Academy Flats

The Challenge

For 30 years, one of Covington, Kentucky’s most beautiful historic landmarks remained a source of vacancy and blight in the middle of a good working class community. For decades, developers’ efforts to convert the school to residential housing repeatedly failed.

The obstacles had been too much to overcome: environmental problems, adaptive reuse complications, historic considerations, and market weakness. The building was on top of the Mayor’s Redevelopment Priorities List. In 2005, the Model Group was asked to look at the building to see if anything could be done.

The Development Solution

  • Instead of trying to force a prescribed use for the building, the Model team determined what the best intersection between the community needs, market possibilities and the building itself could be: high quality affordable housing for existing seniors.
  • Model structured a new project for 26 units of senior housing with seven layers of equity and loan funding, including historic tax credits, rental housing tax credits and loans from the city and Housing Authority.
  • Model made a successful application for the building to be listed on the National Historic Register in order to be eligible for federal historic tax credits.
  • Partners: PNC Bank, City of Covington, Housing Authority of Covington, Kentucky Housing Corporation.
  • Coordination with Senior Services of Northern Kentucky (NKY) and Disabilities Coalition of NKY.

The Construction Solution

  • A great historic preservation, adaptive reuse project: the best of the old (chalkboards, teachers’ cupboards, tin ceilings, historic exterior details).
  • Top quality gut rehab and top quality materials: the best of the new (plumbing, HVAC, electric, windows, flooring, elevator, handicap accessibility, parking, landscaping).
  • Significant waterproofing, foundation shoring, and sitework.

After the Academy Flats’ open house, new residents moved into the building who had attended the school at the building forty years prior. The project is not only the winner of the 2007 River Cities Historic Preservation Award (Kentucky) and the Cincinnati Preservation Association Historic Preservation Award (Ohio), the project represents a transformation of the building into a new home for 26 Covington seniors, and a true transformation of a neighborhood island of blight to a source of pride.