A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Our Rich History: West Newport is thriving; surge of longtime, newer residents unite with shared vision

By Josh Tunning
Special to NKyTribune

Part 72 of our series, “Resilience and Renaissance: Newport, Kentucky, 1795-2020.”

Newport, Kentucky has a colorful and exciting past. From its first settlement by James Taylor, to its industrialization in the 1800s, to its Sin City days, and, finally, to what it is today, Newport is a vibrant and growing urban community. More recently, there is one neighborhood of Newport that is truly making history and becoming a showcase of what community development looks like when the community itself is empowered with that process. That neighborhood is West Newport, sometimes known as the West End or the Westside.

Westside Citizens Coalition tree planting. (Photo by Josh Tunning)

West Newport has seen a surge of both longtime and newer residents come together to get involved in the neighborhood and to work in transforming it into a shared vision. These residents have increasingly become engaged in the neighborhood association that represents West Newport, the Westside Citizens Coalition. The residents themselves are transforming their vision into well-defined and observable actions.

Neighborhood action items have included initiatives such as a twice-yearly tree planting. In fact, the Westside Citizens Coalition has planted over 400 trees during the last five years throughout West Newport. Further, the neighborhood has dedicated itself to keeping and creating new, quality affordable housing options. It has worked with successful community partners, like Neighborhood Foundations and their Pathways to Homeownership program, to rehab historic buildings as well as to construct new housing in the neighborhood. Both historic preservation and new construction enable the neighborhood to create affordable housing options geared for first-time homebuyers.

Neighborhood Foundations historic rehab. (Photo by Josh Tunning)

West Newport has also seen reinvestment come to parks and greenspace in recent years.

There have been massive improvements to Buena Vista Park on the south end of West Newport, thanks to resident volunteers and fundraising efforts by groups such as the Newport Parks Renaissance Commission. What was once a park with a worn-down shelter, overgrown woods and little interest, now has a walking path, a renovated shelter, the region’s first outdoor public fitness court and even more improvements on the way. Then there is the new Bernadette Watkins Park on the northern end of the neighborhood that has a brand-new playground through the courtesy of a Kaboom grant, large open greenspace, a Red Bike Station, new landscaping, and to top it off, a beautiful view of Downtown Cincinnati.

While West Newport’s residential community has been thriving and staying busy doing their part to transform the neighborhood, the economic and local business side of things in the neighborhood has also been experiencing a renaissance. Whether it’s one of the corner historic buildings tucked away in the neighborhood like the new Galaxie Skateshop on West 10th Street or one of the many new and growing businesses along the main business corridor in West Newport, like Wooden Cask on York Street, local businesses and new commercial space are exploding in the neighborhood. Just a few years ago you would see so many of these historic commercial buildings in the neighborhood sitting vacant and slowly turning into blighted properties. Now, due to the renaissance in the urban core and programs like ReNewport’s Business Facade Grant (that awards funds to restore historic storefronts), we have seen businesses popping up left and right in the neighborhood. Here are just a few of some of our new West Newport businesses:

Galaxie Skateshop and Flow Koffee. (Photo by Josh Tunning)

• Eatwell Celebrations and Feasts
• Flow Koffee & Kombucha
• Fedder’s Construction
• Galaxie Skateshop
• Garage on York
• Karmaic Beauty
• Purple Poulet
• Wooden Cask Brewery
• and more!

Although much of our urban core has experienced a renaissance, I believe that West Newport is showcasing it in a manner that we are not seeing in many other places. Its renaissance is not just coming from outside development, but from within as well. It is the people who have lived here for years coming together to ensure that change happens in their neighborhood, but that it is change on an equitable level. One example of that is affordable housing. The results are shared prosperity, so that as our city rises, our people rise with it.

Josh Tunning is a resident of West Newport and also the Executive Director of ReNewport, a non-profit community development organization dedicated to improving the Quality of Life of all residents and businesses in Newport. Josh is a graduate of the Northern Kentucky University MPA Program. He can be reached at tunning.josh@gmail.com or at 859-512-3765.

We want to learn more about the history of your business, church, school, or organization in our region (Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, and along the Ohio River). If you would like to share your rich history with others, please contact the editor of “Our Rich History,” Paul A. Tenkotte, at tenkottep@nku.edu Paul A. Tenkotte, PhD is Professor of History at Northern Kentucky University (NKU) and the author of many books and articles.

Neighborhood Foundation’s new construction. (Photo by Josh Tunning)

Volunteer house painting. (Photo by Josh Tunning)

St. Elizabeth Outdoor Fitness Court at Buena Vista Park. (Photo by Josh Tunning)

Related Posts

Leave a Comment