Kenton County to purchase historic, former home to Bavarian Brewery in Covington

Posted at 5:51 PM, Jul 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-08 18:21:09-04

COVINGTON, Ky. — It’s been a long-standing question in Northern Kentucky: What will become of the historic, former home to Bavarian Brewing Company?

We now have an answer. Sort of.

Kenton County officials announced Friday the county would acquire the building and the 4.5-acre plot between Covington's Pike and 12th streets for use as the future site of its administrative offices.

As for the building itself, originally acquired by the brewing company in 1877, the county still has more to study about its physical condition before making any final decisions, said Kenton County Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann.

“We will make every effort to incorporate (the building) into the planning for the new county administration building,” Knochelmann said in a statement Friday. “We’ll learn a lot in the months to come, but I’m confident that the old tower at the Bavarian Brewery will remain an iconic structure in Covington and Kenton County for many, many years.”

The building is highly visible as motorists approach the city from the south along Interstate 71/75.

Bavarian Brewing left the building in the 1960s, and it was most recently the home of Jillian’s nightclub and restaurant before it closed in 2006. It has sat vacant since.

The previous owner, Columbia Sussex, acquired the property with hopes of opening a casino at the site, depending on the Kentucky legislature to legalize casino gambling in the state.

That didn’t happen, leading them to apply to demolish the aging structure — a request that the Covington city commission and a Kenton County district judge rejected, to the relief of historic preservationists on both sides of the Ohio River.

“It’s a good day for our community,” Knochelmann said.

Kenton County Commissioner Joe Nienaber touted the building’s location and its direct access to the interstate.

“It provides a highly accessible and efficient location for all citizens of Kenton County,” he said, adding that the size of the property will allow the county to combine multiple services in one location.

The current county offices are located on Park Street along Covington’s riverfront in the city’s Licking Riverside district. Knochelmann said that building has been offered to Northern Kentucky University, in an effort for the Highland Heights college to launch an urban campus.

Commissioner Beth Sewell praised the plan as a stimulus for Covington’s up-and-coming Westside neighborhood, which has seen numerous properties purchases and revitalized in recent years, along with the recent, massive overhaul of Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.

“Over the last two decades of living and working in Covington, I have witnessed and been a part of many significant improvements to the community,” Sewell said. “This one will certainly be a worthy addition to that list.”

Officials did not immediately indicate the cost of the purchase, which Knochelmann described as the first in a three-phase effort to “improve the access of Kenton County citizens to their government.”