Mayor concerned about Cordish plans to build "Center City" - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Mayor concerned about Cordish plans to build "Center City"

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A four-star hotel, 200 plush apartments and a new grocery store for downtown Louisville.

The developer of 4th Street Live! has a new plan to ignite downtown, but the mayor is concerned about it moving forward.

The Cordish Companies want to turn the shattered windows and crumbling foundations of the former Louisville Water Co. block into a $245 million development called Center City.

Designs show 3rd St. between Liberty St. and Muhammad Ali Blvd. housing a 600-room hotel, 200 apartment units, retail space and a 35,000 square foot grocery store.

The question is, can downtown visitors, workers and residents support this vision? Mayor Greg Fischer says he doesn't have that answer yet.

"I'm not going to put us out on any kind of limb that puts the taxpayers out in any undue risk," Fischer said.

Fischer says after constant talks with Cordish, he is cautions and concerned about this investment. The company's prior plans stalled here with the recession.

"There's a TIF in place that goes along with that development, so then it's a question of what the TIF will produce," he said.

The TIF -- or special tax -- would charge the businesses inside, or in the shadow of the new development. It's much like the financing set-up to pay for construction of the YUM! Center -- but that deal burned the city in the past, when sales were less than expected.

In a statement to WDRB, Cordish officials say, "We are very bullish on the future of downtown Louisville, and believe that the city is now well positioned for growth."

Center City could create 1,000 construction jobs and 450 permanent positions.

Cordish hopes to start construction in 2014, saying private financing is in place.

"We have not completed the total financial analysis of the project yet," Fischer said. "And that's the most important thing to me -- to make sure the taxpayers are protected and we balance it out with the downtown investments at the same time. And hopefully, we get a win for the city and the developer and we move ahead."

Timing could be everything on this deal.

The mayor says there's a need to expand the convention center to remain competitive on winning bids for national events. This development could also lure in conventions and house more visitors when they come.

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