Covington picks Atlanta firm Cooper Carry to transform IRS site

COVINGTON, Ky. -- The next piece of a riverfront puzzle has been placed.

The city of Covington will work with Atlanta-based firm Cooper Carry to move forward with the design of what will go in the 23-acre IRS processing center lot between the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge and the RiverCenter.

 "A lot of national firms are looking at this as the most unique urban redevelopment opportunity between Baltimore and New Orleans," said Covington City Manager David Johnston.

IRS operations will cease there in August 2019.

"I'm confident probably part of the final recommendation is the building has to be torn down. And we can start with a blank landscape," Johnston said.

Whatever goes in there has to be big, Johnston said.

The IRS building comes with a great opportunity on one hand and a great cost on the other.

"It's not something two years from now,  where you have time. We don't have time now," he said.

With the loss of the IRS processing center go jobs and payroll tax revenue.

"Generating $1.2 million in payroll tax revenue to our general fund that'll be lost starting September of next year - at a tune of $100,000 a month in lost revenue," Johnston said.

Johnston said it's too soon to know if city services could be cut because of the lost revenue.

 "We don't have an answer at this point. But what it does is open up the doors to practice priority-based budgeting," he said.

The focus is on moving forward.

City council approved working with Cooper Carry.

"They have an extremely wonderful network of investors that will entice, and be interested in the Covington market. That might accelerate the redevelopment in that area," Johnston said.

As for what's going in the 23-acre plot, Johnston says the final answer will be formed from town meetings with residents, meetings with stakeholders and national commercial real estate experts.

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