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Ovation’s pedestrian bridge dedication is ‘small step toward big outcome’ for transformational project

By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

The sun shone bright on Corporex’s first-of-a-kind ribbon-cutting on a pedestrian bridge that connects two parts of a massive multi-use development on the riverfronts of the Licking and Ohio rivers in Newport. Speakers all at the short ceremony agreed on the main points — the Ovation project is undeniably transformative, a crown jewel in NKY’s cap, the envy of the development world, a driver of the economy into the future, a visionary masterpiece — and a “bridge” that will unite not just Northern Kentucky but the whole region.

meetNKY’s Julie Kirkpatrick speaks to the crowd at the pedestrian bridge ribbon-cutting. (Photos by Judy Clabes/NKyTribune)

All that may sound like tall talk, but it wasn’t. It was sincere and heartfelt — and the proof is in the pudding. In this case, in a project that was some 17 years in the making — through ups and downs in the economy, through the COVID crisis, and more — until all the pieces started falling together.

The Ovation project encompasses 5 city blocks, or 25 acres, and is comprised of a mixed-use development, with a music venue, business offices, restaurants and entertainment, luxury residential condos, apartments, and a hotel. It is well underway — the music venue is in place, the Homewood hotel and some residences will be ready by the end of the year, and there will be more in 2024. This is a “walkable” community — at a purported billion dollar investment.

Some of the people who have purchased residences were among those to take the special walk across the pedestrian bridge over 3rd Street after the ribbon-cutting.

The credit for the vision for the project goes to Bill Butler, CEO of Corporex, and to the team he assembled to make it happen — but credit goes also to federal and state incentives and to the City of Newport for being a cooperative and involved partner.

View of the pedestrian bridge as work on the project progressed.

Julie Kirkpatrick, CEO of meetnky who emceed the event, said, “We are all about building bridges, and this bridge connects a walkable community to the riverfront. This is a place where people can live, work, play, and stay.”

Tom Banta, chief real estate officer of Corporex, said that it was a Corporex “first” to have a ceremony for a bridge — but that it was appropriate to mark a milestone for the “transformational project.”

“This immense project will really make a mark on the community — and can change the community. . .Its economic impact goes beyond just the buildings we see in progress. We are just getting started.”

Banta praised Newport’s City Manager Tom Fromme as one of those who were part of the “village (it took) to get us here.”

Newport Mayor Tom Guidugli said “every single one of the city’s team make us proud. . . It’s easier to do business in Newport.”

Campbell County Judge Executive Steve Pendery spoke to the project’s “greater scope and greater potential” and said the Ovation was “reconnecting us to the river.”

Butler called the ribbon-cutting and temporary opening of the pedestrian bridge “a small step toward a big outcome” and said the Ovation will “change the face of the Northern Kentucky community” and “bring Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky together in a sense of unity.”

Each person who spoke — and several members of the audience — contributed objects to a special “time capsule” that will be buried below the bridge to be opened at a future date.

Photo captured from the video about the Ovation project

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