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Covington Hopes Unveiling Of IRS Building Designs Will Keep City's Momentum Going

covington irs center
Tom Uhlman
Covington's IRS paper filing processing center opened in 1967. Fifty-two years later, the IRS announced it would shutter the facility due to an increase in electronic filings.

The city of Covington wants to hear residents' opinions on the future of the Internal Revenue Service facility.

Three conceptual plans will be unveiled at an event Thursday night. David Johnston is the city manager. He says the space is one of the first projects where they are creating from scratch. "It's always been, 'Well this old building could have retail on the first two floors and maybe 8-10 residential units above,' " he says.

The IRS was one of the biggest employers in the city. The Covington facility opened in 1967 to process paper tax filings, according to the IRS. In 2016, the IRS announced the increase in online submissions reduced the number of paper filings and that the campus would close this year. The facility currently employees 535 people.

The future of the employees range from retirement, continuing positions with the IRS and looking for new jobs elsewhere.

Johnston says the city hopes a new employer will occupy the 23-acre site and offer middle- to high-level positions.

Officials say they hope the space can ride the momentum of the city's redevelopment. Johnston says the new challenge is maintaining the city's older features and long-term residents while encouraging new opportunities for growth.

Restaurant owner Ryan Kassis says he will attend Thursday's event to figure out what the repurposing means for his business across the street, Nick and Tony's Double Decker. "We're seeing less foot traffic. Most of our business is at lunch," he says. "So, we are seeing a little decrease. Probably 20%."

The IRS says 1,862 employees worked at the site in 2016.

Johnston says the city will lose roughly $450,000-$600,000 in payroll, making the transition for a new business important for the future of the city and surrounding businesses.

The last day for IRS employees is Sept. 28 and the building will be in new ownership on Dec. 31, according to the IRS.

Potential designs for the space will be unveiled in the Commission Chambers at City Hall. The event will allow attendees to give feedback on the design and function of the new building.