Proposed high-end apartments could further Mainstrasse's development winning streak

Meeting tonight is first to get public's input
Proposed high-end apartments could further Mainstrasse's development winning streak
Posted at 9:29 AM, Sep 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-07 16:26:13-04

COVINGTON, Ky. -- A proposed high-end apartment complex nestled between Main and Bakewell streets in Covington could transform Mainstrasse, according to city and private sources. 

The plan is in the early stages, and the public has a chance to learn more about the project at 6 p.m. tonight in Covington City Hall. The mixed-use apartment, retail and office space development would be on the property now occupied by the John R. Green Co., a school supply business at 411 W. 6th St. dating to the early 1960s. 

The current plan by developer John Whitson of Realty Link in Birmingham, Alabama, is for 186 Class A, mostly one-bedroom apartments bordered by 6th Street on the north and Seventh Street on the south, said Lee Bledsoe of Pivot Realty, local agent on the project. It would sit behind the stores that face Main Street and behind homes on Bakewell.

Older, nonhistorical storage buildings would be replaced, and the alley entrances would become well-lighted entrances into parking for the upscale project, he said.

Whitson said Covington is the ideal place in Cincinnati to build the nearly $40 million project. He expects the project could open in summer or fall of 2018.

“It’s the coolest spot in Cincinnati,” he said, noting the proximity to Downtown and nature trails.

He emphasized that the John R. Green building would stay intact.

“We’re keeping its historic nature,” he said.

The original building would become a part of the project with a total of 10,000 to 20,000 square feet of office and retail and 325 parking spaces under the apartments, said Bledsoe. 

The property is under contract, including surface parking at 7th and Bakewell, Bledsoe said. Project costs were not yet available.

Whitson first looked at the location two years ago, Bledsoe said.

Wednesday night's presentation is to “hear the appetite for the project,” said Donald Warner, assistant city solicitor for Covington. It’s part of the city process that asks developers to show the community what they want to do in the very early stages of a project.

“It could be a transformative project in that neighborhood,” said Warner. “It would be very different than anything done there before.”

Warner said that the feedback and discussion around the project has been mostly positive. Any construction plans would have to be reviewed as part of the historic district overlay, he said. More than likely, it would also require some zoning changes.

Annie Venerable, executive director for the MainStrasse Village Association, said the project could be a good change for Mainstrasse.

“It’s going to take the charm we already have and work with it,” Venerable said. “The John R. Green building is a big part of people’s memories. That’s where they have bought their school supplies.”

Businesses seem excited about a project of this scale in the neighborhood, she said, adding that most were nervous about long-term construction, if it should happen. “But there are some seriously engaged citizens here,” she said, and “they’re passionate” about the village.

“People who haven’t been here in the last five years don’t know how much the village has grown,” Venerable said, noting the addition of new restaurants such as Frida 602 and Lisse and the rehabbing of dozens of historic homes. 

“In another five years, it won’t resemble the same place,” she said.