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Ground Breaks on Hillside, but Hilltop Project Still a Mystery

Ground broke last week on a new $15 million condo development on a Covington hillside - but what the same developers will place on the hilltop above is a mystery.

"We don't have a plan yet," developer Paul Zeltwanger said at special community meeting in Park Hills, when asked about the site where Gateway Community & Technical College previously operated its automotive education program. "We have option scenarios.  Access is a big deal, probably our biggest challenge. It might be similar to the Views. I like that access.  But my geotechs say that it would be very expensive."

The hilltop site sits right on the Covington and Park Hills border, and is also home to the old Park Hills School.

Covington Mayor Joe Meyer and Park Hills Mayor Matt Mattone both joined Zeltwanger for last week's groundbreaking of the Verandas at the Views, the new 3-story luxury condo project going up next to the posh Views townhomes that overlook the Cincinnati skyline.

Joshua One, a Covington-based developer, and its sales agent, Sibcy Cline Realtors, hosted the groundbreaking. Joshua One created the Views and will lead the redevelopment of the old Gateway site above. The Verandas @ the Views will have 18 units, ranging in cost from $815,000 to $1 million, with one $2 million penthouse on the top floor.

“I’ve just been so excited to be part of the urban community here in Covington,” said Zeltwanger, managing member of Joshua One. “I am very excited to see the renaissance that is going on in Covington. And we are eager to increase the number of residents who want to call this place home. We call it ‘close to everything, with a view of everything.’”

The mayors are also happy about the project.

“This development has brought a new sense of energy and recognition of the opportunity that is here in Covington,” said Mayor Meyer, of Covington. “Infill is hard. When you go into a community that's been in existence for over 200 years, it’s difficult to redevelop a parcel of land that has been forgotten. But when you come with the idea and the dream to make it happen...It speaks so much about the character of the developer.”

“This is an amazing opportunity,” said Mayor Mattone, of Park Hills. “This site is a critical link to Covington’s urban structure to the first tier suburbs like Park Hills.”

Zeltwanger went on to say of the groundbreaking, “It’s really an urban contemporary feel built to fit in with Covington’s historic architecture.”

On the hilltop site above, there could be anywhere from 100 to 200 additional condos and single family homes constructed on the 26-acre site.

Zeltwanger joined Park Hills city leaders and residents at the first community planning meeting last week, where citizens shared ideas about what the future could hold for the city in terms of placemaking and quality of life.

After the conclusion of the group participation portion of the meeting, Mayor Mattone introduced Zeltwanger, who pronounced the city of Park Hills to be very unique, being so close to the urban core but having its country opportunities. Zeltwanger said he had to wait years to be able to acquire the property at Gateway, which the Kentucky Community & Technical College System sold for over $3 million earlier this year.   

"I consider myself a neighbor," he told the residents. "We as a team are vested in this project and in the city. I would like to see it happen quicker."

One resident tried to pin him down on his plan for the Gateway site project. That's when Zeltwanger said that there is not yet a plan.

He went on to say that he wanted to create something that made sense in the community, but fit the market. He said he is staging the area right now and that there is no timeline for development on the site.

"Until we get to something we feel good about, we don't have an official plan," he said. "It does look more expensive than we thought."

"We are at least three years out," Zeltwanger said. "I have ideas, but you've got to have money to address the infrastructure needs. I am actively doing that now. The development has to be attractive or no one will want to buy there, and that impacts you. We all don't get our own way in the end."

Written by Kareem Simpson, Patricia A. Scheyer, and Michael Monks