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Newport OKs Bonds for Residential Development, Ovation Hotel

A new Homewood Suites by Hilton and eighteen new residential homes took steps forward at the Newport city commission on Monday.

The new hotel is part of the sprawling Ovation development, led by Covington-based Corporex at the Newport riverfront. It will be constructed directly behind the PromoWest Pavilion at Ovation music venue and will have 124 rooms.

The city and state already approved up to $661 million in industrial revenue bonds (IRB) for the entire project, but each phase will be brought to the city commission for consideration, said attorney Dick Spoor, who is working with the developer.

For the hotel, the move frees up $18.5 million in IRB access. IRB are not reflected on the city's debt. The city serves as a conduit for the funding which will be paid in full by the developer.

Meanwhile, the city commission also offered tentative approval of IRB to Newport Eleven, LLC for the development of eighteen new homes on the 1100 block of East 11th Street in the city.

"This has been a very difficult project," City Manager Tom Fromme said. "They have experienced some significant infrastructure costs at our request. They are very costly."

On Monday night, the city commission authorized a memorandum of agreement relating to the acquisition and construction of the project, and agreeing to undertake the issuance of IRB "at the appropriate time" to pay for acquiring and constructing the project.

The Newport school board and the county fiscal court will also have to authorize the request, Fromme said.

Other notes:

New Riff Distilling was approved for the city's jobs incentive program, offering a 40% rebate on some payroll tax.

New Riff currently employs around 60 people with a payroll tax revenue to the city of around $3.4 million.

The company plans to add around 80 new jobs over the next decade. New Riff is also planning further expansions.

"We're glad to be here. It's a great place to have a small business," said New Riff founder Ken Lewis.

The City of Newport is concluding the 225th anniversary of its founding. Historic Preservation Officer Scott Clark presented on the topic to the city commission and offered a replica of an original plat of land from 1814.

The original was purchased at auction and reproduced in a numbered series.

Northern Kentucky University Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement Executive Director Mark Neikirk also told the commission that many of the history-related news articles published online over the past year in celebration of Newport's anniversary would be turned into a walking tour of the city, with an associated app expected to tell stories along the way.

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Image shows rendering of hotel and office development at Ovation (via Corporex)