth Street in Newport.

There will be six full-time employees and one part-time employee.

“We continue to back the Urban Revitalization program because, year after year, the catalyst grants have proven to spur additional redevelopment in urban cores across Greater Cincinnati,” said Amy Spiller, president of Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky. “This redevelopment, in turn, improves the lives of our customers and vitality of our
communities by creating jobs and new opportunities for residents throughout our region.”
 
The program was started in 2010 during the Great Recession as Duke Energy sought to help increase investment in Greater Cincinnati's urban centers.
 
“Our thinking was that a strong community starts with the urban core,” said Spiller. “Without a strong core, your community is weak. And that was the premise around our decision to create the Urban Revitalization program – that everyone in the community can make a difference; that a small investment can serve as a catalyst, to help do a lot for our urban cores. Because building strong communities starts with core economic development investments and jobs for the community.”
 
This year, Duke Energy awarded $275,000 to projects in Kentucky and Cincinnati.
 
-Staff report
Photo: Former YMCA building in downtown Covington (via Kenton Co. PVA)