Trans­for­ma­tions on 278

Ital­ian restau­rant com­ing to for­mer pawn shop lo­ca­tion

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Rachel Oswald

For­merly home to a liquor store and ti­tle pawn shop, The Ex­change on U. S. High­way 278 is in the process of a trans­for­ma­tion into an up­scale shop­ping cen­ter which will house among other busi­nesses an Ital­ian restau­rant.

“ Our in­ten­tion is to com­pletely up­grade the prop­erty, to make it a very up­scale re­tail cen­ter and to be some­thing that Cov­ing­ton will be proud of and that we will be proud of as own­ers as well,” said The Ex­change owner Sam B. Hay III.

Hay, the for­mer CEO of Main Street Bank be­fore it was sold to BB& T, said he and his fam­ily de­cided to ren­o­vate the 25- year- old prop­erty to max­i­mize their re­turn on their in­vest­ment and to im­prove Cov­ing­ton’s down­town.

“ It’s been a ma­jor lip­stick and rouge op­er­a­tion,” said Steve Kapp, pres­i­dent of Sun­belt Builders, the com­pany han­dling the ren­o­va­tions. “ This ren­o­va­tion project should and is de­signed to at­tract bet­ter busi­nesses to that end of [ U. S. High­way] 278.”

Ren­o­va­tions on The Ex­change are ex­pected to be com­pleted by midMarch af­ter which time ten­ants will be­gin in­te­rior im­prove­ments of their own. Kapp said heavy con­struc­tion on The Ex­change be­gan a month ago.

“ We are hope­ful to be able to have peo­ple open for busi­ness just as quickly as they get their in­te­rior im­prove­ments fin­ished,” Hay said.

One of the big­gest im­prove­ments to the shop­ping cen­ter is the ad­di­tion of a clock tower at its west­ern end. Other im­prove­ments in­clude a re­design of the park­ing lot, the ad­di­tion of land­scap­ing, col­umns, park­ing lot light­ing, re­cessed pan­els for the dis­play of busi­ness names, brick and stucco fronts and new store­front win­dows and doors.

Hay said at least one ten­ant is def­i­nitely in place to move into The Ex­change, an up­scale nail salon called Lilly Nails.

“ This is a per­son who has been in the busi­ness for most of her ca­reer and has op­er­ated sa­lons in other east metro mar­kets,” Hay said. “ It will be a very up­scale nail salon.”

Hay said he is also in se­ri­ous ne­go­ti­a­tions with an in­de­pen­dently owned Ital­ian restau­rant to move into the new clock tower space at The Ex­change.

Count­ing the nail salon and Ital­ian restau­rant there will be five busi­nesses at The Ex­change.

Hay said there is room for a sec­ond restau­rant at the other end of the shop­ping cen­ter.

“ We are in con­ver­sa­tion with a cou­ple of other restau­rants which are pos­si­bil­i­ties,” Hay said, adding, “ We’re still work­ing on our site plan to fi­nal­ize park­ing spa­ces to be able to ac­com­mo­date restau­rants. They would have the largest need for park­ing spa­ces.”

The re­main­ing three busi­ness spa­ces range in size from 1,500 square feet to 3,000 square feet Hay said.

“ We think that cre­at­ing an up­scale prop­erty in Cov­ing­ton is a sig­nif­i­cant state­ment about our be­lief in the fu­ture growth and vi­tal­ity of Cov­ing­ton, par­tic­u­larly in the nu­cleus of Cov­ing­ton,” Hay said.

Robby Byrd/The Cov­ing­ton News

At work: Con­struc­tion work­ers Je­sus Es­covedo and Miguel Ro­driguez pre­pare scaf­fold­ing at The Ex­change site on Thurs­day.

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