Covington’s riverfront has sat vacant because the Waterfront restaurant floated away for good in 2011. 

Only moorings remain where Covington Landing drew revelers to bars and restaurants two decades ago.

But a small concrete path might signal the start of the city’s riverfront rebirth as a recreational area. 

“It’s taking us from the philosophical phase to the practical phase,” said Jack Moreland, president of Southbank Partners, an economic development agency for Northern Kentucky’s river cities. “We can now say, ‘Here are pieces being put in place.’ There were those that thought this will never be built. Now they can see this and think, ‘Maybe this will happen in my lifetime.” 

The city in August completed an 8-foot-wide path that runs 3,500 feet from the former Covington Landing location west to Ky. 8, one of the largest single segments of Riverfront Commons. It doesn’t seem like much. Trees along the riverbank on one side and the floodwall on the other keep it hidden. 

But it’s drawing the interest of business leaders.

 Corporex Chairman Bill Butler told The Enquirer he wants to encourage private donations to spur the completion of Riverfront Commons in Covington. 

“It’s of the highest importance, and it’s something that I’m beginning to take a personal interest in,” Butler told The Enquirer.

When completed, Riverfront Commons will be an 11.5-mile path stretching from Fort Thomas to Ludlow along the Ohio River. It’s been built piecemeal as government and grant money becomes available. The trail already extends across portions of the river in Dayton, Bellevue, Newport and Ludlow.

Business leaders have long championed walking trails and parks as economic development tools. 

Butler’s development company Corporex is doing a cost analysis on building Covington’s portion in front of the floodwall. City leaders have drawings that show their vision of an ornate park akin to Smale Park across the river. 

It might take private money. 

Butler and his brother, Martin, will organize a task force of community leaders by the end of the year to help plan and possibly raise private money for the project. 

He wants a lot of construction on the north side of…