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Center City District

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More in store for downtown: $250 million proposal for Center City District includes retail, restaurants, housing; funding plan needs city, state OK

By Alex Davis and Sheldon S. Shafer, The Courier-Journal [Louisville], August 19, 2007

Cordish Company plans to invest $250 million in a new mixed-use development on 23 acres of downtown property along Muhammad Ali Blvd. The company is best known locally for its Fourth Street Live! development. It would consist of new housing, restaurants, a cinema, and a boutique hotel. The project, tentatively called the Center City District, would cost 3.5 times as much as Fourth Street Live, and encompass six city blocks. It would replace surface parking lots, low rise office buildings, city property, and a few small stores.

Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson said that the project would create an "epicenter of energy" that has not been seen in the downtown since the 1950s, calling it more of a neighborhood than a single project.

The core, often referred to as the Louisville Water Company block, was once a top candidate for the downtown arena, and is bounded by Second, Third and Liberty Streets, and Ali Boulevard. An estimated 500,000 sq. ft. of buildings would be constructed there, and include at least one structure that has more than 15 stories. Also included in the project is a major restoration of The Gardens. The city owned property would be leased to Cordish and be turned into a 6,000-seat venue for concerts and possibly a minor-league hockey team. The hockey league would be an expansion team, not a franchise relocated from another city. Approximately 1,000 parking spaces would be constructed.

Construction is expected to begin next year and be complete by 2010.

Cordish would provide the entire $250 million investment upfront. $130 million of that, approximately half, would be returned to the company over the net 30 years in the form of local and state tax rebates from the 23-acre district. The city already owns 40% of the 6.2 acre Louisville Water Company block, and Cordish has an option to purchase the rest.

Cordish owns Fourth Street Live, which opened in 2004 as a replacement for the Galleria mall. It draws in approximately four million people annually. The Baltimore based company has created urban mixed-use projects in Baltimore and other cities in the United States, and is working on similar projects in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Toronto.

A formal presentation will be presented on August 20. The metro council is expected to approve the tax rebates, but the taxing district would still need approval by a state commission. That should be filed by next month.

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Wow. Thats all I can say. A $250 million dollar investment into downtown Louisville is tremendous news for downtown Louisville. That sort of investment should produce major dividends across downtown in the way of spurring on existing and future developments.

500K in space covering 23 acres - part of which is a 15 story tower .......again....the impact that much new economic and commercial activity will be impressive to say the least. Not to mention completely alter the streetscape and urban character of the area.

This is very big news. Anytime one developer in willing drop that sort of cash on their own, that speaks volumns for what the potential of a city (or part of one) holds.

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