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Downtown Covington hopes more walkable streets will build on growing business boom

Posted at 1:55 PM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 14:10:07-04

COVINGTON, Ky. — Two of Covington's up-and-coming business districts will soon get makeovers, but they won't come without some growing pains on the heels of a year already made difficult by the persisting pandemic.

Starting this summer, the city plans to begin two street-redesign projects -- one on Seventh Street between Washington and Greenup streets and the other on Madison between Eighth and 11th streets. The hope is to attract new businesses to the area as well as to make them more walkable.

WSP's plans call for Seventh Street to narrow and to realign parking to allow for wider sidewalks.

"That would definitely be beneficial to us, Agave and Rye, Rich's," said Eric Phillips, who works as a cook at McK's BBQ on Seventh Street, just a few doors down from the anchors of the block, Braxton Brewery and the adjacent Duveneck Square luxury apartment building. Multiple bars and restaurants have popped up in the area over the last several years.

"There's a lot of vitality here. It's energetic, a good area," he said.

The plans for both stretches include new pavement and traffic signals as well as curb extensions, which will mean wider sidewalks in some areas. The area will also get new lighting, trees, benches and trash cans.

But with any street project like these -- which also will include realigning utilities and parking infrastructure -- disruptions to business-as-usual will occur, and that has City Commissioner Tim Downing thinking about the timing.

"Many businesses are going to be looking toward the summer as a way to rebound and recoup some losses," Downing said during a recent commissioners' meeting. "Any sort of disruption in that, parking or debris and dust in the area, they'll certainly recoil at the mere mention of that."

WSP's plan calls for curb extensions and new lighting and street elements like trees and benches along Madison Avenue between Eighth and 11th streets.

Downing said communicating the plans' phases to business owners will be key.

Engineers with the firm WSP are developing the plans. They say construction crews and equipment shouldn't block the entrances to any nearby business.

"The basic concept we're working under is that no business will be denied access," said senior engineer Chris Clemons. "People will be able to get into and out of every business."

Clemons couldn't say the same about parking, though.

"Parking may be disrupted, but that should be the only disruption," he said.

Clemons said if all approvals continue to go smoothly, construction should begin by early summer, lasting through next winter.