Fort Thomas Highland Plaza under new ownership for first time since 1960s

Haley Parnell
Haley Parnell
Haley is a reporter for LINK nky. Email her at [email protected]

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After decades under the same owners, Highland Plaza, located at 654 Highlands Ave. in Fort Thomas, is under new ownership.

Fort Thomas business partners Brent Gilman and Matt Mansfield of Tower Homes acquired the property on Jan. 6 from Hank Pogue, president of Fort Thomas Enterprises Inc., whose father purchased the property in 1964.

In 1977, Fort Thomas Enterprises Inc. took over for a Cincinnati developer who built the Marketplace on the property and has been in ownership of the plaza since.

“Our company had been considering the sale of the property after over 50 years of ownership, and it made sense to sell at this time so a new owner could make needed updates to the recently vacated, popular Cobblestone Café space, and begin ownership of the plaza with a new café tenant,” Pogue said.

The plaza, which housed the famous Cobblestone Café until its closure in August last year, is one of the largest development complexes in Fort Thomas.

“I think it’s important that somebody carries on the legacy from the Pogue family and be able to add some life to it,” Gilman said. “We have a couple of vacancies we got to fill in. But we’re committed to making it better and, hopefully, make something great for the community.”

Gilman said it is an important piece of real estate in the city.

“I think we have 60-plus parking spaces, which is incredibly difficult to find in Fort Thomas,” Gilman said. “So, it is a big deal. It’s a neighborhood center. I think, in the beginning, it was all retail, with a couple of restaurants. It’s walkable for a lot of people.”

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Cobblestone Café’s building is one of the vacancies Gilman said they are looking to fill, in addition to an office space. He said they have had multiple tenants interested in the café’s old spot and should have a decision made as to who will fill it by the end of this week.

“We’ve already started the demolition work in there just to kind of take out some of the old and prepare for the new build out whomever it is that’s going in,” Gilman said. “Hopefully, by the end of this week, we will be able to come to terms with somebody … I think we’re very close.”

Gilman said getting a new tenant into the space is the top priority because the foot traffic is important for the retail component in the back of the plaza.

Pogue said his company had made a lot of changes to the property over the years, from an all-retail space when it was known as the Marketplace, to a mix of retail and office space.

He said the café space was originally operated as a bakery in the Marketplace, and then they converted the space to a deli known as The Cutting Board, and the past 17 years it has been the Cobblestone Café.

Other businesses located in the plaza include:

  • Hair Taylor’s
  • MAH CPA and Advisors LLC
  • HMAC Heating and Cooling Inc.
  • Diamonds and Dimples
  • Fort Thomas Therapeutic Massage
  • Dittrich and Associates
  • Gannett Publishing
  • Monera Chic Boutique
  • Faded Finds
  • Alterations By Francis

Gilman said the next phase would come after the winter when they will begin façade repairs. He said they have no plans for the current tenants and are happy to have them in the complex.

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Pogue said that Highlands Plaza is in good hands with its new ownership.

“The buyers are Fort Thomas residents and are very experienced real estate businessmen who know the Fort Thomas market and have the expertise to take over and make updates to the property,” Pogue said. “Our company appreciates the relationships we have had with our tenants over the years and the support of the community and city of Fort Thomas.”

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