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Here’s what’s next for the stalled Urban Government Center redevelopment

Louisville Metro Government is ready to turn the page on the massive Urban Government Center after the chosen developer pulled out of the project last month.

The Urban Government Center at 810 Barret Ave. is the anchor of a potential redevelopment. The city is now seeking new input on its use after the developer terminated a deal for a mixed-use development there.

Louisville Forward, the city’s economic development arm, is hosting a public meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28, to update the public on the status of the Urban Government Center property, and to gather new public input that could help shape future redevelopment of the site, according to a media advisory.

The city also will include a review of the initial public process and a discussion on next steps. The meeting will be held at Highland Community Ministries, 1228 E. Breckinridge St.

The Urban Government Center complex is spread across multiple buildings along Barret Avenue just south of Broadway, the largest of which is the old Kentucky Baptist Hospital.

The city reached a development agreement with Louisville-based development firm The Marian Group in which the company said it would redevelop roughly 10 acres into townhomes, shotgun-style single-family homes, multifamily rental units and condo flats, among other uses. The Marian Group also planned to include several types of affordable housing. The firm beat out several other developers to redevelop the site after the city reviewed detailed proposals and said it would invest at least $50 million in the project.

The Marian Group notified Louisville Forward that it was formally withdrawing from the project just a few days before Christmas, terminating an agreement that left the aging property in limbo. The project was canceled because the firm said the city failed to extend a contingency period on the project, which would have allowed more time for the company to meet its obligations and afforded needed certainty and protection to continue the project.

"The city’s decision not to extend the contingency period and lack of progress on key approvals, combined with multiple unexpected challenges created significant uncertainty that left us with no other choice,” Marian Group Principal Justin Brown said in a statement last month. “We are grateful to Louisville Metro, Louisville Forward, and all other key stakeholders for their hard work and efforts of these past two years. Ultimately, we are disappointed to have to step away. This is an important project for Louisville, and we remain optimistic for the future of the Paristown Pointe neighborhood."

The project had faced controversy. In summer 2018, Marian Group officials were met with a testy crowd during a neighborhood meeting on the proposal. The firm laid out a modified plan to build 22 shotgun homes with garages on a parking lot at 814 Vine St. The original proposal called for a dozen shotgun homes on the site.

Residents complained that the shotgun homes were crammed into the space, thus removing some of the planned green space that was proposed for the area that could be used for concerts and other community events. In a rezoning application, the city noted the parking lot at 814 Vine St. was no longer part of the project.

We then learned in August 2019 that a sixth campus for Family Scholar House — a key tenant — would not be part of the project because the site failed to qualify for housing credits that would have been used for low-income housing options.

Louisville Forward said last month that it respected Marian Group’s decision, adding "we remain committed to working with the residents of the Paristown Pointe neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods to revitalize this important property.” Credit: By Marty Finley  – Reporter, Louisville Business First

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