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grasscat Mar 4, 2005 4:29 PM

COVINGTON, KY | The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge (Libeskind) | 21 FLOORS
The old thread seems to have been deleted. To get up to speed, try here:

An update from the 3/4/05 Cincinnati Enquirer:

Kenton planners OK 'swoosh' roof, backup
By Mike Rutledge
Enquirer staff writer

COVINGTON - Corporex Cos.' proposed crescent-shaped condominium tower with a swooping roof won approval Thursday from the Kenton County Planning Commission. In an unusual move, the commission also approved a far more conservative version for the site.

On the one hand, the commission approved the Stage I development plan for a 21-story building designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. His 80-condo building features what Corporex describes as a dramatic "swoop" to its roofline, which would soar upward several stories.

The commission also approved, at Corporex's request, a 17-story crescent-shaped tower with a much flatter roof.

When Corporex Chairman Bill Butler unveiled the Libeskind design last year, he said he wanted a signature tower on one acre at the southeast corner of RiverCenter and Scott boulevards, not far from the Roebling Suspension Bridge.

Steven Massicot, director of Corporex Development and Construction Management, and project attorney Marty Butler emphasized that the Libeskind design is the preferred vision. But Marty Butler conceded that Libeskind's designs tend "to be expensive to build."

The project now must receive approval from Covington: a development agreement must be struck, and the building's architecture will be reviewed.

"We don't want to go way downstream and spend a lot of time and money," Marty Butler said, only to have city officials say, " 'Hey, we've seen the first one (the more traditional building), we like it, but the second one? Eh. It's got issues,' " which would force the company to start all over.

Marty Butler said officials don't intend to do a hybrid of the two buildings. The Libeskind building would have the exterior of its C-shape facing the bridge, while the other version would have the outside of its C away from the bridge. The developer will choose which is the better alternative, based on marketing and economics, said commission planner Mike Schwartz.

The commission approved both plans with one 13-0 vote, and also approved street setback variances.


grasscat Mar 17, 2005 6:14 PM

The latest from the 3/17/05 Enquirer:
The 21-story, 80-condominium, crescent-shaped building would transform the Covington skyline. Photo provided

Riverside tower could make splash
Designer to meet with review panel

By Mike Rutledge
Enquirer staff writer

COVINGTON - Developer Bill Butler's proposed condominium tower near the riverfront here could "raise worldwide curiosity and interest in this region," a former dean of University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning said Wednesday.

"There's no question this would be a very significant residential structure in Cincinnati, if not the most significant one, in terms of residential structures in the whole metropolitan region," said Jay Chatterjee, an architecture professor at UC.

"I really like it," Chatterjee added. "I think it's a very significant addition to the regional skyline - and certainly for Northern Kentucky. It will be magnificent."

Chatterjee called the vision worthy of the reputation of its designer, Polish-born architect Daniel Libeskind, who last year won the competition to design the new buildings at the site of New York City's World Trade Center.

The proposed 21-story, 80-condominium, crescent-shaped Covington building has a notable "swooshing" roofline that sweeps to the sky. The Kenton County Planning Commission recently approved two versions proposed by Butler's Corporex Cos., but Corporex has made clear it prefers the Libeskind version over a plainer one with a flatter roof.

Costs still may be a factor in which version is constructed, said Crystal Gibson, a Corporex spokeswoman.

"It's safe to say that we're still working with the costs, and seeing where we can make it work," Gibson said.

Libeskind will be in Covington on Monday to meet with the city's Architectural Review Panel at 3 p.m. He later will meet with members of the Historic Licking-Riverside Civic Association and Friends of Covington in the City Commission's chambers. The meeting will start sometime between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday, officials said.

City commissioners will meet in a quick special session at 9:30 a.m. Friday to appoint architect Gene Weber to the architecture panel, to replace his recently deceased partner, Bill Hub, in advance of Monday's meeting.

The Architectural Review Panel advises the mayor and commissioners about projects that are north of Fifth Street. It examines such issues as the scale and mass of a building, and the materials to be used.

"A few months ago, the panel recommended that the developer work with the architect to address the roofline," said Covington Economic Development director Ella Fry. "They did not like the roofline that was proposed, and they advised that they should come back to the panel."

Libeskind joined the project and took that suggestion to heart.

Steven Massicot, the Corporex director responsible for the tower, said Libeskind's design addresses the roofline suggestions: "We believe this design responds to those comments, as well as responding to our program from both a functional and aesthetic standpoint," he said.

"I think it's wonderful, having more people living in our downtown area, Riverside area, so we can get more retail," said city Commissioner Jerry Stricker, a Licking-Riverside resident. "The more residents we can have down here, it benefits everybody."

Licking-Riverside Civic Association president Lisa Sauer said she is hoping the building will have "a little more of a historic look to it, versus extremely modern."

"I think Bill Butler is willing to work with residents on the design, and he's already met at least on two occasions with some of our (neighborhood) people about that," Stricker said. "And I know he wants to do whatever it takes to make everyone happy.

"Of course, you can't make everybody happy, but he's been very receptive to listening," Stricker said.

The Architectural Review Panel's recommendation will be key, because it will be considered by the Urban Design Review Board when it holds a public hearing March 28, Fry said.

In April, city commissioners will take into consideration the Architectural Review Panel's recommendations and those of the UDRB.

"I haven't heard any real negative things on it," said Mayor Butch Callery, a fan of the design. "So I think ... it ought to be on its way then."


Here's what University of Cincinnati architecture professor Jay Chatterjee said he appreciates about the proposed condominium tower:

"I like the atriums (architect Daniel Libeskind) created at the top, and I like the way he brings the sky into play," Chatterjee said. "I like the way he staggers the roof as it goes down."

Its positioning near the Suspension Bridge. Plus, "in some ways it picks up the color of the bridge too, in its glass forms, which I like."

Chatterjee also likes the way its parking garage integrates with the southbound ramp from the Suspension Bridge. "It almost has that feeling to it that the building sort of wraps around the curb."
The view of the proposed tower from the Cincinnati side of the Ohio River.

DeadManWalking Mar 17, 2005 6:31 PM

Nice, but needs to be taller.

LMich Mar 17, 2005 6:33 PM

It looked better before, IMO. But, it's still interesting.

hudkina Mar 17, 2005 7:18 PM

I don't know about the design... It's a little too out there for me.

Weedrose Mar 17, 2005 10:15 PM

I realize what I didn't like about the tower. I do think it needs to be taller. It's so Squat right now that it doesn't look right. If it were to soar for another 10 floors it would be hot.

Buckeye Native 001 Mar 18, 2005 1:54 AM

Keep it innovative, but put it on the Cincinnati side of the river goddammit!

Oh wait...



Rizzo Mar 18, 2005 4:55 AM

Although, I really don't care for contemporary architecture that is really "out there," I do like the shape of this building. But I agree, I think it needs to be taller. Plus, Covington definitely needs some taller buildings.

mpls Mar 18, 2005 6:31 AM

quite nice, but lose the concrete/rock facade and jack up the height then we'll have a beaut.

Xing Mar 18, 2005 6:45 AM

I like it. "Out there," is good.

Midwesterner Mar 18, 2005 11:20 AM

It really contrasts with Covington's other postmodern buildings. Not a bad design.

ColDayMan Mar 19, 2005 8:06 AM

I don't give a flying 747 fuck what they put in Covington (or Newport). Just put something. Hell, it can be a glorious Steely Dan box. I'll take it.

richNcincy Mar 19, 2005 2:13 PM

I like it alot. Taller would be nice, but we'll take what we can get for now.

grasscat Mar 23, 2005 4:47 PM

OK...the name of the project has been changed to "The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge". Here's an article from the 3/23/05 Kentucky Post:

Covington's new jewel
Futuristic high-rise to boldly repaint skyline

By Jeanne Houck
Post staff reporter

Magnificent. Inspirational. Unique. A work of art.

Those were words used by Covington residents, business leaders and city officials Monday after reviewing Corporex Cos.' plans for "The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge," a futuristic condominium high-rise on the riverfront.

In separate hearings, world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind presented the city's Architectural Review Board and then civic leaders and Covington residents his plans for a 21-floor, crescent-shaped tower with large glass windows and an asymmetrical "swooshing" roof.

Even people with questions about the tower, proposed to be built just west of the Roebling Suspension Bridge, could not help but praise the plans drawn up by Libeskind, who was chosen to design new buildings for the World Trade Center site in New York City.

"It's hard for me to accept the design because I like 19th century architecture, Victorian architecture," said Pat Flannery, who lives in the Historic Licking Riverside neighborhood. "But far be it from me to stand in the way of such a magnificent-looking building."

On Monday, the city's architectural review board agreed to recommend the City Commission approve plans for the tower, which is to include 80 upscale condominiums on 18 floors and a lobby, plaza, swimming pool, restaurant and, perhaps, some retail space, on the other three floors.

Referring to the beauty and boldness of the design, architectural review board member Robert Lape said, "This would be a sculpture located next to the Suspension Bridge, basically."

Next Monday, Covington's Urban Design Review Board will review plans for The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge and make a recommendation to the City Commission, which will have final say.

Covington Commissioner Jerry Stricker attended both hearings Monday.

"I'm in favor of this because it makes a statement and, like Covington is the gateway to the South, this would be a special gateway to Covington," he said.

The site proposed for the building is the former home of the Coach and Four restaurant, east of the intersection of East RiverCenter Boulevard and Scott Boulevard.Corporex officials declined to estimate the cost of the project or of the condominiums, although they said last year that the condominiums -- which will range from 1,200 to 6,000 square feet and have spectacular views of Cincinnati and Covington -- would cost at least $350,000 apiece.

Decisions have yet to be made on some things such as building materials, they said.

But they hope to begin construction this summer and complete the project in two years.

As planned, The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge would be a huge departure from the conventional office towers and box-like hotels and public buildings surrounding it.

Yet Libeskind said he designed the tower to harmonize with the residential and commercial neighborhood around it.

The tower, in earth tones with windows that would reflect blue skies, would echo the colors of the Suspension Bridge, he said.

He said the shape of the tower would mirror the bridge's cables and the tower's highest point would stand no taller and its lowest point no shorter than surrounding buildings.

Covington resident Sherry Carran said developers cleared up some design questions she had.

"I had concerns about the way the building 'swooshed' and the height of the building on the south end, but they explained how it will open up the skyline and let the area breathe," she said.

John Bezold of Alexandria, a first-year architecture student at the University of Cincinnati, stopped by Monday to see Libeskind make his presentations.

"We watched a film about him, and it was really interesting to see him in person," Bezold said. "His design is inspiring."

Libeskind said the city "has a unique site here, and this building would fit perfectly on this site."

He also urged people to consider that "history is not a story that is over."

Kathie Hickey, Renaissance manager for the city of Covington, applauded that sentiment.

"At some point in time, this is going to be labeled an historic landmark in Covington," she said.

CityGawd5 Mar 23, 2005 10:38 PM


Originally Posted by gniX
I like it. "Out there," is good.

I love cutting-edge and "out there." But this? Is pure mossy funk. It hurts me eyes, laddie.

Seriously, someone has to put a stop to Libeskind's nonsense. We all knew that he gave up his soul during the WTC "comprimise," and apparently he's given up his ability to design compelling buildings as well. Chalk it up to Overexposure to Childs...that guy is like architectural kryptonite. Blech.

grasscat Apr 19, 2005 3:03 PM

From the 4/19/05 Cincinnati Enquirer:

In Covington, Ascent will reach for the sky
City Commission votes today on condo project

By Sara Pearce
Enquirer staff writer

From the moment settlers constructed their first building on the downtown riverfront, our eyes have been drawn to it.

In the centuries since, the Ohio River's banks have seen it all. Warehouses. Town houses. Parking lots. Stadiums. Saloons. Parks. Mansions. Offices.

Each incarnation has been a bellwether of our hopes, dreams and aspirations as a city. From thriving port and commerce center to major-league town and cultural hub.

And as the riverfront and skyline on both sides of the river have evolved, major additions have been hotly debated, which is one of the many things that immediately separates The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge from what has gone before it.

The building with the lofty name, designed for Corporex, is a sleek, $40 million, 21-story condominium tower that everyone seems to like.

"Beautiful," "love it," "bold and elegant" were some of the comments from Licking-Riverside residents at a March meeting.

The proposal has been approved by the Kenton County Planning Commission, Covington Architectural Review Panel and Covington Urban Design Review Board. Tonight, it faces one final group: Covington City Commission, which is scheduled to vote on it.

If approved, the Ascent will be built at a corner of East RiverCenter Boulevard and Scott Street. Now a parking lot, it's known as the Coach & Four corner after the restaurant that operated there for 40 years.

It would be the first strictly residential high-rise to be built on either side of the downtown riverfront since Adams Landing opened in October 1992. It is to include 80 units, ranging from 950 square feet to a 7,000-square foot, three-story penthouse - with the average size approximately 2,000 square feet.

Until the exterior design is finalized, interior design and prices will not be determined.

The Ascent would sit on the 1-acre site at an angle, curving in a subtle "c" to maximize views. Its deeply sloped roof echoes the lines of the historic Roebling Suspension Bridge that crosses the Ohio River just a few hundred yards away.

From his first sketch, architect Daniel Libeskind turned to the bridge as his muse.

"It is shaped in a special way to play off the great Roebling Bridge," he says during an interview from his office in New York City. "It is a gateway to the bridge, so it takes its form from the curvature of the bridge's cables, and its color from the reflection of water and sky.

"It opens up new possibilities on that side of the river."

Local architectural historian Walter E. Langsam echoes that sentiment.

"It's a very exciting proposal, and I'm thrilled that it is a response to the bridge," says Langsam, an adjunct professor in the University of Cincinnati's department of art, architecture and planning who worked in Covington's Historic Preservation office for three years.

"We have lost our sense of how grand the bridge is. When it was finished (in 1866), the bridge was the tallest structure in the Ohio River valley. It is a major achievement that has been dwarfed by the high rises and other buildings that have grown up around it.

"But this building is not monolithic, it's not a solid block - it is a vivid, visually intuitive response to the bridge and the older parts of Covington. It will draw a lot of attention to itself, to the project and to Covington."

Libeskind is an architect whose work often is described as avant-garde.

"He doesn't look at things through the same lens that we do," says Tom Banta, the Corporex executive vice president who is overseeing this project.

For decades, Libeskind was a theoretical architect. He taught at colleges, including a stint at the University of Kentucky in the early 1970s, and designed buildings. But, he did not have a single building of his built until The Jewish Museum, Berlin was completed in 1999 and opened in 2001.

Once Libeskind's work leapt from theory to reality, it started a building boom.

He now is working on dozens of projects in cities such as Milan, San Francisco, Copenhagen, Hong Kong and Seoul, including the project that brought him global attention: the World Trade Center site in New York City. Libeskind was selected as the master plan architect for the site after a highly public and pitched battle.

His plan for that 16-acre site is viewed by many as inspiring and ambitious. It includes parks and other open spaces, a museum and multiple towers, culminating in a twisting 1,776-foot tower that would be the world's tallest building.

Detractors were quick to point out that Libeskind had little experience with tall buildings. At that point, the four-story Berlin museum was his highest building.

That has changed.

In 2002, Libeskind's Imperial War Museum North opened in Manchester, England. The low, swooping buildings include a slender tower with a sloping roof that is similar to the Ascent design.

A tall, bending tower is part of the 63-acre Fiera Milano project in Milan, Italy.

And now there is the Ascent.

While the design is fresh, it is far more conventional than the low-lying, splintered, metallic buildings such as the Denver Art Museum extension and The Jewish Museum, Berlin that have become Libeskind hallmarks.

Still, it is a dramatic departure from the boxy commercial buildings nearby, and the traditional 19th and early 20th century buildings that have characterized Covington until recently as historic but shabby.

"It's pretty average, cookie cutter design on the riverfront right now," says Vic Canfield, chairman of Covington's Urban Design Review Board, which approved the project unanimously at its March meeting. "Corporex tried to vary RiverCenter a little bit - but it all has the same reddish brown hue, and the buildings look alike."

Departing from the norm is just the "kick in the butt" needed to bring innovative architecture to the riverfront, says Terry Boling, a working architect and assistant professor at DAAP.

"Corporex has sent an important message to everyone in the area by picking someone who is not really mainstream or conventional," says Boling. "If he can do it the way it is proposed, that will open doors for other developers to take a similar route and be a little more visionary.

"There's no reason why the whole riverfront couldn't be dotted with these amazing buildings, this could start a precedent."

Canfield agrees. "It's exciting to have a world-class architect designing a building that will be an eye-catcher and draw people's attention," he says.

Even Covington Mayor Butch Callery, who readily admits to clashing with Corporex chairman Bill Butler many times over the years, feels it is the right time for a bold statement along the river.

"I have heard virtually no negative feedback," he says. "The design is striking, and I think it will encourage other development all around."

Having a celebrity name to drop only adds to the project's cachet, he adds. "Getting Daniel, well, that was fantastic - he's a big name."

Architects have become mainstream enough that a recent episode of "The Simpsons" had the Springfield Cultural Advisory Board hiring Frank Gehry (designer of UC's Vontz Center for Molecular Studies) to design a cutting-edge, metal-clad, off-kilter concert hall for the mythical town.

"An architect with an international reputation often has a different kind of confidence and persuasiveness," says Langsam. "They seem to make clients less cautious."

And the public, too, says Alex Welden, chairman of the Kenton County Planning Commission. "For a lot of people, a big name legitimizes something that might not fly otherwise," she says. "It is a pretty strong statement. And maybe it's unfortunate but, if some talented local person did it, we would probably have a much harder time selling it.

"Daniel's name opens doors."


Age: 59

Born: In Lodz, Poland in 1946. His family moved to Israel when he was 11 and to the United States when he was 13. He became an American citizen in 1965.

Education: He started college as a musician but left as an architect, graduating from Cooper Union in 1970 with a bachelor's degree in architecture. He received a Master's Degree in architectural history and theory from University of Essex in Colchester, Essex, England in 1972.Regional connection: taught architecture at the University of Kentucky in the early 1970s.

Most noted for: winning the competition to become the Master Plan Architect for the 16-acre World Trade Center site.

Late start: Libeskind did not have a building of his built until he won the competition for The Jewish Museum, Berlin which was completed in 1999.

Global reach: Current projects include "The Eye and the Wing," an extension to the Denver Art Museum and The Museum Residences (a parking garage and condominiums he is working with Corporex on); WESTside, a new neighborhood in Bern, Switzerland; The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco; Fiero Milano, a new neighborhood in Milan, Italy; "The Crystal," an extension to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada.

Quote: "Why should we have banal buildings by anonymous people who are not interested in architecture?"

Read more about him: Pick up "Breaking Ground: Adventures in Life and Architecture," by Daniel Libeskind (Riverhead Books; $XX) or "Sixteen Acres: Architecture and the Outrageous Struggle for the future of Ground Zero" by Philip Nobel (Metropolitan Books; $25).


Daniel Libeskind says: "A great building - like great literature or poetry or music - can tell the story of the human soul."

exEatonian Apr 20, 2005 2:29 PM

This project has received final approval by the Covington City Council and is the subject of an article in today's Wall Street Journal entitled "Location, Location, Architect." Construction is scheduled to begin in late summer.

grasscat May 8, 2005 2:23 PM

From the 5/7/05 Kentucky Post:

Condo project might work its magic in city
By Jeanne Houck
Post staff reporter

World-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind wrote in a 2004 memoir that "There's a magic to a great building."

Covington leaders hope that's true of the 21-floor condominium tower he's designed for the city's riverfront.

Government officials and business people would like nothing more than to see surrounding residential and commercial development take wing with the asymmetrical "swooshing" roof that is to top the estimated $40 million high-rise that Corporex Cos. of Covington wants to build just west of the Roebling Suspension Bridge.

Steven Massicot, Corporex's project manager, thinks it's a given.

"This will definitely be a catalyst for downtown Covington and the entire region," he said. "We've learned from other downtowns such as Nashville that if you bring residents downtown, retail will follow."

The Covington City Commission last month approved plans for "The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge," Corporex's crescent-shaped building, which is to hold 80 luxury condominiums, a small retail center and a plaza and parking for tower residents.

Mayor Butch Callery said developers have not been burning up the phone lines trying to finagle room for their projects in the area surrounding the condominium high-rise, which is to be built at the southeast corner of RiverCenter and Scott boulevards, the former site of the Coach and Four restaurant.

Nor has the city launched an aggressive campaign to market that area, although the city has a myriad of incentive programs in place and more in the works, Callery said.

"Not until we break ground," said the mayor, noting that Corporex plans to kick off a two-year construction phase late this summer.

But The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge already has made a splash outside Covington.

The city, the condominium tower and Libeskind were the subject of a front-page article, "Location, Location, Architect," in the April 20 edition of the Wall Street Journal's marketplace section.

"That's pretty big to make the front page of the Wall Street Journal because that goes nationally - worldwide," Callery crowed. "So it's a pretty big deal."

Is it possible that the high-rise can, in the words of Libeskind, work its magic and:

Resolve the Kenton County Jail issue? Could the condominium tower drive surrounding property values so high that the county could make a tidy profit on the sale of its jail at Court Street and Park Place - a stone's throw from the tower? That would allow the fiscally strapped county to build a larger lockup elsewhere and free up prime property for which Covington believes it can find a far better use.

But Kenton County Commissioner Dam Humpert doesn't see the Corporex tower as a possible solution to a complicated problem.

"I'm not saying (the jail site) won't go up in value, but it would have to be an awfully large increase in the value of the property and it would be one-time funding," he said.

"One-time funds are great, but you can't build a jail with one-time funds and you can't fund operations with one-time funds."

It will take the state increasing its funding for jails to ultimately solve Kenton County's jail woes, he said.

Help find a buyer for what remains of Covington Landing? The floating restaurant and entertainment center at the foot of Madison Avenue, less than a block from the site of condominium tower, has been a financial drain on the city since 1997, when Covington acquired the complex after the former owner went bankrupt.

Covington has hired Julie Boudousquie, a broker with FORSITE Commercial Real Estate Group of Cincinnati and Burlington, in hopes of finding a new owner to renovate and fully lease Covington Landing.

"Obviously, any more bodies down in that area is helpful," Boudousquie said. "The fact that condominiums will be there, that is a source of customers for Covington Landing."

Re-energize the ongoing development of a riverfront restaurant district with a town square?

"(The tower is) going to cater to people with large disposable incomes, and they'll need places to eat," Callery said.

Restaurateur Todd Barton, a partner in Barton's on Park Place, said there hasn't been a lot of discussion in the neighborhood about how the condominium tower might spur growth in the restaurant district - envisioned for the area roughly bordered by Greenup Street, Scott Boulevard, Third Street and Fourth Street. But the project has been greeted with enthusiasm.

Barton, for one, is grateful to Corporex President Bill Butler.

"I think Bill Butler has done an excellent job on the riverfront here in Covington," Barton said. "He's really transformed the whole area."

A limited liability company called Covington Square has positioned itself to reap the benefits of any renaissance surrounding The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge, although the company began snapping up property in the area two years ago, before plans for the tower were announced.

Since July 2003, Covington Square has purchased nine pieces of residential, commercial and industrial property on Greenup Street, East Fourth Street, Sandford Street and Tobacco Alley. Their total worth: $4,855,000.

Last December, Covington Square sold two industrial parcels on East Fourth Street to an Aspen, Colo., couple for a total of $1,389,000.

Covington Square spokesman Marc Wilson said the company had no comment on its plans for the property or how the condominium tower might affect those plans.

Meanwhile, Corporex's Massicot said The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge has been a dream project from the beginning, starting with the architect Libeskind, who also has been chosen to design new buildings for the World Trade Center site in New York City.

"Daniel Libeskind is inspiring to work with," Massicot said.

And while The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge will be nothing like any other building in Covington, it will be a seamless fit, he promised.

The huge windows that will make up half of the exterior will reflect the surrounding landscape and sky, the remainder of the exterior will be earth tones and the shape of the building will echo the lines of the Roebling Suspension Bridge.

"This is a building that will beautifully - and literally - reflect its surroundings," Massicot said.

unusualfire May 8, 2005 5:32 PM

You know i totally forgot it's right across the street from the city jail. lol

grasscat Jun 7, 2005 3:47 PM

From the 6/6/05 Cincinnati Business Courier:

New Covington tower to let buyers give input on design

Corporex Cos. has started a new program for its planned Covington condo tower that will let early buyers give input on the building's interior design.

The Reserve Buyers Program will be open to buyers "who have a significant interest in being the first to own a home" in the 21-story Ascent at Roebling's Bridge. According to a news release, those reserve buyers will be able to give their input on design decisions at the tower and will receive special monthly updates about the building's progress.

To get the chance, buyers have to sign on by June 30.

"We are trying to learn as much as we can about the interior and lifestyle aspirations of those interested in being part of this extraordinary community," said Corporex Chief Marketing Officer Debbie Vicchiarelli in a release.

The Ascent condo project will include 78 condo units ranging in price from $395,000 to $1.5 million for standard units. Penthouse units are expected to cost even more, a spokeswoman said.

The building, designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, will overlook Northern Kentucky and the Ohio River.

More information about the project is availabile at

© 2005 American City Business Journals Inc.

grasscat Jun 9, 2005 3:44 PM

From the 6/9/05 Cincinnati Enquirer:

PHOTO: Steve Frank, of Wyoming is considering purchasing a condo in the Ascent at Roebling's Bridge. He works in downtown Cincinnati and says he would be able to walk to work. The Enquirer/ Sarah Conard

RENDERING: A computer rendering shows what views from condos in the Ascent at Roebling's Bridge in Covington might look like.

PHOTO: Debbie Vicchiarelli, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Corporex, on a balcony at Domaine de la Rive overlooking the Suspension Bridge. The Enquirer/Patrick Reddy

Potential buyers help plan Ascent
Focus groups aid developers with details of tower

By Mike Rutledge
Enquirer staff writer

COVINGTON - Steve Frank figures the Ascent at Roebling's Bridge is his best chance at getting his New York-born wife to move to his native Northern Kentucky.

Frank, 48, a Covington Latin graduate, and his wife, Nancy, are among 30 people who have participated in focus groups to help shape the amenities, features and floor plans of the Daniel Libeskind-designed high-rise.

"The high rise appeals to her New York kinda stuff," he said. "She insisted when we married that we move to Ohio. And this is my only way of getting her back - I can give her a New York high rise."

Focus groups are part of an effort by the developer, Covington-based Corporex Cos., to involve prospective buyers early.

That's unusual for such projects, real estate experts say. It's led by Corporex's chief marketing officer, Debbie Vicchiarelli, a veteran of Procter & Gamble Co. and other consumer companies.

"I have not seen it in real estate, but I would recommend it, and I think it's a really smart thing to do because these projects are very expensive," said Kathy Comisar, a sales vice president for Comey & Shepherd.

"To try to match what people want now, I think, would be well worth it," Comisar said.

Unit prices - which are still in flux - are estimated to range from $395,000 for a single-bedroom unit with a den to around $1.5 million for the penthouse. Each unit will have 10-foot-tall windows looking out over the Roebling Suspension Bridge and the city.

The building's three-story penthouse will be called "The Pinnacle," and it will not have a number like the other units, only its high-reaching name.

Corporex has not yet lined up financing or given a projected cost for the project, though it hopes to gather several hundred prospective buyers' names for the 70-80 units by June 30.

Those who sign up for the company's reserved buyer program by then will have the first opportunity to buy in August and also will have input into the project's amenities and features. They are not required to submit a deposit and can fill out an application at

Project spokeswoman Ria Davidson said developers consider the project a "go." Considering the costs of project design, its signature architecture, the property purchase and hiring of additional staff, Corporex has "spent in excess of $3 million, and that spending has accelerated tremendously in the past three months," she said.

A walk across the bridge

The Franks are about to become empty-nesters and are looking to leave their Wyoming home. They've checked into projects at the top and base of Mount Adams, Montgomery, Bellevue and elsewhere.

Frank says he'd be surprised if the Ascent does not happen for two reasons: As a certified financial planner at Wachovia Securities, he believes the oldest baby boomers are starting to rediscover living in city cores.

Also, he said: "You've got Bill Butler, who's a force unto himself. He's not going to be denied, if he wants to do something. And I think there's enough demand that's already shown itself."

Frank could walk across the suspension bridge to his office in the 500 block of Cincinnati's Vine Street. In July he becomes president of the Covington Rotary Club.

Already, the 30 families that have gone through focus groups have recommended such amenities as wine storage areas and a special bay in the parking garage where cars can be washed.

Frank started something during the focus groups when he mentioned he needs a place for his 300-bottle wine collection. One possibility - offered by another focus group participant with a condo in Florida - is to create the perfect wine cooler and rent out wine lockers inside it.

Vicchiarelli called that "a wonderful idea that we've submitted for consideration," although she noted: "We don't even know if legally you can store wine like that, in a public/private space in Kentucky."

Those killer views

The 21-story, crescent-shaped building with the roof angle that cuts across 10 stories is designed to maximize views of downtown Cincinnati and the bridge.

"Obviously the views are going to be killer, but the building itself to me, it's just very aesthetically pleasing," Frank said. "I get off on the architecture - and the location - because I want to be around where there's stuff happening."

The building will be within easy walking distance of 20 Covington restaurants, Corporex says.

Butler's project drew praise from a fellow residential developer, Towne Properties' partner Arn Bortz, whose 86-unit Roebling Row apartment complex is near the tower's site.

"I'm delighted that he's putting such a premium on architecture," Bortz said. "Whether those (dollar) numbers make sense, that's for Bill to decide."

Gopal Ahluwalia, vice president of research for the National Association of Home Builders, studies what condominium buyers want. He says the Ascent's focus groups are unique because they include actual prospective buyers.

"A lot of developers do focus groups to find out the information, but here what they're doing is they're going much beyond that," Ahluwalia said. "And it's not done in this kind of detail."

"If you understand your target, you can make your product better for your target," said Vicchiarelli. "We're so lucky to have our target have identified themselves. As a marketer you couldn't hope for more."



Prices at the Ascent at Roebling's Bridge are not set because designs are changing to reflect focus group comments. Prices are estimated at $395,000 for a one-bedroom unit to $1.5 million for the penthouse.

Some suggestions from focus group members:

* No umbrellas on the balconies, so as not to distract from the building's clean, modern look.
* Common areas for wine storage.
* A special bay in the parking garage for washing collector cars and other vehicles.
* Guest rooms within the complex for visitors.

Source: Corporex Cos.

JivecitySTL Jun 10, 2005 3:02 PM

I love these out of the box designs. Looks like a great project.

grasscat Jul 3, 2005 11:48 PM

More on the project and the October 25th groundbreaking date from the 7/3/05 NKY Sunday Challenger:

Ascent to Rise This Fall
Buyer Meetings Precede October Groundbreaking

By Larry Nager
The Sunday Challenger

COVINGTON - Since last October, when The Sunday Challenger wrote the first story of what has since become the most talked-about building project on either side of the Ohio River, plans for the condominium project, designed by perhaps the premier architect of our time, Daniel Libeskind, have been moving toward an October groundbreaking.

The building now has a name, "The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge," a waiting list of prospective buyers and a new groundbreaking date, Oct. 25.

Located at East RiverCenter Boulevard and Scott Street at the foot of the Roebling Suspension Bridge, the 21-story Ascent will reinvent the Covington skyline with its curving shape and dramatically swooping roof. The innovative building, with a preliminary construction budget of $40 million, has caused such an impact in the media that even the publicity-insatiable Donald Trump grabbed a few headlines criticizing its lack of classical Trumpian gaudiness.

Having made international news with the exterior, Corporex Cos., the Covington-based developer behind The Ascent, is now working on the interior, holding meetings with prospective buyers and representatives from New York-based Studio Libeskind.

They've established a "Reserve Buyer's Program," which gives members an inside track on developments. The deadline for individuals to join passed June 30, but Realtors can still join until mid-July.

The meetings held in May and June gathered input about what buyers want in the building's amenities, but also try to give people a sense of ownership from the ground up.

"We want the community to be as extraordinary as the building," said Debbie Vicchiarelli, chief marketing officer for Corporex.

Units May Get Larger

One of the ideas to come out of those meetings is larger units. Right now, the smallest condos are 1,200 square feet. Increasing the size of some units could reduce the total from as many as 80 units down to 72. Another suggestion that's being considered is the need for more communal storage areas outside the apartments, including a climate-controlled wine locker in which tenants can buy space for their wine collections. These are, after all, luxury condominiums. While subject to change, estimated costs of the condo units range from $395,000 to $1.5 million.

"Builders frequently do focus groups, but what's different here is that we're going to the people who are already buying," said Ria Davidson, who is directing public relations for the project. Yes, in keeping with its superstar status, The Ascent has its own publicist.

The Ascent's Project Architect Yama Karim, of Studio Libeskind, said they consider outside input vital to the success of the building. The development process, he said, runs along "parallel tracks."

As Studio Libeskind is working on The Ascent "from a design and technical point of view ... there's the client's side, which is also making sure that we deliver the right product, that there's a demand for it. And that side does typically change quite a bit. We will maintain flexibility in the building to accommodate that."

He called the meetings with buyers, "a way of getting feedback, a sort of litmus test. Otherwise, the building is progressing very nicely. we're on track, as we continue to develop and sort of refine the project."

grasscat Jul 20, 2005 3:44 PM

From the 7/20/05 Enquirer:

PHOTO: As part of the pre-construction work on the Ascent at Roebling's Bridge condominium tower, the "footprint" of the building has been painted across the parking lot at Second and Scott streets where the building will be located. The Enquirer

Condo project prepared
Covington tower to move from paper to reality with October groundbreaking

By Mike Rutledge
Enquirer staff writer

COVINGTON - The 21-story Ascent at Roebling's Bridge condominium tower has gone from blueprints to a blue line on the Covington parking lot where construction crews are to break ground on the crescent-shaped building in late October.

"Preconstruction has started," said Debbie Vicchiarelli, chief marketing officer for Corporex Cos., developer of the Daniel Libeskind-designed tower.

It will house 64 condos priced from $395,000 to around $1.5 million, plus eight penthouses, some costing more than $1.5 million.

Crews recently painted the blue line on the lot, southeast of East RiverCenter and Scott boulevards, to mark the location where the building will sit, she said.

"That's the literal outline of the building," Vicchiarelli said. "The actual outline of the building is there so we can start taking core samples (of soil and rock beneath the site).

"We'll also be bringing in a crane to take view pictures - so that we'll be able to give potential residents an idea of what their views look like," she said. The crane, which should arrive this weekend, will follow the footprint and take photos from each elevation.

In Bellevue, Ackermann Group broke ground in February on the westernmost of three mid-rise condo towers it plans at Harbor Greene along the Ohio River.

It has sold at least 17 of the units in that 38-unit structure, said company partner and president Dobbs Ackermann.

The condos, between 1,800 and 5,500 square feet, are selling for $400,000 to $1.5 million. The west building should be finished in March or April.

When all three residential buildings are finished, the $90 million Harbor Greene project will have 110 units, including four penthouses atop each, Ackermann said.

Vicchiarelli and Ackermann gave updates of their projects during Tuesday's Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Eggs 'N' Issues breakfast.

Harbor Greene's commercial portion should start within a year. It is to include 15,000 square feet of retail, a 50,000-square-foot Gold's Gym, a restaurant and 100,000 square feet of office space.

Both projects seek to capitalize on the national trend of baby boomers returning to urban areas - where the action is - while maintaining suburban luxuries.


grasscat Aug 19, 2005 12:03 AM

All stories from the 8/17/05 Kentucky Post:

Buyers signing up for Covington condos

The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge was featured on MSNBC news recently, but it's not like the planned 72-unit condo high-rise needed the attention.

Already developer Corporex Cos. has more potential buyers than the building will have units, said Debbie Vicchiarelli, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the company.

The buyers are attracted partly by the unique design of internationally acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind, partly by its view of the Ohio River and Cincinnati skyline and partly by the attractions of urban living, Vicchiarelli said.

"The demand has been tremendous,'' she said. "This project is really like a gestalt. One plus one equals three ... the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.''

Vicchiarelli wouldn't give an exact number for those who have signed up for the reserve buyer program, saying only that it's more than 72. Those in the program had input into the amenities and design of the condos, and they will have the first chance to sign pre-construction sales contracts later this month. (If there are units left, they will be offered in September to people not already listed as reserve buyers.)

Units will go for $394,900 to $1.5 million, with penthouses costing more than that.

Of the reserve buyers, 70 percent to 80 percent are from Ohio, with about 5 percent from outside the region altogether, she said.

The building is tapping into a national trend toward luxury condos and an interest in living in the city centers, Vicchiarelli said. People who don't have children or whose children are grown want to be close to the cultural attractions that cities like Cincinnati offer, and they like the freedom of lifestyle that comes with living in condo towers, particularly because for many people such condos are second homes, she said.

The site is at RiverCenter and Scott boulevards where the Coach & Four Restaurant used to be.

The building itself will have 21 stories above ground, with parking underneath, although because of the unique design the floors are offset from each other. Previously officials said the units would range from 950 square feet to a 7,000-square-foot, three-story penthouse, and that the building would include a lobby, plaza, swimming pool, restaurant and perhaps other retail space.

Corporex hopes to break ground in late October, and it'll take 20 months to 24 months to build. Preconstruction work has already begun - drill rigs were on the site recently to take core samples to test soil compaction, and the footprint of the building is painted in blue on the ground.

Various city and county agencies have give preliminary approval to the design, although formal approval is still needed.

- Dan Hassert
The riverfront

One of the Covington riverfront's earliest redevelopment successes was the Riverside Terrace condo complex east of the Roebling Suspension Bridge, built by developer David Herriman in 1984.

The project unleashed a wave of development that has completely transformed the area. Among the numerous new buildings:

The first RiverCenter office tower opened in 1990. The second opened in 1998.

A 228-room Embassy Suites hotel opened in 1990 next to RiverCenter I.

The Gateway Center, a nine-story office building for employees of the Internal Revenue Service, opened in 1994 on Scott Street between Third and Fourth streets

The Northern Kentucky Convention Center on Madison Avenue hosted its first convention in November 1998.

Construction of the Madison Place office and condominium project started in 1999.

The 86-unit Roebling Row apartment complex built by Towne Properties welcomed its first tenants in 2001 near the foot of Greenup Street.

The $20 million Kenton County courthouse and garage open in 1999 at Third and Madison.

A 326-room Marriott Hotel opened in 1999.

The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge is just one of numerous condo projects under way or just completed in the region:

Dobbs Ackerman of the Ackerman Group in Norwood, Ohio, is investing in Bellevue's Harbor Greene, an $80 million, 110-unit condominium project on the riverfront. Construction on the first phase of 38 condos began in June and is due to be completed by spring 2006.

Chicago developer and stadium concessions giant Larry Levy is converting the Hannaford luxury apartments in the Mansion Hill neighborhood of Newport into 40 condominiums. The condos will sell for $150,000 to $350,000.

The Bluffs apartment buildings at 100 Winding Way in Covington's Kenton Hills neighborhood is being renovated into condos that are selling for $100,000 to $150,000 each.

The former Polk Building at 400 Pike St. in downtown Cincinnati is being turned into 112 condos worth $185,000 to $1.5 million. The project is called Park Place at Lytle, and all units have been sold.
The architects

Architects who have done local projects (information from the Great Buildings Collection).

Daniel Libeskind - Born in Poland in 1946, Libeskind is known as a contemporary deconstructivist architect. He won the competition to create the master plan for the new World Trade Center in New York City, designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Imperial War Museum of the North in England, among many others.

Zaha Hadid - Born in Iraq in 1950, Hadid is known for intense, avant-garde, sometimes deconstructivist designs. She was the first woman recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004. Besides the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati, she designed a building to co-exist with a Frank Lloyd Wright structure, the Price Tower Arts Center in Oklahoma.

Rem Koolhaas - Born in the Netherlands about 1944, Koolhaas tends perhaps toward the more humanist, less absolute branch of the Deconstructivist school. He won the Pritzker Prize in 2000. He designed the Seattle Public Library and the Netherlands Dance Theater, among other buildings.

Thefigman Aug 19, 2005 1:42 AM

Maybe the high demand will get the final design of the building raised a few floors....

skylife Aug 19, 2005 1:50 AM

I just think it's great that smaller cities are starting to want interesting architecture.

cincyimages Aug 19, 2005 2:40 AM

Stop moving these threads, I don't read Projects & Constuction. Grrrr....

grasscat Aug 19, 2005 4:23 AM

And nobody reads Midwestern States, one of the most boring regionals out there. I'm tired of posting to myself! :(

Crunked Up Aug 20, 2005 3:06 AM

I like the design. I wish they would show a rendering from a different angle, so you get the effect of the crescent shape. They've painted stripes in the parking lot where the tower is going to be built showing the shape. It looks like it will be pretty narrow.

grasscat Aug 27, 2005 8:26 PM

From the 8/26/05 Cincinnati Enquirer:

PHOTO: Architect Daniel Libeskind (right) talks with prospective condo buyer Bill O'Meara Thursday. An addition to his project was announced by Covington officials. The Enquirer/Gary Landers

Condos to get boat parking
Marina could replace leaky barge off of Covington

By Marla Matzer Rose
Enquirer staff writer

COVINGTON - The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge, the 22-story condo project being built here by Corporex, will include a marina, Corporex chairman Bill Butler said Thursday.

The city of Covington plans to remove the Covington Landing barge that formerly housed TGI Friday's restaurant from the site to make room for the marina.

Covington closed the landing on July 9, about two weeks after a major leak sprang in the hull, forcing the city to hire contractors to keep the complex above water.

Jon J. Fleshman, spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Louisville district, confirmed Thursday that there are plans by BB Riverboats owner Alan Bernstein to build a marina on the site. However, he stressed that there has been no application made for a permit for the project, and no permit has yet been granted.

With superstar architect Daniel Libeskind in attendance, Covington-based developer Corporex unveiled what it calls an "experience center" for the $40 million-plus project on Thursday morning.

The sales office, located in Corporex's 100 E. RiverCenter Blvd. headquarters, has an eye-popping view of the river as the backdrop for displays of floor plans and design elements that well-heeled buyers can choose from.

Corporex marketing chief Debbie Vicchiarelli said the company decided on a bidding system for pricing the condos - with minimum prices ranging from just under $400,000 to nearly $4.5 million - in an effort to be "fair" and meet demand from more than 200 people who already had joined a reserve buyers list.

Officials said that the handful of bids that have been received so far have tended to be over the minimum asking price.

Reserve buyers have until Sept. 6 to bid, after which a second group of wait-listed buyers will have a short window of preference before sales are opened up to the general public.

Covington Mayor Butch Callery praised the Ascent and its design in an interview after the unveiling of the "experience center." "I think it will be like the 'Field of Dreams': you build it, and they will come. I think it will attract other development in Covington," he said.

Butler took the occasion to discuss plans he has been championing to redevelop a city block one block away from the Ascent on East Scott Street into a mixed-use project including an upscale grocery, a farmers market and offices. Corporex would not be the developer, although Butler has been championing the idea with the city and state. Backers hope to get state funding for the development.

Another in Newport

Covington becomes the second city in the last several days to reveal plans for a marina on the south shore of the Ohio River. Earlier this week, Newport cleared the way for a condo and office development dubbed SouthShore, which also has plans for a marina, to go forward just east of Interstate 471.

Without divulging many details, Butler indicated that Covington's marina would be the grander of the two.

Callery said Covington Landing probably had to go to make room for the marina there. "We thought that would be a good use of it, once we're getting rid of the Landing there," he said, adding that the plan to bring the Landing ashore would mean the entertainment and restaurants would remain nearby.

Butler and Callery said that Libeskind will likely draw up the initial plans for the marina in an effort to make it more architecturally interesting.

City's role in financing

Covington City Commission is expected to approve financing agreements for the Ascent project - which will include 64 units and eight penthouses - at a special meeting called for noon today at City Hall. The commission will consider a payment in lieu of taxes agreement for the project.

The payment, for 25 percent of what would have been paid in property taxes, would be split between the city, Kenton County and Covington Independent Schools during a 20-year period.

City Manager Jay Fossett said the money would help pay for construction of the 156-space garage at the base of the tower, as well as new sidewalks and improvements to city streets.

"The more units they sell, the more money we get," Fossett said.

Without the agreement, he said it's likely the project couldn't happen. "The infrastructure and garage costs are so expensive that they make these projects almost cost prohibitive without public involvement," Fossett said.

After today's vote, a state bond oversight committee still must approve the use of industrial revenue bonds.

"I think the deal is absolutely fair to the builder, and it's fair to the city and it's fair to the school district," said Jack Moreland, superintendent of Covington Independent Schools. "Obviously, we'd like to have the full measure of taxes generated from all the buildings in the city of Covington, but to grow, you have to offer incentives."

'Greatest form of art'

Libeskind is best known today as a designer of public buildings, particularly the Liberty Tower being planned at the site of New York's former World Trade Center. He called designing a residential project "a particular challenge."

"I think it's the greatest form of art, to create a residential building," said the Polish-born Libeskind. "We often judge cities by great public buildings. But we admire great cities because people live there in a beautiful way. You have to think about how each person will live there; you can't just think about abstract ideas."

Despite his reputation, Libeskind insists he does not consider himself an avant-garde architect.

"I always call myself the most old fashioned of architects," he said. "If you go down to the roots, that's traditional architecture. It deals with light, with earth, with luminosity, with people. ... I don't just care about shapes and styles and fashions. I want to create something that is really sustainable and compelling and beautiful."

At least one prospective buyer in attendance agreed that Libeskind had achieved that.

Bill O'Meara grew up in Norwood, and now is a retired executive and investor with residences in Florida and Boston. For him and his wife, finding a place to come back to for part of the year "has been sort of a dream in the back of our minds," he said. After meeting Butler socially, he said, "When I saw this project in the paper, I said, 'Now that's unique... It really captures the imagination.' "

O'Meara added that this was an exciting time to look at returning to this area after decades away from the city. "It's truly fabulous, what's been happening here," he said. "This is what urban renewal needs to be about. It's going to be a phenomenal, phenomenal place."

Staff writers Cindy Schroeder and Mike Rutledge contributed.

From the 8/27/05 Cincinnati Enquirer:

Covington OKs Ascent bonds
By Mike Rutledge
Enquirer staff writer

COVINGTON - City Commissioner Jerry Stricker abstained while his colleagues approved two agreements that lay groundwork for financing of Corporex Cos.' proposed 22-story condominium tower designed by Daniel Libeskind.

Stricker, who lives in a nearby riverfront condominium, said he abstained from the two 4-0 votes because he might buy an Ascent unit himself.

"It's going to be known throughout the region, once it's completed," Mayor Butch Callery said about the proposed Ascent at Roebling's Bridge. Corporex president and CEO Bill Butler hopes to break ground in late October.

Callery predicted people would make special trips to see the tower, where unit prices will start at nearly $400,000.

As a way to make the project more financially feasible, up to $70 million in industrial building revenue bonds will be sold to finance the complex and its private garage.

Such bonds require the property be owned by the city, which is not required to pay property taxes. The city then would lease the project back to the developer.

The finance arrangement allows the developer to pay the city, Kenton County and Covington Independent Schools lower amounts than it would otherwise have to pay in property taxes.

"We're both complimentary and appreciative of the assistance and support that's being provided by the city of Covington, both at the elected officials' level and at the administrative level," Butler said. "They've been behind the project since the beginning.

"The project needs some support because of its extraordinary design, and the costs associated with that design," said Butler, who guessed the building's swirled roofline, crescent shape and distinctive exterior surfaces added "30 to 40 percent" to the total cost.

"Everything will become the property of the city, technically," said bond attorney Richard Spoor. "The garage, the plaza, the condominium itself."

Kentucky school superintendents sometimes complain such arrangements are unfair to their districts. But Covington Superintendent Jack Moreland on Thursday said the agreement is fair to both the schools and the city.

The arrangement helps make the project economically feasible, said city Solicitor Frank Warnock. And it's fair to local government coffers because, if the towers weren't built, "We wouldn't receive this money."


Here's how normal tax payments would be reduced:

Typically, a building's taxes are based on its value, as assessed by the county.

To reduce the tax burden, and instead direct that money toward construction, the property is to be titled to the city, which does not pay property taxes. The city and schools will receive payments in lieu of taxes.

Rather than being based on the building's full-assessed value, the payment will be based on the cumulative prices that buyers have agreed to pay for the 72 units. Until a unit has been sold, it won't count toward the total value.

The payment in lieu of taxes will equal 25 percent of what the city and the Covington Independent Schools normally would get.

Even though the schools' tax rate is higher, the city and schools would split the 25 percent evenly, because the city provides fire and police services. Kenton County would receive 25 percent of what it normally would get in taxes.

After 22 years, the property will revert to the developer and be taxed in the normal way.

Source: Covington Solicitor's Office
From the 8/26/05 Cincinnati Post:

Condo buyers line up
Luxury high-rise in Covington offers views of the river and city

By Bob Driehaus
Post staff reporter

More than twice as many people have expressed interest in possibly buying condos in architect Daniel Libeskind's Ascent at Roebling Row high-rise than there are units - two months before groundbreaking.

The interest in condos that start at $400,000 and climb to the $4.5 million Pinnacle penthouse, has been intense and is poised to grow further after Thursday's unveiling of a sales center on the 10th floor of RiverCenter, the future condo building's neighbor to the west.

Bill Butler, president and chairman of Corporex Cos., said about 200 potential buyers each completed a three-page form to reserve a condo despite the fact that units won't be available at least until August 2007, which would be just in time to witness the Riverfest fireworks.

"I think there is a sense of pride on the part of the reserve buyers," Butler said before his press conference. "Pride in the project, pride in their community. A lot of (the interest) is in the architecture. A lot of it is in the place. And the world-class architect is a big factor."

The 10th-floor display will tempt potential buyers with a view that's nearly identical to that from the future condo building's view of Cincinnati's skyline, the Roebling Suspension Bridge, the Ohio River and Covington.

It also includes a decorated study, a sitting room and numerous plumbing and light fixtures, as well as red and black marble kitchen counter tops.

Libeskind said he has fallen in love with the site of the building and the design.

"The building is an expression of this area. You have to do something that grows out of the roots of that place," he said.

With the sweeping spiral design, the use of blue-tinted glass and other features, Libeskind has tried to integrate the building with its surroundings, especially the Roebling Suspension Bridge. He hopes that residents are uplifted by the architecture.

"You can create a mood, appreciate the earth, the lighting of the river at different times of the year," he said.

Libeskind said the views differed from each unit but would all be good. Asked how buyers should choose the best location, he answered: "It's like life. How do you pick the person you love?"

To help with the process, Corporex used a 240-foot crane and took photographs of the views buyers would have from each location of the condos.

Debbie Vicchiarelli, Corporex chief marketing officer, said the building has been modified in response to input from potential buyers, including enlarging some units.

The least expensive offering is a two-bedroom, 1,153-foot condo being offered for $395,000 on the first residential floor. Prices for the 72 condos differ greatly, capped at the 7,290-foot Pinnacle Penthouse that sells for $4.5 million.

One couple that plans to make the move is Shirley Bernstein, the matriarch of the family that owns and operates BB Riverboats and Mike Fink restaurant, and Jack Shepherd.

"The whole Cincinnati area needs an inspiration, and I think this is the perfect building for that," Shepherd said.

Bernstein has a special bond with the building because her late husband, Ben Bernstein, had owned the land and had recognized its potential, she said.

"He saw it as the most important land in the area. I was weeping the whole time the architect talked. Ben was a frustrated architect. He never went to school for it, but he always had architecture in mind," Bernstein said.

Daniel Libeskind is known as a contemporary deconstructivist architect.

He was born in Poland in 1946.

Libeskind won the competition to create the master plan for the new World Trade Center in New York City.

The architect also designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Imperial War Museum of the North in England.

Libeskind was selected over other prominent architects, including Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi and the first woman recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004.
From the 8/27/05 Cincinnati Enquirer:

Covington marina idea beginning to gain favor
By Mike Rutledge
Enquirer staff writer

COVINGTON - A marina just west of the Roebling Suspension Bridge could add a pretty site and some excitement to Covington's riverfront, supporters believe.

Corporex Cos. president and CEO Bill Butler mentioned the possibility this week, in connection with his proposed 22-story luxury condominium tower, the Ascent at Roebling's Bridge.

"We thought it might be nice to have a little pretty place right there as you come across the bridge," said Mayor Butch Callery. "And we were thinking people in the Ascent might have boats. And they could put their boats there."

"I think it's an excellent idea," said Garrard Street resident and former boat owner Adrian Kessler, 77, as he walked his dog near the riverfront. "If you can spend $1.5 million for a condo, you can spend $500,000 for a boat."

"The issue is simply a concept of a first-class marina, or yacht harbor, if you will, that could utilize that space, once the Covington Landing is gone from the site," Butler said. "We haven't really developed any plans for that, but we have discussed the idea with a number of people, including (BB Riverboats') Alan Bernstein.

"It could add a great deal of charm, and visual excitement, to the area," he said. And if renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, who is designing the Ascent, envisions the marina, "that would make it extraordinary."

"I think it'd be a good idea, to clean up the pollution" said Larry Tabeling, a 57-year-old resident of Covington's MainStrasse neighborhood. "It can't hurt."

Permits have not yet been sought from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a marina, and Callery said no agreements have been reached for use of the city-owned land.

The planned departure of the floating Covington Landing entertainment complex probably was needed to make way for the marina, Callery said, although it's not the leading reason the city is selling it. The city hopes to create a land-based restaurant complex at the landing's platform.


Crunked Up Aug 29, 2005 10:49 PM

Have there been any new renderings released lately? I've seen the two shots taken from the River. I'd like to see one taken from the south.

Austinlee Aug 30, 2005 5:17 AM

Wow, double the amount of units availablehave already found people interested; Even if that doesn't equate to all sales, that much interest is amazing before groundbreaking... I hope that level of interest will show how popular quality condo buildings are becoming and this will start of trend of more great mid to high rise buildings... Which I believe is going to be the new trend.... Anyone agree?

Cincinnatis Aug 31, 2005 2:39 AM


Originally Posted by PA Pride
Wow, double the amount of units availablehave already found people interested; Even if that doesn't equate to all sales, that much interest is amazing before groundbreaking... I hope that level of interest will show how popular quality condo buildings are becoming and this will start of trend of more great mid to high rise buildings... Which I believe is going to be the new trend.... Anyone agree?

PA Pride, I think your right. The only problem is, is that most people that are interested in Condos downtown are usually childless and this means a lot of people in their 20's-30's. In Cincinnati the condos tend to be relatively expensive.

LouisvilleJake Sep 5, 2005 5:32 PM

Design looks great, and excited that it is located in Kentucky. Good for Covington.

grasscat Sep 10, 2005 9:55 PM

From the 9/10/05 Cincinnati Enquirer:

Sales strong for Ascent condos
Design itself is enough for 17 high-end buyers

By Marla Matzer Rose
Enquirer staff writer

High-profile architecture apparently has joined "location, location, location" as an important factor influencing home-buying decisions in the region.

Covington-based Corporex said Friday that it has firm contracts, including deposits for 10 percent of the purchase price, from 17 buyers for the Daniel Libeskind-designed Ascent at Roebling's Bridge condominiums. That represents about 24 percent of the total units that will be available in the glass-walled, 22-story tower in Covington.

Local Realtors said the level of sales was quite strong given the nontraditional look of the building and the price: $400,000 to $4 million.

Denise Guiducci, president of Re/Max CityWide, called it an "amazing start" to sales. The project is designed by the man who won the design competition for the building to replace the World Trade Center in New York.

"Clearly this rapid rate of sale indicates that Cincinnati values premium architecture like other buyers in other major cities across the nation," said Michael Dinn, president of Northern Kentucky-based real estate consultancy Dinn Focused Marketing. "This bodes well for condominium values in this market in general."

The $40 million-plus Ascent represents a second wave of condo projects in downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Following several years of encouraging sales of renovated buildings - formerly used as office and retail space - the Ascent is now joined by a number of new construction condo developments poised to go forward in the next several months.

There are currently 72 units in the Ascent, though that number may drop slightly. Debbie Vicchiarelli, marketing chief for Corporex, said larger units have been particularly popular, and they will likely combine some smaller designs into single units for buyers wanting more space.

Vicchiarelli stressed that the contracts were a significant vindication of the project. There has been some skepticism since its unveiling about whether such an aggressively designed and pricey building would fly in the local market.

The first wave of units was snapped up by reserve buyers, who signed up weeks ago to get first crack at them. A second group of reserve buyers has preference until early next week, when the condos will be widely listed on the MLS system.

Corporex unveiled a fairly novel pricing scheme along with the opening of its sales office last month, with minimum prices along with a bidding system that allows prospective buyers to compete for their desired unit by agreeing to pay more than other buyers. The "Experience Center" for the Ascent is now open to the public in Corporex's 100 E. RiverCenter Blvd. headquarters in Covington.

Corporex was also crowing Friday about the Ascent being featured in a just-released special Time magazine supplement. The "Style & Design" issue features the Ascent along with several other examples of big-name architects being hired for condo projects.

Corporex plans to break ground on Oct. 26. The company hopes to later add a marina designed by Libeskind, though that project is subject to other approvals from the city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


Crunked Up Oct 19, 2005 12:04 AM

Covington high-rise getting early buzz

By Greg Paeth
Post staff reporter

Corporex Companies is ready to turn dirt next month on a condominium tower unlike any the tri-state has seen.

"This is going to be something that people will come to Covington just to see," said Mayor Butch Callery of The Ascent at Roebling's Bridge, a 21-story glass high-rise designed by internationally acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind. "It will put Covington on the map."

Corporex will hold a formal groundbreaking Nov. 16 for the $47 million project, for which 29 of the 72 units already have been sold.

The company said Monday it pushed back the date because an Oct. 25 commitment Libeskind has in Israel would have made it difficult for him to return in time for the ceremony originally scheduled for Oct. 26.

Holding the event later also should give the state additional time to take action on $55 million worth of industrial revenue bonds that the city of Covington plans to issue for the project, according to Thomas E. Banta, executive vice president for Corporex.

The guest list for the groundbreaking will include Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, Banta said.

The city, Kenton County and Covington Independent Schools already have signed off on an agreement that will clear the way for them to receive a payment in lieu of taxes from the developer, according to Covington City Solicitor Frank Warnock.

Under the agreement, the city and the school district will split an amount equal to 25 percent of what would have been paid in property taxes on the condos.

The county will receive another 25 percent, and the developer will get the remaining 50 percent to pay off a portion of the $55 million bond issue.

But the state also has to approve the proposal because it's entitled to some tax revenues from the project.

The state, as part of the inducement package for the developer, is being asked not to demand any tax payments.

Banta said the 29 buyers who've signed up for the project have made 10 percent down payments and also have signed contracts that commit them to paying for a unit in the building.

Libeskind's prominence in American architecture has increased dramatically since he was selected to become the master planner for the World Trade Center site in New York City.

The profile of the 21-story Covington tower, a dramatically upswept crescent, will be unique in the tri-state.

The project already has made a splash beyond Covington.

The city, the tower and Libeskind were the subject of an April story in The Wall Street Journal's "Marketplace" section.

City officials are hoping the project will spur other residential development downtown, which they see as a key to bringing retail and entertainment venues back to Covington's core.

Callery said the city is working on incentive programs to help other developers with infrastructure, but the programs will require approval from the state legislature.

He said the plan is still in the developmental stages and it would be premature to discuss details.

"Ascent," whose "footprint" has already been painted on a parking lot bounded by Scott and RiverCenter boulevards that once was the site of the Coach and Four restaurant, also will have a small retail center, a plaza and parking for tenants.

Publication date: 10-18-2005

CiNYC Oct 19, 2005 2:41 AM

i agree with everyone else that it would look much better if it was taller. i altered the rendering a while back to see:

Crunked Up Oct 19, 2005 5:31 AM

^Yeah that looks much better.

Crunked Up Oct 22, 2005 5:39 PM

This is a link to the Ascent's website. It shows floorplans, etc.

There's also a photo showing the layout of the tower painted on the parking lot that it's going to replace.

Crunked Up Oct 22, 2005 5:48 PM

More Renderings of the project

kazpmk Nov 16, 2005 1:07 AM

Is construction still planned to begin tommorow???

grasscat Nov 16, 2005 10:52 PM

Yes. The official groundbreaking was today.

Lecom Nov 17, 2005 2:36 AM

Today the guys at SOM were dissing this building out loud.

ColDayMan Nov 17, 2005 7:04 AM

And today, ColDayMan ate a sandwich freshly made from Subway.

And dissed this building.

richNcincy Nov 17, 2005 9:18 PM


GrowinUp Nov 18, 2005 6:25 PM

Are you folks familiar with the Libeskind design for Sacramento? It's called "Aura" and should be breaking ground shortly. Here's a couple of pics...

Check out the forum for more info and pics at...

richNcincy Dec 8, 2005 11:36 PM


They both look rockin!!

GrowinUp Dec 9, 2005 4:08 PM


i agree with everyone else that it would look much better if it was taller. i altered the rendering a while back to see:

I couldn't help but notice your "taller" rendition and at the risk of making this thread too Sacramento-ish, I thought to myself, "A little taller and it might look like Libeskind's 'Epic' proposed for Sacramento!" (not to be confused with 'Aura', this one would follow Aura's completion, likely)

-GR2NY- Dec 9, 2005 6:41 PM

I thought i already saw something like this in covington before. Maybe it was a cylinder building or something.

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