One of the busiest areas of Covington in terms of foot traffic is near the intersection of Madison Avenue and Seventh Street, said Covington Economic Development Authority Executive Director Tom West.
Popular businesses such as Braxton Brewing, Hotel Covington, The Madison Event Center, Rich’s Proper, Agave & Rye, and The Well are some of Covington’s most popular destinations West said, drawing hundreds of visitors into the city center on any given weekend.
City officials, notably City Manager Ken Smith and West, have started to voice concerns about the condition of the pavement, sidewalks, and curbs and degraded landscaping along Seventh Street. They argue that for Covington to put their “best face forward” for tourists, prospective businesses, and future residents, the city must invest in improving its infrastructure in this area.
“This area of downtown has been bursting with private investment and energy, but our public infrastructure – both how it looks and how it functions – has not kept up,” Smith said.
Now, Covington is looking to address this issue. At a regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 24, the city commission awarded two separate contracts to Cincinnati-based Adleta Construction for improving the streetscape infrastructure from Madison Avenue between Eighth and 11th Streets and Seventh Street between Washington and Greenup Streets.
The scope of the work includes laying new sidewalks, rebuilding curbs, fixing underground utilities, resurfacing streets, building angled parking on Seventh Street, and installing new tree wells, signal poles, and street lights.
“Over the past several years we have seen the private sector make major investments along Seventh Street with popular spots like Rich’s Proper, Hotel Covington, Braxton Brewery, The Well, and others, so it is time for the city to complement that investment with a refresh of the streetscape and a reconfiguration of the parking,” West said. “This is our way of adding to the curb appeal in a district that is critical in our efforts to attract jobs and businesses to Covington.”
The bid for the Madison Avenue project is worth around $2.96 million, while the Seventh Street project is worth $3.33 million. 80% of the funds are coming from the federal Surface Transportation Program. The remaining 20% will come from Covington’s Tax Increment Financing budget, funded by future tax revenue growth. By law, the money is required to be spent on infrastructure.
Construction is set to kick off during the first week of December, Covington Public Works Director Keith Bales said in a press release. Work will begin on Seventh and Greenup streets and move west, followed by Madison and 11th.
Covington officials are banking that the investment will show that the city is serious about matching private investment in the area and hoping it will continue to advance the economic momentum already happening downtown.
Earlier this month, Bridges Nepali announced they would open a new location in the space formerly occupied by McK’s BBQ. Additionally, Del Gardo’s Cannoli Bar is moving into the space previously occupied by Pink Moon Boutique. Both businesses should hypothetically add to the volume of foot traffic around the Madison Avenue and Seventh Street intersection.