Covington receives 3 proposals for riverfront development project

COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) - The City of Covington has received three proposals for riverfront projects.

Two proposals were in response to a request for proposals the city issued in late November for a project area at the north end of Madison Avenue. One of the two respondants submitted a third proposal for a project in the area of the earthen levee west of Madison Place off Rivercenter Boulevard.

"The city is truly excited to see the interest shown in doing riverfront projects in the community along the Ohio River," said Covington Mayor Chuck Scheper. "These opportunities certainly raise the bar for our Covington riverfront vision as we seek to highlight and underscore development opportunities in the city that will lead to significant growth."

A proposal from the Boca Hotel Group called "The Sail Project" would include a 28-story mixed use building that would include 128 hotel rooms, 136 luxury apartments and two unique restaurant concepts. The Sail Project is proposed to be situated over the Overlook at the north end of Madison Avenue. The total cost of the development is $49.5 million. Boca proposes a construction start date of early 2013 and an opening at the end of 2014.

Corporex Realty and Investment and Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment submitted a two phase development. Phase 1 entails the relocation, refurbishment and reopening of Ruby's Waterfront restaurant at a location on the river off the Overlook, and moored to the Overlook at the northern end of Madison Avenue. The proposal includes a possible opening date for the Waterfront for early to mid-Summer 2012.

Phase II projects would include riverfront landscaping and improvements consistent with the City's Waterfront Development Master Plan and Southbank's Riverfront Commons trail plans. It would include a floating boardwalk, marina and wharf and a water-based restaurant and/or other attraction in a second mooring east of the Waterfront.

Boca's other proposal is called "The Kentucky Queen Hotel, Conference Center and Dinner Playhouse Project." This would involve a historically themed hotel, conference and entertainment center inspired by the area's past of famous riverboats. The proposed land based development would feature a large river facing and live music oriented nightclub and New Orleans influenced restaurant.

This project would be built generally on top of and on the south side of the earthen levee west of Madison Place and north of Rivercenter Boulevard, with a lower level parking garage. The proposal includes a 600 seat dinner theater on the south side of Rivercenter Boulevard, on the current IRS property. At this time, the city has no adopted Redevelopment Plan relating to the IRS property, although in 2011 the city did submit a letter of intent to work with the General Services Administration/IRS in planning for the possible relocation of the IRS facility.

The total estimated development budget for the hotel and dinner playhouse would be $37.75 million with a similar construction timetable as The Sail Project.

Covington Commissioner Steve Casper said he would like to see all three projects developed along the river but there might not be enough funding.

"Odds are that it's more money than we have but we can be creative and there are other opportunities for us that we may be able to finance," said Casper.

The city has organized a Review Team that will work with the City Commission in the review and evaluation of the proposed projects. The city is hoping to review and take action on the projects in the next 90 days.

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