A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

BB Riverboats barge arrives; $2 million upgrade will convert former casino into multi-use facility

The former casino barge that BB Riverboats is converting into a multi-purpose facility completed its 700-mile, 10-day trip from Wood River, Illinois, arriving on the Covington riverfront shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The BB Riverboats barge with a view of the Cincinnati skyline as a backdrop. The view will be a little different when renovations in Covington are completed. The barge will then make its way upriver to its permanent home on Riverboat Row in Newport (photos by Mark Hansel) Click to enlarge.

The 300-foot vessel made its way up the Ohio River past its docking point, turned around at the mouth of the Licking River and slid seamlessly into the spot where $2 million in renovations will be completed this summer.

Rebranding and retrofitting are expected to take about six months to complete.

The barge was once part of a floating complex that housed the Argosy Casino in Sioux City, Iowa.

The barge was stored for nearly four years in a Wood River, Illinois shipyard. Two towboats operated by Point Clear Towing, LLC, based in Paducah, Kentucky, have guided the barge down the Mississippi River and up the Ohio River to the renovation site at the foot of Madison Avenue in Covington.

BB Riverboats owner Capt. Alan Bernstein waits as the barge makes its way up the Ohio River in Covington Wednesday morning.

When improvements are complete, the barge will house a state-of-the-art event facility with a full bar and a new kitchen to serve the company’s catering operations. In addition, the barge will house BB Riverboats’ reservations center, executive offices, and vessel operations.

Capt. Alan Bernstein, owner of BB Riverboats, said the company has outgrown its current facility, which has been in use since 1984.

“This is almost three times the size of our current facility, we’re just smashed in like sardines,” Bernstein said. “This is going to offer just a great expansion and addition. We will get more jobs out of this and hopefully a lot more revenue so we can grow exponentially.”

 

Fedders Construction will complete the renovations, which are expected to take about six month to complete, over the summer.

Renovation work is expected to be completed in January, 2019 At that time, BB Riverboats will move the barge upriver to its permanent location at 101 Riverboat Row in Newport, where it will replace the company’s current floating facility.

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