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City Prepares for County Building to Become Home to 100 Apartments

If you see a convoy of moving trucks driving west through downtown Covington the first two weekends of September, here's why:

Kenton County will soon be moving its offices from the 10-story administration building at 303 Court St. to the new consolidated complex being built next to and around the former Bavarian Brewery at 12th Street and Simon Kenton Way.

The two-year $30 million construction and rehab project is entering its final stages - and not a moment too soon, Kenton County Judge-Executive Kris Knochelmann told Covington residents at the monthly Latonia Business Association luncheon meeting this week.

"I tend to be an impatient person. I was hoping this would have been done in early '19," Knochelmann said. "But the good news is (in less than two months) we'll be moving in."

That will mean big changes for governance in Kenton County, since the new complex will consolidate under one roof County government operations from five existing locations and include virtually every County official and office, such as the Fiscal Court, the County and Commonwealth's Attorneys offices, the Sheriff, the PVA, the County and Circuit Clerks Offices (driver's license operations only), and Planning and Development Services of Kenton County, Knochelman said.

"We're very excited about that," he told the LBA crowd. "This is a 50-year to 75-year solution."

It also will bring big changes and new life to two areas of Covington.

The new complex, tucked in against Interstate 75 on the city's western side, will be home to about 350 employees, the judge-executive said. And whereas the county once considered putting a deli or other commercial venture in the complex, it now wants employees to get out and eat lunch, for example, in the surrounding area, he said.

Meanwhile, work will begin almost immediately on turning 303 Court St. - a 10-story office tower that's been about half vacant for almost a decade - into apartments and ground-floor restaurant/retail space, Knochelmann said.

The county hopes to turn over ownership of the building in October, and Turner Construction Co. will begin stripping the building down to its brick exterior and concrete floors, he said. Plans include more than 100 apartments and 5,000 square feet of restaurant/retail with some on-site parking.

To help make the project happen, the Covington city commission will vote Tuesday night on an application that will start the process to make technical modifications to the city's zoning code to accommodate that number of apartments on the site's narrow footprint. The application is on the commission's consent agenda, which indicates anticipated approval.

Mayor Joe Meyer, who attended Knochelmann's presentation, said the city was excited about the county's pending move.

"Having that complex open with all those employees there on a daily basis will bring new life to that end of 12th Street and the neighborhood businesses in that area, and - likewise - bringing over 100 apartments to the Roebling Point District will continue the transformation of that area," Meyer said. "These are some pretty big investments."

-Staff report