Just So You Know, Downtown Covington is Waking Up(Tech)
Signs of new energy and life emerged on a block of Pike Street in Downtown Covington on Friday night.
Cincinnati Sushi was serving guests in its beautiful new location, the previously shuttered Sandra Small Gallery was hosting an opening, and UpTech, the start-up company incubator, hosted the grand opening of its stunningly renovated space in the old Pike Star building.
Eight new businesses will find their footing there as part of UpTech's second class of start-ups.
UpTech announced over the summer that it would relocate from Newport to Downtown Covington and a partnership between the City of Covington, the Center for Great Neighborhoods, and Orleans Development created a breathtaking new home for the ambitious endeavor. In the coming months, likely by the spring, new residential units will sit atop UpTech's modernly designed work space.
It is another example of a quiet block by block approach that is awakening a long dormant urban core.
A block west on Pike Street, the Market Lofts are under construction across the street from where a long vacant building is being rehabbed into a new home two buildings away from where two new businesses will soon open their doors. Around the corner, bioLOGIC is making national waves as one of its life sciences companies, Bexion Pharmaceuticals, is striving toward a cure for cancer. A block east, the former Mutual Insurance building awaits renovation as a new home for upscale apartment living and new commercial spaces (where, in the meantime, pop-up shops will greet holiday shoppers through the Christmas season). Rima D's restaurant is open again. The Shrewdness of Apes gallery is now open for business behind the new District 78 clothing store.
Covington City Hall relocated this week to its new location inside the former JC Penney building that most recently operated as a bingo hall.
And most ambitious of all, the former Covington City Hall, the Coppins Building, awaits transformation into the boutique Hotel Covington, a more than $26 million reimagining of hospitality in the city. Just south of that building, the same developers, the Salyers Group, will turn the old Doctors Building into residential units that will sit above the recently expanded Garden Grove Organics.
Developer George Hagan is taking Downtown Covington's wake-up call further south with the purchase of multiple properties on Madison Avenue that will be used commercially and residentially.
Along Scott Boulevard, another string of blocks is quietly reemerging from the dark. Developer Alan Haenle is redeveloping a large old building that will offer more space to the PPS Group, which does its design work in the renovated Ice House building. It will also house the Covington Police bike patrol just a few doors down from where Buona Vita pizzeria recently opened. Just south, the Kenton County Public Library's Covington branch just completed a modern expansion and reinvention of itself.
Even the Lee's Chicken at Sixth Street & Scott Boulevard has a brand new interior.
Combined with the Downtown mainstays of the Madison Events Center, the Odd Fellows Hall, and the Madison Theater as well as bold newcomers like WhackBurger, flow - a shop for men, Home Style, and the longtime dedicated retailers who stayed through it all, like Klingenberg's, Motch Jewelers, Landwher's, Egelston-Maynard Sports, those city streets will be full again soon.
The quiet corner of Sixth & Russell Streets has also become the new home of three businesses since February.
Do you feel those tremors? Pay attention. The Covington earthquake is coming.
Michael Monks is the editor & publisher of The River City News
Photos from the UpTech opening: