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New development will 'fill a hole' in Newport's downtown, city manager says

A predawn view of Newport from the Veterans Memorial Bridge.
Bill Rinehart
The sun rises over Newport, September 8, 2022

The city of Newport will get two hotels, office space, and a parking garage on what is now a surface lot. City Manager Tom Fromme says the plan fills a void in downtown Newport.

“The 400 block of Monmouth Street is a very high profile location. It’s only a block away from Newport on the Levee. It’s the entrance way from the Levee further downtown,” he says. “Monmouth’s a vibrant area, but there was a disconnect, though, from the Levee to the rest of Monmouth Street because that lot’s been vacant for 25-plus years.”

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Fromme says it's been a long time coming. “Fortunately for us, we had people with vision that started the ball rolling several decades ago. I think 20 years from now, it’s only limited by our imagination. I think there’s going to be a lot more development.”

It's not the only project underway or in the works. Fromme says there's also the Ovation development, which will be built out over the next five to eight years. The city commission is also working on approving the Buena Vista historic district on Newport's west side, and there's an effort to put a supermarket in an empty home improvement store, and to redevelop the former Newport Steel site along Licking Pike.

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Fromme doesn't see Newport's new developments as competition with Covington and Cincinnati. “I think we all need each other. If Cincinnati does well, we do well. If Covington does well, we do well,” he says. “But I think if one does badly it hurts us all. I think we have to look at it that way and that’s how we try to operate.”

Fromme says all three cities are seeing revitalization in their urban cores.

The World Peace Bell will be relocated to General James Taylor Park, along the Licking River. Site preparation has already started, and construction is expected to ramp up in the next month.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.