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Thursday, March 15, 2012


by Michael Monks 
Brad Segal talks BIDs
Covington's Center City Action Plan, the so-called plan of plans that will lead the revitalization of Downtown, is just two months away from completion. But before the final recommendations can be rolled out, the team charged with developing the CCAP was back in Covington Wednesday for a day-long set of meetings and public presentations to gain final input from the public. Though there was little presented Wednesday that was not already presented during Progressive Urban Management Associates's visit in February, some of the renderings, mostly by UC students studying the plan, of what Covington could look like were stunning. 

Changes were also made to PUMA's second project for Covington: studying the feasibility of a proposed Business Improvement District. After seemingly encouraging one BID for all of Downtown and Mainstrasse in February, it now seemingly suggests the possibility of two separate BIDs: one for Downtown and one for Mainstrasse. "Mainstrasse already has a pretty vital business area but they are more interested in promotion whereas the Madison corridor is interested in economic development and filling storefronts," said Brad Segal, President of PUMA. What would need to be worked out still is whether the separate districts would share a governing body. In any case, if a BID is to be set up anywhere in Covington next year, the petition process has to start immediately.
What is a BID? Click here
For background on the CCAP click here.
Additionally, Segal met Wednesday afternoon with several Covington organizations that have roles to play in Downtown's future including Renaissance Covington, Covington Business Council, the Catalytic Development Fund, the Center for Great Neighborhoods, and others. Segal said that each organization seemed receptive to how they can all work more effectively together for the future of the urban core. 
Learning specific goals for the CCAP
And what an urban core it would be if some of the pie-in-the-sky ideas dreamed up by PUMA's partners and students at the University of Cincinnati were to come to fruition! A big, bright Hollywood-inspired Covington sign placed atop an old railroad bridge, an overhead cable car system from Downtown to Devou Park, a promenade through Philadelphia Street from Mainstrasse to the river that culminates in an overlook and river trails, and two greener, more user-friendly public squares, one at Roebling Point and another near the Cathedral, all highlighted an ambitious set of plans. 
In order for most of it to work a new focus on public-private partnerships must be nurtured, Segal said. Other recommendations from PUMA were welcome news for Covington because the City is already moving in those directions: streamline contacts for prospective businesses, create a stronger marketing strategy to fill storefronts, and enhance the parking experience for visitors and stakeholders. The strongest recommendation however is one Covington has not been able to embrace in the past: build upon the existing strengths and work toward connecting them. 
PUMA returns to roll out its final plan in May.
Some of these ideas are more possible than others either because of time, interest, or funding. Most of them are the imagination of UC students used to inspire creative thought for Covington's future:
When visitors are at the riverfront
hotels, they need to be able to see the city
and where to go for entertainment

So the suggestion is to link the
riverfront with the Madison corridor
more directly, by developing mixed-use
buildings where the IRS parking lot sits

Commercial development proposed in the
"fast food district" around the north end
of Philadelphia Street. A promenade from
Mainstrasse to the river would be in the middle.

Click this photo and the one below to
enlarge and read one student's idea
for what to do with the old Duro Bag site

Artists rendering of Cathedral Square

Sure beats a Walgreen's!

One big dreamer envisions a cable car system
that would take us to Devou Park

Embrace existing infrastructure! How about
a COVINGTON sign on a railroad bridge?

The one aesthetic and construction project
that should happen ASAP is around
Roebling Point. The old Jail would be razed
and replaced by lower-rise building surrounded by
more walkable streets and greenspace. The old Barton's would
be redeveloped to create a gathering spot. This location is
crucial because of its burgeoning business district and the
pending arrival of Gateway College's urban campus 

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