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Hotel Covington, Housing Development Top City Commission Agenda

The Covington City Commission will hold its first legislative meeting of 2014 on Tuesday and the agenda features a few significant developments.

Here is a preview of what to expect:

Hotel Covington Development Agreement

City Hall vacated its former home at 638 Madison Avenue, known locally as the Coppins Building, and moved to the former JC Penney and Pike Place Bingo building on West Pike Street late last year.

The Coppins Building is slated to be developed into The Hotel Covington, a more than $25 million development announced in October 2012.

The city commission on Tuesday will consider an order/resolution that would deem the Coppins Building surplus property and would sell to the developers of the hotel for $1 million. The development is led by the Covington-based Salyers Group with a partnership with Chicago-based Aparium Hospitality, who seek to make the hotel "a local beehive".

The $1 million price tag to be considered Tuesday is likely part of the announced $3 million sale price that is to be paid over five years.

The transaction is contingent upon coming to terms with a development agreement, Assistant City Manager and City Solicitor Frank Warnock told The River City News last week. If terms are not agreed to prior to the city commission meeting, the item would be pulled.

The hotel developers have secured most of the necessary financing and also await the disbursement of New Market Tax Credits which is expected in April.

Properties Adjacent to New Apartments Slated for Development

As the River's Edge at Eastside Pointe development, which replaces the former Jacob Price public housing site, continues to go up, seven parcels of land directly south of it are the next poised for redevelopment.

The City-owned parcels would be sold to the Housing Authority of Covington (HAC) which would develop sixteen housing units on the site, pending commission approval.

When the Housing Authority secured federal funding for the River's Edge development in 2009, the City signed a letter committing to provide HAC with options to purchase, at nominal costs, thirty-four city-owned properties in the Eastside neighborhood for the creation of affordable housing options.

The final phase of the federally-funded project is to promote home ownership around the new River's Edge development.

Last month it was reported that more than 180 applicants had been pre-approved for leases at River's Edge.

Part of Troubled Peaselburg Property to Be Sold

The City of Covington will release its mortgage interest in one parcel of real estate at the Emery Drive Apartments in Peaselburg. The parcel is set to be sold to a third party.

In September 2012, The River City News reported that foreclosure was imminent on the apartments. The property was owned by an LLC named Neighborhood Investment Partners (NIP), which, while not directly related to the Housing Authority of Covington, shared an executive director and three board members with HAC at the time.

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Emery Drive Apartments/RCN file

"What's going on up there is (NIP has) carved out where there is an old house" which would be sold for $40,000, said Warnock. "The City has a big mortgage over the entire parcel but we're releasing our $40,000 mortgage in that small parcel being cut out of the bigger parcel. Eveverybody else that has a mortgage is releasing their interest." The forty grand will be used to pay the first mortgage holder, Warnock said.

Gateway Center to Go on the Tax Rolls

The City will cancel its lease with the Scott Street Land Company, owners and developers of the Gateway Center, the behemoth office building in Downtown Covington.

The development was partially financed through the issuance of bonds and the company was granted a "payment in lieu of taxes" or PILOT program for twenty years. The terms of that deal are set to expire and the site will now pay full property taxes, pending commission approval.

The City has already passed the necessary order/resolution turning the title over to Scott Street Land Company but failed to include a provision that terminates the lease. 

"It's a good thing because the property goes back on the tax rolls and the school board, the City, and other taxing authorities will now be paid," Warnock said.

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Gateway Center/RCN

Other items on the agenda include:

  • J. Christian Dennery to be hired as assistant city solicitor
  • Police Department to purchase body-worn cameras in an amount of just over $49,000, half paid through the City's general fund and the other half through the police department's forfeiture fund
  • A "Little Free Library", a free book exchange, will be placed at the intersection of Sixth & Craig Streets
  • Mayor Sherry Carran to be reappointed to the Board of Directors at the Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI)
  • Brandon Hamilton to be appointed to Rental Dwelling License Appeal Board
  • Michael J. Bassi to be appointed to the Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky
  • Allen Wilkinson to be appointed to the City Employee's Non-Uniform Civil Service Commission

Other items to be explored in other articles include the repair of the recently collapsed Caroline Underpass and the promotion of Chris Black to assistant fire chief. Plans to change zoning to allow for a Smart Car Dealership to operate in the Ascent luxury condo tower will also be considered.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News