UpTech, Market Lofts break ground in Covington

City hopes more investors see success, follow suit

COVINGTON, Ky - Two new ventures in Northern Kentucky are well on their way to building up the urban core along Covington’s Pike Street Corridor.

A groundbreaking for the future home of UpTech, Northern Kentucky's informatics startup accelerator, at PikeStar and a new market-rate apartment building at Market Lofts, was hosted Tuesday by The Catalytic Fund of Northern Kentucky.

As Pike Street in Covington begins to emerge with businesses, like UpTech, the city hopes investors and business owners will follow suit in order to revitalize and repopulate the urban core.

“It’s a good day in the neighborhood,” said Covington Mayor Sherry Carran. “Everything keeps pointing to Covington is the place to be.”

Officials said millions of dollars are being spent to revitalize downtown Covington, and The Catalytic Fund—which is set aside for redevelopment projects deemed too risky for investors—is providing a portion of the money for those projects.

Plans for UpTech, located at 108-12 Pike Street in the lower level of the PikeStar building, are to jumpstart entrepreneurs within the community.

In 2012, its first year, they gave up to $100,000 in start-up funding, mentoring, office space and marketing/legal advice, to eight companies. The second round of business acceleration will kick off in September.

UpTech, who has partnered with Northern Kentucky University’s College of Informatics, will open in the fall.   

“At the end of the day, we’re creating jobs,” said Amanda Greenwell, UpTech manager. “[We’re] creating a place for NKU students to go… retain the talent in our region.”

PikeStar’s upstairs will include seven apartment units, set to open in the spring, and will be home to contemporary-style studio and 1-2 bedroom apartments.

Market Lofts, also located within the Pike Street Corridor, will open at the end of the year and will include 15 units ranging from 700-1,000-square-feet studios and 1-bedroom loft apartments.

While Pike Street is an eclectic mix of residential and commercial buildings, including restaurants and an art gallery, traditional lenders are not eager to take the risk on dilapidated buildings. That is where The Catalytic Fund stepped in and reached out.
Originally formed by Vision 2015, The Catalytic Fund reached its goal of raising $10 million to finance $100 million in projects in an effort to revitalize the urban core, earlier this year.
“[We’re] setting the platform for other investments in the urban communities,” said Jeanne Schroer, CEO and president of The Catalytic Fund, who gave $305,000 to the UpTech and Market Lofts projects.

Investors include:

-Invested $1M - Corporex, Bank of KY, Duke, Central Bank, First Financial, US Bank and Fifth Third Bank

-Invested $500,000 - Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile/US Bank Foundation & Greater Cincinnati Foundation

-Invested $2M - PNC Bank

More of that $10 million is slated for the 19 future projects on the table within the five funded cities: Covington, Newport, Ludlow, Bellevue and Dayton.

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