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Luxury Condo Building Coming to Downtown Covington

A downtown Covington parking lot will soon be home to a high-end condo tower.

One Cooper will go up on the 600 block of Scott Boulevard and is a development project from Tony Milburn and Glenn Kukla, two veterans of downtown construction and renovation projects. The two have known each other for twenty years but haven't worked together on anything until now.

And this deal was about ten years in the making.

A decade ago, a representative from US Bank, which owns and operates a branch and offices in the Madison Avenue building adjacent to the parking lot, approached Milburn. "We put together a basic plan," said Milburn, whose downtown credits include the restoration of the Odd Fellows Hall and, more recently, a series of upscale apartments and townhomes. 

But that was ten years ago and right around the time the national economy sank.

Plans for the site went down with it.

But things are much better now and a year ago, US Bank approached Milburn again. He and Kukla closed on the purchase of the lot late last year. They created a development plan together.

"Neither one of us were interested in doing more apartments. We think this area is ripe for ownership," Milburn said. He has some evidence on his side. The Boone Block Lofts sold swiftly a couple blocks north and the forthcoming Bradford Building project is aiming for similar success. Meanwhile, inventory of homes for sale is low around the urban core and a line of large, new construction apartment projects are coming down the pike across the River Cities. That could mean an opening for the condo market downtown. "What we're offering here is an urban lifestyle that, quite frankly, ten years ago, wasn't here. So, now we think is the time to do this."

Kukla describes the project - which will rise at six and a half stories above Scott Boulevard with twenty-eight upscale units and an eighty-eight space parking garage - as "inspired world class design and a compelling metropolitan location."
That's what "urban lifestyle" means, he said. "It's living in and around all of the awesome energy and there is so much changing so fast in Covington right now," Kukla said.  "Very few places offer that kind of energy, that kind of rapid-pace change and you've got breweries, boutique hotels, unique retail, yoga studios, art galleries, a tech district, arts, and so much layered, all working together, all in downtown Covington, and all pedestrian friendly. And that is such a great story."
And that's a story the developers plan to tell prospective buyers, starting with the launch of the promotion website, One Cooper Living.
Ground could be broken by the end of the summer and Milburn expects a 14-month construction process.
The project is being helped by the Catalytic Fund and possible, down the road, by the City of Covington in some capacity. It also requires some city approvals. On Monday, the building's modern design won unanimous consent from the urban design review board. Kukla noted One Cooper's design - by Cincinnati-based architecture firm glaserworks - borrows from its surroundings: the Arthur apartment buildings across the street, constructed in the early 1900s inspired the bays while Kenton County Public Library's exterior renovation with its strong metal presence pushed One Cooper's affinity for zinc panels. The scale and massing of the project matches that of the historic commercial blocks along Madison Avenue, Kukla said.
The height of it will put One Cooper on part with the US Bank building and Hotel Covington.
The project will face the board of adjustment on Wednesday where it seeks variances on setback and floor area ratio.
When completed, the units will list for $299,000 and above, with most falling in the $400,000 and up range. Most of the units will range from 1,400 to 1,900 square feet, while there will also be two smaller units, and two 3,000-sq. ft. penthouses on top.
Buyers will have the opportunity to pick some of their finishes in their semi-custom home.
The developers tapped Kathy Grossman of Perry Street Real Estate to take care of the interior design. "We realize that people have a high expectation for interior finishes," Kukla said.

Though the project is banking on Covington's present and future, its name and location touch upon downtown's past. The parking lot is just north, across East Pike Street, from what is commonly known as the Brewery Building. That building used to house the offices for the brewery that operated where the parking lot is. It was also home to the brewery's cooperage, or where the barrels were made.

East Pike Street was known then as Cooper Place.

That's how Milburn and Kukla came up with the name.

"Part of the reason I think now is the time is, I have begun doing apartments again down here and a number of the new people are empty-nesters," Milburn said. "It's a different crowd down here. It's not just young professionals. A lot of those people are looking to own, not just rent."

"Our commitment was to develop home ownership," Kukla said. "There is a lot of development going on and we wanted to do something different. There is a pent-up demand. Low inventory and high demand. We hope to be filling that niche.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher
Top photo by Becca Wallace for RCN