In my opinion, Covington is the Brooklyn to Cincinnati’s Manhattan! Beyond the obvious connection of our respective cities being joined by iconic Roebling Suspension Bridges, Covington has, like Brooklyn, become the vibrant, hip, raw and refined alternative neighbor for those who want to enjoy the urban lifestyle.
Despite its recent aesthetic and appeal, Covington did not always have such a thriving reputation. In 1976, business development in surrounding communities drew away our crowds of shoppers, effectively shuttering our central business district. By 1979, the federal government declared Covington as the most economically depressed city in the United States. The trends continued to be unfavorable as suburban flight increased.
Amongst this gloom, intrepid urban redevelopment was occurring. Committed Covington residents like Covington Mayor Joe Meyer and State Rep. Arnold Simpson were at the vanguard of urban pioneering in the Seminary Square Neighborhood along Russell Street. The 1980s brought the beginning of revitalization in the Licking Riverside Drive Neighborhood, and the 1990s brought the Corporex redevelopment along the river.
Despite it all, Covington never lost its reputation as an entertainment mecca with discos, floating restaurants and bars, and the late Mick Noll’s dream child, the Mainstrasse Village. However, by the early 2000s, Covington had slipped yet again, marred by its financial burdens and business decline.
After nearly a decade, the city’s direction changed under new and determined leadership of Covington’s “Accidental Mayor” Chuck Scheper and the Unified Commission of 2011-2012. After thorough review of the finances, we diagnosed that the city had failed to reinvest adequately in its infrastructure, running up a $35 million deferred maintenance bill. To combat this, the city brought in management consultants and reengineered how the city operates, ultimately cutting 20 percent out of the city’s operating budget, which was then reinvested back into our business district. Ultimately this freed up cash flow to support major urban revitalization throughout Covington’s downtown and 19 neighborhoods. Everywhere you look you will see new sidewalks, levees, underground utilities and a new Riverfront Park that’s ready to break ground later this year. We’ve rebuilt and remodeled our greenspaces with major trails opening along the Licking River and Devou Park and added many amenities to both Goebel and Randolph Park.
Thanks to these efforts, combined with fiscal prudence and a big assist from the Catalytic Fund, Covington’s version of Cincinnati’s 3CDC, the results have been spectacular. If you haven’t been to downtown Covington in a while, it is changing before your eyes. The crowds you will see each night testify to a growing downtown. From new luxury apartment complexes and hotels to restaurants, microbreweries and bars, Covington has something to offer for everyone. New neighborhoods are continuously developing and young families are returning to existing neighborhoods such as Orchard Park, Mainstrasse, Westside and our revitalized downtown. After living here for 12 years, my wife Nancy, and I, couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Come join us!
Steven L. Frank is a senior vice president - Investments of Wells Fargo Advisors. He was previously vice mayor of the City of Covington from 2010 to 2016. He’s on the board of directors of the Gateway Community & Technical College’s Foundation and is a past president of the Estate Planning Council of NKY. CLICK HERE to learn more about Steven L. Frank. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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