Metro Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson said today that the multi-million dollar Center City project is in jeopardy due to the Metro Council’s failure to pass the land purchase at yesterday’s meeting. Last night the Council voted to delay the $36 million deal for two weeks after several members voiced their concern over the multi-million dollar giveaway.
Though members from both parties voiced concerns over the deal, namely Councilwoman Mary Woolridge, D-3, and Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9, over land usage, prevailing wages for local construction workers and mortaging unused property, Council Republicans led the charge.
Councilman Hal Heiner, R-19, appeared on FOX 41′s Point of View , saying Abramson “blew this deal”, calling it another “government giveaway” during an economic crisis. Since then, council members were flooded with phonecalls and e-mails from constituents. Before yesterday’s council meeting, Heiner told LEO Weekly that the problem was that the agreement only required the developer to invet $12 million its own money with little guarantees to the city.
“All the talk up until that point was that this developer would be investing hundreds of millions,” he says. “And then to see the agreement with only a minimum requirment by Cordish already signed by the Mayor without any council interaction with only a minimal investment was a shock.”
In a press release the Mayor says by delaying the land purchase, the Baltimore-based Cordish Company is strongly reconsidering whether to invest in a project that would build retail stores and restaurants in one of the city’s most valuable locations, a lot known as the Louisville Water Company Block.
“The nation’s top downtown developer wants to invest between $200 million and $430 million in our city and create 3,000 construction and permanent jobs, yet the Metro Council has turned its back on them,” Abramson said. “This is a sad turn of events after more than two years of planning and partnership to bring this project to reality.”
Wishing the city luck on future revitalization efforts, a letter from Blake Cordish, the company’s vice president, stated the company plans to focus its development efforts on other cities and that continued negotiations with Louisville, “do not make sense after over a year of good faith efforts by all sides” failed to produce an agreement.
“We cannot hold these funds and resources for Center City any longer and reluctantly will move them to other opportunities,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, without the support of the Council, we have no choice but to turn our focus to other markets that desire our expertise and capital, and understand the dynamics of complex public private partnerships.”