Thursday, March 29, 2001

Fidelity considers Covington expansion

Company says road proposal key to plans

By Patrick Crowley and Cliff Peale
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        TAYLOR MILL — Construction of a road in Kenton County could lead to an expansion by Fidelity Investments at its south Covington office campus.

        Fidelity officials are considering a new 350,000-square-foot office building where up to 1,500 new employees would work in the company's 401(k) individual retirement account division.

        Dan Tobergte, senior vice president with Northern Kentucky Tri-ED, the region's economic development agency, told Taylor Mill City Commissioners Wednesday night that the project hinges on construction of a state road leading to Fidelity's campus.

        Mr. Tobergte is attempting to get letters of support for the road from Covington, Kenton County and two cities near the Fidelity operation — Taylor Mill and Fort Wright.

        Those letters will be taken to Gov. Paul Patton and state transportation officials. The price of the 1.3-mile road has not been released.

        Mr. Tobergte said support for the project from local communities will help it win approval from state officials.

        Taylor Mill commissioners agreed to hold a special meeting April 10 at 7 p.m. at the city building so residents can learn more about the project. Commissioners may vote at that meeting on whether to support the road.

        Five years ago, an access road to Fidelity was proposed by the state, but the project would have forced the demolition of homes on West Grand Avenue in Taylor Mill.

        The state withdrew those plans after residents on West Grand protested.

        The latest road plan does not take any homes on West Grand but it does come about 175 feet from it.

        That's too close for Taylor Mill Commissioner Bob Haake.

        “I'm not in support of anything that is that close to homes in Taylor Mill,” Mr. Haake said.

        Fort Wright Council has also expressed concerns about increased traffic on Madison Pike and Highland Avenue, said City Administrator Larry Kleine.

        Fort Wright council discussed the project at its Wednesday night meeting but also held off voting on whether to support it.

        The new Fidelity employees would have an average salary of about $50,000 a year, Mr. Tobergte said. Fidelity has not said how much it plans to invest in the project. It will make a final decision on the project by mid-summer, he said.

        The company will seek tax incentives from the state if the decision is made to build the office building, Mr. Tobergte said.

        Two 150,000-square-foot office buildings and a print/mail facility that is being expanded now occupy the site.

        Fidelity's Midwest regional headquarters is atop a hill along Interstate 275 between Ky. 16 and 17, state routes known respectively as Taylor Mill Road and Madison Pike.

        The campus now has just one access road. It is on the east side of the complex off of Taylor Mill Road between I-275 and Latonia.

        The new road would built on the northwest side of the campus. It would run from the intersection of Highland Avenue and Madison Pike through a vacant wooded area, over Banklick Creek and then link with Howard Litzler Road, an east/west route that is just north of Fidelity's campus and links Taylor Mill Road and Madison Pike.

        The road would give Fidelity employees, emergency vehicles and other traffic to the company's office campus a badly needed second access route, said Kenton County Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd.

        “Right now the traffic backs up on Taylor Mill Road at peak times, and there really needs to be a second road into Fidelity,” Mr. Murgatroyd said.

        Mr. Tobergte told Taylor Mill officials that Tri-ED, the county and Covington would work to ensure that state money earmarked to improve Taylor Mill Road would not be diverted for the Fidelity project.

        Fidelity employs 4,200 people in Greater Cincinnati, including nearly 2,800 at the main campus, about 1,000 in a Covington riverfront office building, about 300 in a building near the airport in Hebron and about 1,000 in Blue Ash.

        This summer, it will start to fill more space in the Madison Place office building on the river in Covington. Those workers eventually will move back to the main campus in south Covington, said Paul Smith, site general manager of Fidelity's main campus.


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