‘Who is Park Hills?’: City weighs branding opportunities

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A hearty round table discussion at the Park Hills Economic Development Committee meeting this week centered on branding ideas for Park Hills’ identity.

Part of an ongoing discussion in partnership with the Planning and Development Services (PDS) of Kenton County, the committee brainstormed with the question of “Who is Park Hills?” in mind. 

Council Member Sarah Froelich said having an idea of what identity Park Hills wants to project will help offer a decision-making framework for future planning and development purposes. 

For instance, as Mayor Kathy Zembrodt mentioned, does the city want their businesses to have the same physical look, such as a unified, more historical-looking facade on the storefronts? Or perhaps, as Froelich pondered, a more bohemian vibe with outdoor furniture?

PDS is in the process of analyzing and updating Kenton County zoning ordinances, which currently are 30 years old and show weakness in meeting current day needs. Using Tax Increment Financing (TIF), where tax income can be diverted to invest in participating city’s infrastructure and business district development, the project, in part, hopes to “create a user/business-friendly zoning ordinance that will avoid legal pitfalls.” 

This could be a significant boon to cities like Park Hills, which desire to make their business districts more robust, visible, and united with the larger community.

However, the aim for Park Hills is not to rush into increasing property values, Froelich pointed out. That could drive out entrepreneurs. The mission, rather, is to create compelling change for the city and attract both residents and newcomers to the business district. 

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“We are a village; humble, polite, honest,” one meeting participant said. Another mentioned how Park Hills values history, is walkable and is accessible to many other locales.

“It is a quiet, peaceful place to live,” a resident noted during a segment asking, “Who is Park Hills?” The sentiment that Park Hills should be a city that aims to expand the business district without becoming congested, busy, or inconsistent with Park Hills’s historical roots was affirmed by several meeting participants.

The group also agreed upon wanting businesses to stand out and have the city resources they need to grow and prosper. 

The Economic Development Committee is nowhere near bringing a plan proposal to council but is in the review phase. 

“This is a conversation we’ve been needing to have for so long,” Froelich pointed out. The tension around differing ideas for how the city should grow and change “drives design because it helps you sort out what works or not.” 

Future Economic Development Committee meetings plan to have continued discussions about branding, along with talks with PDS about TIF districts and design standards, and visiting local businesses for input.

Find information about future Park Hills meetings at parkhillsky.net.

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