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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Newport on the Levee: Brio to be relocated? What will replace I-Max?

By Dan Monk, WCPO - Fort Thomas Matters media partner

Newport on the Levee could get a grand new entrance at the end of Monmouth Street along with a hotel and performance venue in the long-dormant Imax theater space, based on a rendering submitted recently to the city of Newport by North American Properties.

“They’re go-getters,” said Newport City Manager Tom Fromme. “I have no doubt that you’ll see significant progress being made within a year.”

Fromme said this is the most recent rendering of the project submitted to the city. North American acquired the mixed-use riverfront development last year and announced it would invest at least $100 million on its renovation. The company has shared some details on how the renovated project would look from the north and facing northeast. But this is the first look at how the property could change on its southwestern corner.

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WCPO attempted to reach Tim Perry, the managing partner in charge of the project for North American. He has not returned calls and emails.

Cropped version of North American Properties rendering submitted to city of Newport
The rendering shows a six-story hotel property on what is now a vacant lot used for ice skating. A “Newport Center for the Performing Arts” is depicted where the Imax theater operated before its 2003 closure. Fromme said neither of those additions are set in stone, but he’s certain North American wants to “open that whole area up” as part of the Levee’s redevelopment.

“I have no doubt they have aspirations to fill those gaps in,” he said. “They don’t want a vacant lot sitting there.”

The rendering shows a new vehicle and pedestrian entrance where Brio Tuscan Grille now sits. Fromme said North American wants to relocate Brio and demolish the freestanding restaurant property to make way for “a grander entrance” at Third and Monmouth.

“Brio is like a wall,” Fromme said. “When you go north on Monmouth Street towards Cincinnati, you pretty much dead end into the back end of Brio. You have to circle around to get into the valet circle.”

Brio Manager Carl Axelson confirmed his company is negotiating with North American about relocating to another site at the Levee.

“Our president has come here to meet with them,” Axelson said. “We’re definitely not going anywhere. We’ve got six more years on our lease.”

Fromme said the change would allow cars to enter the parking garage from from Third Street. Currently the main garage entrance is at the intersection of Washington Ave and Dave Cowens Drive on the property’s northeastern corner.

“It just makes it look more inviting,” Fromme said of the new entrance. “It’s just going to be more elegant, more user friendly, in my opinion.”

North American Properties previously announced plans to demolish the restaurant space where Mitchell’s Fish Market operated until January. Bar Louie restaurant and the Barnes and Noble bookstore also announced plans to close their Levee locations this year.

Conceptual designs released in June show how the Levee plans to replace those spaces with an interior design that takes better advantage of the building’s river view. North American has also said it plans to announce several new restaurant concepts for the property.


  1. Your going to lose business anyway because you got rid of Barnes and Noble. We don't need more fancy restaurants. Bring back our bookstore.

  2. Whatever they put here won't last either.. We got enough empty hotels as it is..

  3. What ever they put there will just go out of business in a few years.. Watch what i say...

  4. what a shame there is so much negativity about this...I hope it does well and can't wait to see the also will be a good place for a small hotel with all of the Cincinnati venues within bus transportation, trolley and even walking distance....

  5. Vendors/business owners and the new property owners both need to remember, this is not Chicago or NYC. You make retail rent too high or pricing in your businesses/restaurants too high...people will not come or will fade away and businesses will not be able to afford setting up shop there. Look what has happened over the years across the river at the banks.The place stayed 1/2 empty for quite a few years. Just sayin...