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Competition Makes $200,000 Available for Covington Neighborhood Business District

The City of Covington is kicking off the second year of its program that allows neighborhood business districts in the city to compete for $200,000 in public improvement funding.

Dubbed the "RIPPLE Effect", the program is a public-private partnership.

The first deadline is December 20.

By that date, applicants will turn in pre-applications, a one-page summary of a proposed project to see if it meets the minimum program requirements.

The final deadline for the full application isn't until Feb. 14, with the selection happening in March, culminating in a vote by the full Covington city commission.

"Government can't do it all by itself, and nor can neighborhood leaders," said Jeremy Wallace, the city's federal grants manager. "But if we pool our investment, time, attention and energy, we can collaborate on a plan that really jump-starts an area."

The program - whose acronym stands for "Revitalization Includes People, Places, Lifestyles (and) Economic investment" - began a year ago as a way for City Hall to directly invest in local communities while ensuring local buy-in.

The first RIPPLE Effect competition yielded four proposals, with the Lewisburg Thorofare Project deemed the winner in late February.

That proposal focused on the business district/node at the bend of West Pike Street near Montague Road and Western Avenue. Over the past year, much has happened to implement that first RIPPLE Effect plan, Wallace said:

  • The Lewisburg RIPPLE group has purchased additional properties it plans to redevelop for business and residential use and is considering a new construction project on vacant land.
  • Properties in the RIPPLE target area have been awarded additional City incentives from the Rent Subsidy, Façade Improvement, Upper Floor Residential Rehab, and Lead Hazard Reduction programs.
  • The City is reviewing designs for a neighborhood gateway feature that may include a sculptural gateway as well as a mural. 
  • The City will be completing streetscape improvements around the intersection of Pike, Western and Montague in spring.  

Wallace said the Lewisburg proposal should be seen as a model.

"Potential applicants should take note of two things in that plan: The private investment, and the leverage of other City programs, services, and opportunities," he said. "That's what we believe makes a successful partnership."

Eligible partners for The RIPPLE Effect investments include community groups or councils, neighborhood associations, and associations or organizations that represent neighborhood businesses or business interests.

Applications are scored by City staff in five areas:

  • The benefit to low- and moderate-income people.
  • Whether the project is "ready to go."
  • Its ability to leverage public dollars.
  • The impact on the surrounding neighborhood and businesses.
  • Its sustainability. 

Proposed public improvements could include things like new curbs and sidewalks; lighting; decorative features like benches and outdoor seating; or artistic elements like sculptures, gateways, or murals.

-Staff report