Neighbors question Urban Government Center plans
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Some neighbors who live near the former Urban Government Center on Barret Avenue want city officials to explain in more detail how a committee chose the winning developer for the site.
Metro government last December selected a proposal from the Marian Group to redevelop 12 acres in the Paristown Pointe neighborhood that now houses vacant city buildings. Earlier this month, Marian and the Louisville Forward economic development agency finalized a development agreement.
The city also released a scoresheet showing how members of a hybrid committee of citizens and government officials evaluated the five developers who submitted proposals for the land.
But ahead of a community meeting hosted by Marian on Wednesday evening, a group of neighbors sought to reopen the selection process, saying in a flyer being circulated that the Marian Group plan “both fails to meet key requests from area residents and includes things the neighbors specified they did not want.”
As WDRB News reported in March, Underhill Associates was the most popular proposal endorsed by residents who gave input in 2017. But the selection committee ultimately chose Marian, giving it 725 points based on seven criteria that included “sustainability” and “connectivity,” among others. Underhill finished second with 705 points.
The flyer argues that the scoring sheets “only raised more questions about the inconsistencies in the process and scoring.” It cites as an example the committee’s evaluation of the “connectivity” elements put forth by Marian and Underhill, which represented the biggest difference in any one category – 15 points.
While Marian proposed a central path through the property, Underhill sought to add paths on the sides of the buildings that would remain, the flyer says. “The 15-point difference suggests other unknown factors resulted in a weighted score,” it adds. “That may be appropriate, but merits explanation.”
Metro government refused to name members of the selection committee until Attorney General Andy Beshear ruled in a challenge brought by WDRB News that the city violated Kentucky’s open meetings act by allowing the panel to meet in private. Such meetings kept the members’ identities secret.
On Wednesday, Insider Louisville reported that three of the four citizens on the committee favored the Underhill proposal.
The Marian plan would include commercial and retail space along with housing, a parking garage “potentially” a boutique hotel, according to the development agreement.
Those aspects would be built on the bulk of the land, which the city would lease to Marian for 20 years for $1 per year. The lease rates could be adjusted.
The city also agreed to help Marian secure financing for that part of the project and possibly sell portions of the land to other third parties. Metro government also promised to work with the Parking Authority of River City on the garage, which could be financed through a bond issue.
On a separate plot of land on nearby Vine Street, the city would own a community garden but sell the rest to Marian for $1. Marian would build single-family houses on that site, with three considered affordable to low-income families.