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A Last Look Inside Covington's IRS Building Before It's Demolished

Ann Thompson
Covington City Manager David Johnston and Communications Manager Dan Hassert look at the massive vacant space once occupied by the IRS for 52 years.

The IRS building hasn't even been demolished and already Covington is getting calls from regional and national developers who want to be involved in the plans for retail, residential and office space. As Covington hires environmental, demolition and engineering companies for the new development, WVXU got a tour of the now-vacant IRS building.

City Manager David Johnston is beginning to learn his way around what he calls "a big cavernous huge building." He took WVXU on a tour and the first thing he notices is how clean it is. "You know, there's a saying that you want to leave a place cleaner than you got it. So I think they took that to heart."

The floors in the lengthly hallways look as if they were buffed not too long ago.

In 2016, the IRS announced a three-year phase out and Covington closed on the 23-acre site in August 2020. It paid $21 million, taking out $30 million in bonds, which Johnston says the city hopes to pay off through real estate sales to private entities.

One thing the IRS did leave behind in the building it abandoned were drawers of blueprints. This helps environmental inspectors and demolition companies. The drawings showed three underground fuel tanks and a 3,000-gallon concrete vault the city will have to deal with. Asbestos issues also have to be addressed.

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU
Stacks of blueprints show the ins and outs of the massive building.

Covington hopes to hire site demolition and salvage services soon. Here are two RFQs (request for quotation) on the city's procurement portal. A third RFQ for street design and utilities will also be issued.

As Johnston continued the tour with WVXU, we go into a maintenance room where miles and miles of copper wiring used for computers can be recycled.

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU
Wiring in this maintenance room can be recycled, as Johnston points out.

These rooms were even empty while employees were still in the building. They used to hold massive computers in the 1960s and '70s.

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU
Computers were so big then that they took up entire rooms.

"A lot has been happening behind the scenes since the city acquired the property," Johnston says. "Now we're accelerating those efforts into a more visible and thus more exciting phase. We are wasting no time in turning this site into something magnificent."

The IRS, with 2,000 employees, used to be Covington's largest employer.

Important to Johnston and others is walkability with the new development. He wants to connect various parts of the City that were previously blocked by the huge IRS campus.