In May, Covington, KY officials announced the sale of the historic Mutual building on Madison Avenue which sits at the most prominent intersection in the city’s downtown, located just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, OH. News of the closing was celebrated by downtown Covington stakeholders, business owners, and community members alike as the city continues to rebuild and reinvent itself after decades of decline.
Among those stakeholders excited to hear the announcement was Kelly Charlton, a high-spirited, thirty-something who recently purchased the property across the street from the Mutual building at 2 West Pike. The building, which has sat vacant for over two years, had fallen into disrepair and had become a nuisance and a recent target for squatters and vandals.
Charlton, who grew up in Covington and spent her weekends roaming the library and taking art classes at nearby Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center, says her love for the city and its limitless potential were the primary motivators behind her decision to purchase the corner property.
“I wanted to find an old building that I could bring back to life that was also located in an area that would benefit from the new developments taking place,” Charlton told The River City News last month. “I searched for two years for the right property. When I came across this building, I saw opportunity.”
Since acquiring the building in early March, Charlton and a pair of close friends/craftsmen have spent countless hours over the past several weeks tirelessly working to rehab all three floors of the historic structure. To date, the group has fixed, replaced, and/or updated the building’s plumbing, electric, HVAC system, and roof.
On the first floor, Charlton has renovated and white boxed two large storefronts, installing new hardwood floors and fixtures and repairing and repainting the ceiling, walls, and trim. Both units are now available for rent. Up on the second floor, Charlton is finishing up work on the front commercial space which will soon house Durham Branding Co., a design and branding firm owned by graphic designer Austin Dunbar who has worked with both large national corporations and small local businesses.
In the next few weeks, Charlton hopes to begin demolition and rehab work on the residential rentals on both the second and third floors. The one-bedroom second floor space and two-bedroom unit on the third floor – which offers amazing views of Madison Avenue and the iconic Mother of God Church – are expected to be completed by the end of the summer.
With the plans for Hotel Covington expected to move forward and with work on the Mutual building on the opposite site of street underway, Charlton is excited about the future of the city’s downtown and is happy to be a part of the resurgence.
“I have a front row seat for all of the exciting changes taking place,” she said. “There are so many great businesses, both new and old, on Pike Street and I hope that this building can be a strong anchor that houses unique retail businesses that can build upon the momentum in downtown. I am very happy to have the opportunity to be a small part of the revitalization of the city that I really love.”