Goal for Central Riverfront site: ‘Right developers doing the right projects’

A conceptual rendering of the Covington Central Riverfront project.

Firm to help City sub-divide parcels, create marketing strategy

 COVINGTON, Ky. – The mostly behind-the-scenes work to prepare the 23-acre former IRS site downtown for private development is continuing on simultaneous fronts.

Even as a team of architects and engineers are immersed in designing the street grid, utilities, parking, and other public infrastructure that will go on the now-cleared site owned by the City of Covington, the City has hired BusinessFlare Economic Development Solutions to help it prepare a marketing strategy, identify developers, and subdivide the site.

There is no lack of interest in the site, now known as the Covington Central Riverfront, with 35 to 40 out-of-town developers and 10 to 15 local developers already reaching out to the City, Economic Development Director Tom West said.

“But we want to make sure we have the right developers doing the right kinds of projects – not just a lot of people who’ve contacted us saying they’d like to have a piece of this site,” West said. “Furthermore, we want to figure out the best way to divide and position these parcels to best effect, and then how to market those.”

The Covington Board of Commissioners approved a contract with BusinessFlare on Jan. 24 after the City sent out a public request for proposals. BusinessFlare will help the City in five areas:

  • Marketing, including messaging, the communications tools, and tailored strategies for selling various parcels.
  • Policy guidance, including on the use of incentives and negotiating strategies.
  • Subdividing the site.
  • Developing marketing materials.
  • Oversight of the initial appraisals of the parcels.

The work will take about 12 weeks, West said.

BusinessFlare joins the Catalytic Fund as consultants working on the opportunity. The Catalytic Fund is developing financial models for several types of projects to attract smaller local developers. The use of outside expertise is particularly important given the diverse proposed uses for the property – including office, retail, hotel, housing, and recreation – and the City’s desire to create a neighborhood-like “feel.” The City will secure multiple developers who will work on the site in stages, rather than a single, master developer.

“We want the best deal for the citizens of Covington so we end up with the right kind of development, not just the fastest or easiest or the shiniest object,” West said.  

BusinessFlare said it looked forward to working on the project.

“We recognize the magnitude of importance that this redevelopment means to the future of Covingtonians,” said Kevin Crowder, founder of BusinessFlare. “This large riverfront site under City control presents an opportunity to change how the world views Covington, and the right development will attract additional investment and jobs throughout the City.”

About the project

The site, located just west of Madison Avenue and north of Fourth Street, was once home to a sprawling IRS tax-processing facility. The facility closed in 2019, the City bought the site in 2020, and the building was demolished in 2022.

Architectural firm KZF Design Inc. is leading a team engineering the “horizontal infrastructure.”

More information about the project can be found on the City’s website at Covington Central Riverfront Development.