Covington's welcoming 12th Street widens its appeal with county offices and a walkable vibrancy

Corridor's reputation as city's gateway growing

COVINGTON, Ky. -- When Kenton County moves its offices to the former Bavarian building between Pike Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, it would be incorrect to say it will spur economic growth along that corridor in the city.

It would be correct to say it will help growth continue, though. 

“The city got ahead of the curve,” said Covington city administrator Larry Klein. “We knew the area was going to change.”

Indeed, there always had been a business base along that route, but with the street being widened and parking made more readily available when the street was widened between Interstate 75 and St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, that has slowly increased. 

“I believe the 12th Street corridor is the hidden gem of the city,” said Aaron Galvin. Galvin owns the Covington Coffee Company on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (formerly 12th Street) and lives on the avenue. 

“There’s an authenticity to it, it’s a walkable neighborhood,” he said. “What makes the area extra special is when you have people walking around. That’s what develops communities and neighborhoods.”

“I used to live in Pittsburgh, New York, New Orleans -- all those cities I loved,” he said. “This reminds me of New Orleans. There’s people investing in this area where you get a house at a good price and take pride in it.”

Klein said the city had the same idea in mind during the reconstruction, making it a gateway to the city. With the county intending to relocate offices to the area, it will solidify that idea. 

“We’re going to have life on that property seven days a week, and we believe they will be a good partner,” he said. 

“I’m excited. I think it will bring a lot more people into the neighborhood and more people who will be willing to take the risk of opening up a business,” said Galvin. “The neighbors here are always helping each other. There’s a lot of support for small businesses.”

Another hidden gem along that stretch is Linden Grove Cemetery, which is in the process of finishing a new entrance on 13th Street. 

“It’s an incredible cemetery. There’s a speaker of the House buried there, a United States senator buried there, and with the entrance oriented toward Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, that 20-plus acres of trees and history is more visible and accessible,” Klein said. 

So far, the development has been in keeping with the theme of the existing neighborhood, and that is something both city officials and residents expect to continue. 

“We didn’t want to see it become fast-food chains and gas stations,” Klein said. “We had to be sensitive to the architectural context of the neighborhood, because it is also a residential neighborhood.”

An example of this is the repurposing of the former Hellman Lumber Building, which is now being used as new offices for The Center for Greater Neighborhoods. Some of those offices are being used as co-working spaces for artists, such as Katie Woodring Photography.  

"The Hellman Creative Center along the 12th Street corridor has become a dynamic asset for the neighborhood," Woodring said. "The ability for residents and creatives to come together and collaborate is incredible. It acts as an anchor for the area. I am fortunate to have a photography studio within the building and see all kinds of potential as more businesses and organizations invest in Covington's West Side."

Still, maintaining the feel of the area is the most important thing. 

“I hope It maintains the community,” Galvin said. “There’s a lot of room for people to come in, but there’s a strong sense of community."

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