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Newport Set to Approve Bonds for Ovation Project

The Newport city commission is set to approve roughly $45 million in bonds to support the Ovation project, its new music venue, and parking garage.

On Monday night, the city commission listened to a first reading of three separate ordinances related to the bond issuance.

The Ovation project is more than a decade in the making, an early victim of the Great Recession and vacant for years. But work has picked up swiftly since a May announcement that Covington-based Corporex, developer of the Ovation project, in which the company announced AEG Presents/Promo West would bring a $40 million music venue to the site.

Ground broke on the parking garage and music venue in July.

"Talk about moving quickly," City Commission Frank Peluso said Monday night. "Take a ride past. It's completely amazing."

City Manager Tom Fromme explained that construction of parking infrastructure in urban areas is often cost-prohibitive, but that the industrial revenue bonds would be helpful.

"As we've been through a number of these developments over the years, the cost of construction in an urbanized area like Newport and the cost of acquisition and the lack of land mass mandates that you have structured parking because you don't have the available land for surface parking," he said. Fromme estimated that parking structures above ground can cost more than $20,000 per space. Underground structures can cost more than $30,000 per space, he said.

"It could actually work against potential projects. It's very difficult," Fromme said.

Corporex fronted $30 million to start the project and expects to recoup that investment via the proceeds from the tax increment finance (TIF) district created to spur the development originally a decade ago.

One ordinance read Monday would allow for the issuance of $15 million in Kentucky tax increment revenue bonds to support the project.

The city commission also heard first readings of ordinances related to the issuance of industrial revenue bonds $16.05 million for the music venue and $14.6 million for the parking garage. Industrial revenue bonds do not impact the city's budget as the government acts as a conduit for developers to access that funding.

The parking garage is expected to hold 550 cars.

The music venue is expected to host 180 shows per year and draw 350,000 to 400,000 per year.

Concerts could be hosted on the site by the end of 2020, a news release said. It is expected to host 180 events a year and seats up to 2,700 inside, and up to 7,000 outside.

The music venue is expected to be finished by the end of 2020.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher