Louisville City Center Project Plans Grow

Posted December 11th, 2007 by
Categories: Condo, Downtown, Entertainment, Louisville

The Louisville City Center Project, a development of the Cordish Group, owner of 4th Street Live!, has grown in size and cost as the plans have become more concrete.  The latest estimates now expect the entire project to top $442 million, as more features have been added.

According to officials, this increase in the project scope will not result in more support from the city.   The original plan called for a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district along Muhammed Ali Blvd between Second and Sixth Streets.   The TIF district will allow the expected $130 million in newly generated taxes be used for public improvements, such as sidewalks, utilities, and parking.

Major features of the project include the development of the “Water Company” block featuring a movie theater, hotel, offices, retail, and restaurants.  The block is also expected to include a 20+ story tower primarily for condominiums.  At the other end of the City Center development area, the Cordish company will renovate the aging Louisville Gardens (expected to cost about $20 million) in anticipation of a minor league hockey team.

All of the land in the development area is under contract or already owned by either the city or Cordish company.  Therefore, construction could begin as early as next year (2008), to be developed in phases as market demand deems necessary.   Before any construction begins agreements for the TIF district must be approved by Frankfort and the City Council.

Real Estate Prices steady, but inventory still high

Posted December 4th, 2007 by
Categories: Louisville

The October NAR report shows that the Louisville area real estate market remains relatively healthy when compared with the rest of the country.  Home sales for 2007 are less than 1% behind last year’s pace.   Moreover, median prices for both homes (3Q: -0.4%) and condos (3Q: +4.2%) are not in free-fall as is the case in some markets, such as Florida and California.

The big issue lurking in the Louisville real estate marketplace, however, is inventory.  Louisville has 9.7 months of real estate inventory listed, while the picture across the river in Southern Indiana is even worse at 11.1 months of inventory outstanding.   With the credit markets in turmoil and inventory high, the real estate market in the Louisville area will continue to be constrained.   At the same time, no one is predicting an all-out crash since housing prices are still affordable for most households in the region.

Museum Plaza Bond Issue Approved

Posted December 3rd, 2007 by
Categories: Condo, Downtown, Loft, Louisville

Museum Plaza, the $490 million downtown mixed-use mega-project with a hotel, condos, lofts and office space among restaurants and  art exhibition areas, last week received unanimous approval from the Louisville metro council committee for a $130 million bond issue to pay for public improvements.   This is a key step in the process to ensure that project receives all of the financing necessary for its completion.

The bond issue that was approved will be paid through the new TIF (Tax Increment Finance) district created for Museum Plaza and will not require any Louisville Metro funding, nor will it be on the Louisville city government’s balance sheet.

The developers of Museum Plaza, however, have requested an additional $45 million bond issue from the city’s coffers to cover the extensive costs of the public improvements on site, including a new floodwall and a landscaped public plaza.   The costs of the 62-story skyscraper will be privately funded.

8664 has public forum

Posted November 28th, 2007 by
Categories: Downtown, Louisville, Transit, West End Louisville

The results of the 8664 study with retired traffic engineer, Walter Kulash, were presented to an eager audience of over 200 of the public at Kentucky Center for the Arts.   

According to Mr. Kulash, the removal of I-64 through downtown would greatly simplify the current mess known as Spaghetti Junction where three interstates intersect.   This simplification would then allow the free flow of traffic through the interstate interchange making the need for a second downtown bridge next to the Kennedy bridge superfluous.  The plan would still require an East End Bridge and the re-routing of I-64 over that bridge, removing the through traffic that now flows through downtown Louisville. The removal of I-64 through downtown and replacement with a parkway would open a large swath of downtown and the west end for development, reconnecting Louisville with its rightful parent–the Ohio River.   

Finally, in addition to the livability and community benefits, the 8664 plan would also present a much more cost-effective plan, approximately half of the cost the current Bridges Project. Overall, the 8664 project is much more friendly to the downtown area and can only reinforce the booming downtown area, extending it west of the current 9th Street exit of I-64, which forms a wall between the central business district (CBD) and the west end.   Moreover, the $2 billion lower price tag would obviously free up money to be used on other greatly needed transportation projects throughout the Louisville metro area.

U of L Health Sciences TIF approved

Posted November 28th, 2007 by
Categories: Uncategorized

The University of Louisville has outlined an investment in its new Health Sciences Campus totaling about $2.2 billion and expected to result in about 8,700 new jobs in the life and health sciences.  The new taxing district will cover about 30 blocks including the University of Louisville downtown medical facilities and surrounding areas that are to be developed into a life sciences research park. With the approval of the taxing district now finalized, the first investments in the area will begin with the former Haymarket site.   The plans have long called for a research campus to be developed on the now empty site.   Ground is now expected to be broken next summer in June or July on a 10-story tower on Preston Street between Jefferson and Market that will include about 210,000 sf costing about $35 million. 

O’Malley’s Corner is now City Block

Posted November 28th, 2007 by
Categories: Downtown, Entertainment, Louisville

The longtime nightclub known as O’Malley’s Corner is being rebranded as City Block along with a $5 million investment.   The owners will be rebranding two of the six nightclubs on site.   One of the new clubs will include a small theater. Although the nightclubs suffered immediately following the opening of 4th Street Live!, now the business at the nightclubs is “better than ever” according to the owners.   The rebranding and investment is in anticipation of the new stadium planned at Second and Main to open in 2010, only two blocks from the nightclubs. 

Museum Plaza needs $45 million jump start

Posted November 26th, 2007 by
Categories: Condo, Downtown, Entertainment, Loft, Louisville

Last week, a surprised metro council discovered that $45 million in bonds issued by the city of Louisville would be required for the privately financed Museum Plaza project.

According to reports, the $45 million bond issue would cover part of the $139 million in public improvements, such as floodwalls, lighting and a public plaza.    This is in addition to the earlier announced $130 million bond issue for the project to be supported by the TIF (tax increment financing) district created to support the project.

The reason for the additional bond issue is that not all of the $130 million will be available for improvements, since the bonds and expenses associated with the bonds will need to be paid in the intervening years before the TIF begins to generate revenue, expected to occur upon completion of the project in 2010.  Therefore, only about $75 million of the $130 million will be available for the public improvements at Museum Plaza.  The $130 million bond issue will only be covered by tax revenue from the TIF and the city’s credit rating will not be impacted nor will the city be liable for the debt.

The $45 million bond issue, to be paid by the city, along with $25 million from the developers will cover the remaining costs for public improvements.

Several members of the council and community at large were surprised, not by the cost, but by the timing and seemingly secretive way in which this extra money was secured.   Until this report, most of the community believed the only support the Museum Plaza project would receive was to be generated by the TIF.  Moreover, the need for an additional bond issue was only floated after the ground-breaking ceremony.

Stay tuned for more….

Museum Plaza Groundbreaking

Posted October 22nd, 2007 by
Categories: Condo, Downtown, Loft, Louisville

Museum Plaza, the 62-story Louisville mega-project with condos, lofts, hotel and offices, will have its groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday of this week.

The developers plan a barbecue and commemorative hard hats for the first 500 attendees. They will be able to enjoy the views from the “top” of the skyscraper as a helicopter beams images onto large screens on the ground. At 4:00 pm the new sales design center will open, featuring views from the 25th floor and a partial kitchen and bath built to scale.

The U of L pep band will play and a 20-foot tall shovel will mark the ground-breaking at 5:40 pm. The celebration will close Seventh Street and River Road.

In other news, the state tax increment financing commission approved the Museum Plaza plan to allow new taxes associated with the project pay for the estimated $135 million in public improvements in around the building. That was the last major hurdle the project had to face before construction could begin.

Preston Pointe architects receive award

Posted October 21st, 2007 by
Categories: Condo, Downtown, Louisville

The Preston Pointe office and condominium building in Louisville, by Potter & Associates Architects received a Citation for Excellence from the Kentucky Society of Architects.   The architects met in Columbus, Ind., at their annual convention where the the award was presented.

Beige Book Highlights continued strength in Louisville

Posted October 18th, 2007 by
Categories: Louisville

The beige book report from the Federal Reserve, an anecdotal look at economic conditions across the country named for the color of its cover, highlighted the continued strength of Louisville real estate, in contrast to the rest of the Eighth District.

“Through August, year-to-date home sales were up in Louisville, but were down in Little Rock, St. Louis and Memphis. Residential construction fell in all parts of the district.”

Louisville continues to buck the overall trends in real estate throughout the country.