Covington's Madison Avenue is newly-lined with flower boxes. That's interesting because one of OTR’s first revitalization efforts back in 2001 was (you guessed it) flower boxes.
Sure, Covington is a fast-changing area of the Greater Tri-state and as such I’m required to compare it to OTR, at least once per article (good to get it out of the way early). But Covington is second-to-none in terms of unique restaurants, gorgeous architecture, and thriving businesses. It isn't on the verge of anything; it's already there, with much more to come.
So strap in, folks. We’re going to the place that put the ‘anti’ in Losantiville: the almightily Cov.
THAT SWEET, SWEET ARCHITECTURE
Those Second Empire houses are enough to make anyone go weak in the knees. Unfortunately many of them and their Italianate brethren fell into disrepair in the 20th Century as Covington hollowed out. But it's a new day in this urban core, and "redevelopment" is the name of the game.
As Covington has attracted corporate headquarters and tech startups to its riverside, it also began rehabbing its beautiful old buildings, which will in turn attract more businesses. That's what we call a positive feedback loop, and it bodes well for Covington's future.
FOOD N’ DRANK
Nothing makes a place more desirable than good food. As sure as I am of anything in life, I’m sure of that.
- Bouquet: Chic-but-casual bistro with elevated-but-affordable American fare
- Commonwealth Bistro: They use modern techniques to recreate historic Appalachian recipes with delicious results
- Inspirado: Multicultural restaurant serving French, Scottish, Irish, Hungarian, Thai, Malaysian, and American cuisine
- Kung Food’s Chu AmerAsia: Good-to-excellent Chinese food
- Lisse Steakhuis: Dutch flavors and techniques plied on the almighty boeuf
- Otto’s: Deservedly known for its Sunday Brunch, undeservedly unknown for its dinner menu
- Frida’s 602: Superb Mexican food with the addition of mezcal, which is like tequila, but better
- Coppin’s: The delectable restaurant at the impressive new Hotel Covington. You need to go.
- Wunderbar: A dive bar stocked with regulars that serves homemade sausage. All of those are good things.
et cetera, but you get the idea. Whether you’re in Mainstrasse or at Roebling point, there’s good grub everywhere. As for the libations:
- The Hannaford: Exceptional bar named for the local architect who designed its digs. Still has that new car smell, and it’s a Royce.
- The Globe: Flatbreads + cocktails + live music = customers. Checkmate.
- Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar: For bourbon enthusiasts and aspiring bourbon enthusiasts. So, everyone.
- Braxton Brewery: Good brews in a space that also serves as a community watering hole, Braxton was the initial catalyst for Madison Avenue redevelopment.
And that doesn't even cover the coffee shops and boutiques, not to mention Madison Theater and The Carnegie.
ABOUT THAT (RE)DEVELOPMENT
Covington is like anywhere else. Developers are doing what they do, making things happen, wielding their magical powers to make money appear from nowhere. (I was a liberal arts major, why do you ask?)
But they aren’t doing it alone. The Catalytic Fund is Northern Kentucky’s answer to what’s happening on Kentucky's side of the river. That is, it’s a private sector nonprofit company that provides gap financing for residential and commercial real-estate projects. Is that important? Yes, yes it is. A few projects in this (non-exhaustive) list attest to that.
- Duveneck Square: A massive four-story, mixed-use development whose first phase will bring 110 market-rate apartments and 5,000 sq. ft. of commercial space to a space near Braxton Brewery. It broke ground last month.
- John R. Green Lofts: A $38 million-dollar apartment project that will bring 180 apartments and 10,000 sq. ft. of commercial space to the heart of Mainstrasse.
- Boone Block: These historic buildings are rehabilitated high-end condos.
- 501 Main Street: The so-called “Gateway to Mainstrasse” will soon offer 187 apartments and perhaps more importantly a 314-space parking garage. This is a big ‘un.
- The Bradford Building: The plan is to create five condos with commercial space on the main floor at this long-vacant Covington staple.
THE WILL-THEY-OR-WON’T-THEY THING(S)
The Riverfront Commons was a grand plan launched nearly a decade ago that was intended to unite Kentucky’s five cities with a riverfront path. And while parts of Riverfront Commons exists, it hasn’t yet fully come together. It probably will, though, and Covingtonians will be the better for it.
Then there’s the Streetcar. Just when you thought it was over, right? But seriously, some groups in Northern Kentucky want one that connects to the Cincinnati Bell Connector. And now that I’ve lived the streetcar life for a few months, I can’t say I blame them. Will it ever happen? Yes. Will it happen soon? Voilá la question.
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Love a place in the Cov we didn't mention? (Because, let's face it, we didn't mention a lot.) Give us a holler in the Facebook comments.