Covington seeks historic preservationist

Emily Ahouse, Covington’s historic preservation & planning specialist, is leaving after three years with the City.

COVINGTON, Ky. - Covington is looking for a new person to guide historic preservation in the City. 

Emily Ahouse, the City’s historic preservation & planning specialist, is leaving after over three years in Covington to become executive director of the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation in that Cincinnati neighborhood.
Today is her last day.
“Emily has been a tremendous asset - this is a huge loss to our Department and to our community,” Economic Development Director Tom West said.
“She is a consummate professional who understands the importance of promoting continued investment in the community’s historic assets as well as assuring that our Urban Design Review Board and Commission has the tools and expertise needed to uphold the design standards that make our city special.”
Ahouse’s duties fall under the general mission of advocating for the City’s historic buildings, and on a daily level included providing technical assistance on rehab rules to residents and developers, monitoring rehab projects that involve federal funds, and administering the City’s preservation and design guidelines. (In addition to 17 National Register Historic Districts and individual listings on the register, Covington has seven historic preservation overlay zones where alternations to building exteriors must be approved.)
She also works with officials from neighboring cities to organize the annual River Cities Preservation Awards and the annual NKY Restoration Weekend seminar.
For a longer list of responsibilities, see the job application HERE. The deadline to apply is close of business on Monday.
Covington has hired Claire Meyer to fill the post on a temporary basis until a permanent hire is made. Meyer (no relation to Mayor Joe Meyer), was an intern at the City and has a Master’s degree in historic preservation planning from Cornell University.
West said the City wants someone who combines people skills with a technical focus and who has a passion for history.
“We will be looking for an experienced preservation and planning specialist who can work well with homeowners, developers and board members to meet both the intent and the content of our design guidelines,” he said. “We want someone who understands that historic buildings become more valuable when preserved and restored and that infill and new construction is about complementing and not copying historic architecture.”
Ahouse said she hated to leave the City and hoped her replacement understood the opportunities here, considering the City’s rich fabric of historic buildings in both commercial areas and residential neighborhoods.
“This is an exciting time to be here in Covington,” she said. “There’s a lot of vibrancy here, a new attention to rehab and preservation, and a lot of people wanting to move to the urban core.”
Ahouse said she was proud of the relationships she’d built in the community among neighborhood groups, civic organizations, planners, preservationists, and citizens just wanting to upgrade their homes.
“I’ve gotten to work with people on a wide variety of projects, from advising an owner of a single-family home trying to fix up her house (in a historic zone) to architects on a big new construction trying to make the design compatible with the neighboring buildings to a developer carrying out an innovative and creative re-use of an old building,” she said.
She also is proud of the balance she’d tried to strike behind preservation and growth.
“You can’t save every building, and nor should you,” she said. “On the other hand, you have to be vigilant in protecting the historic character of the City. Covington’s buildings really are one of its strongest and most valuable assets, and if you’re reckless, that character is damaged or lost.”
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