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There is a strong demand from potential contractors who want to work in the early stages of the redevelopment of the old IRS site in Covington.

There is, however, no similar demand from the public for the free COVID-19 tests that are currently offered there through a federal program.

The City of Covington commission heard updates on the two issues at Tuesday night’s caucus meeting.

“There has been a dramatic drop in the number of people coming for testing, so they’re going to be stepping up their advertising there,” City Manager David Johnston said of COVID-19 testing there. A parking lot on the 23-acre site is currently set up to accommodate free drive-thru testing services. “After going through this (promotion) process for a few weeks, they will assess whether this site is necessary or not.”

Johnson said he spoke to the Kenton County Emergency Management Office about the matter.

“What you are seeing now is the surge in vaccinations,” said Johnston, speculating that more people are interested in being vaccinated than being tested. “A lot of people are focusing on the vaccination side of what’s going on and not on the test sites.”

“Don’t be surprised in about a week or so that we hear from the test site,” Johnston said.

Meanwhile, after issuing requests for qualifications from companies to remove IRS buildings, pavement, and mitigate environmental issues, as well as initiating the process of designing streets and utilities, the demand initial is high, said Johnston.

Forty-eight engineering and demolition companies had at least considered the tender to demolish the buildings. “That’s all we know,” said Johnston. “We will get a good answer from that.”

Forty-one companies have reviewed the tender for the removal of asbestos and old underground storage tanks at the site, the city manager said.

Twenty-one companies have verified the request for design quotes, he said.

“So there is interest in what’s going on on this site,” said Johnston.

Additionally, the city commission is set to approve the placement of $ 83,500 in an escrow account as the state assesses the potential of the former IRS site as a district for funding tax increases (TIF ) to support its redevelopment prospects.

A consultant is responsible for evaluating this possibility.

“The city will have the opportunity to review the findings and will be involved with consultants throughout the process,” said Tom West, city’s director of economic development. “We don’t just write a check and wait. We will be involved in the process.”

-Michael Monks, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher

Photo: COVID-19 test on the IRS website