by Michael Monks | River City News
The large building known simply as 501 Main, which has sat vacant at the corner of 5th & Main Streets in Covington for years, is closer to a new life.
Or, the site is anyway. Flaherty & Collins Properties, the Indianapolis-based development firm will raze the structure and construct one or two new buildings that will house up to 200 high end apartments on the upper floors and commercial retail space on the street level.
The prized site is at the northern entrance of Mainstrasse Village and residents from the neighborhood and entertainment district came to City Hall on Wednesday to listen to the developers intentions.
“The first step is to figure out what the site is,” said Geoff Milz, economic development manager for the City of Covington. Milz said that the site – which also includes the main public parking lot that serves Mainstrasse – is “interesting” because there is a sliver of the parking lot that belongs to the owners of Smith Muffler, which sits across 5th Street to the north. So far, the developers have been unsuccessful in negotiating a purchase.
That won’t stop the development, though.
“We have had our sights on it for more than ten years. I’m surprised it hasn’t been developed,” said Deron Kintner of Flaherty & Collins Properties. He said his company specializes in urban infill developments. “The Village is already a great retail market, so we’re not looking to compete with that.” He said the retail component of the development would complement the existing retailers in the neighborhood.
“Our history goes back to this site in 2003 and we’ve had our eye on it and wanted to develop it for a long time,” said David Flaherty, CEO of Flaherty & Collins Properties, in a news release earlier this year. “We’ve got a lot of good ideas.” The ultimate idea will “make a real statement for downtown Covington,” he said. “And we hope this is the first of many developments we can do here in your city.” According to the firm’s website, Flaherty & Collins Properties has developed a high-rise luxury residential tower in Indianapolis, a market rate apartment building in St. Paul, and a variety of mixed-use suburban projects across the Midwest.
Milz explained to the residents in attendance that the City of Covington – which purchased the building in 2005 from Kenton County in an effort to stop a health clinic from opening – has entered into a “preferred developer agreement” with Flaherty & Collins Properties. In this phase, the firm will create a development plan and then return to City Hall to present it before a “development agreement” is reached.