11 Acres of Land Donated to City of Fort Wright

More than eleven acres of land were donated to the City of Fort Wright by the family of Ben and Agnes Wessels.

The land is located on Sleepy Hollow Road near Devou Park.

The Fort Wright City Council recently approved acceptance of the gift from the Wessels Construction & Development Company.

Members of the Wessels family have long been involved in the operation of the city, its corporate headquarters is located in the city on Dixie Highway, and it owns and manages five corporate office buildings there.

“My family has had a longstanding relationship with the City of Fort Wright,” said Bernie Wessels, who has served as Fort Wright city councilman for seven years. “My father started his business in Fort Wright in 1956, we moved our headquarters to the city in 1981, and our family has been actively involved in public service in the city for many years.”

“The city has been good to us over these years, and during that time, our family has been fortunate to be able to build a successful company here, so we felt the time was right to show our appreciation to the community by giving this property to the city.” 

Bernie Wessels said he purchased four acres of the 11-acre tract about 25 years ago with the idea that he would build his home on it. After he decided to build his home elsewhere in Fort Wright, he sold the property to the family’s real-estate development company and the company acquired the adjacent seven acres as a potential development site.

The property is located on the western side of Sleepy Hollow Road near Backcountry Trails, six miles of hiking and mountain biking trails in Devou Park that the City of Covington and volunteers have constructed over the past 10 years. The land also is near Battery Bates, a Civil War-era earthen fortification that sits atop the hill.

“We have put no restrictions on the use of the property by the City of Fort Wright, but we are hopeful the city will allow this beautiful property to be used for passive recreation, much like the area of Devou Park that surrounds it,” Wessels said.

Fort Wright Mayor Dave Hatter said the city appreciates the “very generous contribution of this amazing asset” by the Wessels family. Hatter said the city hasn’t yet decided what it will do with the real estate but said it would definitely consider using the land for passive recreation.

“One possibility is collaborating with the City of Covington to do something with the trails that are already located in this area,” said Hatter, who lives near the property and regularly walks and jogs the existing trails in that area of the park. 

“We don’t have a lot of available space in the city for recreational purposes, so this is a win-win situation for the city,” Hatter said. 

When founded by Ben Wessels in 1956, Wessels Construction & Development Company was primarily a builder of single-family homes. Since that time, the company has evolved into a multi-faceted developer that now constructs multi-family residential communities, commercial office buildings, and single-family subdivisions

Today, the company owns and operates more than 1.3 million square feet of commercial and multi-family residential space in Northern Kentucky, including more than 1,000 apartments and 700,000 square feet of office space. All properties are managed on a day-to-day basis by Guardian Management and Recreation, a Wessels affiliate.

-Staff report