About The Catalytic Fund

The Catalytic Development Funding Corp. of Northern Kentucky (the Catalytic Fund) is a private sector, not-for-profit company providing financing assistance and technical expertise for developers of quality residential and commercial real estate projects in Northern Kentucky’s urban cities of Ludlow, Covington, Newport, Bellevue, and Dayton (Target Area Cities). Our mission is to accelerate Northern Kentucky’s urban renaissance though targeted investments in catalytic real estate redevelopment projects in urban neighborhoods. The organization was initiated by Vision 2015 (now Skyward) to implement its Urban Renaissance initiative, one of the organization’s Power of Six focus areas critical to regional economic competitiveness.

The Catalytic Fund addresses the need for patient capital to support construction and/or rehabilitation of market rate housing and mixed-use real estate projects that are essential to the revitalization and repopulation of our urban communities. These projects and their sponsors are typically outside both private and public financing programs and traditional financial institutions are not flexible enough to provide these projects with sufficient capital. The Catalytic Fund provides capital via a $10,000,000 investment fund to fill gaps between traditionally underwritten loans, developer’s equity, and project costs. Although the Catalytic Fund expects its capital to be returned, it can be patient and flexible allowing time for the project to succeed.  Examples of our work are featured under Projects.

Target Areas

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Northern Kentucky’s River Cities

The River Cities of Ludlow, Covington, Newport, Bellevue and Dayton are each experiencing an urban revival that has new residents, businesses and visitors flocking back to the core!  This movement has fueled demand for urban living and creative workspace product that is transforming these River Cities into a built environment and lifestyle that is truly unique in Greater Cincinnati.  These communities are walkable with many amenities in close proximity, and also neighborly, offering charming architecture and locally-owned businesses just minutes away from the Cincinnati central business district.

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The Catalytic Fund provides opportunities to experience the walkable, creative and fun neighborhoods and business districts on the Northern Kentucky side of downtown through a new initiative called Beyond the Curb.  Beyond the Curb is a series of one-day, self-guided urban living tours.  Learn more and join the migration to the urban core at the next tour event!

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Ludlow

Ludlow, Kentucky (population 4,427), covering approximately two square miles, is the western anchor of the Southbank cities. Incorporated in 1864, the city has the atmosphere of a quaint small town yet is directly accessible by interstate to all of the attractions and employment centers in the Greater Cincinnati. Land use in Ludlow is primarily residential with a street grid makes it a perfect place for residents wanting a single family home but with walkable urban conveniences. The Ludlow school system has an excellent reputation (its High School ranked in the top 20 in the State) so the city is very attractive to families.

Ludlow has a large stock of fine historic structures and an active Historic Society that encourages preservation and renovation. At the same time, Ludlow has expanses of undeveloped hillsides and riverfront property creating opportunities for new housing and other types of development. Housing development in Ludlow is attractive because of the city’s proximity to Greater Cincinnati’s CBD, accessibility to interstates, the recent construction of a new full service grocery store, walking access to a historic Main Street district, and adjacency to Devou Park. Devou Park is a 500-acre recreation area with stunning views of the Cincinnati skyline, hiking trails, playground and picnic areas, as well as an 18-hole golf course. Also located in Ludlow is the Ludlow Bromley Yacht Club, a waterfront restaurant and live music venue with boat docking facilities.

One of Ludlow’s most unique assets is Paul Miller’s Circus Mojo facility, which is quickly becoming a major regional destination. Paul Miller is a former Barnum and Bailey circus performer who purchased the vacant and blighted Ludlow Theater and converted it to a training and performance facility for circus performers. Today, Ludlow is attracting international ìstudentsî living in Ludlow and training in this facility for positions in theatre and circus all over the world. Circus Mojo also provides corporate team building courses, youth circus camps, and outreach programs in hospitals and juvenile centers. Its activities have grown so quickly, that now Circus Mojo is in the process of expanding into another former warehouse building in downtown Ludlow. Miller’s shows, performances, events, and courses are attracting scores of visitors to Ludlow from all over the region.

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Covington

Covington (population 40,640), incorporated in 1815, encompasses 2,700 acres. It is the fifth largest city in the State of Kentucky. Covington is directly across the Ohio River from Cincinnati’s Central Business District and has excellent vehicular and pedestrian connections to it via three bridges.

Covington is well known for its dramatic economic recovery beginning in the late 1980’s after having been labeled by HUD as ìthe most distressed city in the United Statesî in the late 1970’s. This recovery was triggered by a major Class A office and hotel complex known as RiverCenter which attracted major corporate headquarters to locate in Covington. RiverCenter also catalyzed major public investment in facilities such as a new County Courthouse Building and Garage, a Federal Courthouse, and a major Convention Center. Covington’s downtown has also attracted major hotel chains such as a full service Marriott Hotel, a Marriott Courtyard, Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn and others. Today, Covington’s skyline not only includes these office and hotel towers but a stunning contemporary condominium tower called the Ascent designed by world class architect, Daniel Libeskind.

Covington offers a guide to starting or growing a business in Covington. Get the guide here.

This investment in Covington’s riverfront area has attracted major corporate employers to locate in Covington. Ashland, Inc.’s headquarters is located RiverCenter, Fidelity Investments built a 250 acre, 1.2 million square foot campus in Covington for 3,900 employees, and  St. Elizabeth Medical Center constructed a major medical office complex in Covington.

At the same time, Covington has preserved it extensive stock of historic buildings and has the second largest number of historic structures in the State of Kentucky. Covington’s historic districts are a major regional attraction and the city’s Licking River Historic District contains homes with the highest residential real estate values in Greater Cincinnati. The city is comprised of 21 distinct neighborhoods and residents take pride in and celebrate the city’s diversity. Covington is one of only a few cities in the United States with a human rights ordinance.
Covington’s architectural and cultural diversity appeals to almost any residential or business taste or requirement. Residential opportunities in Covington include homes and units of all sizes with spectacular views of the Cincinnati skyline and Ohio River, historic homes with original old world craftsmanship in tact, as well as homes with cutting edge contemporary architectural styles. One can live in the urban core and walk to major sports and arts attractions in downtown Cincinnati or in the city’s quiet suburban neighborhoods. Businesses also have many choices in Covington ranging from traditional office space in Class A towers or historic buildings which have been creatively adapted for new economy small businesses.
Covington also has many major entertainment and restaurant attractions. The city’s historic downtown has several fine ethnic restaurants as well as attractions such as the Carnegie Arts Center, the Madison Event Center, and the Madison Theater, a major draw for live music performances. Mainstrasse Village has a collection of individually owned fine dining and casual restaurants and unique bars and pubs and hosts several themed festivals each year attracting thousands throughout the region.
Arts and culture are also an important feature of Covington and the City was recently designated as a Kentucky Cultural District by the Kentucky Arts Council due to established venues such as the Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center, the Beringer-Crawford Museum, and the Baker Hunt Art Education Center. Covington also is home to several nationally recognized historic churches such as Trinity, the Cathedral Basilica, and Mother of God, all located in Covington’s urban core.
Covington is also becoming a center for education and innovation. One of the region’s finest private high schools, Covington Latin recently invested in a major expansion in Covington’s downtown. Gateway Community College has located an urban campus in downtown Covington and is underway with a $75 million expansion that will accommodate 5,000+ students. Entrepreneurs are attracted to Covington’s support for start up businesses such as the bioLOGIC life science accelerator and the Northern Kentucky ezone.

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Newport

One of Kentucky’s oldest cities, Newport (population 15,273) was founded in 1795. The City is characterized by an extraordinary mix of historic amenities and contemporary development. Newport occupies a land area of 3.5 square miles and is directly across the Ohio River from Cincinnati’s Central Business District, giving it a striking view of the Cincinnati skyline. By its location, Newport has the advantage of being easily accessible from every direction. Three bridges, two vehicular and one pedestrian, connect Newport to downtown Cincinnati. The City also has two bridges connecting to Covington on its western boundary. The City has excellent access to I-471 with three exits within its jurisdiction. I-471 provides connectivity to I-275, which facilitates easy transportation to all of Greater Cincinnati.

For years Newport was dubbed “Sin City” because of illegal gambling casinos, organized crime and other illicit and illegal activities. Over the last fifteen years, due to the aspirations of a hard-working group of elected officials and City staff, Newport has experienced a rebirth that has positioned the area as a major a family entertainment, nightlife, retail, tourist and neighborhood business center that attracts visitors from across the entire region and even the nation.

Millions of people visit Newport’s destination venues including the Newport Aquarium, Newport on the Levee (Greater Cincinnati area’s largest tourist attraction with four million annual visitors), BB Riverboats, Hofbrauhaus, the Purple People Bridge, and the World Peace Bell, the world’s largest swinging bell. The riverfront area also attracts warm weather festivals and events almost every weekend such as Italian Fest, a four-day festival featuring music, Italian and other food booths, rides and games for children, all in a tribute to Newport’s Italian heritage. Newport is also has a historic downtown along Monmouth Street filled with eclectic businesses which has been revitalized with a massive streetscape program and recently experienced $10M in reinvestment.

There has also been major investment in residential development particularly in widespread renovation of historic homes particularly in the East Row neighborhood, one of Kentucky’s largest and finest historic districts. The upscale SouthShore condominium development is located directly on the Newport’s riverfront along with its companion upscale apartment complex, called Vue 180, currently under construction. The Wiedemann Hill development offers luxury single -family home sites with remarkable views of downtown Cincinnati and the River.

Newport has also recently completed the Newport Pavilion project which provides major retail amenities that will complement and support investment in additional residential development throughout Northern Kentucky’s urban core. The project contains a Target and a Kroger Marketplace along with several smaller retail shops and restaurants.

For businesses wishing to expanding or relocate, Newport offers Class A office space at the 180,000-square-foot One Riverfront Place, which sits near the Ohio River and is suitable for corporate headquarters. The city also has smaller, affordable spaces in historic buildings along Monmouth Street that are suited for professionals such as lawyers, architects and others. Newport is also the home of Northern Kentucky’s UpTech which is a start-up company accelerator providing funding, space and other services for early stage companies.

Another exciting project is the New Riff Distillery, a bourbon micro distillery and an official stop along Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail.

One of Newport’s most promising future development opportunities is Ovation, an $800 million redevelopment of Newport’s riverfront at the confluence of the Ohio and Licking Rivers. Ovation will offer a first-class mixed-use development in the urban core. The site is planned to include approximately a thousand new housing units, one million square feet of office space, and provide additional lodging and entertainment amenities.

The growth and positive changes in Newport are unprecedented regionally. The City is committed to improve every aspect of the community in order to enhance the business climate and also the quality of life for its residents. Newport is an excellent place to do business, not only because of its prime location on the river and its access to the interstate system and downtown Cincinnati, but also because of its lean, service oriented staff that is motivated to help make positive projects happen.  The Catalytic Fund featured Newport in the second installment of its urban living tour series, Beyond the Curb | Newport.

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Bellevue

Bordered on the west by Newport and on the east by Dayton, Kentucky, Bellevue is in northernmost Campbell County, just over the river from Cincinnati. Bellevue (population 5,955) covers .96 square miles and was incorporated in 1870. The city has a rich historical heritage, as reflected in its architecture and quaint and historically authentic business district, which has become a regional attraction.

Bellevue was famous for its white sandy beaches in the early 20th century. Baseball fans know it as the home of former Cincinnati third baseman Harry Steinfeldt, the unnamed fourth infielder of the famous “Tinker-Evers-Chance” double play. Today Bellevue is experiencing an American renaissance and is home to talented artisans, unique restaurants, specialty shops and more, many of which can be found in the Fairfield Avenue historic district.

New development along with valued historic architecture gives Bellevue its unique sense of place. Residential property values in Bellevue have experienced the highest rates of increase among the urban core cities. Outstanding public services, a low crime rate, beautiful parks, and popular community events have contributed to Bellevue’s strong real estate values.

Much of the new residential demand can be attributed to the City’s significant investment in Bellevue’s historic Fairfield Avenue Business District, which has attracted rehabilitation, adaptive reuse, and infill new construction. Bellevue has an excellent reputation for supporting its array of unique businesses by organizing regular events, joint advertising and other services. Because of these efforts and the quality of the merchants and restaurants in the district, Fairfield Avenue draws hundreds of visitors on a weekly basis.

Along with rehabbed single-family historic homes, new luxury condominiums are also an option in Bellevue in the Harbor Green and WatersEdge developments. New homes are available in Bellevue’s City View development, which offers spectacular river and city vistas.

One of Bellevue’s most exciting anchors is the Party Source, an upscale beer, wine and liquor store with specialty food and party supply departments. The Party Source is currently being expanded to create a whole campus of activities such as a distillery, space for parties and events, tastings, food and entertainment education and one-on-one opportunities, all in one location.

The City was one of the region’s pioneers in establishing a form based zoning code. City staff and elected officials have a consistent reputation of professionalism and of responding to changing economic times proactively and creatively.  The Catalytic Fund featured the community in its third installment of the urban living tour series, Beyond the Curb | Bellevue & Dayton.

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Dayton

Dayton (population 5,338) was created in 1867 by the merger of two communities: Jamestown and Brooklyn. Back then, before the Army Corps of Engineers raised the level of the Ohio River, Dayton’s swimmers and sunbathers took advantage of its natural sand bar and it was well known for its “Manhattan Beach.”

Dayton is the eastern most of the urban Southbank cities and is characterized by its rich heritage and its architecturally distinctive historic homes and churches. Visitors from all over the region enjoy exploring this river city community that features shops, restaurants, beautifully landscaped parks and a two-mile walking path overlooking the Ohio River.

One of Dayton’s major attractions is Manhattan Harbour, a full service marina and yacht brokerage center. The Marina is located in a protected inlet off the Ohio River on the Kentucky shore. It has 460 “in water” slips, dry storage with Valet Service, restaurant (Tropics) with bar, boater’s lounge and code access rest rooms. Manhattan Harbor also offers transient slips for boats up to 50 feet. Its Tropics Bar is a popular regional entertainment venue because of its offerings of live music performances.

Residential offerings in Dayton range from historic cottages and larger single-family homes to new hillside condominiums in Town Property’s Riverpointe complex.

A major development area along Dayton’s riverfront called Manhattan Harbor, was awarded a Kentucky State Signature TIF of $128 million. Manhattan Harbor can accommodate up to $1 billion of mixed-use development. This and other developments will help the city flourish and extend the Northern Kentucky riverfront to the east.

Dayton’s gentle, curving coastline is a beautiful mirror to Cincinnati’s Columbia Parkway, a beautiful night scene. The City’s lean, efficient staff provides excellent service to developers and businesses.  The Catalytic Fund featured the community in its third installment of the urban living tour series, Beyond the Curb | Bellevue & Dayton.

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