2012 - A Year in Review

Posted on Thursday, January 5, 2012 by in Newsletters
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Southbank Partners would like to take this opportunity to wish all a Happy New Year while reflecting back on the successes, event, projects and plans of 2012.

Riverfront Commons

Planning and engineering continues on Riverfront Commons, the proposed11-mile, uninterrupted walkway/bikeway/pathway that would extend from Ludlow to Fort Thomas and link all of the Southbank cities.

Work on segments of the trial will begin in the spring.

MAC Productions Inc., a Northern Kentucky event and video production company that has long been active with Southbank, has produced an oustanding video on the Riverfront Commons project.

View the video here:

Imagination 2020

In November Southbank Partners formally unveiled its visionary and forward-thinking Imagination 2020 plan, an economic development plan for the Southbank cities that covers 11 miles of Northern Kentucky Ohio Riverfront.

"Imagination 2020 will serve as a roadmap for economic development in the Southbank cities," said Southbank President Jack Moreland. "This is a plan that will focus on land use, preserving open space, connecting neighborhood districts, creating housing opportunities, bolstering transportation and infrastructure, developing entertainment and cultural areas and improving the livability, walkability and commerce of the area."

To view the plan, see the attached document below.

Imagination 2020 is designed to assist in facilitating and realizing major new projects in the Southbank cities that include:

  • Riverfront Commons, a planned 11-mile, uninterrupted walkway/bikeway/pathway that would extend from Ludlow to Fort Thomas and link all of the Southbank cities.
  • Creation of urban villages in Covington's Fifth Street area and along Rivera Drive in Bellevue and mixed-use developments along the Ludlow and Dayton riverfronts.
  • Expansion of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center and creation of the Gateway Community and Technical College Urban Campus, both in Covington.
  • The Ky Route 9/Licking Pike extension in Newport, which will improve north-south traffic flows and augment riverfront development sites, including the Ovation site at the confluence of the Licking and Ohio rivers in Newport.
  • Promoting the development of the Ludlow Lagoon site for recreational activities, including sports fields, open spaces, walking/hiking trails and an arboretum.
  • Manhattan Harbor, a 100-acre riverfront site in Dayton that can accommodate a mixture of residential and commercial uses.
  • Improving and promoting the neighborhood business districts and developing riverfront and neighborhood housing in all of the Southbank cities.
  • To assist in creating the Imagination 2020 plan, Southbank hired Marshall Slagle, whose career as a professional planner spans nearly 50 years. Slagle worked with Southbank’s member cities and volunteers on crafting the Southbank Imagination 2020 Plan, which took more than a year to develop.

Purple People Bridge study

In October, Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson traveled to Newport to announce a $650,000 Kentucky Transportation Cabinet grant for an engineering study that will determine if the historic Purple People Bridge can structurally support a $100 million entertainment complex proposed by a Cincinnati development company. The grant was formally received by Wally Pagan, president of the Newport Southbank Bridge Co.

Southbank Partners supported the grant, which was secured by Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder.

“This project will provide jobs and investment and attract tourism and vistitors to the region,” Rep. Keene said.

In late December Newport has selected Stantec Services Inc., a Canada-based firm with offices in Lexington and Cincinnati, to study the structural integrity of the 116-year-old pedestrian span and whether it could support the proposed development.

“The motivating factor is just finding out how secure this bridge is,” Newport City Manager Tom Fromme told The Kentucky Enquirer. “This is a long-term investment for the whole region. It’s a symbolic connection between Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, and half a million people a year walk across the bridge.”

Developers Day

In Septmber Southbank Partners worked in with the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Northern Kentucky Tri-ED, the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, and the Catalytic Fund, to host the 2012 Southbank Developers' Day Program. The program highlighted projects and development opportunities in Southbank’s six member cities: Bellevue, Covington, Dayton, Ft. Thomas, Ludlow and Newport.

As a part of the Developers Day, Southbank joined the other event sponsors in hosting a joint session of the Kentucky Senate and House of Representatives Appropriation and Revenue Committees. During the A&R Committee's meeting, local institutions and organizations – including The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, The Catalytic Fund, The Northern Kentucky Convention Center and Tri-ED - presented selected projects that would benefit and enhance our River Cities.

The day’s events were held at The Newport Aquarium. B&B Riverboats hosted a tour of the Southbank cities on the Ohio River that was, unfortunately, cut short by a torrential downpour.

“Our Developers' Day provided a grand opportunity to showcase how special our urban core is and more importantly what it could be with imagination and foresight,” Moreland said.

The night prior to Developers Day, The Northern Kentucky Convention Center hosted state legislators, local officials and others at a Cincinnati Reds game.

Riverfront restoration

Southbank Partners worked closely with the Kentucky House of Representatives, the cities of Newport and Bellevue, SD1 and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet on securing $1.8 million to repair a storm water culvert along the Ohio River on the Newport/Bellevue city line.

The shoreline had eroded due to stormwater overflows from a large culvert on the river. The project will reclaim part of the shoreline and covert it into green space and eventually become a part of Soukthbank’s proposed $80 million, 11.5 mile Riverfront Commons walking and biking trail.

World Choir Games art show

During the 2012 World Choir games in July Southbank Partners and the Malton Gallery presented Humanity Outpost, a sculptural celebration of Peace and Humanity at the World Peace Bell in Newport.

The Humanity Outpost celebration was a venue creating a series of cultural events. Events encompassed art, music, and performance featuring local, regional and international talent. The event received Citations from Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, the Kentucky House of Representatives, thanks to Rep. Keene, and the Kentucky State Sen., thanks to former state Sen. Jack Westwood of Erlanger.

The event was kicked off on July 1 with a keynote address by Secretary of the Kentucky Education Cabinet, Joe Meyer, a Covington native and resident.

Presentations were also done by Wayne Carlisle, Newport City Manager, Tom Fromme, Malton Gallery owner Sylvia Rombis and Artist Ed Casagrande.

Mark Macomber was responsible for all the individual bands and singers that performed throughout the event.

“We had everything from bluegrass to world music,” Moreland said. “We were honored to have three World Choir Games concerts from Canada, China and The Columbus Children's Choir. Their performances were awesome. They packed the house on what was one of the hottest if not the hottest days of summer.”

Southbank City Highlights


  • The city and the Bellevue Renaissance committee continued to attract new businesses, visitors and consumers through its successful Shop Bellevue promotion, including the popular First Friday events.
  • The Nth Degree, the micro bourbon distillery being developed by The Party Source, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013.
  • The Bellevue Kroger store reopened in October after being closed for four months for a major renovation.
  • Covington

  • The Salyers Group, a Covington-based real estate investment company, today announced plans to develop a $25 million destination luxury boutique hotel in downtown Covington in a building that now serves as Covington City Hall.
  • The Salyers Group will partner the Aparium Hotel Group of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which has developed luxury boutique hotels in other cities, to renovate the 102-year-old Coppin Department Store Building into a 77,760-square-foot hotel. The hotel will have 107 luxury rooms and feature a signature restaurant and bar on its first floor. Covington is currently exploring new locations for City Hall.
  • Gateway Community and Technical College released details of its plan to develop an $80 million Urban Campus in downtown Covington.
  • The city created a tax-increment financing district, known as a TIF, to spur development along the Ohio River and in downtown Covington.


  • The city produced a high-quality video to promote the Manhattan Harbour project to prospective developers and investors.
  • City leaders are in discussions regarding development of a new riverfront city park.
  • In a move to protect home values and neighborhoods, Dayton purchased and demolished several vacant, deteriorating foreclosed homes.

Fort Thomas

  • The revitalization of the Midway Business continued with the openings, renovations and expansions of new and existing retailers and businesses.
  • The city is working with the U.S. Veterans Administration on a plan to sell the historic but vacant military homes in Tower Park.
  • The city of Fort Thomas is applying for a Recreational Trails Program grant to improve and extend the trail system through Highland Hills Park. The overall goal is to make the trails more accessible for the public to use and provide more connectivity to the various amenities within the park and to an adjacent residential neighborhood.


  • The city launched a new website, www.ludlow.org.
  • The city authorized development of “Strategic Plan for Economic Development and Communications” The plan can be viewed on the city’s website, www.ludlow.org.
  • Ludlow is seeking a Brownfields Hazardous Substances Cleanup grant in the amount of $200,000 from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the former Barker Fine Colors building at 38 Elm Street, Ludlow, KY. If awarded, the City will use grant funds to conduct cleanup of hazardous substances at the property


  • Cincinnati-based Towne Properties, one of the region’s most successful and award-winning residential development and property management companies, has announced plans to build premier apartments on Monmouth Street between Fifth and Fourth streets in downtown Newport. Ground breaking on the $10 million project is scheduled for early 2013
  • Ground was also broken on Vue 180, a $15.6 million, 93-unit apartment high rise being built adjacent to the SouthShore Condominium Tower. The project is being built by Capital Investment Group of Cincinnati, which developed the SouthShore condo tower.
  • New retailers and restaurants, including Chick-fil-A, will open at the Newport Pavilion retail center during 2013.