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Time to Tear Down IRS Building: Covington Seeks Demo Firm

The former home of the Internal Revenue Service's massive operations in Covington will soon join the dustbin of history.
The City of Covington acquired the property last year, nearly one year after the IRS shut down its operations on the 23-acre site north of Fourth Street between Madison Avenue to the east, and Johnson Street to the west, with an adjacent parking lot west of Johnson reaching the approach to the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge.
The IRS opened the site in the late 1960s and was once Covington's largest employer.
On Tuesday, the city released a request for proposals (RFP) from companies to handle the demolition and to address the site's significant environmental challenges to make way for redevelopment.
Proposals are due on December 29 and the city hopes to make a decision within a few weeks after that.
“We’re eager to get this project started,” City Manager Ken Smith said. “We’ve been proceeding with careful deliberation to make sure the problems of the site are understood and to make sure the process of preparing it for private development is one that will yield the results we want, but now it’s time to proceed to the next phase and prepare to bring in the cranes and bulldozers.”
The RFP is referred to formally as the “Covington Central Riverfront Demolition and Abatement Project".
Once hired, the contractor will perform a variety of tasks, including:
  • Removing environmental hazards. Some are connected to the former tax preparation facility, and some are tied to previous commercial operations on the 160 properties that were cobbled together to create the site in the 1960s. Hazards include asbestos that is prevalent in walls, floors, and insulation in the sprawling one-story complex, three underground fuel tanks (500-gallon, 1,000-gallon, and 2,000-gallon), an underground 3,000-gallon storage “vault” that was believed to be used for separating water and oil, and lead paint, miscellaneous chemicals, transformers, refrigerants, and mercury-containing devices.
  • Salvaging the site. Materials that can be reused, sold, or recycled will be done so. Examples include copper wiring, oak railings, and HVAC equipment.
  • Demolition. This includes buildings, adjacent structures, landscaping, concrete tunnels, sidewalks, and pavement.
  • Site regrading and backfill.
As that demolition and abatement work proceeds, the city will begin the process of selecting and hiring an engineering firm to draw up designs for the so-called horizontal infrastructure on the site, including streets, sidewalks, and utilities, Smith said. That work will occur simultaneously.
The city recently hired a third-party project manager – the global multi-disciplinary consulting firm J.S. Held – to oversee the work of preparing the site for development, including helping to manage and coordinate the project’s budget, schedule, safety, contracts, compliance, demolition, and construction.

A conceptual plan created by Atlanta-based consultant Cooper Carry calls for a restored street grid; a levee park; a community plaza for festivals; a mixture of buildings containing offices, retail shops, hotels, and residential units; and expansion of the adjacent Northern Kentucky Convention Center.

-Staff report