2009 a year of progress for Newport's center city

2009 was a busy year across the Cincinnati region, especially when the economic slowdown is considered. And Newport's center city this was no different.  New businesses, events, development, and neighborhood revitalization efforts filled out 2009 marking a year of progress.

Much of the progress can be seen by taking a walk along Monmouth Street from Newport on the Levee through the heart of Newport where 11 new businesses opened during the course of the year.

"It's been a challenging year but attitudes are looking up and people are still investing along Monmouth Street," said Bob Yoder, Newport's Main Street Coordinator.

Just down the street Newport's tallest tower, SouthShore, has risen 200-plus feet into the sky with luxury condominiums overlooking the Ohio River, Covington, Cincinnati and the surrounding rolling hills.

The historic river city saw more progress in its historic preservation efforts as well with the approval of the new Courthouse Square historic district that includes 22 buildings around the historic Campbell County Courthouse.

"As Newport continues to improve there are less buildings that need to be rehabbed," said Yoder who detailed a handful of rehabilitation projects currently underway.

The East Row Historic District was able to install new double-faced signs throughout the neighborhood, and four new bike racks were created and installed in City parks using iron fencing materials salvaged from historic properties.

2009 also set up Riverfront Commons for a spring 2010 groundbreaking that will create a new pedestrian and bicycle path along Riverboat Row thanks to a $727,000 federal grant.

And one of the most visible changes is taking place as the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky replaces its existing Southbank Shuttle buses with eight new vintage-looking trolley buses.  The switchover will allow the fleet to use the historic Roebling Suspension bridge with its new weight restrictions, and provide a more heritage feel for the many tourists and entertainment-goers that use the system to get to riverfront entertainment options in Cincinnati.

"To compete against the big box retailers and commercial outlets, downtown business districts must have businesses that people are passionate about and choose to go to over a big box store," explained Yoder.  "The businesses downtown have held strong, the quietness of a year ago is now gone and energy is really going up in the area."

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by David De Bol
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