Façade work to start on ‘YMCA building’

The top photo shows the “radiator grille” that once covered 614 Madison Ave. The bottom photo shows the two buildings – 641 Madison and 19 E. Pike St., which wraps around it on two sides – as they looked last fall. The middle photo is a conceptual rendering from WorK Architecture + Design that shows a restored turret.

Transformation to create hotel suites, bourbon ‘experience’ 

COVINGTON, Ky. – Known for two of their former tenants – the old YMCA and Gateway bookstore – the buildings at the southeast corner of Madison Avenue and Pike street have sported many “looks” over the last century, including an old-style turret, the ‘70s-era “radiator grille,” and the current brick arches and canvas awnings.
They’re about to get another look, one that’s much more modern.
Construction barriers will be erected soon around the two historic buildings, kicking off the exterior part of their long-anticipated $22.5 million transformation into a multi-use complex featuring a “bourbon distillery experience,” an addition to Hotel Covington, and office space.
“This is one of the most visible corners in the city, and Covington has been waiting for years to have the right developer with vision,” Economic Development Director Tom West said. “We now have that – and when this project is complete, I think everyone will agree it was worth the wait!”
The work will impact vehicular and pedestrian traffic near the project, especially during periodic delivery of building materials, said Bill Matteoli, the City’s Assistant Project Engineer. To help mitigate that impact:
  • About half a block (or 210 feet) of one-way East Pike Street will be reduced to one lane between the north-south alley and Madison. (The street currently splits into two lanes near Madison.)
  • Access will be blocked to the sidewalk and on-street parking on the south side of that same half block.
  • The sidewalk on Madison in front of the project area will be reduced from 15 feet wide to 5 feet wide, although it will be passable.
The City anticipates the façade restoration and exterior modifications will last throughout 2021 and extend into 2022, Matteoli said. “A project of this magnitude will take a long time,” he said.
The project was announced in December 2019 and interior demolition began the following January on its two buildings:
  • 614 Madison Ave., which recently housed Gateway Community & Technical College’s bookstore and administrative offices and before that a bank and a travel agency.
  • 19 E. Pike St, a much larger building that wraps around the bookstore on two sides with long frontage on both Pike Street and Madison Avenue. It housed the Covington branch of the YMCA until 1987, then later the state’s Family Service Office. It’s been vacant since 2015. 
The development team consists of the Salyers Group, creators of nearby Hotel Covington, and the related vR Group. Turner Construction is doing the work.
When complete, the complex will include a “bourbon distillery experience” that will serve as the northern trailhead for the Kentucky bourbon industry … about 60 VIP and Presidential suites serviced by staff and management of Hotel Covington … and 10,000 square feet of office space, according to the developers.
The development is projected to create over 100 jobs, not including potential office tenants. 

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