RCOV and the Urban Transect

We want to tip our hat to a community organization that wears many hats. Renaissance Covington’s mission is to socially and economically activate downtown Covington by fostering community efforts and partnerships concentrating on organization, promotion, design, economic vitality, and creative enterprise for everyone. Often, we think of RCOV as an organization that has its fingers in a lot of the quirky events that happen around town. But another way to think about the work Renaissance does is to view its place in the “development transect”. Fancy, huh?

In urban planning there is a concept called a “urban transect.” The urban transect divides development patterns into six categories, from lowest intensity (rural preserve) to middle intensity (general urban) to highest intensity (urban core). The urban transect concept is useful because it organizes complex patterns into an understandable map and it clarifies how one category transitions into another. 

The concept of the transect is also applicable to patterns of incremental urban development. Architect Mike Thompson created the following drawing showing how the incremental development transect works.  The development transect proceeds from low intensity/use (left) to high intensity/use (right), same as the urban transect. 

Incremental development photo.jpg

Ever the trendsetters, RCOV has followed this development pattern since long before the concept of the incremental development transect even had a name. Renaissance has been active in the Pike Street/Madison Avenue area for years. Some of the work done there includes:

·         Art Off Pike – One day occupancy

·         Phoenix Mural – Identification of “place”

·         Covington Arts – Sustainable use

·         Madlot – Performance stage, event space – Development of “place”

·         Pop-up retail shops – Moving from public realm to private realm

These events reactivated the area and brought life and energy back to an unloved space. Once the area was reimagined with activities, people started paying attention to a set of neglected blocks. This attention helped provide a foundation to imagine long-term, high-intensity investments, including but not limited to:

·         Braxton Brewing

·         Hotel Covington

·         Duveneck Square (and other large residential developments)

Historically, this incremental development pattern development would occur organically over a period of time. Businesses would start up and if successful - move along the development transect. Today’s world is much more convoluted. When you consider zoning regulations, financing costs, permitting regulations, and the numerous sets of rules and requirements that individually benefit people but collectively make development hard.

RCOV is good because it kick starts development incrementally, starting very small. It helps navigate some of the more burdensome pieces of the process like insurance and permits, but also imagines creative programming to activate place like parking day and madlot. Wherever this happens, more intensive development will follow.

We sure are lucky to have an organization like Renaissance Covington hard at work in the urban core. Keep up the good work, we can’t wait to see what you come up with next!