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Covington Takes Possession of Former IRS Site

The City of Covington officially took possession of the former Internal Revenue Service site and now moves towards its redevelopment plan.

"We worked hard to get to this point, and now we own it," City Manager David Johnston said in a news release. "A whole different type of work begins now, and believe me, we're not going to be lax about it. We bought it not to hold on to it but to get it back on the tax rolls and contributing to both Covington and our taxpayers. We will work diligently to clear it and make it attractive for the private sector to come in and activate it. Stay tuned."

The sprawling 23-acre site is mostly taken up by a one-level office facility and parking lots and sits north of Fourth Street between Madison Avenue and Johnson Street. It also includes a parking lot west of Johnson, close to the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge.

The IRS was previously Covington's largest employer, but shut down after 52 years in the city last September.

In December, the city began negotiations with the federal government to acquire the site for private development.

An agreement was reached in March, debt was authorized in May, and the property's sale closed on Friday.

City of Covington Finance Director Muhammed Owusu wired the remaining $18,480,050 payment to the federal government on Monday, the city said in a news release. Johnston was then handed the keys.

Up next, the city will issue a request for qualifications (RFQ) from companies hoping to bid on the demolition of the office facility.

A geotechnical survey of the ground is underway along with an evironmental assessment.

The city plans to restore the former street grid, disrupted when the facility was first constructed. The city also plans to extend utilities and build fiber and WiFi infrastructure.

In late 2018, Covington hired Atlanta-based global architecture and design firm Cooper Carry to help it secure ownership of the site and to create a conceptual master plan - a "vision" - for how it could be developed.

Cooper Carry led a year-long effort that relied heavily on market studies, the city's needs, and public engagement, offering residents and other stakeholders dozens of opportunities to weigh in on the plan.

The "vision" - which Johnston said would serve as a guide for development and can be seen here - included a restored street grid, a levee park, a community plaza for festivals, and a mixture of buildings containing offices, retail shops, and places to live.

Goals include:

  • Jobs and tax revenue from a variety of workplace environments.
  • A mixture of uses and outdoor spaces.
  • A walkable and drivable street grid.
  • Enhanced connections to the Ohio River.
  • Integration with surrounding neighborhoods and business centers.
  • A flexible framework to accommodate market demand and proposals.

-Staff report

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