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Three Conceptual Drawings to Detail Possible Future of IRS Site

The City of Covington will offer the public its first look at three conceptual drawings of what the 23-acre Internal Revenue Service site could look like after being redeveloped.

The IRS is closing the processing center, known as the flat-top building that is nestled along RiverCenter Blvd. and Fourth Street between Madison and Johnson streets.

On Thursday, a design team from Atlanta-based Cooper Carry, the firm contracted by the city to work on the redevelopment possibilities, will present the conceptual drawings.

The event follows months of work, including an open-house kick-off, workshops, and community discussions via "civic dinners".

"It's always fun to see how you get from that public discussion to these conceptual plans," said Nicolia Robinson, a senior associate with Cooper Carry. "And now is the point where we need feedback from people about which they prefer and what they like."

The unveiling begins at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, July 11, at City Hall (20 W. Pike St.).

The presentation will include a brief overview of the project and the history of the IRS site, a description of the three scenarios with an explanation of their design elements, and opportunities for residents during break-out sessions to give feedback via comments and interactive maps and boards.

The preliminary renderings discuss details such as proposed land uses (such as "office," "commercial," "green space," etc.), the street grid pattern, size and location of buildings, density, transportation elements, cost estimates, and possible phasing of development.

It also suggests possible temporary uses of the property while development is discussed and designed. The City of Covington does not own the property.

City Manager David Johnston said he hoped residents showed up Thursday to continue engaging in the process.

"From day one this has been an exciting project that will have a huge impact on the future of Covington," Johnston said. "Hundreds of our residents have helped us get this far, and Thursday represents a big moment where we get to see - in full color - how ideas and opinions could integrate together as actual buildings."

The IRS, one of Covington's biggest employers, announced in 2016 that it would close its processing facility in the fall of 2019. The sprawling, one-story building on the north side of Fourth Street takes up about seventeen acres, with parking on six acres. The complex is controlled by the federal General Services Administration, but the city is working with Cooper Carry to gain ownership and development control.

Cooper Carry said three principles have guided the conceptual master plan effort: 

  • Reconnect Covington through visual and physical connections to the Ohio River, surrounding neighborhoods, and the city at large.
  • Stimulate job growth and recapture the tax base lost from the IRS closure while also encouraging a variety of development that will enhance the vitality of the area.
  • "Activate" Covington through programming and a mix of uses. Create a space for festivals, events, and community gatherings.

-Staff report

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