Appraiser: KFC Yum! Center has taken business from 4th Street Li - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Appraiser: KFC Yum! Center has taken business from 4th Street Live

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4th Street Live 4th Street Live
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  It's been praised as a boon to the local economy, but the KFC! Yum Center has actually “added competition and hurt” another taxpayer-subsidized entertainment venue in downtown Louisville: 4th Street Live.

That's according to a long-time Louisville real estate appraiser hired by the Cordish Co., the Baltimore-based developers that own and operate 4th Street Live.

Appraiser Lin Bell told Jefferson County's Local Board of Assessment Appeals last week that the center of gravity for downtown stores, bars and restaurants has shifted east with the opening of the arena in 2010 and the continued development of the Nulu district along East Market Street.

“Whereas this (4th Street Live) was primarily considered the entertainment district for the central business district at one time, that has filtered away with the opening of the Yum! Center and some of the other areas close to the downtown market,” Bell told the board in a July 28 hearing.

Bell's testimony helped Cordish make its case that the two buildings housing 4th Street Live, at 411 and 446 S. Fourth Street, were over-valued for property-tax purposes. The city gave the buildings, which formerly housed the failing Louisville Galleria, to Cordish in 2002 for $1.

Cordish officials said 4th Street Live does not produce nearly the amount of income to justify Jefferson County PVA Tony Lindauer's combined $33 million value for the buildings. Cordish claimed the buildings are worth only about $9 million. The local board settled on a combined $14 million value, which Cordish can accept or appeal to a special board in Frankfort.

Most of the July 28 hearing was conducted behind closed doors to protect 4th Street Live's sensitive business information.

Bell's testimony somewhat undercuts the rosy picture Louisville tourism officials painted in June when they released an “economic impact analysis” of the Yum! Center.

The study said the Yum! Center generated about $346 million in spending during its first four years in operation from people buying tickets to shows, in-arena expenses like concessions and nearby expenses like hotels and restaurants.

When economic ripple effects of that money are tallied, the arena was said to generate a “total output” of $581 million.

Yet, it's hard to know how much of that $581 million would have been spent in Louisville  – at, say, 4th Street Live – even if the arena not been built, the study consultant conceded in an interview with WDRB.

In addition to competition from the arena and from Nulu, 4th Street Live has also suffered from unusually high vacancies over the last two years in the adjacent office buildings, Brown & Williamson Tower and Meidinger Tower, Bell told the tax appeal board.

He added that 4th Street Live has “received no support from the south side, extending from Muhammad Ali (Boulevard) down to Broadway,” as “all kinds of pie in the sky plans” to develop a retail hub along S. Fourth Street have not panned out.

Rebecca Matheny, executive director of the Louisville Downtown Partnership, took issue with Bell's comments about retail along S. Fourth Street. Nine stores have opened along or “immediately adjacent” to S. Fourth Street in the last two years, she said.

“The majority of those businesses have been successful,” Matheny said.

And more shops may be on the way with an Embassy Suites (Fourth and Muhammad Ali) and a Hilton Garden Inn (Fourth and Chestnut streets) under construction, she said.

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