In 1997, the Commonwealth of Kentucky approved the construction of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center (NKCC) to be located along the Ohio River in Covington. This decision and the development around the NKCC served notice that both state and local leaders recognized the value of the Riverfront as one of the major assets to Northern Kentucky. For many years, population trends had seen an exodus from the urban core toward the suburbs. With a renewed vigor all of the cities along the Ohio began to envision their communities as a more vibrant place to live, work, and play.
The cities of Bellevue, Covington, and Newport realized that their individual successes would be enhanced by joining together for some key initiatives. This collaboration created a critical mass and the impetus for projects like: the Southbank Shuttle, the Purple People Bridge, Newport on the Levee, The World Peace Bell Center, and a host of others.
In early 2000, the leaders of Southbank envisioned an 11.5 mile walking and biking trail spanning the entire Ohio Riverfront. This bold initiative would connect from the city of Ludlow in the west, to the city of Ft. Thomas in the east and encouraged the membership of neighboring cities Dayton, Ft. Thomas, and Ludlow to become a part of Southbank.
Riverfront Commons is only one of the many projects of Southbank. There are a variety of both economic development and community development projects
Southbank continues to work on with each city’s elected officials and city administrations. This working relationship stemmed from the inter-local agreement, which represents a commitment on the part of all six river cities and two counties to ensure a more vital and vibrant urban core. Along with the strong public partnerships, Southbank also works diligently with the private sector to implement a redevelopment strategy for the Northern Kentucky riverfront.
Recently, Southbank released Imagination 2020, a vision for the next few years. That vision is already meeting with success as projects called for in the document begin to work toward fruition.