Monday, July 29, 2013

High-impact Covington projects represent 'longer view' of financing

Two high-impact development projects around Covington's Pike Street corridor were highlighted last Tuesday at the Artisans Enterprise Center.

The rehabilitation of the Pike Star Building at 112 W Pike Street into commercial and residential space and a building at Pike and W 8th streets into the 15-unit Market Lofts are the first two projects to utilize funding committed by the Catalytic Development Funding Corp. of Northern Kentucky (Catalytic Fund).

Established in 2008, the Catalytic Fund has assembled a $10 million revolving loan fund for real estate projects in the cities of Bellevue, Covington, Dayton, Ludlow, and Newport. Investors in the fund include PNC Bank, Central Bank, the Corporex Companies, Duke Energy, Fifth Third Bank, First Financial Bank, The Bank of Kentucky, U.S. Bank, the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

"We made it because 10 entities stepped up," said Catalytic Fund President Jeanne Schroer. "This commitment is significant. They are putting capital at risk and are taking a longer view on those risks. All of this willingness to take the longer view has paid off much sooner than expected."

According to Schroer, attempts to redevelop the Pike Star Building had been difficult due to lenders' skittishness in financing a project with un-leased commercial space. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation stepped in with a $703,000 loan and a tenant, tech start-up incubator UpTech, has been announced and will relocate from Newport in September.

Market Lofts, already under construction, is being developed by Kreutzjans and his company Orleans Development.

"These projects take a little extra help to make them happen," said Tony Kreutzjans, who is developing the project along with Marc Tischbein and the Center for Great Neighborhoods. "If it wasn't for the innovative thought leaders we have in the room, we wouldn't be where we're going to be in a couple of months.

"It's close to where everyone works, and the core," Tischbein said. "We have a lot of momentum going, and there's going to be more to come."

Schroer said that her organization looks at three things when selecting a funding opportunity – place, product, and people – and that these projects satisfy all three.

"This location in Covington is a great place," she said. "The project is just right. And, most importantly, the people developing these projects were the right people."

The two developments meet the goals of Vision 2015, the Covington Strategic Plan of 2007, and the Center City Action Plan of 2012,and will help create a "sense of place" in an area that often lacks it.

"This is what we need to do to make Covington the place to be," said Covington Mayor Sherry Carran. "It's [a sense of place] a little hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. We are very lucky to have Tony and Mark doing development in our city."

Previous reading on BC:
CDC Association honors community developers; U Square prominent (6/18/13)
Center for Great Neighborhoods to celebrate Schroer, city accomplishments (11/13/12)
LISC workshop to explore developing sustainable communities (9/25/12)
Covington shows off part of 14-site NSP redevelopment (7/30/12)
Third annual Covington Quest part race, part scavenger hunt (6/17/10)