NEWPORT, Ky. (Dec. 12, 2012) — Late last month, Southbank Partners formally unveiled its Imagination 2020 plan, an economic development plan for the Southbank cities that covers 11 miles of Northern Kentucky Ohio Riverfront.
“Imagination 2020 will serve as a roadmap for economic development in the Southbank cities,” said Southbank President Jack Moreland. “This is a plan that will focus on land use, preserving open space, connecting neighborhood districts, creating housing opportunities, bolstering transportation and infrastructure, developing entertainment and cultural areas, and improving the livability, walkability and commerce of the area.”
Imagination 2020 is designed to assist in facilitating and realizing major new projects in the Northern Kentucky cities that include:
• Riverfront Commons, a planned 11-mile, uninterrupted walkway/bikeway/pathway that would extend from Ludlow to Fort Thomas and link all of the Southbank cities;
• Creation of urban villages in Covington’s Fifth Street area and along Rivera Drive in Bellevue and mixed-use developments along the Ludlow and Dayton riverfronts;
• Expansion of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center and creation of the Gateway Community and Technical College Urban Campus, both in Covington;
• The Ky. Route 9/Licking Pike extension in Newport, which will improve north-south traffic flows and augment riverfront development sites, including the Ovation site at the confluence of the Licking and Ohio rivers in Newport;
• Promoting the development of the Ludlow Lagoon site for recreational activities, including sports fields, open spaces, walking/hiking trails and an arboretum;
• Manhattan Harbor, a 100-acre riverfront site in Dayton that can accommodate a mixture of residential and commercial uses; and
• Improving and promoting the neighborhood business districts and developing riverfront and neighborhood housing in all of the Southbank cities.
To assist in creating the Imagination 2020 plan, Southbank hired Marshall Slagle, whose career as a professional planner spans nearly 50 years. Slagle worked with Southbank’s member cities and volunteers on crafting the Southbank Imagination 2020 Plan, which took more than a year to develop.
Slagle, a resident of Covington’s Wallace Woods neighborhood, spent nearly 40 years with the Northern Kentucky Planning Commission. In 2004, he established Marshall Slagle Planning, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in planning and zoning services to communities, organizations, and others.
Slagle said working on Northern Kentucky riverfront’s long-term development strategy was a natural fit with his background as a career planner.
“Looking back years ago, I felt our riverfront was underused—that it was a sleeping giant,” Slagle said. “Over the years, a great deal has been done, and the Northern Kentucky riverfront was transformed. What has taken place is exciting and has made the riverfront a vibrant place.”
“But more can be done,” he added. “In some ways, the riverfront is still a sleeping giant. The potential is great.”
Slagle is an award-winning planner who, between 1965 and 2003, held the positions of chief planner, planning services manager, and assistant director with the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission.
Slagle’s professional activities include service to Kentucky Chapter of American Planning Association, the Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center, the Northern Kentucky Farmers Market, the Kentucky Progress Commission, and the Governor’s Smart Growth Task Force.
Founded in 1997, Southbank Partners is a community and economic development organization that coordinates activity and planning with the cities that lie along Northern Kentucky’s bank of the Ohio River. Member cities include Covington, Newport, Bellevue, Dayton, Ludlow and Fort Thomas.
Southbank Partners’ purpose is to assist the cities and the region through promoting and coordinating development activities, fostering teamwork and collaboration, and providing a unified voice for the partner cities in advocating common positions to local, state, and federal governments, as well as to other communities.
Southbank, working together with its member cities, Kenton and Campbell County governments, state elected and appointed officials, and private developers and investors, has helped accomplish:
• Newport on the Levee entertainment center,
• The Newport Aquarium,
• The Southbank Shuttle bus service that serves Northern Kentucky and downtown Cincinnati,
• The South Shore and Harbor Greene high-rise condominiums in Newport and Bellevue,
• The Marriott, Comfort Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, Holiday Inn, and Hampton Inn hotels, and
• Restaurants that include Buckhead Mountain Grill, Chart House, Don Pablo’s, Hofbrauhaus, and Joe’s Crab Shack.