New Riff Distilling Whiskey Campus Coming to Newport

Monday, August 22, 2016

NEWPORT, Ky. – The City of Newport is expected to approve a development agreement Monday night that will bring the $7.5 million New Riff Distilling Whiskey Campus to the city's west side, where construction of a new Route 9 played a major role in attracting the project.

The project includes restoration of two historic buildings and construction of a 15-barrell high building that will be used to store the bourbon and rye whiskey being distilled by the New Riff distillery on the Newport-Bellevue city line. It will also be the catalyst for additional economic development along the rebuilt Route 9, which will provide a direct path from the AA Highway and Interstate 275 to Newport's west side and downtown, terminating at The Taylor-Southgate Bridge that connects Newport and Cincinnati.

"We are very excited to be the first major development to be announced along the rebuilt Route 9 on Newport's west side," said New Riff Distilling owner and founder Ken Lewis. "This is a beachhead project, the kind of project that will stimulate the right kind and mix of economic development that could ultimately include light manufacturing, technology, restaurants, retail and housing."

 The Whiskey Campus will be developed at 1104 Lowell St. just south of the 11th Street Bridge over the Licking River and will feature:  

Construction is expected to begin later this month or in early September.

Lewis, who founded The Party Source in Bellevue, said the buildings being restored are more than 100 years old and housed the Greenline trolley and bus system that served Northern Kentucky until 1972.

"These are beautiful historic brick buildings that have been a part of the fabric of Newport's west side for more than a century," Lewis said. "We are thrilled that we were able to utilize them as part of this project. And as part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, this is going to be a tourist destination. People love to walk through the stacks of barrels, taste and smell the bourbon. We see that in central Kentucky, and now we'll have it here."

Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso said New Riff Distilling Whiskey Campus is exactly the type of transformational project that city leaders expect the Route 9 project to attract.

"We've seen so many parts of our great city come back to life in recent years - the riverfront, the Newport Pavilion, Monmouth Street and more," Mayor Peluso said. "Now the West Side is ready for its renaissance."

Lewis said phase two of The Whiskey campus will feature a brew pub, tap room and restaurant with the relocated Ei8ht Ball Brewery specializing in virgin or first use bourbon barrel aged beer. It will also feature decks overlooking the Licking River and providing scenic views of the Downtown Cincinnati skyline.

Planned for the north side of the 11th Street Bridge, Lewis said he is continuing to secure financing and state tourism tax credits for the project and a start date has not been announced.

"I truly believe the Route 9 project is going to have a larger impact than most people perceive," Lewis said. "It is going to change traffic patterns in Northern Kentucky, open up new land and stimulate a huge amount of development.

"Look at the development of Over The Rhine in Cincinnati," he continued. "It started with brew pubs and tap rooms, and what followed were restaurants, housing and businesses. We'll see the same thing here plus more, because in Newport we have easier access, more room for development and the Licking River, which has been an underutilized asset in Northern Kentucky but won't be after the West End starts to develop."

Lewis praised Newport city officials for understanding economic development and embracing new opportunities for growth and investment.

"I've done projects in other cities, but I can genuinely say how extremely refreshing it is to work with a city commission and administration that has a powerful 'can do' attitude," he said. "They work through every issue and every concern because they are so focused on economic development and bringing new jobs, investment, businesses and people to their city."

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