Third time the charm? City Signs New Development Agreement for Former Urban Government Center Site | In depth


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The first attempt failed. The second too.

Now take three: The metropolitan government has struck a deal with its third different developer for a radical renovation of the old abandoned property in the center of city government.

The Louisville Forward economic development agency announced Thursday that it has finalized the terms of an agreement with a group that wants to turn the 10-acre site in the Paristown Pointe neighborhood into a mixed-use project with housing, offices, parking. and a hotel. .

There would be no direct funds from the city going to the Paristown Preservation Trust, but some taxes generated by the new activities would go back to the developer to fill a funding gap of $ 15 million, said Jeff O’Brien, chief. from Louisville Forward.

The property includes the former Kentucky Baptist Hospital building, as well as buildings once used by the Louisville Metro Housing Authority and Metro Police. It is bounded by Barret Avenue, E. Breckinridge Street, Vine Street and Lampton Street.

The Paristown group, led by promoter Steve Smith, had offered to study whether an “adaptive reuse” of the old hospital was possible. O’Brien said in an interview that the building and other structures would instead be razed to the ground according to the trust’s latest plan, although an old steam plant and chimney could be salvaged.

The development agreement gives the trust until Dec.31, 2022 to receive several government approvals, such as a rezoning of the entire property, O’Brien said.

It also requires that to be eligible for tax increase financing, or TIF, the Paristown group must ensure that at least 10 percent of rental units are rented at below market prices. The Metropolitan Council is expected to approve the TIF.

The Paristown trust came up with a mix of uses that included an office building, a 125-room hotel and parking lot, apartments and nearly 3.5 acres of green space, according to documents submitted to the Metro government.

“Today begins the next chapter for this property, and we are delighted that it receives new life with features that enhance the surrounding community, including mixed income housing,” Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement. Press.

The development agreement provides that the metropolitan government will sell the city-owned properties at 810 and 850 Barret Avenue and 1235 E. Breckinridge St., for $ 1 in exchange for the Paristown group signing a “community benefits agreement” with neighborhood associations in the region. . The city would also help the housing authority to sell its old building at 768 avenue Barret.

The trust is expected to cover the costs of the site’s environmental cleanup, according to Louisville Forward.

“Our team is thrilled to create a fresh start for this important property in the Paristown Pointe neighborhood and to continue to work with neighbors on community-enhancing items,” said Steve Smith, Managing Member of Paristown Preservation Trust, in the Press release. .

Louisville Forward began negotiating with Smith’s group in August after breaking off talks with Underhill Associates, the developer that a Metro selection committee recommended for the project in late 2020.

Underhill received 84.5 of 110 points during that process. His proposal – a grocery store, a farmer’s market, a restaurant and retail space, a gymnasium, and affordable housing for students and seniors – was found to be “more reflective of the wants and feedback of the community, and is more thoughtful approach to consider and deal with potential gentrification and displacement. “

The sticking point was how to close a funding gap. Underhill wanted the city to use part of the American Rescue Plan Act funds to cover about 23% of the project’s $ 58.9 million, but the Fischer administration refused.

The Paristown Preservation Trust was the only other group to bid on the work.

The selection committee awarded 62 points to this plan. He concluded that the proposal did not “sufficiently respond” to the city’s request.

“Across all categories, the scores for this proposal hovered around the 50th percentile,” wrote Stephanie Kertis, the former assistant manager of Louisville Forward at the time. “The follow-up interview did not change the committee’s impression.

Gretchen Millikan, who was then director of Metro’s Advanced Planning and Sustainability Director for Develop Louisville, wrote that the proposal only “[p]artificially matches the desired attributes.

“It lacks a clear vision of the area and details of how they will carry out the different aspects to create a ‘sustainable’ and ‘abundant’ neighborhood. The proposal is rambling, wordy and rather general,” she wrote. .

The committee noted in its questions to developers that the reuse of the hospital building was “championed by the community throughout the process”. Committee member Benjamin Moore wrote that “the lack of commitment to reuse buildings on the site is concerning given feedback from the neighborhood.

When asked why the Metro government had not restarted with a different approach or issued a new solicitation of interest, or SOI, for the property in light of these concerns, O’Brien said: “I think that in the end, the I thought, “Well, if we go back to SOI, we should at least give # 2, the second, a chance to negotiate with us and give them very conditions. strict. “

The first effort to redevelop the land failed at the end of 2019 after the withdrawal of the Marian group, the developer chosen by the city. He claimed Metro had failed to secure a series of promised land use approvals and other approvals.

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This story will be updated.

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