Entertainment Complex Planned for Purple People Bridge
By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor
The Purple People Bridge may take on a very new look in the coming years–if a study shows it can support the hotel, retail and entertainment project envisioned for it.
The Newport Southbank Bridge, also known as the Purple People Bridge, stretches 2,670 feet over the Ohio River and connects Newport, Ky., to downtown Cincinnati. The original bridge opened on April 1, 1872, and was Cincinnati’s first railroad bridge. The current bridge, built in 1896 and since rehabilitated, accommodated streetcar, pedestrian and automobile traffic. In May 2003, it was re-opened for pedestrians only.
State Representative Dennis Keene worked to secure the funding for the engineering study, and a check for $650,000 was cut by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to determine whether the Purple People Bridge can support the development. The analysis is expected to be completed in 2013.
The project would be the first of its kind in the United States and is estimated to cost $100 million. Plans call for a 150,000-square-foot entertainment complex that will include a boutique hotel, conference and banquet center, restaurants and pubs. The project is also expected to create more than 1,000 jobs.
State and local officials are optimistic the study will allow the project to proceed. The Newport Southbank Bridge Co., the owner of the bridge, is currently in talks with three developers interested in the project.
Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso said it ”is an exciting project for the city of Newport and all of Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati.” Officials expect the project to help improve the local economy by attracting tourists, visitors and investors. A Marcus & Millichap report says hotel occupancy in the midwestern United States continues to recover from recession lows. Ohio’s occupancy has risen to 56.5 percent.
Charts courtesy of Marcus&Millichap.