Bavarian Brewery Tapped for Redevelopment as Kenton County's New Home
At the intersection named for two legendary names - one notable across the globe, and one celebrated more closely to home - Kenton County's government will soon have a new home.
The famed Bavarian Brewery Building, spared from demolition by the county's bold move to acquire it and renovate it rather than rehab its drab 1969 tower near the riverfront, will be given new life - and a new structure.
Ground was broken Monday afternoon on the ambitious $25 million project, which sits at the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and the newly minted Simon Kenton Way - a name change from Jillian's Way, which was a nod to the last business to operate there, a multi-level nightclub and entertainment complex that shuttered in 2007.
For years, the prominent building with its castle-like structure slipped further into disrepair as its previous owners, Crestview Hills-based developers Columbia Sussex, sulked over Kentucky's failure to pass expanded gaming legislation. The company had acquired the building with the idea that a casino would operate there.
When their gamble failed to pay off, the company's leadership and lawyers sought permission to tear it down, arguing that the site was more marketable to buyers without the building on it.
The City of Covington disagreed and after multiple levels of municipal government stood in its way, Columbia Sussex took the issue to Kenton County Circuit Court.
Amid the legal battle, the Kenton County Fiscal Court swooped in and bought the building. It will occupy the sprawling structure, with much of the front castle building preserved and a new building constructed next to it, by February 2019.
The significance of the names King and Kenton was not lost on Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann, who noted their own unique leadership in history as the county now acts as pioneers, joining other like-minded adventurists in taming Covington's growing Westside. Knochelmann said the move is fiscally responsible and also improves the county's services offered to citizens with abundant parking and easy access from I-75.
Most importantly, a decaying landmark will have new life, visible to the thousands of vehicles that speed by on a daily basis a stone's throw away on I-75.
"I think we have a plan to do something special and iconic as you enter the state of Kentucky," said County Commissioner Joe Nienaber. "I think we did a good job of doing something you'll be proud of spending your money on."
Commissioner Jon Draud cited the economic impact of the Bavarian project and the potential redevelopment of the current Kenton County Administration Building, likely to become a residential tower, as the catalyst for his excitement. "I'm thankful to be part of this very significant project and accomplishment," he said.
Commissioner Beth Sewell, the only member of the fiscal court who lives in Covington, said that the building would serve as a uniter next to a highway that has long been viewed as a divider in the city.
"It's rare for a community to get to transform their front door and that's what this will be," said Dave Spaulding, vice president and general manager at Turner Construction, which won the bid to recreate the site. "It's going to be a great building."
Planning & Development Services of Kenton County (PDS) is also slated to move in along with other county offices.
Following the groundbreaking ceremony, attendees were invited to a rare Monday night at Braxton Brewing Company, which just recently relaunched the Bavarian name in local beers.
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher
Top photo: County officials move the dirt to start the construction project on their new home (RCN)