Economic development official Theresa Zawacki told Paristown Pointe residents Tuesday evening that she could not say for certain when the city would sign a contract with The Marian Group to develop the 12-acre Urban Government Center site at Barret Avenue and East Breckinridge Street.
“It’s very hard to say with certainty that by X date I will have a negotiated development agreement in hand because there is a lot of work that goes into writing these documents and understanding all of the different components,” said Zawacki, senior policy adviser to Louisville Forward, the city’s economic development arm.
Zawacki, who spoke at a meeting of the Paristown Pointe Neighborhood Association, later told attendees that she would like to commit to having a signed contract by the next time the association meets, two months from now, but couldn’t.
Last year, the city asked developers to submit plans for how they’d develop the city-owned Urban Government Center; the plans were then shared with the public, who provided feedback, and an advisory committee made up of unknown individuals reviewed the plans and made recommendations to city leaders who chose the winning developer, The Marian Group.
The Marian Group’s plan features a boutique hotel, retail, restaurants, townhomes, condominiums, detached 21st-century shotgun houses, affordable housing through Family Scholar House, a senior living facility, market-rate apartments, a multiuse community center, a parking garage and green space.
Members of the Paristown Pointe Neighborhood Association expressed mixed feelings about the city’s decision to negotiate with The Marian Group.
Residents also complained about a lack of information following the announcement of The Marian Group as the developer of choice for the Urban Government Center. Zawacki apologized that communication had gone mostly quiet but noted that secrecy surrounding the negotiations between the city, developer and other parties is necessary to work out the best deal.
A representative from The Marian Group, partner Justin Brown, was invited to the neighborhood association meeting, but Zawacki told attendees that she asked him not to come.
“Because we are still negotiating that contract or that development agreement with Marian, it’s a little weird for Justin or Jake Brown or any of the other partners involved in that deal to stand up here in front of you and answer questions about what may or may not be happening with that negotiation because we aren’t done yet, and until we’re done, it’s too early to say what will eventually end up in that document,” she said. “But I will tell you that things are going really well with the negotiation. We continue to have really regular dialogue with Marian, really productive conversation.”
Zawacki added that she would like there to be communication between the neighborhood residents and The Marian Group, but it is inappropriate until a final agreement is signed.
Originally, the city expected to have a contract within 45 days of announcing which developer was chose. However, Zawacki said Tuesday night that the process was set up to attract a broad range of proposals and the city wasn’t sure how far developers who submitted proposals had delved into items such as securing financing and what the developers’ obligations are.
“The level of detail we need to get into a development agreement was totally not where anybody was,” she said.