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Riverfront plans expand into six communities

FORT THOMAS, Ky. (Paula Toti) -- Whether it's new housing, new stores or new places to walk there's an explosion of activity along northern Kentucky's riverfront.
    
Much of it is getting a good start with the warm weather.  The cement was poured on a walking path Tuesday.  This first section this summer will connect this area to the Big Mac Bridge.  But when it comes to what's happening along the river, it's time to talk  new roads, homes and retail as well as a much bigger walking path.

The walking path called the "Riverfront Commons Trail" will span 15 miles of northern Kentucky riverfront from Fort Thomas to Ludlow.  Six segments will get their start this summer.  It will take more than a few years for a completed unbroken trail through private and public partnerships. 

Jack Moreland, President of Southbank Partners, said, "But as we put segments together your going to see people use them and believe in what we are doing and raise money to do the remainder of the trail."

Jack Moreland is President of Southbank Partners, a not-for-profit economic development organization that works with six riverfront cities on future planning.  He's especially excited about what he says are the economic benefits of expanding route nine.

"It's a connector route that connects the termination of route nine in the city of Newport with Newport on the Levee and Taylor Southgate Bridge," said Moreland.

Bids for the project go out in July and it should take about three years to complete.  Moreland says  routing more traffic over the bridge will be good for economic development along the new stretch of road.

As for retail, TJ Maxx opens this week at the Pavilion in Newport.  Moreland says the new Kroger there has become one of the top money makers in the chain.  The "New Riff" distillery that opened last week  next to the "Party Source" is now the most northern point in the Bourbon Trail. 

Finally, when it comes to housing, the largest residential project in term of size and money is Manhattan Harbor in Dayton, Kentucky.  It will start with upscale single family homes.  Some of the dirt is from recent work on  I-471. 

With all of this Moreland says here's the takeaway, "We want them to know first of all there's a movement back to the river."

There's a lot to be done in a short amount of time on the path, the first phase is slated to be finished in time for Italian Fest and the 100,000 visitors.  The first phase of the walking trail has a price tag of just over a million dollars with much of the money coming from a grant obtained by the City of Newport.



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