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Covington's New Riverfront Plaza to Open with Celebration Next Week

Covington's news riverfront plaza - known simply as Covington Plaza - is set to be dedicated next week.

The dramatic recreation of the city's riverfront now includes a 1,350-seat amphitheater and event area, which has already hosted theatrical productions by the Carnegie. Also along the reimagined site are two overlooks with views of the Ohio River and Cincinnati skyline, and canoe and kayak access.

The project is part of the Riverfront Commons trail, an 11-mile stretch from Ludlow to Dayton.

“Whether you go the river to listen to performers from the Carnegie, to walk your dog, to ride bikes with your kids, or just to sit on the steps to watch the Ohio float by while eating take-out sushi with a date, you’re going to appreciate this new access,” said Covington Neighborhood Services Director and interim City Manager Ken Smith. “It’s truly a new era for Covington.”

The grand opening is scheduled for Friday, June 18, from 6 to 9 p.m. and will include trucks selling food, beer, ice cream and other refreshments; live music from the UltraSonics; activities for children; and remarks from officials.

The project cost $6.54 million.

Physical work on Covington Plaza – which has been called the “crown jewel” piece of Covington’s part of the six-city Riverfront Commons project – began in September 2019. Also known as Phase II, the project area stretches from the foot of Greenup Street to the foot of Madison Avenue.

Crews from Prus Construction began by removing the old parking lot from under the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge and cutting off or carrying away garbage cans, stanchions, and other extraneous amenities and features left over from the long-closed Covington Landing floating restaurant complex. 

Progress was hampered by winter weather and the rise and fall of the Ohio River, including spring flooding that shut down the work for long periods of time – but officials from Prus Construction said those challenges were expected.

“Riverfront Commons was a very challenging project but a very rewarding project at the same time,” said Prus Project Manager Jared McFaddin. “Anytime you are working along 1,500 linear feet of the Ohio River shoreline you are in for some ups and downs, literally and figuratively. The river does not always stay within its banks, which creates construction difficulties and sometime a lot of cleanups. We’re very proud of our work and the project.”

The project is all but complete, except for a few minor loose ends, McFaddin said.

Recently, Prus sealed the concrete at the Madison and Scott overlooks and at the turnabout at the foot of Greenup Street. McFadden noted a particular feature of the stained triangles at the Madison overlook and the turnabout that represent compasses:

“The compasses aren’t exactly aligned with the roadway or the surrounding structures,” he said. “This is not a mistake. They were designed and installed to the precise cardinal direction of north, south, east, and west that show up on a compass for wayfinding.”

Covington Parks & Recreation Manager Ben Oldiges said his staff couldn’t wait to see what events they could bring to the space.

“The more and more events we schedule, the more excited people will be that we have this rejuvenated space to work with,” Oldiges said. “And on top of that, outside of Devou Park, it’ll also have the best view of the Cincinnati skyline.”

-Staff report