KZF to lead team designing infrastructure on 23-acre former IRS site

O’Rourke Wrecking continues to demolish the 17-acre former IRS “Flat Top” located less than a block south of the Ohio River.

COVINGTON, Ky. – KZF Design Inc. will lead the team of architects, engineers, urban planners, and consultants whose drawings will lay the foundation for public infrastructure that will ready the 23-acre former IRS site for private development. 

The Cincinnati-based design firm was selected by the Covington Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night from a list of five companies who responded to a request for proposals this spring.

KZF will work with 11 partner firms to design the so-called horizontal infrastructure, which includes restoration of a street grid that was erased in the 1960s when the City assembled 161 parcels and sold the site to the federal government for $1. Other infrastructure includes sidewalks, water lines, sanitary and storm sewers, gas and electric, telecommunications, and an 1,100-space parking garage.

KZF will also work with City officials to subdivide the site into parcels to be marketed for development.

“We have an exciting vision for this site, and the charge of translating those concepts into a physical foundation now falls to KZF,” Mayor Joe Meyer said. “What a great way to end this fiscal year.”

Under a rough timeline for what’s formally called the Covington Central Riverfront Development, the design for the public infrastructure will be finished in time for site construction to begin in spring 2023. It’s to be finished in autumn 2025.

Meanwhile, O’Rourke Wrecking has been working since April to demolish the buildings and parking lots on the site. Demolition will be completed by the end of September.

KZF officials said they couldn’t wait to get started.

“The KZF Design team is excited to be part of this transformational project for Covington,” Chief Strategic Officer Tim Sharp said. “We look forward to rolling up our sleeves to help keep the City’s momentum moving ahead.”

An official with J.S. Held, the company hired by the City to manage and coordinate the project’s budget, schedule, construction, and other issues, called KZF’s selection a big step forward.

“O'Rourke has made great progress with demolition – and with the building removed, everyone can see the full potential of the site,” Assistant Vice President Bo Hubbard said. “The infrastructure design phase is an exciting next step forward.”

About $1.8 million of the roughly $2.25 million design contract will be paid with a federal grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, with the remainder coming from a bond issue approved by the City in May 2020.

About the project

The IRS data-processing center was once Covington’s largest employer, but the federal government closed the facility in 2019.

The City purchased the site and hired Atlanta-based global architecture and design firm Cooper Carry to help it create a conceptual master plan based on Covington’s needs, a market review, and extensive public engagement. The plan calls for a mix of land uses, including office space, a hotel, apartments and condominiums; a restored street grid; the possible expansion of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center; and parking garages, a public plaza, and a levee park.

The bulk of the site sits just west of Madison Avenue and north of Fourth Street, a block south of the Ohio River.


To learn more, see the City’s website at Covington Central Riverfront Development.

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