Home Tour: Wake up to the morning rays reflecting off the Cincinnati skyline at Aqua on the Levee

Newport apartments offer spectacular river views

NEWPORT, Ky. -- Joggers and cyclists roll through Jacci Stafford's apartment view. Sunrise splashes the Cincinnati skyline in a single hue of golden light. Coal-laden barges and pleasure boats carve out broad wakes on the river below. Fog envelopes the Purple People Bridge, leaving speckles of dew on her corner windows. And Friday-night fireworks at Great American Ball Park light up her windows.

This kind of activity has provided constant entertainment for Stafford since August, when she moved into a two-bedroom, two-bathroom corner unit at Newport's newest apartment complex, Aqua on the Levee.

The self-described itinerant "gypsy" -- she has lived in northeastern Ohio, Los Angeles, suburban London, Cincinnati and Fort Thomas -- landed at Aqua following a financial adviser friend's suggestion that she rent, not own, a home.

At first, Stafford thought she would end up living near her sisters on Cincinnati's east side. But the varied views provided by four picture windows in a corner unit at Aqua changed her mind.

"The first week here, I got to see the (Reds game) fireworks, and I thought, 'What a nice welcome,'" said Stafford, a career administrative assistant who now works part time at Nordstrom and Downtown Girl women's boutique in Montgomery.

"You walk in the door, and you get to see the bridges and the city. I was just overwhelmed by it," Stafford said.

Her unit is one of 239 at Aqua, which opened last summer on what had been a ground-level parking lot adjacent to the east end of Newport on the Levee. The apartment has more than 1,000 square feet of living space and features two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a contemporary kitchen, a laundry room and a covered deck that faces the Ohio River and Mount Adams. Lean out ever so slightly and four bridges come into view: the John A. Roebling Suspension, Taylor-Southgate, Purple People and Daniel Carter Beard bridges.

Stafford, who is single and has an adult daughter, uses her second bedroom -- which overlooks Aqua's large swimming pool and hot tub -- for reading and watching TV. When she has guests, she opens up the sofa bed. Blackout blinds can be lowered to block out the sun, though they’re usually open to take advantage of the views to the north and west.

Her kitchen, like all kitchens in the complex, is contemporary: blond-wood cabinetry with elongated chrome pulls; gray-toned glass backsplash tile; speckled-cream stone countertops; stainless-steel appliances and gray-stained wood-plank flooring.

Stafford’s apartment furnishings are a blend of antiques, many of which she bought while living in Great Britain, and contemporary American pieces. She has more than enough vintage china to hold a dinner party for 10 and points with pride to a collection of wooden bowls displayed above her range that her uncle, Peter Cirjak of Akron, made for her.

Another point of pride are two paintings grouped just outside her carpeted master-bedroom door. One is a portrait of her daughter's pony that was painted by the people who ran the English stable where she kept "Spuddy." The other is an impressionistic watercolor of a cow in Door County, Wisconsin, which is one of Stafford's favorite vacation spots.

Stafford has arranged furniture in all of her rooms to take advantage of the views. She said she hasn't used her deck too much yet, but has two rocking chairs in storage that she will set there once the weather warms up.

"I want to find a little table for out there, too," she said.

Stafford has several decorating projects in mind, as well, mostly in the master suite where she needs some colorful artwork and a proper storage cabinet for the bathroom.

She said she's also looking forward to sunnier times, when she can wake up and take in the view from her bed.

"You wake up, and all of a sudden all the buildings are exactly the same color, like a soft gold," she said. "Even the (Purple People) bridge gets that hue. I love it."

About Aqua on the Levee

The $80 million complex, which is managed by Capital Investment Group, is about 50 percent occupied, said company vice president Stacy Walton. It offers nine floor plans -- from one- to three-bedroom units -- that range in square footage from about 800 to 1,400 square feet, and costs range from about $1,200 to $3,000. Each unit has a laundry room, and many have balconies.

Amenities include two recreation areas with a pool, hot tub, bocce ball court, gas grills, lounges and picnic tables. There's also a fitness center, roof-top terrace, club house, pet playground, Red Bike station and hook-ups for electric cars.

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