When many developers had all but forgotten the inner city in favor of the growing suburbs, Corporex was different. In the 1980s, the growing company took a gamble on building RiverCenter, a first-class professional office space along the riverfront. Before RiverCenter, the area had all but been abandoned.
"On the site there was a two-story dilapidated motel building. We got involved and developed the first Class A office building in the city in about 100 years, and built the Embassy Suites hotel. There were a lot more subtle things that took place, too. We put the Metro Club
on top and brought the first private business club to the Kentucky side of the river. Initially, the membership was more than 60 percent from Ohio. We were able to attract business people from Ohio to the Kentucky side of the river, and that was certainly a first at that time," said Tom Banta, President and Chief Operating Officer for Corporex Realty & Investment.
The gamble paid off and was followed by Phase II RiverCenter development. The twin office towers brought restaurants and the Northern Kentucky Convention Center
to Covington's core. Even though Corporex didn't develop the convention center, the company lobbied to have it put in the city instead of the suburbs.
"The company, in effect, rested its future on this development. Had it completely failed, it could have been devastating to the company," Banta said.
Corporex was founded as The William P. Butler Construction Company in 1965. Since then it has developed more than 17 million square feet of Class A office and industrial space. Corporex has developed in more than 20 states.
The RiverCenter development attracted top investment in the city, which city officials continue to build on today. In the following years major corporations such as Ashland
have made a home in Covington. And the most recent RiverCenter development, the signature Ascent
luxury condos, has added a residential component to city's continuing redevelopment.
Banta said Corporex focuses on this area for a simple reason: "The suburban areas cannot survive unless they are around a healthy urban core. Covington and Newport had reached such a point of degradation that it threatened the growth of any suburban areas."
The company is set to do the same thing on a larger scale in pushing current redevelopment in Newport. The Ovation
mixed-use development is in the late planning process. It will be a $1 billion development at the Licking and Ohio Rivers. It's estimated to generate 6,700 jobs and $1.7 billion in economic impact.
"It's the only piece of river property unobstructed by bridges where you can get a view of downtown Cincinnati. We intend to make it a fully integrated development where people can live, work, shop and eat all in the same community," Banta said.
Writer: Feoshia Henderson
Source: Tom Banta, President and COO, Development and Real Estate Company