Former Hellmann Lumber site starts journey to becoming a creative placemaking hub

On Sept. 17, Covington’s Center for Great Neighborhoods will hold a groundbreaking event for its newest venture, the Hellmann Creative Center. The placemaking hub will be the new home of CGN and offer community meeting and event space as well as leasable artist studios.
The project is expected to take about nine months, and CGN hopes to move into its new space early next summer.
The 13,800-square-foot project is on the site of the former Hellmann Lumber Mill, which has been vacant since 2005. The Commonwealth of Kentucky preserved the building during the widening of State Route 1120/MLK/12th Street.
“CGN is renovating the former Hellmann Lumber Mill as part of a multi-year effort to help revitalize the MLK corridor,” says Rachel Hastings, the organization’s director of neighborhood and housing initiatives. “The street suffered significant disinvestment while the widening project, which eventually razed most of the buildings on the south side of the street, was proposed but not implemented for 25 years. Now that the widening is complete, CGN and neighborhood residents are working to bring small businesses and energy back to the corridor.”
CGN received a $1.5 million multi-year grant from The Kresge Foundation as part of its creative placemaking initiative, $500,000 of which was designated for the Hellmann project. The remaining funds will be used to integrate arts and culture into neighborhood revitalization activities. CGN also received a number of grants from local foundations, including the Haile Foundation, Mayerson Foundation, Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the Duke Energy Urban Revitalization Initiative to help fund the $2.2 million project.
The Hellmann Creative Center will help make CGN more visible in Covington, providing the organization with a home in a prominent building on one of the city’s main thoroughfares. As part of the relocation process, CGN underwent a branding overhaul to allow staff members and community partners to better describe the organization’s mission for community change. BLDG redesigned the branding, funded in part by The Kresge Foundation and LISC.
Since 1976, CGN has helped strengthen Covington as a whole through creative placemaking programs, community organizing events, leadership development, housing development, youth engagement and financial education. CGN equips residents with the tools to discover and develop and gives access to resources that help develop the city.
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Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.