Omni hotel, upscale apartments and grocery promised for downtown - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Omni hotel, upscale apartments and grocery promised for downtown

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Mike Garcia Mike Garcia
Cordish representative Nick Benjamin Cordish representative Nick Benjamin
Louisville Metro Mayor Greg Fischer Louisville Metro Mayor Greg Fischer
Gov. Steve Beshear Gov. Steve Beshear
Metro Council President Jim King Metro Council President Jim King

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Kentucky's Governor, Metro Louisville's Mayor and the developers themselves are touting the project as the largest investment downtown since the KFC Yum! Center; a $261 million hotel, apartment and retail complex that promises the first four-diamond lodging and a full-service grocery.

Chief Financial Officer and development overseer Mike Garcia promised the new Omni Hotel proposed for the old Water Company Block won't be cookie cutter.

"We're not here to talk about a plan, we're not here for discussions," Garcia told reporters at a news conference assembled Thursday. "This is reality, and we're gonna make this happen."

Garcia conceded that Omni hasn't decided whether it will incorporate several crumbling, but historic, buildings in its part of the $261 million mixed-use development proposal. But he's pledged that Omni's complex will complement neighboring structures, much the way its Nashville hotel property created gateways to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

"We don't have anything on paper of what the outside looks like," Garcia said. "But my guess is the building will be somewhere from 20-25 stories tall."

Omni's $105 million commitment calls for 600 guest rooms and 70,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, two restaurants and a spa-fitness club.

"It (the full project) is the biggest investment in downtown Louisville since the Yum Center, " Louisville Metro Mayor Greg Fischer said.

The Cordish Company, developer of the Fourth Street Live entertainment district, has committed $30 million to build 200 upscale apartments and a full-service grocery.

"It's slightly premature to announce an operator and a brand," Cordish representative Nick Benjamin said.  "But what we can say is that this would be a best-in-class, full -service, 30-thousand square foot-plus."

All for a project that Gov. Steve Beshear characterized as bold, long-awaited and worthy enough for Kentucky to commit more than $90 million toward construction via a TIF (Tax-Increment-Financing) District.

"Which of course, rebates a portion of ten new taxes collected because of the development," Mayor Fischer explained.

And requires Metro Council OK bonds: borrowing $100 million, paid back over 30 years.

"I don't think you'll see us as an impediment on this in any way," Metro Council President Jim King said. "We will do our job -- protect the taxpayers -- but we will be as supportive as possible, of this."

King views this Center City project as a way to feed more patrons into KFC Yum! Center, helping to retire the arena's debt. 

Fischer maintains it will make Fourth Street Live! even more of a magnet.

"It's already Kentucky's biggest tourist attraction," he said. "It draws over 4.6 million visitors a year."

Other projects must blossom to fully leverage the development. The Louisville Parking Authority would sell $17 million in bonds to build an 850-space parking garage and Gov. Beshear has asked state lawmakers to approve $180 million to expand the Kentucky International Convention Center.

Developers project that the development will create 1,350 to 1,400 construction jobs and 350 permanent jobs in the hospitality and retail sectors.

"It's good for taxpayers, certainly great for downtown," Mayor Fischer said. "Fantastic for our overall economy."

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