Passport Health Plan to make 'announcement' Wednesday at West Louisville site

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  Passport Health Plan, the nonprofit that administers Medicaid benefits in the Louisville area, may be moving its corporate office to the vacant West Louisville site where Walmart had once planned to build a super center.

Passport CEO Mark Carter and Mayor Greg Fischer are set to make "a major economic development announcement that will lead to the largest number of jobs to west Louisville in decades" Wednesday morning at the site at Broadway and 18th Street.

Both Passport and the mayor's office declined to comment on the announcement Tuesday. 

The Courier-Journal first reported the potential move Monday evening, citing unnamed sources.

Passport and its partner Evolent Health, a for-profit company based in Virginia, have about 500 employees at Passport’s office in the Commerce Crossings business park in southern Jefferson County.

Last year, the organizations announced a partnership that could more than double the Louisville employee base, officials said at the time.

Evolent is using Passport’s office in Louisville as the backbone of a national Medicaid consulting business helping other provider organizations around the country shift to a value-based payment model. As part of the deal, about 350 of Passport’s roughly 500 employees shifted to Evolent Health, and Passport received $15 million worth of Evolent stock.

When the deal was announced in February 2016, officials said it had the potential to create 647 additional, well-paying jobs in Louisville within five years.

At the time, Passport CEO Mark Carter said the job growth could necessitate a new location for Passport and Evolent’s Medicaid center.

Passport’s move to the West Louisville site, at 18th and Broadway, would mark a turnaround for the property after Walmart backed out of a plan to build a store there late last year.

But it would first require the resolution of a lawsuit in which a bank is trying to wrest control of the property from its owners, developers Frank and Teresa Bridgewaters.

MainSource Bank of Greensburg, Ind. filed the foreclosure action in February, alleging that the Bridgewaterses defaulted on a $1.7 million credit line. The bank has asked the court to auction the property to repay the credit line.

Neither MainSource Bank nor the Bridgewaterses returned calls on Tuesday.

The Bridgewaterses got the site – a former Phillip Morris cigarette plant – from the city in 2006. Their company, Newbridge Development, paid nothing for the property, but they promised to demolish the old cigarette plant buildings and market the land for redevelopment.

Property records show they pledged the site as collateral in 2007 to obtain the $1.7 million credit line, which ultimately ended up with MainSource Bank after two refinancings.

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Apart from the $1.7 million credit line, Newbridge also owes $1.1 million to the city under a 2013 no-interest loan given by Fischer’s office.

The city, through its attorneys, has said it plans to exhaust every option to collect on the debt.

On Tuesday, Fischer's office a meeting of the obscure city agency that holds the development agreement with Newbridge, to consider a "settlement of all claims" with the developer. 

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