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Newport may get another housing boost with new apartments at site of old intermediate school

Fourth Street project could cost $25 million
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Posted at 5:00 AM, Sep 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-26 05:14:38-04

NEWPORT, Ky. -- It no longer has kids on the playground or cars of parents lining up along Fourth Street before and after school.

Newport Intermediate School, originally built in 1936 as the Fourth Street School, stands empty, still waiting for the final deal to close that will means its demise. But it also means a transition for Newport as it works to meet long-term goals of more housing in the downtown core.

By the first part of 2018, the school will likely be torn down and the work of building 200 high-end apartments in a four-story building should begin.

Originally the building sale was expected to close in August, but David George, vice president of development for CRG Residential LLC from Carmel, Ind., said they’re still working on all the permitting, so closing is delayed until later this fall. CRG has the building and land under contract for $2.6 million with the Newport School District.

“We’re still working on designs and elevations,” said George.

“I think they’ve pretty much cleared all the hurdles,” said Newport City Manager Tom Fromme. “Their financing is the last major deal they have to do. You always cross your fingers.”

The apartments will be similar to Aqua, the new apartments at Newport on the Levee, but without the view, said George. They will have a pool and gym, and unlike Monmouth Row across the street, one level of parking will be underground. It will be approximately half one-bedroom and half two-bedroom apartments.

Once construction starts, it will take a year to 18 months to be completed, he said.

Fromme said the city’s “really keen on keeping downtown living. We continue to follow that path.”

The city required CRG to have some commercial space along Monmouth Street to “fit the fabric of Monmouth.”

“It’s not a tremendous amount of retail,” said Fromme, but it could be office, retail or restaurants similar to Monmouth Row apartments -- “whatever is permitted,” he said.

CRG is investing $20 million to $25 million in the project, and plans to keep it as part of its portfolio, George said.

It will be managed by Barrett & Stokely, a management firm from Indianapolis that also manages One Lytle Place and Grandin House in Cincinnati, he said.

CRG expects it will attract mostly millennials, but also Baby Boomers. “We’re catering to a whole range,” said George. Millennials tend to want more common space and Baby Boomers tend to want more living space, he added.

George said CRG likes the location because of the nearby transportation, amenities offered by Newport and the nearness of downtown Cincinnati.

Some residents would have liked to see the building saved as a nod to the city’s history. But it’s not suitable for a lot of apartments, said Fromme, who went to school there from first to eighth grade.

“You wouldn’t get much out of it,” he said. “You’d have 30 units maybe; it wouldn’t be profitable.”

Newport Intermediate wasn’t the first building on the site. Newport Academy opened in 1800 on land donated by Newport’s founder, Col. James Taylor, and the town of Newport. The first Newport High School was built on the site after the academy closed in 1873, according to the Newport School District’s website.

The Fourth Street School opened in 1946 as an elementary and added a junior high in 1956, according to the Campbell County Historical and Genealogical Society.