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182 Upscale Apartments Planned for Mainstrasse Village

182 new apartment units that would rent for between $1,400 and $1,900 per month will be on the way to Mainstrasse Village if a developer's vision comes to fruition.

The John R. Green building and surrounding lots would be completely transformed to house a 3-story parking garage that would be beneath 4 stories of residences - making for a new 7-story tower on Sixth Street between Main and Bakewell Streets. The ambitious project is estimated to cost around $38 million. The existing John R. Green building - where the school supplies company continues to operate - would remain a commercial property that developer John Whitson imagines an ideal spot for a boutique grocer on the street level, offices above, and a banquet hall on the top floor. Then there would be the residential tower, and other residential units created around it. There would be nearly 300 parking spaces, including 100 for the public.

The John R. Green Lofts, as the posh development is known, is presented concurrently with another sprawling project nearby on Fifth Street, where the 501 Main building will be razed and the adjacent parking lot would be replaced by 200 apartments in two buildings, with commercial space on the first floor of one of them and a parking garage in the other one.

"Covington is, candidly, the coolest spot in town," Whitson said of his exploration of the Greater Cincinnati area in search of a spot for a development. Covington-based Moody Nolan architects will design the property with Whitson, who comes from South Carolina-based RealtyLink's Birmingham, Ala. office. A public meeting was held at Covington City Hall on Wednesday night that drew residents from Mainstrasse Village, just as other recent meetings have related to the new paid parking plan in the neighborhood and the 501 Main project.

It is a transformational time in Mainstrasse Village, where a reputation for boozy nightlife is being replaced by destination restaurants and high-end real estate. 

Concerns expressed by residents and business owners on Wednesday were mostly related to parking, particularly if both big developments were to move forward at the same time. The design was better received than the 501 Main project at Wednesday's meeting. 

The John R. Green Lofts project would require a map amendment from the city commission and then a visit to the board of adjustment since the height of the tower and density of the apartments exceed current regulations. Whitson also expects to ask for the city's participation in the construction of the parking garage. Mayor Sherry Carran said Wednesday that the city is exploring the possibility of using industrial revenue bonds to finance the garage component, just as the city is doing to assist the Duveneck Square project, another massive residential and commercial development on the way to downtown Covington at Seventh & Washington Streets. In all, the three new developments promise to bring more than 500 new residential units in the next two years.

In Mainstrasse, the main John R. Green building will remain but the neighboring warehouse, including the Covington mural, the parking lot, and the community garden would be removed. 

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Image: Rendering of John R. Green Lofts (provided)