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Monday, February 23, 2009

Bear Creek Issues - Newport Pavilion Concerns

I have been getting lots of comments and emails about the Bear Creek issues and Newport Pavilion and despite being untimely I thought I would add my two cents.

1. I absolutely hate to see this happen. I want a Target, Chipotle, and Kroger closer to home just like everyone and I hope it can still happen - sooner, rather than later.

2. We could see this coming a mile away. Lets revisit the timeline of events:
Feb '08 - Home Depot backs out of the development
July '08 - Bear Creek Partners split
Jan '09 - Liens begin to pile up against the Montgomery development
Jan '09 - COO leaves for competitor
Feb '09 - Bear Creek exits over $900m in developments in the Cincinnati area

3. There is still a lot of uncertainty around the Newport Pavilion. Target has said they will not begin construction in 2009 but stop short of saying that they have cancelled the location. While a sub-contractor indicated the project is on hold, Kroger has said they will open the Marketplace by the summer. The city of Newport is not commenting which means they are just embarrased after condemning an entire neighborhood and now watching a giant mud hole develop. So where does this leave the development? I really don't know and in this environment there is no way of telling.

4. I believe the fate of Bear Creek is going to be a common refrain across the country right now and the impacts will vary by community. I think there are still some chapters to be written on this story as the partner that exited in the summer has now returned to try and right the ship but unfortunately the damage has been done. Here is to hoping that they can get this back on track. The development is in a great location with great highway access and nestled between communities that are very attractive for many retailers.

Burglary Update

I am attaching a link to the Fort Thomas police department with additional information on the recent burglaries. The recent break-in at the corner of Waterworks and Memorial is alarming to say the least. A very public location, as is typical - during the daytime. These are serious crimes committed by a person or people who appear to have very little concern about getting caught. We definitely need these people caught and put away. If you see anything out of the ordinary - or possibly anything that is ordinary please call the Fort Thomas Police Department. I wonder if the person or people committing these crimes are posing as someone such as movers or utility workers given the fact that the crimes have been so public and has not aroused suspicions.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Missing Piece of the Midway Rehab

Here is another recent story from the Enquirer about the streetscape work about to begin next month. This is a story I mentioned a few weeks ago here so not new news but there is an interesting quote at the end of the article from the owner of the Midway.

"The city needs to get those buildings back to conforming use by getting more
storefronts," Gabennesch said. "I think the city isn't addressing enough to
resolve the problems. "

Tim is dead on with this comment and I have spoken with a few people in the community that have tried to purchase the property from the current owner. Unfortunately the owner makes good money from HUD for the low income rental revenue and has no incentive to sell. This really needs a creative solution and I couldn't agree more that the properties are an anchor keeping redevelopment of the Midway from moving forward. Any thoughts on how to make a change here?

Woodfill Reconstruction

An article about finally getting started on reconstructing Woodfill. I am not sure but I think the reconstruction of Woodfill is the closest thing to a "shovel ready" project that I know of in Fort Thomas. Not sure how that $800B in funds will trickle down through the state but I hope it made a list somewhere.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

More Grant Money Coming to Fort Thomas

I have mentioned on this site more than a few times about the availability of and need to apply for grant money from both the state and federal level. From a news story from 2 days ago we learn of a great success in landing this money and this time from the Fort Thomas Fire Department. Kudos to them for finding, applying, and making a good case for the funds. The money will be used to add an additional communications channel for emergency response.

In the current economic environment that we are in local governments must find these alternative funding methods to get some of their pet projects accomplished. If you know of any other grant opportunities please respond in the comments section below.

Fort Thomas Education Update

Big news this week on the education front in Fort Thomas. The first relating to the new capstone program introduced at Highlands High School starting next year. It truly appears to be an innovative program that enhances Highlands already great reputation for preparing students for the next phase of life. The 3 capstone groups are centered around Engineering, Mass Communications, and Performing Arts and will allow the students to move through classes together during their 4 years at Highlands. Perhaps more importantly, students can get a serious head start on earning college credit towards their degree. This program goes beyond standard advance placement classes and gives the students a huge head start on their studies in college.

The second news story comes out of Frankfort as Gov Beshear has indicated a willingness to review parts of the Kentucky Education Reform Act or KERA as it is known. While the governor gave no details on specific proposals there appears to be a willingness for the first time to tackle some of the harder issues. There is some good discussion in the article from area legislators and most of the talk centered on changes to the CATS testing component of the reform that is now 20 years old. The one issue with the law that most Fort Thomas residents take exception to is the funding formulas and unfortunately the article nor the legislators really address this issue with the exception of 2 short lines near the bottom of the article. As a result of so many districts in the state benefiting from this funding formula the chances of making substantive changes that could benefit the Fort Thomas School district are slim.