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Covington to Purchase Buildings from Gateway Ahead of New Development

The Covington city commission voted on Tuesday to purchase two downtown buildings currently owned by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System on behalf of Gateway Community and Technical College.

The decision further reduces the community college's footprint from its once ambitious urban campus in downtown Covington.

The city commission's decision comes ahead of an unnamed development that the city said will create jobs.

The total price for the two properties, which connect at the corner of Pike Street and Madison Avenue and share a block with Hotel Covington, is $1,690,203.48.

"This area of Covington has been undergoing a remarkable transformation as the city continues its economic rebirth, and these buildings on this corner present a significant opportunity for us to accelerate our momentum," Covington Mayor Joe Meyer said. "We've been working with private sector developers, state officials, Gateway, and others for over a year on this and appreciate the many people who have helped make it happen."

The two adjacent three-story buildings together encompass over 64,000 square feet of space:

  • 614 Madison Ave., which recently housed Gateway's bookstore and administrative offices on the intersection's southeast corner.
  • 19 E. Pike St., the former historic home of the YMCA, a much larger building that wraps around the bookstore on two sides with large frontage on both Pike Street and Madison Avenue. It's been vacant since 2015 and was never fully incorporated into the Gateway campus. It previously housed state offices for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which have relocated to Latonia.

The purchase agreement includes the stipulation that Gateway will be the primary partner for any training that may be needed by companies attracted to the new development. The city expects to announce details of the pending project with the developer before the end of the year, a news release said.

But Gateway's president, Dr. Fernando Figueroa, said it was clear from the community college's careful studies of the site over the last few years, "that the best and highest use of the YMCA building did not involve Gateway as the owner."

"We are thrilled to move forward with the City of Covington to realize the possibilities that exist right here, today," Figueroa said.

The college said that with the bookstore's closing, students are able to buy and pick up bookstore items from kiosks located on each of its campuses.

Covington Economic Development Director Tom West said the city's involvement was critical to this real estate transaction, and negotiations involved many parties on the state and local levels.

"I'm overwhelmed by the collaborative effort and the assistance that Covington received - it was truly a team effort," West said in a news release. "There are many people who recognize the special momentum we're enjoying in Covington and wanted to be a part of that rebirth through a project that will be a big positive for the City, downtown, the city's residents, and Gateway."

West said the City's agreement with KCTCS and Gateway was facilitated by a number of officials, including:

  • State Senate President Robert Stivers, Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, and state Rep. Buddy Wheatley.
  • Sec. Vivek Sarin, former Sec. Terry Gill, and general counsel Jessica Burke of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.
  • Sec. William M. Landrum III of the Kentucky Finance & Administration Cabinet.
  • Members of the Governor's staff.
  • Karen Finan, president of the Northern Kentucky Regional Alliance.
  • President Dr. Jay Box and Vice President Wendell Followell of the Kentucky Community & Technical College System.
  • Kenton County Judge-Executive Kris Knochelmann.
  • And members of the Covington Economic Development Authority.

-Staff report