Saturday, April 26, 2003

Developers get in line for Covington's riverfront



By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - High-rise luxury housing, retail sites and restaurants are some of the uses that three developers envision for Covington's last big stretch of undeveloped Ohio River frontage.

By Friday's deadline, Towne Properties of Mount Adams, Covington-based Corporex Cos. and Flaherty & Collins Properties of Indianapolis had submitted their qualifications for developing the 15-acre Riverfront West site. The grassy tract extends from the RiverCenter office towers to the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge. It is across the Ohio River from Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.

Covington officials also received a letter April 17 from Paul Hemmer Cos. of Fort Mitchell requesting an extension of Friday's deadline, City Manager Greg Jarvis said. He said City Solicitor Jay Fossett, would be consulted before officials decide.

"I think the three developers that have (submitted qualifications) are all qualified people,'' Mayor Butch Callery said Friday.

Callery said Economic Development Director Ella Frye and her staff will review the developers' qualifications and conduct interviews during the next month. He said it will likely be June before the staff presents its recommendation to Covington City Commission for approval.

Covington officials have said they envision a development of at least $200 million at the site. The packet given to developers indicated the city would like to see low- and mid-rise residential developments at Riverfront West for buyers with middle to upper incomes. The city also has expressed interest in commercial high-rise development, as well as a lower-level riverwalk, an upper public plaza and a garage for at least 1,800 cars.

Two of the companies gave a general indication of how they would develop the site.

Corporex Development and Construction Management Inc. said it envisioned a project consisting "largely of residential and retail/restaurant uses.''

"Rather than try to provide a specific master plan at this time, it would be Corporex's approach to work with the city and perhaps other developers and consultants to determine a specific scope for the project and then host a design competition,'' Corporex's submission said.

Corporex listed examples of nine hotel, business park and country club projects it has developed and/or been a construction manager for during the past three years, each totaling $20 million or more.

Flaherty & Collins Properties, which also has offices at RiverCenter in Covington, described its 10-year-old company as "one of the largest multifamily developers in the Midwest.''

The company cited more than 11,000 units of construction in six states.

"We believe there is market demand for a high-rise luxury residential development. ... Though our interest is in the residential component of Riverfront West, we are very open to working with other developers or a consortium who are interested in other elements of the project,'' Flaherty & Collins Properties said in its submission.

Towne Properties of Mount Adams cited four recent or ongoing residential or mixed-use projects in Cincinnati and Columbus, costing from $30 million to $115 million.

Towne Properties indicated it would work with Kinzelman Kline Gossman of Cincinnati, and Staubach Co. and RTKL, a firm headquartered in Maryland. Its submission said it would be premature to indicate its plans for Covington's riverfront before doing extensive market research and development of "a true master plan by the city.''

Covington officials have been trying to develop the site since 1995. One stumbling block has been securing the $20 million to $25 million for infrastructure improvements.

In March 2002, the city gave marketing study rights for six months to Riverfront West Associates, an affiliation of developer Jerry Carroll and Corporex Cos. The partnership did not act on its option within the allotted time.

E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com




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