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Mayor Greg Fischer Newsroom 

$250 Million Plan To Build Housing, Retail, Office District Downtown

Sunday August 19, 2007

The Cordish Co. will be the lead developer

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson today announced a $250 million development district that would bring new retail stores, a movie theatre, a boutique hotel, condominiums and restaurants to downtown while also creating a venue for minor-league hockey.

The development of the Center City District would encompass the area stretching from 2nd to 6th streets, along Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

The Cordish Company, owner/developer of the highly-successful Fourth Street Live, would be the lead developer in the district. The company will privately finance the construction, with help from city and state governments in the form of tax rebates.

“The Center City District will be an epicenter of electricity that connects the high-energy areas of our downtown — from waterfront and throughout the heart of the city,” Abramson said. “It’s a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar investment that takes our downtown to a new level — from a project-by-project approach to a system of strategically connected districts that serve as economic magnets to draw millions of people, and dollars, to Louisville.”

The district’s plans include:

  • Construction of a new retail-entertainment-office-residential complex on the Old Louisville Water Company block, bounded by Second, Third, and Liberty streets and Muhammad Ali Boulevard. The complex would contain restaurants, shops, retail stores, office space and condominiums. The city owns 40 percent of the block and Cordish has a contract to purchase the remainder.
  • The creation of a retail corridor that would connect Fourth Street Live to the new complex, via an existing alley and along Muhammad Ali Boulevard. The corridor would provide pedestrian access between the two developments and be lined with shops and stores.
  • The renovation of the Louisville Gardens into a 6,000-seat venue that may include a minor-league hockey team. The city would lease the Gardens to the Cordish Co., which would use the venue for events and small concerts that would not conflict with the new downtown arena.

“The ongoing revitalization of downtown Louisville is one of the great success stories in the country,” said Blake Cordish, a Cordish vice president. “We could not be more confident in the future of downtown Louisville.”

Plans call for the development to begin next year, pending necessary approvals, and it would be substantially completed by 2010, the same year Louisville’s new downtown arena opens.

The Center City plan will bring downtown investments currently under construction or planned to $2.1 billion.

Cordish will privately finance the $250 million development. The city and state will rebate to Cordish a portion of the new tax dollars collected in the district. The rebate will pay for about $130 million in infrastructure improvements — everything from the construction of new parking garages to new sidewalks and the renovation to the Gardens.

Louisville Metro will rebate at least 80 percent of the new occupational and property taxes collected in the district. The state, pending approval from the State Tax Increment Financing Commission, will rebate 80 percent of the new state income, property and sales taxes collected in the district.

The Cordish Company will partner with a local developer, Hogan Real Estate, to oversee the district’s development.

“Today’s announcement is more than a project but rather is about the transformation of an entire district spanning from the ‘Water Company Block’ to the east and the Louisville Gardens to the west,” Cordish said. “We are committed to maintaining the highest standards in terms of architecture, planning, and tenancy with guiding principles of creating a world class development.”

Fourth Street Live, now in its third full year of operations, attracts 4 million visitors a year.

Mary Griffith, chairperson of the Downtown Development Corp., said the Center City District, when combined with the downtown arena, Museum Plaza, Iron Quarter and other investment, will transform downtown. “With all of these projects now in development, the critical mass of activity, investment and energy in downtown Louisville as they open in 2010 — and the synergy among them — will be unprecedented,” Griffith said.