1st look at IRS site proposals

Using Legos and construction paper, participants at innovate workshops in March created 3-D designs for the IRS site.

Public invited Thursday to evaluate 3 conceptual plans 

COVINGTON, Ky. - An event Thursday evening will give the public a first look at three conceptual drawings of what could be built on the 23-acre Internal Revenue Service campus in Covington that will be vacated later this fall.
A design team from Atlanta-based Cooper Carry, the global architecture and design firm working with the City on the project, has spent the last few months sorting through hundreds of ideas received at public events - including an open house kick-off, innovate workshops, and intimate community discussions called Civic Dinners - and translating those ideas into preliminary site sketches.
“It’s always fun to see how you get from that public discussion to these conceptual plans,” said Nicolia Robinson, a senior associate with Cooper Carry. “And now is the point where we need feedback from people about which they prefer and what they like.”
The unveiling begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday (July 11) at the Commission Chambers at City Hall, 20 W. Pike St.
The presentation will include a brief overview of the project and the history of the IRS site; a description of the three scenarios, with an explanation of their design elements; and opportunities for residents during break-out sessions to give feedback via comments and interactive maps and “boards.”
The preliminary renderings discuss details such as proposed land uses (a la “office,” “commercial,” “green space,” etc.), the street grid pattern, size and location of buildings, density, transportation elements, cost estimates, and possible phasing of development.
It also suggests possible temporary uses of the property while development is discussed and designed.
City Manager David Johnston said he hoped residents showed up Thursday to continue engaging in the process.
“From day one this has been an exciting project that will have a huge impact on the future of Covington,” Johnston said. “Hundreds of our residents have helped us get this far, and Thursday represents a big moment where we get to see - in full color - how ideas and opinions could integrate together as actual buildings.”
The IRS, one of Covington’s biggest employers, announced in 2016 that it would close its processing facility in fall 2019. The sprawling, one-story building on the north side of Fourth Street takes up about 17 acres, with parking on 6 acres. The complex is controlled by the federal General Services Administration, but the City is working with Cooper Carry to gain ownership and development control.
The site is adjacent to the Northern Kentucky Convention Center and across the street from the Ohio River floodwall. It’s within a few blocks of the RiverCenter complex, the Madison Avenue business and dining and nightclub district, the hotel district near Interstate 75, the MainStrasse Village area, the Roebling Point Business District, and the Old Town/Mutter Gottes neighborhood.

The City kicked off its public engagement effort with an open house in January.

Cooper Carry said three principles have guided the conceptual master plan effort: 

  • Reconnect Covington through visual and physical connections to the Ohio River, surrounding neighborhoods, and the city at large.
  • Stimulate job growth and recapture the tax base lost from the IRS closure while also encouraging a variety of development that will enhance the vitality of the area.
  • “Activate” Covington through programming and a mix of uses. Create a space for festivals, events, and community gatherings.
In this file photo, you can see the proximity of the 23-acre one-story IRS complex (middle bottom) to the Ohio River and the RiverCenter tower complex.

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