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Skywheel Ground Lease, Red Bike Stations Move Forward in Newport

The City of Newport approved a ground lease with Skywheel, the large observation wheel slated for the riverfront.

"This was the last piece of the puzzle on the paperwork for the Corps," said City Manager Tom Fromme, referencing the Army Corps of Engineers.

An 80-ft. pier is to be constructed to hold the wheel.

Fromme said he believes the wheel was already constructed in the Netherlands. The work ahead for the St. Louis-based Koch Developers is mostly related to the pier. The city manager said the project is definitely a "go".

"Everything is full steam ahead," Fromme said. "There's no other questions, no other concerns. They are moving forward with it."

Attorney Dick Spoor, from Keating Muething & Klekamp, who represents the developer, said Koch is working on finishing its financing plan.

The City of Newport approved $15 million in industrial revenue bonds to assist the project last September.

It was said at Monday night's city commission meeting that the wheel will be brought to Newport via barges on the Ohio River, a journey expected to start in New Orleans, which could be its own spectacle, the mayor said.

"That itself would be worth the price of admission," Mayor Jerry Peluso said.

When Skywheel is operational, its developers project 400,000 annual riders - which will garner 16.5 cents each for the City of Newport.

Meanwhile, the city commission approved an agreement with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to move forward on the installation of three new Red Bike stations.

The Cincinnati-based bike sharing service arrived in Northern Kentucky in 2015, with stations in Covington, which now has six spots. 

The three new stations in Newport will be installed near the Campbell County Public Library on Sixth Street, near the city building on Monmouth Street, and at 6th and Patterson streets near the Brighton Center.

The two stations at Newport on the Levee are among the more popular across the entire system. Newport has also has a station at Sixth and Washington streets.

With two Red Bike stations in Bellevue, there will be fourteen across the Northern Kentucky River Cities when the three new ones in Newport are installed.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher